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Cleaning a Cement or Concrete Garage Floor

First off - is it cement or concrete? For years I had always used these words interchangeably. Little did I know there was a difference?

Cement

Cement is a powder made up of substances such as limestone, clay, shale, sand, iron, aluminum and other materials. It is the key component used in concrete.

Concrete

Concrete is the solid material you end up with after mixing cement, sand, and water. So really – you are cleaning a concrete garage floor.

My husband thinks he’s pretty amazing because he can keep his garage floor cleaner than others but not even he can keep his floor from finding an occasional stain or two.

And when he does spill, the expletives fly! For me, it’s a pretty comical site to see, I mean really; who is perfect, accidents happen!

If your husband is like mine and wants his garage clean, clean, clean – below are some cleaning solutions for spills and stains and maintenance tips.

Getting Your Garage Floor Clean

If you have any oil stains or spills, clean those first (you may have to start this process a day or two in advance.). There are cleaning instructions below for cleaning oil spills and the remaining residue.

Start cleaning the garage floor early in the day so you can put everything back in by the end of the day.

  1. Before washing the garage floor, move everything you can off the floor and out of the garage, then sweep the floor.
  2. Turn the water on full force and spray out the garage. If you don't have a spray attachment, hold your thumb over the hose opening to create a stronger water jet. Start at the back of the garage and work your way out through the garage door.
  3. Use a stiff brush with a long handle and scrub down the garage floor using the floor cleaning solution listed above.
  4. Set in dirt can be easily removed by using Comet or other abrasive cleaner on the floor while it's wet.
  5. Rinse the floor completely with the hose
  6. Sweep out any excess water with a broom.

Floor Cleaning Recipe

  • 1 cup detergent (there are many environmentally friendly products on the market)
  • 2 gallons hot water.

Let the floor completely dry before bringing everything back in your nice clean garage.

If You Spill Oil, Clean it Right Away

First, let’s just say that cleaning up oil spills should always be wiped up right away. So now that your garage is clean, keep that in mind.

My husband has a supply of Scott shop towels, if you haven’t tried these, there great. They are thick, absorbent, sturdy, tough, and great for cleaning up spills.

So if you spill oil they come in handy. Otherwise use another absorbent material to clean up the spill.

Use Cat Litter to Absorb any Oil Residue

After wiping up the oil, there may be some residue remaining. To remove the residue, use cat litter. Make sure to use a clay litter – it’s more absorbent. This will help absorb any remaining stain.

  • Pour a layer of litter on the spilled area and cover completely - overlap the spill area.
  • Give it some time; let it sit for a couple hours to a couple of days to soak up the liquid; depending on how large the spill was.
  • Clean up the litter with a broom.

Note: As mentioned this process could take up to a couple of days. You may need to renew the cat litter. You can also use sawdust or baking soda to absorb the oil.

One day I was driving down the freeway where an accident just occurred and I noticed the tow truck driver using cat litter to cover the oil spill. Now that support’s using cat litter on an oil stain. Don’t you think?

I also asked the gas station attendant where I get my gas how they keep the area so clean. He told me they use clay cat litter. They pour it on any oil stains, let it sit overnight and sweep it up the next morning. More support that cat litter works on oil stains.

Cleaning Set in Oil Stains

There are a couple things you can try to remove tougher oil stains. These methods may require repeating the process and may take a couple of days.

Detergent and Water

  1. Sweep the area.
  2. Sprinkle some powdered detergent on the stain, no need to use sparingly, completely cover the stain.
  3. Add warm water to a bucket, dip a stiff brush in then scrub like the dickens back and forth. Repeat as needed.
  4. Wipe up and let dry.

Waterless Concrete Cleaner

This is something that can be purchased in your local home improvement store or online.

  1. Sweep the area where the stain is to remove dirt and debris.
  2. Sprinkle the waterless sweeping compound over the area of the stain.
  3. Sweep back and forth across the oil stain until dispersed (follow instructions on package)

If this is a large area or an older stain, application may need to be reapplied every 5 to 7 days until the stain is gone.

Some time ago, my daughter had to keep her car in the garage because the driver’s side window wouldn’t go up. During the time it was in the garage it leaked some oil on the garage floor.

This was an old stain and after the first application of the waterless concrete cleaner, I noticed a definite improvement. The stain was much lighter.

I also wore a paper mask and my safety glasses. The wind was blowing a little bit and as I was sweeping the concrete cleaner, it created a small dust cloud. It states right on the product the dust can cause eye and throat irritation. I wasn’t going to test it!

Rehydrating an Old Oil Stain

It may be possible to rehydrate an old oil stain and remove it or at least some of it. I tried this as an experiment and had a little bit of success.

To rehydrate our old oil stain, we used Wesson oil, a stiff brush, and time.

  1. Pour Wesson oil on the old oil stain. Just enough to cover the stain.
  2. Then scrub it in with a very stiff brush - use some elbow grease.
  3. We then let it sit about 15 – 20 minutes. We could visibly see the old oil had rehydrated a little bit.

After we rehydrated our oil stain, we sprinkled some of the waterless concrete cleaner on the stain and scrubbed the floor (using back and forth and side to side motion) with the stiff brush. We did this until the concrete cleaner was dirty and clumpy with oil.

We then swept away the dirty cleaner, applied more, scrubbed it in, let it sit overnight, then swept it up in the morning.

By rehydrating the old oil stain, we were allowing it to pull the oil out of the concrete. I believe we saw an improvement with this method and had we continued it may have been removed completely.

Keep in mind though this method can vary from stain to stain depending on how old the stain is and other conditions such as sitting on the carport pad in direct sunlight, etc.

With these few cleaning methods you can make a dirty garage floor look new again.


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Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Mrs Clean (Corina Wilson) is not only the owner of the company, but a very busy mother of 3 children.

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Mrs Clean realized long ago, that a clean home is a necessity, not a luxury when we are struggling to find the time in our day to cover the very basic levels of work and/or family obligations. The battle seems to never end... (but that's why we're here to help!)

When Mrs Clean is not busy managing her house cleaning company or running her kids back and forth to their events, she enjoys experimenting with natural and non-toxic cleaners and learning new techniques to remove stains.

She thoroughly enjoys sharing her valuable information with the readers of her blogs and various social media sites.

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