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How to Clean Concrete Floors

Concrete is one of the most durable flooring materials available to homeowners. Its unyielding hardness makes it nearly impervious to the normal wear-and-tear from children, pets, furniture and everyday life that typically causes damage to other types of flooring materials over time.

In addition to being extremely resilient, concrete also is a cost-effective flooring solution — you do not have to install another flooring covering on top of it. With proper care and maintenance, concrete flooring should last a lifetime. Modernize created this guide on how to clean concrete floors so homeowners can better understand the requirements necessary to properly clean and maintain this type of flooring.


Table of Contents

How to Clean Concrete Floors

For many people, the word “concrete” conjures up images of the dull grey slabs that form the driveways and foundations of their homes. However, nothing could be further from reality when it comes to concrete flooring in the home.

Modern concrete floors are finished in a tremendous range of patterns, saw cuts, micro-toppings, stains, overlays and finishes to achieve truly unique and stunning design features. Burnished concrete flooring exudes a lustrous high-gloss mirror finish, while stained and polished concrete can compliment and accent a wide range of home décor styles.

There are some caveats to cleaning concrete floors. Mainly, it requires routine maintenance to remove dirt, dust and debris, which can degrade its finishing and visual appeal. Interior concrete floor maintenance also may include routine waxing or sealing, depending on how the surface is dyed, stained or decorated. Here are some best practices when it comes to cleaning concrete floors.

Weekly Concrete Floor Cleaning

At least once per week, schedule time to clean your concrete flooring by first dust mopping, then wet mopping.

1. Dust mopping

The more often you regularly dust mop your concrete floors, the less you’ll have to employ cleaning methods that require a bit more elbow grease. Dust mopping prevents dirt and debris from accumulating on the floor’s surface.

While any mop with soft cotton fibers works well to pick up dust, you will likely find that a microfiber mop outshines all other dry mops. Microfiber mop heads create static electricity that attracts dust and other particulates. Be sure to step outside and shake out the mop head prior to starting the job to ensure you are starting with a clean tool.

2. Wet mopping

Like similar types of durable flooring, such as tile and natural stone, concrete flooring often requires a deeper weekly clean by wet mopping. There is a wide range of wet mop options from which to choose, including traditional bucket-based mops to steam mops.

Modernize recommends experimenting with several different types of mops to find the solution that works best for your floor and your cleaning efforts. While steam mops are usually a no-no for hardwood floors, they can be an excellent cleaning tool for many types of concrete floors. This is because the steam penetrates the surface and extracts built-up dirt and grime.

These methods will work to clean any type of concrete flooring, regardless of whether it is sealed, unsealed, painted, stained or polished. However, if you do have a specialty finish, such as a decorative micro-topping overlay or paint, you will want to be extra careful about the type of cleaner you use to ensure you don’t cause any damage.

Yearly Concrete Floor Cleaning

Every 12 to 18 months, some homeowners may want to seal and wax their concrete flooring. Sealing and waxing concrete helps to better protect it from wear and tear and keep it looking new for longer. You can choose to have this annual flooring maintenance completed by a professional, or elect to handle this maintenance on your own.

Once a year, after finishing your weekly dusting and mopping, apply sealer to the concrete flooring. Then, apply several coats of wax over the sealer to maximize its effectiveness.

How to Choose a Concrete Floor Cleaner

As long as you routinely dust mop, a bit of soapy water is usually enough to clean interior concrete floors when using the wet mop. However, if your floors need a bit of extra maintenance, there are many commercial concrete floor cleaners that provide a boost of cleaning power.

pH-neutral Cleaners

For almost all types of concrete finishes, experts recommend using pH-neutral cleaners. Avoid common household cleaners such as ammonia or pine-based products, since they can negatively react to the concrete floor’s finishing. Find a pH-neutral multi-purpose cleaning solution designed specifically for concrete surfaces. Keep in mind that these cleaners are usually concentrated and need to be diluted with water prior to application. You can typically find them at any large home improvement retailer or specialty janitorial supply store.

Acidic and Alkaline Cleaners

Acidic cleaners are formulated with hydrochloric or phosphoric acid to provide a more aggressive cleaning solution for difficult rust stains, built-up grime and efflorescence, the white salty residue that can discolor sealed concrete surfaces.

Alkaline cleaners, meanwhile, are concentrated de-greasers best for petroleum-based stains such as grease, oil, soot and tar. Be sure you know what type of finish you have before using either one of these products to avoid damaging the surface of your flooring.

Concrete Flooring Maintenance: Final Thoughts

In most instances, routine concrete floor maintenance requires little more than weekly dusting and mopping. Microfiber mops are the professional’s choice for cleaning concrete floors, since they use static electricity to attract and lift away dust and other particulates.

Always use mild cleaning products to avoid damaging decorative concrete finishes. If you need a more aggressive floor cleaner, consult with an experienced concrete professional to ensure you are using the correct product.

Overall, concrete floors are designed to last a lifetime with a little bit of maintenance. If you need help cleaning or re-sealing your concrete floors, Modernize can put you in touch with licensed flooring contractors in your area that have the expertise to revitalize your concrete flooring.

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