The outdoor entertaining days of spring and summer are fast approaching, and you might be starting to sweat thinking about the challenge of cleaning that dirty concrete patio. Dirt, grime, and even barbecue grease can make outdoor areas less than ideal for hanging out. In fact, there are lots of ways your concrete surfaces could have accidentally acquired ugly, unwanted stains.
Still — don’t assume you’re stuck with less than beautiful concrete. There are many ways to get that patio ready for the fun days ahead. Here’s what the pros at R&M Concrete want you to know so you can fire up the barbecue and entertain with pride.
Preparing to Clean a Concrete Patio
First of all, do your tidying on an overcast day so your cleaning solution won’t evaporate before it’s able to do its work.
Next, clear the space by removing furniture, grills, plants, toys, and utility cabinets. Take a broom or leaf blower to get rid of leaves, nuts, twigs, and any other built-up debris.
After you have removed everything, it’s time to mix the solution of your choice to apply to the dirty or stained areas of your concrete surface. Even with a gentle cleaner, it’s a good idea to wear protective eyewear, gloves, and clothes you don’t mind getting soiled.
Corral any outdoor pets to keep them from being affected by any cleaning solution you use. Also, cover the adjacent area with utility towels or plastic sheets to avoid affecting nearby grass and plants.
6 Concrete Cleaning Methods to Consider
Cleaning is just one of many ways you can maintain your concrete so it is lasting and attractive. Discover below our suggestions for what to do and what to avoid.
1. Use Dish Soap and Water
When doing a job like this, starting with the least toxic and most eco-friendly product is a smart idea. Ordinary household dish soap as a degreaser is extremely useful for cleaning up oily, grimy concrete stains while avoiding the use of harmful chemicals.
Start with two gallons of warm water and a mere two teaspoons of dish soap in a standard bucket. Wet a mop and apply the solution thoroughly, scrubbing the areas most affected by grime. Let it set to give it time to lift the oils out of the concrete, and then rinse. Repeat if needed.
2. Make a Vinegar Mixture
For slightly more stubborn marks, like charcoal, pet stains and rust spots, combine equal parts of white vinegar and water as a diluted mixture. The rust and other materials will react with the vinegar and eventually dissolve.
But make sure to let the mixture sit for at least a few hours on the stains. Then, scrub the stained and treated areas with a soft bristle brush. After a good rinse, if the stains have not dissipated, try scrubbing them again with undiluted vinegar.
3. Get Oxygen Bleach
Another relatively safe and environmentally friendly solution for cleaning concrete is an oxygen bleach product, such as OxiClean. Just be sure to wear rubber gloves, as bleach products can be tough on skin.
Sprinkle the powerful solution over the entire patio and scrub it with an ordinary push broom. Let it sit for 15-30 minutes before rinsing it off.
4. Grab Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is another concrete cleaning item that is easily available at pharmacies, grocery stores, and home improvement stores.
For a natural, stronger solution to tackle stubborn stains on concrete surfaces, mix flour and hydrogen peroxide into a paste the consistency of peanut butter. Spread it over the stained area, and then scrub it with a nonmetallic brush. After giving it a good scrub, let sit overnight.
5. Should You Use a Power Washer?
When used with care, a power or pressure washer can be quite effective for cleaning concrete patios, sidewalks, and driveways. Since these washers are available for rent or purchase at hardware and home improvement stores, many DIY-ers like to give this approach a try.
The key is to be careful that you don’t damage the concrete surface. If you’re not sure how well your concrete will handle a power-washing, do a test first. Apply the power washer to a small area that is normally hidden from view, and see how it turns out.
If you decide to use a pressure washer, fill it with a DIY cleaning solution. Fill a bucket with a gallon of hot water. Stir in baking soda a little bit at a time, making sure it dissolves properly. Add dish soap and a quart of bleach. This mixture works well for power washing.
6. Try Muriatic Acid—but only if Necessary
If nothing else has worked to restore your concrete surface to its original pristine state, muriatic acid powder may do the trick. Understand, however, that too much contact with this potent acid mixture can burn or damage your eyes, lungs, skin and nose lining.
Carefully pour and mix one part muriatic acid into four parts hot water. Gently pour the mixture over the entire surface of your concrete, taking care not to splash it on yourself, pets, furnishings, or landscaping. Let it sit for no more than ten minutes, rinsing the mixture away thoroughly before it dries.
Next, sprinkle on baking soda to neutralize any remaining acid. Combine this procedure with a power washer for the most thorough cleaning outside a professional service.
Prevent Stains with Proper Installation and Maintenance
Concrete sealer is a reliable option for avoiding stains in the first place. A clear silane or siloxane-based water-repellent sealer is generally available at most hardware and home improvement stores and can simply be applied with a paint sprayer or roller. Or, have the professionals do it, and you’re stress-free.
Whether you’d like help upgrading existing concrete surfaces or you want new concrete added to your property, our team at R&M Concrete will make the process simple. Check out what other Tulsa area homeowners have to say about our services—and reach out to us with your questions. We’re here to ensure your concrete performs beautifully.