Keeping Your Garage Floor Clean
Cleaning a garage floor can be a challenge. A lot of the stains you typically end up in this area of your home are tough to deal with, to say the least. Many of them are caused by oil-based fluids, which cause stains that are notoriously difficult to get rid of.
However, as you will see, with the right know-how, it is possible to keep your garage floor in tip-top condition. But, before we get into the detail of how to do it, let´s first look at why it is important to keep your garage floor clean.
The primary reason is safety. Greasy stains create a slip-hazard, so you really do need to get rid of them.
Plus, lying on a dirty floor, while repairing the car or lawnmower, is never pleasant. Doing so is a sure way to ruin your work clothes or overalls.
Not to mention the fact that you really do not want the dirt from your garage to be, inadvertently, traipsed through your home. It only takes one person to tread on an oil-stain and walk through the house to completely ruin your carpets.
You also need to think about how your garage will look when you put your house up for sale. Without a doubt, the sight of an oil-stained garage floor is going to put some people off. Inevitably, they will be wondering if buying your home will leave them with a long list of jobs to do. They will be asking themselves whether someone who cannot be bothered to mop over the garage floor has taken the time to clean the gutters regularly and replace loose tiles or shingles.
That is four good reasons to keep your garage floor clean. So, now, let´s look at how to do it.
Make it a regular task
Try not to leave things too long. If you do it three or four times a year, it will only take you half an hour, each time. But, if you leave it until it is very dirty getting your floor to look pristine again can easily take up a whole morning.
Deal with spillages straightaway
If you drop something, clean it up immediately. Taking this approach will stop the oils from the fluids soaking into the concrete.
Use drip trays
It also makes sense to use drip trays or sheets of cardboard under vehicles. That way if a car, RV, motorbike or item of garden machinery suddenly springs a leak the worst of the spillage will be caught, thus reducing the chances of long-term damage.
Dealing with Oil & Grease stains
Prevention is important, but almost inevitably, at some stage, things will go wrong and you are going to end up having to deal with an oily stain. It will take a while to get it out, but it can be done.
Start by using an absorbent cloth or kitchen towel to mop up any residue. At this stage, do not rub. Doing so will only drive the oil deeper into the concrete. Be sure to put these oily rags into a bag or bucket. That way you will not inadvertently stain another area of your garage floor. You do not want the oil from the clothes to leave marks elsewhere.
Once you have got any residue up, sprinkle the entire stain with powdered detergent. Dishwasher detergent is best for this job. But, if you do not have any you can use the kind you use washing machine powder.
Leave this on for at least an hour. The powder will absorb a little of the stain and start to break the oil down.
After the hour, pour a small amount of boiling water over the powdered area. Be careful not to use too much you do not want the stain to spread. Just a bit in the middle, enough to allow you to turn the powder into a thin paste is what you are after.
As soon as the water cools enough scrub the stain vigorously with a hard-bristled brush. You will see the stain start to lift. The watery paste will look dirtier and dirtier. Once it stops getting darker, stop scrubbing and mop it up. Try to work within the edges of the stain so the oily dirt is not spread.
Then, get a clean mop and a bucket of warm water and rinse the stained area. You will need to do this a couple of times.
If the stain has not been fully removed, repeat the whole process, again. It is hard work, but this is an effective way to deal with greasy stains and spillages.
Use a garage floor degreaser
Another alternative is to buy and use a commercial garage floor cleaning product. This option is usually more expensive than using the DIY method outlined above. Plus, you need to be careful about which product you buy. Some work really well, others are almost completely ineffective. Before buying one, it is really worth reading some reviews or talking to friends and family about the ones they use.
When buying a garage floor cleaner, take the time to read the label. You do not want to inadvertently use one that etches the floor as it cleans. These powerful cleaning and etching combination products should only be used if you want to resurface your garage floor.
The chemicals in these products are extremely harsh and powerful. Therefore, you need to be very careful when using them. Follow the manufacturer´s instructions and keep animals and children away from the area while cleaning is in progress and for a few days afterward. If the manufacturer recommends that you wear protective equipment, do so. Be particularly careful not to get it in your eyes.
Cleaning up general dirt
If your garage floor is generally dirty, pick everything up and sweep it thoroughly before actually cleaning it. Doing so will make it far easier for you to get a good result.
Mop the entire area with a mixture of very hot water and detergent. You do not want too many suds. If you use too much detergent it will leave a residue on your garage floor.
Change the water regularly and, if necessary, use more than one mop head. On any areas that are particularly dirty, use a hard-bristle scrubbing brush. Before it dries completely go back over the floor with a fresh mop head using plain hot water. This rinses the floor and stops the detergent used staying on the floor and reacting with the cement.
Keeping your garage floor clean in the long-term
Once your garage floor is pristine again, do your best to keep it looking that way. As we mentioned above use trays and cardboard to catch any drips. If the family keeps their bikes in the garage, get everyone to hose any mud off before they put them away.
Re-surface your garage floor
In some homes, it may be a good idea to have the garage floor resurfaced. Bare cement tends to absorb the stains far more than a painted one will do.
If you do decide to go down this route, do it properly. The floor needs to be 100% clean and properly keyed or etched so that the paint or other resurfacing material bonds properly with your existing flooring material. Be sure to choose a finish that is not too glossy. You do not want to inadvertently turn your garage floor into a huge skating rink.