How to Clean Concrete Without a Pressure Washer
Tips & Tricks

How to Clean Concrete Without a Pressure Washer

Do you have stained floors and want to make the concrete look new again? While your first thought would be to use a power washer to blast the stains and debris away, it is possible to clean the concrete without a power washer.

Not only will this help to conserve water, but it will also allow you to save some bucks if you do not have a power washer as you do not have to hire one or the service of a power cleaning company. Keep reading to learn how to do it.

What is the easiest way to clean concrete without a power washer?

The easiest way to clean concrete without a power washer is using vinegar. Vinegar is a natural and eco-friendly cleaning agent and is safe to use on your concrete patios. In addition, it is a stain remover and safe to use on a concrete patio.

All you have to do is mix white vinegar with equal parts of water, and it can be used as a stain remover for different surfaces.

Then pour it into a spraying bottle and spray it all over the surface of the concrete. Let it sit over for 30 minutes. Then scrub and rinse the patio. If the stain is still not getting removed even after a good scrub, add some more undiluted vinegar above the concrete patio and let it sit over for around 10 minutes. Then scrub again. This will ensure the removal of tough stains.

When the vinegar has a chance to set, you can scrub it again. This should pull up pretty tough stains with relative ease. Then you can use your hose to spray away the cleaner and the loose debris the scrubbing creates.

Note: When cleaning a concrete patio, scrub heavily soiled areas using something stiffer, such as a hard bristle broom or a scrub brush for flooring, decks, and patios. If the stain is still not coming up after a good scrub, you will want to spray it with undiluted vinegar and give it around 10 minutes or so to sit.

Is bleach or vinegar better for cleaning concrete

Using bleach on your concrete patio should be a last resort when dealing with tough stains or sticky points of grime. This is because it is an extremely potent and dangerous chemical, so you should always follow proper protective measures when using it.

Use gloves to keep the bleach from contacting your skin and a mask to avoid having to inhale the fumes. Then mix the bleach with water equally and put that solution into a spray bottle to avoid a concentration of bleach in a particular area.

Spray the solution onto the stained area and give it around 10 minutes to sit. Do not spray a lot because it will flow off the patio and onto the grass or adjacent flowers.

After the 10 minutes, use a deck brush or something stiffer to scrub the stains off. Because the bleach solution is powerful, you shouldn’t have difficulty removing the stains. Just ensure that you adequately rinse off the area with your hose after you’ve gotten those stains out.

Bleach also has another effective use: getting rid of mold on patio stones or pavers. Your solution can also be used to kill most forms of weeds and even some unwanted plants. However, use it cautiously because bleach can harm the plants you want.

If you use bleach, let your concrete patio dry fully before returning any objects or furniture to the space. Dampness attracts seaweeds such as green algae and moss, especially for patio stones. See my tips on how to remove moss from your patio as well.

If the patio doesn’t have a direct source of sunlight, find a way to get rid of that moisture because it can result in unwanted growth and even more cleaning or other work.

Note: do not use bleach with other cleaning agents as it may produce toxic fumes that are corrosive to your respiratory system.

What is the best cleaner for concrete?

Below are some common at-home ingredients and commercial products you can use to clean concrete.

Home cleaning agents

1. Soda

Soda can be used to remove grease stains. This is because of three key ingredients found in soda;

  • Carbonated water, also known as carbonic acid
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Citric acid

These three acids work to free the grease from concrete. Coke is a popular choice for this method, but any soda with these ingredients will work. Pour the soda and let it sit on the concrete for 15-30 minutes. Then, depending on the size of the stain, you may use scrub brushes, towels, or a mop to take care of the rest with cleaner and water.

2. Detergent

This is recommended for smaller grease spills. Some strong detergent paired with water, a scrub brush, a sponge, and some good old-fashioned elbow grease should do the trick.

3. Vinegar and Baking Soda

Cleaning concrete with vinegar or baking soda is a good option if you are looking for a non-toxic concrete cleaner. While cleaning concrete with bleach or detergent can be effective, it can also be toxic to plants. If you’re cleaning your concrete patio or sidewalk and are worried about nearby plant life, use this solution to clean concrete without a pressure washer.

Fill a spray bottle with equal parts water and vinegar (or water and baking soda), and add a little liquid dish detergent. Spray the mixture on your concrete surface and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Then scrub and rinse your concrete.

4. Bleach

Fill a bucket with warm water and about ¾ a cup of liquid bleach and start mopping. Let the bleach solution sit for a few minutes before using a bucket with clean water to mop up the bleach solution.

It’s important to note that you should not mix bleach with other household cleaners and should also wear gloves when scrubbing with bleach to protect your hands.

Commercial cleaning agents

Muriatic Acid

This is the best chemical to clean concrete. Muriatic acid is great for removing really tough stains, especially on surfaces such as concrete patios. Also, if you have dried grout or rust, this is a very strong material that can likely do the job.

As with bleach, you should use extreme caution as it is a highly toxic chemical. Wear gloves and protective eyewear when using it, and follow manufacturer instructions.

Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)

TSP is mixed in with water to create an effective cleaning solution. When creating your solution, scrub it onto the stained area with a nylon brush or a thick bristle brush to create an effective tool for removing tough stains.

Continue scrubbing until the stain is fully removed. Then spray the area with a hose to rinse all loose debris and your cleaning solution. Best of all, you can find TSP in most home improvement stores for generally easy access.

Other industrial grade cleaners include;

Eco-Etch Pro Concrete Cleaner, Organic Concrete Acid, Phosphoric Acid, Muriatic Acid Alternative (1 Gallon)

This muriatic acid & phosphoric acid alternative is a safe organic acid that won’t burn skin or lungs. In addition, it is a biodegradable concrete cleaner.

RMR-86 Instant Stain Remover Spray

This is the Best Concrete Cleaner for Mold and Mildew. It is an instant stain remover spray that can eliminate stubborn stains caused by mildew and mold, even black mold. It is a fast-acting spray that removes stains almost immediately. It targets the stains, no matter how deeply embedded, and gets rid of them.

Sheiner’s All Purpose Floor Cleaner

This pH-neutral cleaner is great for a variety of surfaces. It is safe for sealed and unsealed concrete surfaces, whereas most cleaners are only safe for unsealed. This product also offers long-term stain resistance.

Zep Heavy-Duty Powdered Concrete Cleaner

The fast-acting formula removes embedded dirt and is ideal for heavy grease and grime stains. It dissolves quickly to remove the stains and dirt. It also changes color to show cleaning action.

Terminator-HSD Concrete Cleaner

This concrete cleaner is best for removing petroleum compounds. This includes oils, fuels, solvents, and hydraulic fluid. Making it an ideal solution for cleaning garages or the concrete at gas stations.

How to clean your concrete floor without a power washer

Items needed;

  • Broom
  • Dustpan
  • Mop
  • Bucket
  • Scrub Brush (not metallic)- The brush on end should have stiff nylon bristles and be about 12 inches wide.
  • Spray bottle
  • Gloves
  • Cat litter
  • A bucket filled with hot soapy water

Depending on the size of the stain and how much of your concrete surface needs cleaning, you may not need everything on this list. If there is no excess liquid on the concrete surface and you’re just doing a standard cleaning, sweep the area of any loose debris before using the cleaning methods below.

If there is standing liquid on your concrete (such as grease, oil, wine, etc.), pour cat litter over the liquid and allow it to soak up the excess liquid for about 30 minutes. If you don’t have cat litter, baking soda will also help to absorb the extra moisture.

Once the liquid has been soaked up and the litter or baking soda has been swept up and disposed of. Then, your concrete is ready to be cleaned. Do NOT use a metallic scrub brush because these brushes can leave behind metal bits that will rust and stain your concrete.

Step 1. Sweep and Scrub

Sweep to remove any dirt or debris from the concrete. Also, clear the concrete of any weeds, grass, or other vegetation growing between slabs or through cracks in the concrete. Just pull them up and sweep them away. You can use a leaf blower for convenience.

You can use regular dish soap or any commercial cleaning agent. Whatever you use, make sure it won’t harm plants or grass nearby.

Clean the full width of the concrete in five-foot-length sections. Start on one end and work backward. Begin by soaking the concrete with water.

Next, pre-treat tree sap, gum, or any stubborn stains with a full-strength commercial cleaner or a heavy-duty degreaser and scrub. Once the stains have soaked, dip the brush on the end of the pole into the bucket filled with soapy water and scrub away.

Keep scrubbing until you’re satisfied with the results. Once you’re finished, rinse off the section you just scrubbed and move on to the next.

Step 2. Remove Oil Stains from Your Concrete

Oil stains require special attention. Oil-stained concrete and asphalt will yield different results, so it’s best to try a second or third technique if the first does not work. We’ve had the best luck with WD-40 and commercial stain removers.

Follow the instructions below for the best results:

If the oil stain is fresh:

  • Use paper towels to absorb as much oil as possible.
  • Sprinkle cat litter or sawdust on top of the oil and let it sit for several hours.
  • Sweep up this debris and continue onto step three.

If the stain is old:

Pour one of the following household items on the stain;

  • Automotive brake cleaner
  • WD-40
  • Baking soda
  • A can of cola
  • Commercial stain remover
  • Heavy-duty degreaser
  • Oven cleaner spray

Let any solutions above sit for five minutes, then wipe them up with a rag.

After going through all the steps below, repeat or try a different solution, if necessary:

Consider buying a commercial oil stain remover if the steps above do not work.

Sprinkle a grease-fighting dish soap over any remnants of the stain. Next, pour on a little hot water and scrub the area with a wire or nylon brush.

Flush the entire area with boiling water.

Repeat these steps as needed.

How to Remove Tree Sap from Concrete

  • Scrub the spot with rubbing alcohol using a clean shop cloth or scrub brush.
  • You can also use any commercial hand cleaner that contains pumice or acetone.
  • Continue to apply cleaner and scour until there are no more sap stains.
  • Then use paper towels to mop up the cleaner and sap.
  • Rinse the area with a hose.