Concrete is one of the most durable building materials available, especially when it’s well cared for. Concrete is also very versatile. Acid staining, epoxy coating, and other finishing methods make concrete a beautiful medium that works indoors or outdoors. Caring for concrete floors or countertops isn’t any more difficult than caring for other materials, but a few cleaning tips will make the job easier.
Apply a Sealant
Whether your concrete has been acid stained, cut to resemble ceramic tile, or finished in some other way, it’s best to apply a sealant over the finished product for protection. Even concrete that is left raw can be sealed in order to increase its durability. Applying a sealant to finished concrete makes it easier to keep clean. Stains from food, oil, and other sources can be cleaned up much more easily when sealant has been applied to concrete.
Sealants come in a variety of finishes—from high-gloss to matte—to suit your taste. High-gloss sealants can be kept shiny by periodically buffing and waxing or re-sealing the concrete. Areas of low traffic may not need to be polished or re-sealed for years at a time, while high traffic areas may need to be attended to more frequently to maintain their sheen.
Soap and Water
When concrete has been properly sealed, most spills can be easily wiped up with a damp cloth. For stains that are a little more stubborn, a mild soap and water mixture will usually take care of the problem. If the surface of the concrete is unsealed, and therefore porous, stains can be more difficult to remove. Using a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub a stain will help to get the concrete clean again.
If the methods above aren’t working to get out a really tough stain, it’s time to break out the big guns. Special concrete cleansers are available that can remove a stain without damaging the surface of the concrete. While concrete is virtually indestructible, the sealant placed over the top can be damaged by harsh chemicals and scratched by abrasive scrubbers. Using a cleanser that is recommended by your contractor will preserve the finish on your concrete countertops or flooring.
Neutral, pH balanced wipes are available for daily use to wipe down your concrete surfaces. These wipes are convenient to have on hand and won’t wear on your concrete finish. Other concrete specific cleaning products include sprays and soaps. Pastes and creams are available for really tough stains or for porous concrete surfaces. Ask your contractor for a recommendation.