Knowing how to clean your garage floor properly is a skill that any homeowner and DIY enthusiast must have. Basic knowledge on how to protect your garage floors from grime buildup can help you with several other floor-related projects – from painting to epoxy coating.
But not all garage floors are made the same. Depending on the materials used to build the floor of your garage, you’ll need to apply the appropriate procedures and products to make your floor spotless. Most garage floors are made of concrete, and over time, concrete loses its structural integrity and becomes more prone to cracks which, if left untreated, can become the ideal spot for dirt and mold to accumulate.
In this article, we’ll go over the type of equipment and cleaning solution you’ll need to give your concrete floors a thorough cleaning. We’ll also discuss the different methods to apply in order to remove several types of commonly found stains on garage floors.
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What Tools You’ll Need
To get your garage floors to their squeakiest, you’ll need several different cleaning items. In this section, we’ll go over each of the items individually and provide you with a basic buying guide on how to select the right model for your garage floors.
The most important tool you need to scrub and release dirt and grime from concrete floors is a deck brush. This type of brush is rather inexpensive and can be used for cleaning floors other than in your garage. The most important things to consider when shopping for a deck brush are the bristles and clearing width.
The main thing that separates deck brushes from push brushes is its bristles. Deck brushes have stiffer, shorter bristles, perfect for heavy-duty scrubbing on tough materials like concrete. Push brushes have longer, softer brushes, mainly for collecting and pushing dust around, and won’t be of much help when scrubbing concrete.
The clearing width of a brush refers to how wide of an area it can clean with each sweep. In our opinion, the widest brush you should get is 9 inches but narrower is actually better. Even though you technically need scrub more with narrower brushes, it actually allows you to apply more pressure per inch of surface area.
If you’re looking for a tool that’ll clean your garage floor in less time, then consider investing or renting a floor buffer. They’re a lot quicker at cleaning larger areas while still applying a great amount of downward pressure that super-cleans floors.
The most important thing to consider when looking for the right floor buffer is the type of scrubbing head it comes with. For cleaning concrete garage floors, the best scrubbing head uses nylon which is hard enough for heavy-duty scrubbing but won’t mar your floors.
The best thing about floor buffers is that you don’t need to consider the foot area of the scrubbing head. Since the tool constantly applies even pressure on every square inch of the scrubbing head, you don’t need to worry about uneven cleaning. When it comes to the brush’s cleaning area, wider is better, but make sure it’s easy to maneuver around the various objects anchored to your garage floor.
You could technically get away with using a pressure nozzle attachment for your garden hose – a cheap and effective solution for applying water and rinsing away detergent – but to really get your garage floor clean, the best tool would be a pressure washer.
Pressure washer shoot high-pressure jets of water that life and even remove caked-on stains from floors, decks, car bodies, and driveways. Needless to say, pressure washers are extremely versatile and have a ton of use outside of the garage. For home use, an inexpensive electric pressure will suit you fine.
The two most important things to look at when purchasing or renting a pressure washer is its PSI and GPM ratings. PSI (pounds per square inch) refers to how much force is shot out of the spray lance. For concrete cleaning, a model that provides at least 3,000 PSI is ideal.
The GPM (gallons per minute) rating is how much water the unit uses. Pressure washers are naturally more water-conscience than garden hoses, typically using less than 5 GPM, whereas outdoor spouts can use more than 24 GPM. To clean concrete, a pressure washer that delivers at least 3 GPM is perfect, but you can get away with 1 or 2 GPM.
After pre-rinsing, scrubbing, applying a cleaning solution (more on this later), scrubbing again, and final rinsing, the only thing left to do is remove any excess water on your garage floor. This is a crucial step in maintaining proper concrete health since concrete is naturally porous, and residual water can weaken its structure when left for long periods of time. A floor squeegee can remove most of the water on the floor’s surface, allowing it to dry quicker. Tip: Use a fan to quicken the drying process.
We found that almost all floor squeegees perform similarly. The only thing that can affect how well the tool works is the width of the rubber squeegee. Wider is better, but it needs to be narrow enough to pass comfortably below any tables or benches you have in your garage.
Bonus #1: How to Remove Oil and Grease
After pre-rinsing your garage floors, the first thing you’ll want to tackle is any oil or grease stains left by your vehicle or lawn tools. To lift greasy stains from concrete, the best cleaning agent would be a degreaser or TSP.
Drop a spoonful of whatever cleaning agent you choose onto the oil spill, let it sit for a couple of minutes or per the product’s instructions, then take your deck brush or floor buffer and give the area a good, thorough scrubbing. Spray the area clean with you pressure washer before repeating the process until the stain is gone. We found that it takes up to two repeats to thoroughly eliminate slippery stains.
Bonus #2: How to Remove Rust
There are several different products you can use to remove rust from concrete floors. The most basic of which are lemon juice (freshly squeezed) and white vinegar, with the latter being more appropriate for larger spots. Pour the juice or vinegar on the rusted area, let it sit for 5 minutes, then use a deck brush to scrub the rust back to hell. Repeat the process if necessary.
You can also use TSP to remove rust by mixing it with boiling water. A higher concentration of TSP to water would be ideal. Pour it on the stain, wait for between 15 and 20 minutes, then scrub using a deck brush. You may need to repeat this process up to two more times depending on how bad the rusted area is.
The most effective way to remove rusted spots from your concrete floors is by applying Oxalic acid. It can come in powder form, so make sure to follow the product’s instructions to create a powerful, soupy paste. Drop a bit of the paste onto the rusted area and wait for five minutes. Scrub with the deck brush and rinse before repeating the process once more.
Keeping your garage floors clean can be a challenge, especially if you need to remove a ton of tools and knickknacks from your garage to expose its dirty, greasy, rusted floors. However, with the right tools and cleaning solutions, you can lift and remove even the most difficult stains in no time at all, leaving your garage floor spotless and ready to contaminate with dirt and oil later on.