This post was most recently updated on January 30th, 2023
Top Concrete Cleaning Tips 2023
Thank you for continuing to visit Concrete Sealer Review throughout 2023 and beyond. We remain your trusted source for concrete and brick paver sealer tips and advice. Here we have an updated article about the best way to clean concrete. If you have any suggestions for the best way to clean concrete or have any questions, feel free to leave us a comment below.
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 Concrete
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 Concrete
Rust stains happen typically from untreated water that gets on the vertical brick walls and horizontal concrete from the sprinkler systems. The trick is 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 Concrete
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 Concrete
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 Concrete
Very common but an 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 Concrete
Vandalism or graffiti removal can be difficult as the effectiveness of the cleaner/stripper is related to the paint type that 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:
- Type of surface
- Stain type being removed
- Age of substrate
As an article and comment contributor to the site, Scott has been around the pressure washing industry since attending college. In 1993 he started his first company called Oakland Pressure Wash specializing in exterior pressure washing, concrete sealing, and deck staining. That company evolved into OPW L.L.C. shortly thereafter concentrating more on exterior restoration. Scott and his restoration Michigan company have restored over 10,000 projects in the Metro Detroit area since the early years. He has become an authority in the restoration industry and has contributed to numerous restoration forums and informative sites.
All the products he suggests through this site are sold through online sites and in retail stores, allowing the consumer to choose their own means of purchase. Scott’s eCommerce sites do sell many top brands he endorses and if you appreciate any of the help he has offered then feel free to purchase from one of them.
I had a pool built in 2020 and I have a regular concrete poured deck. I was advised to not seal it as it would change the appearance of the concrete. I live in the Chicagoland area where winters are harsh. I just noticed some pops in misc. areas which prompted me to start investigating the cause. I now realize that the advise I received was probably not the best and that I should have used a penetrating sealant that would not have changed the appearance, but would have protected it. I’m now going to apply a penetrating sealant, however… Read more »
It is normal for concrete to do this and adding a sealer would have not prevented it anyhow. Use this for a penetrating cure and seal: https://www.concretesealerreview.com/superseal-m-concrete-water-repellent-review/
Well, that makes me feel a little better, thank you. Do you recommend that I fill in any of the pops or is it just not worth filling in? Thanks for all of your help!
Over the years, we have been sealing our stamped concrete patio with Luster Seal 300. It looks great for a few months then slowly looses its luster. We live in the NW and would love to find a product that would hold up longer. What do you recommend and would I need to strip off the existing sealer?
Try Super Seal 30. Should be okay to seal as long as the previous coating has not turned white.
Hi about there months ago I spil car motor oil in my pavers driveway . I did used so many kind of cleaner try to remove it but nothing work . Can you please advice me how to remove this old oli stain from pavers?
Have you tried a concrete oil degreaser/cleaner? If it is really bad, nothing may get it out.
Yes I did it but nothing work . I want to replace bad area pavers . What tool should I need it or should I hire the pro to do that?
Thank you again
Might want to hire it out.
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
Try a wet look sealer like the Surebond SB-6000 or the Supreme Shield SB-600.
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?
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.
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
You cannot seal over a paint. You can repaint of needed.
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.
Try a Concrete Cleaner and Degreaser with pressure washing.
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.
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.
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
Don, I belive NMD80 by Eacochem is what you would want but I would suggest contacting them directly to be certain.
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?
Sorry but not sure on this one. You may not be able to.
Since it's an acid what about trying a basic like bleach or ammonia?
That will neutralize it but probably will not remove it.
What to use to clean bird poop with berry stain from a concrete driveway???
Concrete cleaner and degreaser will work.
Thanks for the post. In our business we have had lots of trouble with the Efflorescence issues. This explains is well