Concrete is used in many areas of the home, such as patios and driveways, sidewalks and pathways. When you have a concrete area on your property, it is important to keep it clean. Most homeowners will use a power washer and mild detergent to clean the area, but what do you do when you have heavy staining? Are there chemicals you shouldn’t use on concrete? Learn what not to do so that you can clean your concrete correctly without causing any damage to the material.

Damaging Chemicals

There are several chemicals that can cause damage to concrete. This can include chlorides and sulfates. With chlorides such as calcium chloride, chemical changes can take place in the concrete when the material is exposed to such chemicals, which can lead to the loss of strength. With sulfates, chemical changes occur which can lead to the weakening of the binder within the concrete, as well as damage like what is seen with a salt reaction.

Known as a salt attack, crystallization and recrystallization can occur when sulfates are used on the concrete. This is why you should know more about the cleaning methods you use, to avoid any sulfates or chlorides in the chemicals used for cleanup.

Proper Methods of Cleaning

Now that you know what chemicals to avoid, you need to get to know what cleaners will work. While pressure washing will remove a layer of dirt, deeper stains require cleaners. A mild cleaner can be found with ph-Neutral cleaners, such as those found at hardware stores. This cleaner is used for sealed concrete surfaces that are not embedded with dirt. It also works well for unsealed concrete on the exterior or interior of the home. Scrubbing is needed after the cleaner has been applied.

For removing stains or contamination within the concrete, an acidic cleaner will be needed. If you have efflorescence on your concrete, a metallic salt that is insoluble, this type of cleaner will work to remove it. After you use the cleaner, great care needs to be given to the concrete to remove the acid cleaner along with a clean water rinse.

An alkaline cleaner can also be used to remove any stains or cleaning issues within your concrete. This type of cleaner is known as a concrete degreaser and will remove oil, grease and other stains that are hydrocarbon-based. The high alkalinity of the cleaner will break down any oil contamination.

Before using any type of cleaner or chemical, it is important to review what is used within the cleaning agent and how it might affect your concrete. You do not want to go to all the trouble of cleaning your driveway or sidewalk, only to find that the area has been eaten away by using the wrong chemical on the material.

Learn more about your cleaning options and consult concrete experts when needed to make the right decision when it comes to your concrete cleaning needs.



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Meet Lance Davis


Lance Davis is a third generation Concrete Contractor with over 10+ years experience in concrete repair and slabjacking. His company Davis & Sons Concrete has proudly served all of North Central Illinois, Rockford and the outer suburbs - and he would love to hear from you!

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