If you’re like most people, you clean the floors inside your home fairly regularly. Whether it’s vacuuming, mopping or something else, you probably do it at least once a week – and possibly more.
However, while the floors inside your home probably get a lot of attention and cleaning, you might not pay the same attention to the floors in your garage. In fact, if you went out and looked at your garage floor right now, you might see all kinds of stains, dirt and spills.
Here’s how you can clean garage floors and get them back to the pristine state they once were.
Why Should You Clean Your Garage Floor?
The first thing you might be wondering is why you might want to find out how to clean garage floors in the first place. After all, the only thing you use the space for is to store your car, tools, and maybe seasonal stuff that you only need once a year!
However, some of the chemicals that make their way onto garage floors can damage the concrete over time. Some are also flammable and therefore a fire hazard, and of course, a clean garage floor will look a whole lot better!
Plan An Early Start
As you will see when we get started with the guide to how to clean garage floors, there are several steps in this process.
This is not a job you want to start late in the afternoon because if you do, there’s a good chance you will have stuff standing outside overnight!
If you can find anyone to help you with this job, you probably want to recruit them too. A lot of hard work goes into cleaning garage floors, and the more hands you can have on deck, the better!
Start with a Shop Vac
The first thing you want to do before you start answering any other questions about how to clean garage floors is to get rid of all the dust, dirt and even sawdust that might be on your garage floor.
Over time, these materials can really build up in your garage, and while you could sweep them out, if you’re dealing with a lot of buildup, a shop vac is a great alternative. These heavy-duty vacuum cleaners don’t have any bells or whistles, but they will pick up all the bits and pieces that are on your floors.
If you haven’t vacuumed for a while, you might have to make more than one pass over the floor. Be sure to vacuum in corners, too, to get rid of any spiderwebs and other creepy crawlies that love to make your garage home!
You might think you can skip this step, but remember that when you wash your garage floor, you will be adding water, and when you add water to dust, you’re going to get mud. Trust us. It’s easier to get rid of the dust first!
If you don’t have a shop vac and you need to sweep your floor, sprinkle some water on the floor before you start. This will help to prevent some of the dust from flying up into the air. You should also wear a dust mask while you sweep or vacuum for the same reason!
Move Everything Off the Floor
Whether it’s power tools or something else, if it’s on the floor when you start cleaning your garage floors, it will get wet and potentially damaged.
If you have items in bins on shelves that won’t get wet or damaged and won’t be in the way, you can leave them in place. But you should move everything else out. Don’t put it on the driveway directly in front of your garage either! The water you’re using to clean will have to go somewhere, and that’s usually straight down the driveway! Instead, stack it to one side.
Cover Electrical Outlets
Most garages have at least a few electrical outlets, and they’re usually fairly close to the floor. Since we know that water and electricity don’t mix, you need to make sure they won’t get splashed while you’re cleaning.
Cover the outlets with thick plastic and tape all around so that they’re completely watertight.
If you have any other items in your garage that you can’t move that also need protection, tarps or more plastic can be used to keep them dry and safe.
Clean the Whole Floor
There will probably be a few stains on your garage floor that can’t be taken off with simple detergent and a hose, but if you can get rid of everything that will first, you’ll have a better idea of what you are dealing with.
A large, heavy-duty outdoor broom is a great tool for this part of the job. Use a grease-cutting detergent (even dish soap will work) and brush with the broom. Use a hose to rinse off the water, sweeping as you go.
After this step, you should have removed all the easy-to-remove stains, and you can let the floor dry before you take a closer look at anything that remains.
Removing Rust Stains
One of the things you might find on your garage floor is rust. Rust stains happen when steel items get wet, and because concrete is a porous substance, it does absorb this kind of discoloration.
White vinegar and lemon juice can both be used to clean rust stains off concrete. First, pick up any visible pieces of rust, and then pour a good amount of your chosen liquid onto the stain. Let it sit for fifteen minutes, and then use a scrubbing brush to lift out the stain. Rinse and allow to dry to be sure that the stain is gone or faded.
If you have particularly tough stains, you might need to repeat this process. You can also get commercial rust stain removers at most hardware stores.
Removing Oil Stains
Since you use your garage for vehicles, it makes sense that from time to time, you will get oil stains.
Again, because concrete floors are porous, it can be tricky to get these out once they have set in.
