Whether you’re cleaning a concrete surface or preparing for a larger concrete staining project, QUIKRETE has the products you need, all for under $20 a gallon. Keep reading to find out which concrete cleaner to use for your project.

Types of Concrete Cleaners

Concrete cleaners are formulated to remove different types of stains and blemishes from concrete surfaces. This allows you to select the right product for your specific cleaning needs.

QUIKRETE® Cleaner, Etcher & Degreaser is a surface preparation treatment for use before repairing, sealing, or staining concrete, pavers, and masonry surfaces. It degreases, cleans oil stains, and etches surfaces while significantly improving the adhesion of coatings and repair materials.

QUIKRETE® Oil Stain Remover breaks down and lifts oil stains and grease from concrete and paver surfaces. This heavy-duty cleaner is ideal for concrete garage floors and driveways. This product has a low odor and is solvent-free.

QUIKRETE® Efflorescence & Rust Remover removes efflorescent salts, rust, and hard-water deposits from horizontal and vertical concrete pavers, brick, masonry, and stucco surfaces. You can use these water-based cleaners without scrubbing.

How to Use Concrete Cleaners

Before using these products, thoroughly sweep and remove all soil and debris from the surface. It’s helpful to first test the product on a small sample to evaluate the effect before treating the entire area.

When applying the cleaner, allow the product to sit and work for at least one minute before rinsing with water. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for optimal results.

Here are some tips for using concrete cleaners effectively:

  • Wear gloves, eye protection, and other recommended protective equipment when handling cleaning products.
  • For oil stain removers, apply generously and allow extra time (10+ minutes) for deep oil stains to lift.
  • Use an efflorescence remover annually to prevent mineral deposit buildup.
  • Etch concrete thoroughly when prepping for sealants or stains so they bond properly.
  • Rinse cleaned areas thoroughly to avoid residue, which could impact the finishing steps.
  • Test sealers and stains on cleaned concrete to verify compatibility before large-scale application.

Benefits of Concrete Cleaners

Using the right concrete cleaner for your project provides many advantages over just using water and elbow grease to scrub surfaces, including:

  • Removing stubborn stains: Concrete cleaners use detergents, solvents, and acids to break down and dissolve stains that regular pressure washing can’t.
  • Preparing surfaces: Cleaners etch and roughen concrete for better adhesion of sealers, stains, epoxies, and coatings.
  • Restoring appearance: They remove unsightly dirt, efflorescence, rust, and other blemishes to renew concrete’s color and appearance.
  • Saving labor: Specialized cleaners do the hard work so you can avoid hours of scrubbing and power washing.

Additional Concrete Cleaning Tips

Here are some other tips to help your concrete cleaning projects go smoothly:

  • Clear the area of furniture, vehicles, etc., that could get splashed or allow the cleaner to be tracked around.
  • Cover nearby plants, grass, and other landscaping with a tarp to avoid damage from overspray.
  • Clean when the surface is cool and shaded to allow maximum time for the cleaner to work before drying.
  • Use a pressure washer for the final rinse of cleaner, but avoid using it initially as it can drive stains deeper.
  • Wear knee pads if you’ll be scrubbing for an extended time.
  • Work in manageable sections, allowing time for the cleaner to soak in before rinsing.

Deep Cleaning Options

You may need aggressive deep cleaning methods for extremely dirty concrete or to remove paints/coatings. Always test products first in an inconspicuous area. Take safety precautions when using acidic cleaners. Options include:

Uses baking soda media propelled at high speeds to gently clean and etch concrete. This requires special equipment and a compressor.

Uses rotating disks to abrade and lightly polish the top layer of concrete. Removes stains but produces dust.

Powerful acid-based strippers dissolve paints/coatings but require extensive safety precautions.

These options may be best left to professionals.

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So, Is Cleaning Concrete Yourself Worthwhile?

Cleaning your own exterior concrete can be worthwhile for simple jobs like removing mildew, moss, efflorescence, or other surface stains from a driveway, patio, or walkway. 

DIY cleaning lets you save money and get quick results when you use the right product.

However, for major restoration of badly stained, damaged, or coated concrete, the equipment and expertise of a professional concrete cleaner may yield superior results. They have industrial-strength cleaners and tools as well as specialized knowledge to remove years of abuse and exposure.

Evaluate the condition of your concrete and the complexity of the cleaning required. Simple cleaning tasks are reasonable for DIY, but you may choose to hire a pro for more extreme jobs like concrete driveway repairs.

FAQs About Concrete Cleaning

How often should you clean concrete?

You should clean outdoor concrete once or twice yearly to remove dirt, mildew, and buildup. You can clean your garage and basement floors yearly or as needed when stains occur.

What is the best homemade concrete cleaner?

A mix of dish soap, vinegar, and water can effectively clean concrete. For stronger cleaning, try mixing concentrated trisodium phosphate powder (TSP) or baking soda with warm water. Always test homemade cleaners first in discrete areas.

Will pressure washing damage concrete?

High-pressure levels can damage soft or deteriorating concrete. Use a maximum of 1,500 psi and a fan spray tip when pressure washing. Allow the cleaner to soak first before rinsing.

What removes oil stains from concrete?

Specialized concrete oil stain removers or degreasers are the most effective. Kitty litter can help absorb fresh stains. Alternative options are baking soda or dish soap scrubbed in.

How do you clean concrete before sealing?

Sweep away dirt and debris. Then, use a degreaser to remove any oil. Next, etch the surface with a concrete etcher and cleaner before rinsing thoroughly. Let dry completely before applying the sealer.

Editorial Contributors
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Jonathon Jachura


Jonathon Jachura is a two-time homeowner with hands-on experience with HVAC, gutters, plumbing, lawn care, pest control, and other aspects of owning a home. He is passionate about home maintenance and finding the best services. His main goal is to educate others with crisp, concise descriptions that any homeowner can use. Jon uses his strong technical background to create engaging, easy-to-read, and informative guides. He does most of his home and lawn projects himself but hires professional companies for the “big things.” He knows what goes into finding the best service providers and contractors. Jon studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University in Indiana and worked in the HVAC industry for 12 years. Between his various home improvement projects, he enjoys the outdoors, a good cup of coffee, and spending time with his family.

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Casey Daniel

Casey Daniel is a writer and editor with a passion for empowering readers to improve their homes and their lives. She has written and reviewed content across multiple topics, including home improvement, lawn and garden care, sustainability, and health and wellness. When she’s not reviewing articles, Casey is usually playing board games, repainting her bathroom, or quilting.

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