Can You Use A Wire Brush To Clean Concrete?

Whether you have a concrete driveway, patio or basement, you are probably well aware that concrete can stain just like most other surfaces. However, due to concrete’s porosity and variations in the density and surface cover of concrete surfaces, cleaning concrete might require steps you are unfamiliar with. Knowing how to clean it and what tools to use will help you keep your concrete looking nice for years to come.

One should not use a wire brush to clean concrete. The stiff metal bristles are likely to damage the concrete by scratching or otherwise gouging the cement that needs cleaning. If the stains require scrubbing, using a stiff plastic bristle brush will help.

Whether it is a sidewalk, patio, or a driveway, concrete can begin to look old and dingy if it is not cleaned. In this article we will discuss the best products and methods for you to clean any concrete surface you have around your home, helping you maintain its curb appeal.

How Do You Clean Concrete?

The first step in cleaning any surface is almost always to sweep it with a broom or use a leaf blower to make sure any loose dirt and debris are removed from the surface. Then you should wet the concrete with plain water. Use the proper concrete cleaner for the job.

The type of concrete and where it is laid, such as indoors or outside, will often require different types of cleaning solutions. In the following paragraphs, we will explain the different types of concrete and how to clean them.

How to Clean Unfinished Concrete 

Cleaning unfinished concrete.

Unfinished does not have a finish sealer such as a paint or stain. It is typically found outdoors. This type of concrete is much more susceptible to stains and damage. Cleaning unfinished concrete may only require sweeping and pressure washing.

When cleaning your unfinished concrete the first thing to do is sweep or vacuum the surface removing any loose dirt and debris. If your unfinished concrete is outside or partially outside such as in a garage, you can use a garden hose to spray it down, otherwise a bucket of water and a mop will do.

Once the concrete is wet you should apply a mixture of 

  • Vinegar and water. This is best for outdoor use because it is non-toxic and more gentle to the environment. However, use caution near lawns and plants, as straight vinegar can kill plants.
  • bleach and water is another combination that is okay to use outdoors. Even diluted bleach can be harsh on plants and grass. Use plenty of water when rinsing it.
  • trisodium phosphate, also known as TSP. Follow the manufactures directions on the amount to mix in a bucket of water. Use gloves with this cleaner and use with caution in outdoor environments as it is toxic to the environment.

Use a scrubbing broom with stiff bristles to scrub the cleaner into the concrete. Using the hose or a fresh bucket of water and mop, thoroughly rinse the unfinished concrete and allow it to dry completely. If you see any remaining stains after it is dry you can go back and spot-treat those areas.

You might find that you have a preferred cleaner for unfinished concrete. My recommendation is to give vinegar and water a try before anything else as it is in fact an extremely effective cleaner and the risk to plants and animals in the immediate area is minimized.

How to Clean Finished Concrete

To clean finished concrete, sweep or vacuum the surface. Then use plain water with liquid dish soap and mop the floor. Harsh chemical cleaners will damage a sealed finish concrete. Avoid using bleach, vinegar or pine-sol on finished concrete as these cleaners can dull and discolor the finished surface.

A finished concrete surface has sealers in it, such as epoxy. This makes them less likely to stain, but they can be damaged by chemical solvents. Cleaning them is easy. Just use a teaspoon of dish soap added to a gallon of water.

Empty the water and soap solution. Rinse the bucket and mop thoroughly and then refill the bucket with fresh water and rinse the floor by mopping it with water. Allow the concrete to dry completely.

Alternatively, if you are finding that warm soap and water just is not doing the trick, you can also check out a few cleaners that are specifically formulated for finished concrete. One that I have found that works exceptionally well for finished concrete (among other things) is Black Diamond.

How do You Clean Stained Concrete?

Stained concrete should be swept or vacuumed before cleaning. Clean the stained concrete with a damp mop and a ph-neutral cleaner. Stained concrete can be unfinished or have a sealed finish.

You should clean your stained concrete by dusting it with a dry mop. If your floor is unsealed, you should have it sealed. This will help make the concrete less porous and thus resist unwanted stains. 

Some excellent cleaners for stained concrete include: liquid dish soap, distilled white vinegar and baking soda (mixed with water).

Something to keep in mind is that if you do have stained concrete and it is unfinished (no sealant on top), you should strongly consider finishing it. Not only will this add a level of luster to your concrete but it will also make the concrete far more resistant to staining.

Cleaning Concrete is Easy

The good news about concrete is that it is really simple and easy to clean. Concrete is one of the most stain-resistant surfaces on the market and if it is properly maintained it can remain in excellent condition for a lengthy period of time.

Something to keep in mind is that if you do have a major spill, the faster you mop it/clean it up, the less likely it will stain. You can also keep the surface free of dust by sweeping it often. Swiffers are an excellent option for cleaning treated concrete as the porosity will be smoothed out. In most cases, cement will clean well nothing but water and soap. 

Remember that you should never use wire brushes on your concrete because these can damage the surface. For areas that may need scrubbing, you can use a scrubbing broom for best results.


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