Apply a thick layer of cat litter over the stains and leave them overnight. Cat litter is very absorbent, and it will help to remove any oil that can still be absorbed out of the concrete, when you’re ready to start cleaning, vacuum or sweep the cat litter off the spot.
Next, you can use a grease-cutting detergent to scrub the area. You can also get commercial grease cleaners from most hardware and automotive stores.
Grease and oil stains can be very hard to remove from garage floors, so you might not be able to get it all out. However, you can certainly make them seem less prominent.
Removing Paint Stains
Most of us store paint in our garage at some point, and sometimes, paint drips happen. You don’t have to leave them, though.
How you remove paint stains from your concrete garage floor will depend a lot on what kind of paint it is. A water-based paint can usually be removed by scraping and then scrubbing with water and detergent. Oil-based paints will probably require you to use a solvent like turpentine or paint stripper. Speak to your local hardware store to see what products they recommend, but remember that these products can be dangerous, so make sure you follow all manufacturer’s instructions!
Consider Using a Pressure Washer
Even if you have already cleaned your whole garage floor and tackled stubborn stains with the methods mentioned here, you might still want to give the floor a final once-over with a pressure washer.
Pressure washers have various nozzles that can be used to clean every nook and cranny of your garage floor, and they will get all the dirt you missed during the other steps.
Most home hardware stores sell pressure washers, and there are also some options to rent a unit if you don’t want to make the investment.
Pressure washers might seem like a harmless tool, but they can be dangerous if not used correctly. Make sure you wear eye protection while you work and keep pets and kids away from the area while you work.
Preventing Garage Floor Stains
Once you have cleaned your garage floor, you probably won’t want to do it for a while! That’s understandable, and there are a few things you can do to help prevent this problem from happening again. Here are a few options.
Get Garage Matting
Garage matting is an affordable option to protect your floors from spills, stains and damage. They are usually made from rubber that is relatively easy to clean with a hose or pressure washer.
Depending on what kind of mats you get, you might also need to lift them up from time to time to sweep or vacuum the area.
Consider Painting Your Garage Floor
If you’ve tried everything and you still can’t get stubborn stains out of your garage floor, and you really want them to be pristine, you do have the option of painting over them.
Make sure you get heavy-duty, industrial paint that is designed for use on concrete floors and follow all surface preparation and application instructions to get the best possible results.
You might need to repaint your floor every few years as they chip or get damaged, but heavy-duty floor paint is usually very easy to clean!
Painted floors can be slippery. So consider getting some stick on rough strips to add grip in key areas of the garage.
Get Your Floors Epoxy Coated
Another good way to prevent stains and damage on your garage floors is to have them professionally epoxy coated. This is a very special type of paint system that is professionally applied and gives the floor a very smooth, hard-wearing finish.
Epoxy coating garage floors can be costly, but the coating does last for many years. Like painted floors, however, they can be slippery when wet, so you do need to be extra careful when you walk on them!
Use Drip Trays
A very simple way to avoid spills from shelves that hold paint or automotive fluids is to use drip trays. Something as simple as a shoe tray or a cookie sheet under the shelf can help to catch spills and prevent damage to your floors.
Have Cracks and Holes Repaired
This guide is all about cleaning your garage floors, but you should also take the time to repair any chips, cracks and other damage whenever you can. There are some commercial filler products that you can use to repair small cracks and holes yourself, but for larger areas of damage, you might need to hire a professional.
These areas tend to accumulate dirt and grime, so if you can fill them in and make your floor smooth again, you can help to avoid some of the dirt buildup in your garage.
Or Hire a Professional
If you’ve read this guide and realized that you will need to buy all sorts of equipment and cleaning products to get your garage floor clean (and spend hours doing the job!), you might be thinking you don’t hate a dirty floor as much as you thought you did.
It’s true that this is a big job, but fortunately, there are professionals who can get the job done for you.
Professional garage floor cleaning uses heavy duty, commercial grade equipment and products that might not be available to the public, so we can get the job done quickly and get the best possible result.
If you’re in the Houston area, Advantage Pro Services would love to visit your home and give you a quote to get your garage floor clean. So you don’t have to buy all the equipment and products we’ve mentioned here, and you can spend your weekend the way nature intended: with your feet up, watching the game!
So call or email to find out more, or to book a visit to your home to inspect the problem and provide a personalized quote for your garage, and your cleaning needs.