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How to Clean an Unfinished Basement Floor (Explained!)



Basement flooring is one of the most important areas in a home because it's where you store your valuable items.

However, it is often overlooked; hence dust, mud, and other debris quickly accumulate and stay on its surface for a long time. This becomes problematic when you decide to clean.

To keep your basement clean, regular cleaning and mopping with a degreaser or other effective cleaning methods can go a long way toward removing tough stains and restoring the floor to its original condition.

In this article, we will explain how to clean an unfinished basement floor to improve the condition and lifespan of your basement environment.

Let's delve in.

How to remove mold and mildew from unfinished basement floor?

Basement floors can become stuffy as a result of mildew and mold. This is even more common in the basement with poor ventilation or when water seeps through your basement flooring.

Attempting to clean by sweeping or vacuuming the mold or mildew will only spread spores throughout the basement and establish new colonies; hence the mold must be killed before removal.

To remove these unwanted guests from your basement floor, follow these easy steps:

  • Ensure proper air circulation by opening the entrances and removing unused items in order to reduce the smell.

  • Use a commercial mold and mildew cleaner or mix about 2 ounces of household bleach per quart of clean water into a spray bottle.

  • Spray the mixture over the basement floor and walls to kill the mold.

  • Use a nylon-bristled scrub brush to work the solution into the basement floor and walls.

  • Wipe the surfaces with a mop and clean water.

Make sure you put on protective gloves, a facemask and cover your entire body while performing this task.

How to clean stained areas on a basement floor?

Stains on your basement floor can be caused by various things, including spills, dirt, and even pet urine.

To clean stained areas, you must first consider the floor type in your basement (sealed or unsealed). Secondly, consider the kind of stain on it.

Sealed concrete is resistant to spills, grime, rust, and other things that cause damage, making it easier to clean and maintain. Unsealed concrete floors, on the other hand, attract dust and debris and are prone to moisture, making them more demanding to clean.

Typically, it would be best if you started by sweeping your basement floor to remove any loose dirt or debris. Then, use a solution of warm water and dish soap to scrub the stained area.

For difficult stains, you may need to use a commercial concrete cleaner. And as mentioned above, if you have a mold situation, you should kill the mold before attempting to brush or sweep out the stain.

How to get rid of efflorescence from a concrete basement floor?

Efflorescence is a white powdery material that forms on a concrete floor surface when water that seeped evaporates. It's a soluble salt that remains on your basement concrete floor unless you clean it.

To remove efflorescence in concrete, brush it with a stiff nylon brush, then wipe the place with a wet rag or mop. After the efflorescence is removed, a wet vacuum or air can be used to remove standing water.

Another method is applying a solution of white vinegar or muriatic acid. Other commercial products can be used too, but they must be tested on a small area first so that they will not deteriorate the concrete.

To prevent stains from showing up again, seal up all gaps or cracks to waterproof your basement floor and walls.

How to remove rust stains off a concrete floor?

To remove rust stains from a concrete floor, first, determine whether your concrete is painted or delicate in any way. If it is, dilute the following solutions with one equal part of water and employ a brush that will not strip away the paint.

To remove rust stains from the concrete flooring, implement the following steps:

  • Clean the surface with soap and water to wash away surface-level dirt or grease that could prevent the acids from effectively eliminating the stain.

  • Soak the stain thoroughly with pure lemon juice, and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

  • Use a wire brush to scrub the spot. If you have delicate concrete, utilize a gentler nylon brush. If your concrete is highly fragile, you can use a sponge. However, this will be less effective than a brush.

  • Rinse the stained spot and let it dry.

You may need to repeat the stain removal process. But if the smear is particularly stubborn, you can replace the lemon juice with something stronger, such as white vinegar. If necessary, repeat the process with white vinegar.

If the lemon juice or white vinegar approach does not work, you can use a commercial rust cleaner with oxalic acid, Trisodium phosphate, or hydrochloric acid.

In this case, follow the safety precautions when applying the rust remover or acid. Allow to sit for 5 to 20 minutes, then scrub and rinse.

For particularly stubborn stains, rinse the acid away with a pressure washer.

A cheaper approach is the use of dry cement. Use dry cement on spots stained with rust. Rub the cement all over with flagstone. As you continue to rub, the stain will come out.

How to remove oil and grease stains?

There are two ways you can remove oil and grease stains.

The first method involves pouring dry cornstarch or baking soda on the oil stains. After it has absorbed as much oil as possible, sweep it up with a broom and dustpan.

