Image of cleaning supplies on concrete

What is the best natural concrete floor cleaner?

Last Updated: September 14, 2021

Concrete floors are easy to clean, and using the right cleaners will help them last. Here’s how to properly maintain your concrete floors, indoors and out.

Concrete flooring is ubiquitous in basements, garages, and Costco, but you don’t see it too often in everyday living spaces. And that’s too bad, because concrete flooring is exceptionally durable, thrillingly thrifty to install, and super easy to take care of.

Here’s how to naturally clean and maintain your concrete floors — indoors and out — to keep them beautiful.

First, are concrete and cement floors the same thing?

No! Although these terms are often used interchangeably, concrete and cement aren’t the same thing. In fact, there’s really no such thing as a cement floor.

Cement is a fine powder made of crushed stones and minerals that’s used as a binding agent in concrete. While you can use cement on its own for some things, flooring isn’t one of them — it’s not strong enough.

Concrete is a mixture of water, cement, and an aggregate like sand, gravel, or crushed stones. When the wet cement binds it all together and cures, the resulting concrete is very stable and durable.

What’s the best natural concrete floor cleaner?

The best cleaner for concrete flooring depends on what kind of grime is involved and whether your floor is rough, smooth, dyed, polished, stamped, or sealed. Whether it’s indoors, outdoors, or in the garage or basement also determines what kind of cleaner you should use.

So first, here’s a run-down of the best concrete floor cleaners in general.

pH-neutral concrete floor cleaners

Mild floor cleaners are usually pH neutral cleaners with a pH level around 7. They are free of harsh chemicals that can damage a concrete floor.

They’re designed to clean any sealed interior floors — including hardwood , bamboo , and luxury vinyl tile or plank flooring.

Acidic concrete floor cleaners

Acid-based cleaners like vinegar (pH 3) remove acid-soluble stains, like mineral buildup, from concrete.

Since these cleaners can damage both sealed and unsealed concrete, neutralize the acid by wet-mopping the floor with 2 tablespoons of baking soda per gallon of water, and rinse that off with clean water and a clean mop.

Alkaline concrete floor cleaners

Alkaline cleaners like baking soda (pH 8 to 9) and castile soap (pH 8.9) break down oil, grease, and other hydrocarbon-based grime.

Higher alkaline cleaners like borax (pH 10) and washing soda (pH 11 to 12) tackle deeper, harder-to-remove concrete stains.

What’s the best way to clean an indoor concrete floor?

The best way to clean concrete floors in your home is with microfiber, which grabs onto dirt and other particles — including bacteria — and holds onto them until you wash them out.

Curious about how microfiber cleans with just water? Read our comprehensive guide on everything microfiber to find out.

The standard process for cleaning and maintaining concrete floors is simple:

Calendar illustration with every day checked off

Daily dusting

Every day, run the dust mop over your concrete floor to pick up debris that can cause microabrasions in the concrete or the sealer.
Calendar illustration with one day per week checked off

Weekly washing

Once a week or so, damp-mop your concrete floor. Soak the microfiber mop pad in warm water, then wring out as much as you can, and mop.
Calendar illustration with one day checked off

Monthly maintenance

Each month — or sooner, if your floor really needs it — dampen the mop pad, and working in sections, spritz the floor with the cleaner, then mop.
Mrs. Meyers cleaning products and Grove Co. cleaning caddy

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Cleaning tips for different types of concrete floors

Now that you know the best cleaners, tools, and standard process to use for cleaning concrete floors, here are some tips on how to clean different types of concrete floors.

Polished concrete floors

Polished concrete floors have been buffed to a subtle sheen or high shine with a special buffing machine. They’re extremely durable and easier to maintain than other concrete floors, since they don’t need to be sealed.

If the floor needs some serious TLC, a conditioner designed for polished concrete will clean the surface and leave behind an invisible, dirt-resistant film that’ll keep your floor looking better longer.

Check out this short, fascinating video on how concrete floors are polished — and get a gander at a centuries-old polished concrete floor and the tools that were used to achieve it!

Sealed concrete floors

Most indoor stained or stamped concrete floors are sealed with a topcoat of clear, protective sealant — usually a water-based polyurethane. Properly sealed concrete floors are far more stain-, water-, and scratch-resistant than unsealed concrete floors.

It’s unlikely that a properly sealed concrete floor will stain, but if it does, apply the appropriate acid or alkaline cleaner with a microfiber cloth, and rinse thoroughly.

Stamped concrete floors

Stamped concrete floors have a pattern embedded in them. After the concrete is poured, workers press molds into the wet floor. When the concrete dries, the imprints become permanent.

