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Concrete Cleaning Tips 4.5/5 (2)

Efflorescence On Brick

Efflorescence On Brick

Before applying a concrete sealer or water repellent it is typically needed to prep the surface first. Prepping consists of cleaning with water and using a chemical cleaner that is specific to the stain you are trying to remove. Cleaners for concrete and brick pavers come in many different formulas.

Let’s look at the main reasons to clean and prep your concrete:

General Dirt and Grime Cleaning

When cleaning to remove dirt and grime you may just need water and a pressure washer. If the stains are stubborn, then a general all-purpose concrete cleaner or even bleach would help with the washing.

Rust Removal

Rust stains happen typically from untreated water that gets on the vertical brick walls and horizontal concrete from the sprinkler systems. The trick to clean off the rust stains before they become too heavy with mineral deposits.  There are many different types of concrete rust removers on the market. These cleaners typically are a mild acid formula consisting of citric or oxalic acids. Professional formulas are more effective as they contain a special blend of acids. Many acid cleaners will work but you do need to be careful to not harm the surface or yourself.

Efflorescence Removal

Efflorescence is a white soluble salt that is typically seen on newly installed concrete, pavers, and blocks. Just like a rust remover, an efflorescence cleaner contains acids to break down the white salts. It is important to not buy a generic acid such as Hydrochloric Acid as this may cause damage to the surface by “burning” or heavily etching the substrate. For example, you could make newly installed pavers look like they are 10 years old if you use the incorrect acid.

Best to use a product labeled as an “Efflorescence Cleaner”.

Oil Spills and Grease Removal

One of the most popular reasons to clean concrete is the oil spill from the car or the grease spill from the barbecue grill. The use of a pressure washer and a Cleaner Degreaser is best for this scenario.

Failed Sealer that Has Discolored (turned white)

This is not an easy fix! Unfortunately, many sealers will discolor or turn white from a variety of issues. Most commonly will happen to wet look sealers that are applied to brick pavers or stamped concrete surfaces. Typically this is avoided by using a high-quality sealer but not everyone does their research first. These are “Concrete Sealer Strippers” that typically involve the use of Dichloromethane (methylene chloride)or soy gel as the stripping agent. We prefer the former as it reacts within a few minutes.

Extreme caution or hiring of a trained professional should be taken with these strippers.

Leaf Stain Cleaning

Very common but easy fix. Watered down bleach of 1 part to 4 parts water should get rid of the leaf stains!

Pollution Cleaning on Concrete or Brick Buildings

Typically seen in high traffic areas, pollution stains are the black marks you see on churches and buildings in the inner cities. These stains are also cleaned with a proprietary blend of acids.

Graffiti Removal

Vandalism or graffiti removal can be difficult as the effectiveness of the cleaner/stripper is related to the paint type hat is being removed. Typically these are paint strippers of some sort that lift the graffiti from the surface so it can be pressure washed off.

If you have any questions as to which type of cleaner you should use please ask in the comment area below. Please answer these questions:

  1. Type of surface
  2. Stain type being removed
  3. Age of substrate

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19 responses to “Concrete Cleaning Tips”

  1. epw powerwash says:

    Thanks for the post. In our business we have had lots of trouble with the Efflorescence issues. This explains is well

  2. Faye says:

    What to use to clean bird poop with berry stain from a concrete driveway???

  3. Randy Bunn says:

    I am trying to remove battery acid that got onto pavers from where a golf cart sat for a lengthy period of time. What should I use?

  4. Don says:

    I have a concrete sidewalk, not sure of the age. After having a new concrete porch installed some of the concrete residue is on the sidewalk. What cleaner should I use to clean it? Thanks

    • Concrete Sealer Help says:

      Don, I belive NMD80 by Eacochem is what you would want but I would suggest contacting them directly to be certain.

  5. Carmen says:

    Laid down a brand new paver patio this summer and because we have a puppy in the family we decided to use a water based sealer on the pavers. However we did not get the wet look we were looking for. Can I use a product like Super Seal30 over the existing water based sealer? What are the conditioning steps required? We would like to re-seal the pavers next summer. We used a Polybind color matching joint sand.

    • Concrete Sealer Help says:

      Carmen, hard to say yes or no as it depends on the current sealer and if they are compatible or not. I would suggest getting some specs then calling the manufacturer of the SS30 to see what they say.

  6. kyle messick says:

    We have red clay dirt we can not remove from our cement walk way, have power washed, scrubbed etc.
    Any thoughts would be most welcome.

  7. Ken says:

    I have recently purchased a lot in a RV Resort and has a concrete slab which has a painted surface. It has been sealed approximately 3 years ago but needs to be cleaned and sealed. Could this be done by myself and if so what would be your recommendations on cleaner, sealer and the process (This lot is in Michigan upper pennisula). Can it be done late summer or fall?
    Thank you for your response

  8. Mike says:

    I used renew crete sealer which is a solvent based acrylic sealer using a roller. I cleaned the surface with a degreaser and power washed. Sealed and it went on thin and looked great. 6 months later it turned white. What do I need to do to fix it? do I use dichloromethane to remove it and use a different sealer? what is best recommended to stamped concrete around a pool?

    • Concrete Sealer Help says:

      Strip it off with a Concrete Sealer Stripper. We use one made by Clemons Concrete Coatings. Once stripped, use a Cleaner Degreaser for final prep. Seal with Masonry Saver Decorative Concrete Sealer.

  9. leslie b vrabel says:

    i have a brick driveway the bricks are pourous and are set in sand I recently pressure washed the driveway to remove mold etc now the driveway looks white and not brick colored. the color come back, somewhat, when it is wet but turns white when driy is there anything i can do to make it look like antique red brick again? thanks

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