If the spill is still wet, sweep the absorbent material and wet the stain with water.

If the stain has set in, spray it with water and scrub the area with baking soda and water paste.

To remove the remaining stain, make a baking soda paste with water and apply it with a stiff nylon brush. Rinse off and soak up the residue.

You can also use a concrete cleaner or degreaser, especially if it is an old oil stain. Apply a degreaser, and let special single-celled microorganisms break down the oil.

When using degreasers, make sure you follow all manufacturers' directions. Most degreasers use petroleum distillates. Because they are not as benign as baking soda, use a respirator and safety glasses.

How to clean unsealed concrete basement floors?

Unsealed concrete is porous, which means it can absorb grease, oil, and other debris, resulting in stains. When stains set in on your concrete, it can be difficult to clean. Hence, wipe or clean up spilled liquid immediately to prevent such stains.

All of the methods for cleaning different kinds of stains discussed in the sections above can be applied when cleaning an unsealed concrete basement floor.

Cleaning a basement floor with a pressure washer

Pressure washing is an effective way to clean large surfaces without scrubbing. It works best on non-porous surfaces like concrete but is not recommended for wooden walls or dirt floors.

However, use this method only if you have an effective drainage system in your basement.

Here's a step-by-step method on how to pressure wash a basement floor:

  • Begin by thoroughly sweeping the floor to remove loose debris and dirt.

  • Fill up the pressure washer tank with clean water.

  • Carefully test the pressure needed to remove built-up dirt, grime, mold, and dust from your basement floor.

  • Starting from the room's edges and work your way toward the drain

  • Spray the floors with the desired force until all visible dirt is removed.

  • Use the broom to push excess water toward the drain.

  • Allow the floor to dry thoroughly before using the space again.

It is crucial to note that when using a pressure washer indoors, you must never use a gas-powered one. Instead, opt for an electric pressure washer that is labeled as safe for enclosed spaces.

Homemade solutions to clean an unfinished basement floor

Using commercial products to clean your basement made with concrete flooring can eliminate stains and nasty smells. But, if you prefer using homemade solutions, there are several options you can try. Below are some of them.

Add trisodium phosphate to the wash water

Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is an inorganic alkaline compound that is highly soluble in water and works well as a cleaning agent.

You can use it to remove oil, grease, mold, and mildew from your basement concrete floor.

Follow the steps below when using this method:

  • Pour 1 gallon of warm water and 3 ounces TSP into the bucket and mix.

  • Pour the solution directly onto the stained areas of the basement floor and scrub with the wire brush to remove the stains.

  • After scrubbing, rinse the floor with clean water using the hose.

Use household bleach to get rid of stubborn dirt

Bleach can be used to get rid of stubborn dirt like mildew and mold.

If you decide to use bleach to clean your concrete basement floor, follow these steps for safe and effective cleaning:

  • Begin by ventilating the basement area (open doors and windows)

  • Thoroughly sweep the floors to remove any dust and debris.

  • Mix ¾ cups of bleach in a bucket for every gallon of warm water.

  • Wear eye protection, gloves, and other safety equipment to avoid eye, respiratory, and skin irritation.

  • Use a rubber brush or a sponge to apply the bleach solution onto the floor, scrubbing it as you go.

  • Allow the solution to sit for 10 minutes, then mop the floor with clean water to rinse the bleach thoroughly.

  • Allow the floor to dry entirely before shutting ventilation avenues and reusing the space.

Treat the floor with bleaching powder

Bleaching powder can be used as a cleaning agent to remove stains and eliminate odors in your basement. As a powerful disinfectant, it can kill viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms that may be present on your basement floor.

Follow the steps below when using this method:

  • Spread the bleaching powder evenly across the concrete floor and allow it to absorb foul odors for a day.

  • Sweep up all of the powder with a broom or vacuum and dispose of it properly.

If the odor persists after cleaning, the floor may need to be sealed with a concrete sealer.

Takeaway - Keep your unfinished basement floor clean and healthy

Cleaning an unfinished basement floor may seem daunting, but with the right approach, you can tackle even the toughest stains and keep your space clean and inviting.

While some of the methods discussed in this guide require effort and patience, they will surely give you excellent results.

No matter which method you decide to use, be patient and always keep safety in mind, especially when using acidic cleaners.

By following these guidelines, you'll soon have a clean, shining basement floor.

Westward Renovation is a home renovation and remodeling service company in Portland, Nashville, and Orlando. If you're in these areas and looking to renovate or remodel your home, contact us today to bring your vision to life!

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