The grooves in stamped concrete floors make them a little more challenging to keep clean. Use a string-style microfiber mop to get into the crannies.

Stained concrete floors

Concrete floor acid stain penetrates deeply into the porous concrete and provides permanent color that won’t peel or fade.

If your stained concrete floor isn’t sealed, use cleaners only when needed.

Unsealed concrete floors

Plain, unsealed concrete floors aren’t nearly as attractive, durable, or stain- and scratch-resistant as polished or sealed concrete. That’s why they’re usually found in the garage or basement.

To clean unsealed concrete, use the standard cleaning process from above or follow the instructions for outdoor concrete floors below.

What is the best way to clean concrete floors outdoors?

Concrete patios, sidewalks, and driveways generally have a rougher surface than indoor concrete floors.

Here’s how to clean an outdoor concrete surface.

1. Hose it down

Use the hose with a jet sprayer attachment on a regular basis to remove dirt and debris from outdoor concrete and help prevent staining.

2. Power-wash it

Blast away dirt, grime, and mildew with a power-washer, which you can rent from your local home improvement store.

Water may be all you need to get your concrete looking brand new again. Fill up the washer, point the wand, turn it on, and spray from side to side — like this:

Grove Tip

How to prevent stains on concrete floors

Clean up spills from sealed or unsealed concrete right away so they don’t stain or discolor the surface.

What’s the best way to clean the concrete floors in the basement and garage?

In the basement

Depending on the state of your basement, you may not be willing to head downstairs for a daily go with the dust mop.

If you only clean it occasionally, vacuum first, then damp-mop. If the floor needs deeper cleaning, use a pH-neutral floor cleaner.

In the garage

Use a shop vacuum, leaf blower, or old-fashioned broom once a week or so to keep your garage floor free of debris.

When a broom won’t do the job, hose it down or power-wash it. Got oil stains? Keep reading.

Grove Tip

How to remove mold from concrete floors

If there’s mold or mildew on your basement or garage floor, don’t vacuum or sweep it — you’ll spread the spores.

Kill and remove the fungus first — our guide on how to clean mold and mildew without harsh chemicals will help — and then clean as usual.

How do you deep clean concrete floors?

Image of Grove's Floor Cleaner concentrate on top a flat mop next to a glass spray bottle.

Sometimes, a stain on a concrete floor needs a good scrubbin’. Use a soft-bristle brush on sealed concrete and a stiff-bristle brush on rough or polished concrete.

Never use a wire-bristle brush or steel wool on concrete. Both will scratch the concrete or the sealer and leave behind bristles that may rust.

Here’s a quick ‘n’ dirty how-to guide for deep-cleaning big messes on your indoor and outdoor, sealed and unsealed concrete floors.

How to get urine smell out of concrete

Unsealed concrete is very porous, so pet urine smells can stick around. Outdoors, hose the concrete down immediately. Indoors, wipe it up as soon as possible.

Then, use an enzyme cleaner like Paw Sense Pet Stain & Odor Remover to rid the concrete of the smell for good.

Learn how to get urine smells and stains out of more floor types, clothes, and furniture here!

How to make concrete white again

Working in sections, pour straight vinegar on the floor, and scrub with a stiff-bristled brush.

When the concrete is white again, neutralize the acid with a baking soda rinse.

How to clean fresh oil from concrete

As soon as you notice the spill, cover it with baking soda to absorb as much as possible — let it sit overnight. Brush away the remaining powder.

If the stain remains, sprinkle it again with baking soda, and dip the scrub brush in water. Squirt some natural degreasing dish soap on it, then scrub, rinse, and dry.

Grove writer Kristen Bailey tried baking soda, conventional dish soap, and Meyer’s dish soap to remove an old oil stain from the concrete patio. Here’s what happened.

How to remove rust stains from concrete

Pour white vinegar directly on the rusty stain, let it sit for 20 minutes, then scrub. Rinse thoroughly.

If that doesn’t work, try borax for removing rust from concrete and other surfaces.

How remove efflorescence on concrete

Efflorescence looks like white powder or crystalline residue on your outdoor or basement concrete floor. It’s caused by insoluble metallic salts that build up from exposure to hard water or a high salt content in the concrete.

This video shows you how to use vinegar to remove efflorescence — skip to the 3:00 mark, and don’t let the creepy robot voice scare you.

How to protect concrete floors

To protect your concrete floor, apply a water-based sealer, and reapply it every few years. After each recoat — and whenever your floor needs a facelift between recoats — apply a commercial-grade floor wax.

Known as the sacrificial protective layer, floor wax protects the sealer and makes it easier to buff out stains and scratches.

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