How to Clean Unsealed Concrete Floors – Step by Step

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how to clean unsealed concrete floors

If you have unsealed concrete floors in your basement, you may be wondering if caring for them is different than any other type of floor.

And because they don’t have a waterproof coating, it kind of is.

What’s the Best Way to Clean Unsealed Concrete Floors?

Since unsealed concrete floors don’t have a waterproof coating, you need to use water and mopping solutions sparingly. Start by thoroughly vacuuming or dry mopping the floors. Then damp mop as needed and go back over your floors with a towel to dry. You can spot-treat stains, depending on the type.

Expert Advice: In my years of experience working with unsealed concrete floors, one key point that I cannot stress enough is the importance of regular cleaning. Dirt and dust that aren’t readily apparent to the naked eye can mar the surface of the concrete over time, degrading its appearance and texture. So, even if your floor seems clean, remember to vacuum or sweep it at least once a week.

Cleaning Unsealed Concrete Floors: Step by Step

cleaning basement floor

Cleaning unsealed concrete isn’t difficult – it’s just important to use the correct type of cleaner and dry the floor after mopping.

Here’s how to clean unsealed concrete:

  • Vacuum or sweep the floor to remove dirt and dust.
  • Slightly dampen a mop with a gentle mopping solution and run over the floor.
  • Dry the floor with a towel or a dry mop head.

Some good cleaners for unsealed concrete include dish soap and water, ZEP, or diluted Mrs. Meyer’s all-purpose cleaner.

Expert Advice: Always be careful about the type of cleaner you use on your unsealed concrete floor. As a general rule of thumb, if it’s too harsh for your hands, it’s too harsh for your floor. I’ve had excellent results using gentle dish soap and water for routine cleanings, but if you need something a little stronger, I recommend going for a diluted all-purpose cleaner – it does the trick without damaging your floor.

You should avoid using vinegar, bleach, or ammonia as a mopping solution. These can sometimes be used for stain removal but can etch the floor, causing discoloration and crumbling. So use only when truly needed.

How to Get Stains Out of Unsealed Concrete Floors

cleaning concrete basement floor

Unsealed concrete is prone to staining since it doesn’t have a protective sealant on it. Luckily there are many methods for removing these stains, depending on what caused the stain to form.

Here are common unsealed concrete stains and how to remove them.

Oil/Grease – To remove oil or grease from your concrete floor, first soak up the excess oil. You can do this by placing cat litter on the oil and letting it sit for 24 hours. Afterward, vacuum the cat litter with a shop vac and scrub the stain with dish soap and a soft scrub brush.

If this doesn’t lift the stain, try a commercial concrete degreaser.

Rust – Unsealed concrete is prone to rust stains caused by metal furniture. To remove a rust stain, apply white distilled vinegar on it and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Next, scrub with a soft-bristled brush.

Finally, rinse with water and dry the floor.

Food/Drink Stains – You can remove most food and drink stains from unsealed concrete by scrubbing the stain with dish soap and a soft-bristled brush. Be sure to rinse the floor and dry afterward.

Mildew – If your unsealed concrete is developing mold or mildew, you need to remove it as soon as possible. Start by mixing a solution of one cup bleach with one gallon of water. Then, pour the solution on the mildew and scrub with a sponge or soft-bristled scrub brush.

You need to scrub the stain until you’ve removed all of the mold and mildew. Afterward, rinse with water and dry.

Consider sealing your concrete so that it’s less likely to develop mold and other stains.

Expert Advice: While the article suggests sealing the concrete to prevent future stains and mold growth, I want to emphasize that sealants aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. The right sealant for your concrete floor largely depends on its age, usage, and environment, and it may take a bit of trial and error to find the perfect product. Don’t get disheartened if your first sealant doesn’t deliver the expected results – just dust yourself off and try again.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you clean rough concrete floors?

If your concrete floors are rough, vacuuming with a regular sweeper is out of the question. Instead, your best bet for sweeping is to use a dry mop. These mops have large heads and can pick up dirt and dust.

After dry mopping, you use a dampened microfiber mop to go over the floors.

What do you mop unsealed concrete with?

The best mopping solution for unsealed concrete is dish soap and water. This mixture is PH-neutral and can clean up your unsealed concrete without causing damage.

Can you leave concrete floors bare?

While you can leave concrete floors bare, there are risks in doing so. Concrete is porous, so these types of unsealed floors can absorb liquid and stain easily. Adding a sealant will help protect your concrete from water damage and stains.


While durable, unsealed concrete floors are susceptible to stains and are more delicate than sealed concrete. If you need to know how to clean unsealed concrete floors, the most important thing you can do is avoid harsh cleaners and excess water.

Keep your unsealed concrete dust and dirt free by regularly sweeping. Then, mop as needed and dry the floor afterward.

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Katie Barton lives with her husband and three daughters in an 1800’s style log cabin in southern Ohio. She thinks cleaning is relaxing and is considered the organizing go-to person by her family and friends. She runs the blog Cabin Lane where she shares about cleaning, decluttering, and minimalism. See full biography here.

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