Cleaning Concrete with Vinegar: Safe for Your Garage Floors?

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I recently did a comparison test for some of the most popular concrete cleaners. But another, more environmentally friendly option is to use regular white vinegar.

Here in Florida, we take great care to ensure pollutants don’t enter the water system. That’s especially true for some of the harsh chemicals we use to clean our garage floors.

Vinegar won’t hurt concrete. Although vinegar is acidic, it’s biodegradable, which makes it safe to use on hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt.

This article will discuss some common questions most homeowners have about cleaning concrete with vinegar.

What Type of Vinegar to Use on Concrete

Only use distilled white vinegar or cleaning vinegar on concrete floors.

You can usually clean concrete with a cleaning solution made from distilled white vinegar and water.

The ratio of water to vinegar depends on how deep the stain you need to remove from your concrete floors is.

Mix equal parts of water with vinegar if you need to remove light to medium stains. Use full-strength vinegar if you need to remove heavily soiled concrete, and let it sit for 30 minutes before rinsing it off with water. Mix baking soda with vinegar to remove grease and deep stains.

Like most things, vinegar’s not a perfect concrete cleaner, but it’s pretty close. Not only is it safe for you and the environment, but it’s also inexpensive and readily available.

Just use caution when cleaning unfinished concrete with vinegar. Do not let the vinegar sit on unfinished concrete for longer than ten to 15 minutes, or it will cause damage. If you’re working with unfinished concrete, let the vinegar sit on it for a bit longer to work better on deeper stains.

Cleaning Concrete With Vinegar: FAQ

You may have some questions if you’ve never used vinegar to clean your concrete floor.

In this section, I’ve compiled a list of some of the most common questions people ask, and the answers may surprise you.

Will Vinegar Damage Concrete Floors & Driveways?

If you have a bare concrete floor or driveway, cleaning it with vinegar will not damage it.

You’ll want to avoid saturating the concrete, however. Any liquid that seeps into your floor will damage the cement that binds concrete together.

Over time, this will erode and weaken the concrete. 

Do not use vinegar, ammonia, bleach, or citrus-based cleaners if you have a sealed or polished concrete floor. 

They may cause a chemical reaction that weakens the floor’s top layer. This can erode even the most durable garage floor coating

Only use pH-neutral cleaners on sealed and polished concrete floors. 

Will Vinegar Remove Paint From Concrete?

Yes, cleaning concrete with vinegar will remove paint from concrete. Vinegar is a natural and eco-friendly way to remove even the most stubborn paint from concrete. Vinegar dissolves both water-based and oil-based paints and can even remove spray paint.

To use vinegar to clean paint, heat between half a cup and one cup of cleaning vinegar, depending on the surface and size of the paint spill.

You can heat the vinegar in the microwave or the stove, but do not let it reach a boil. Always use caution with hot liquids to avoid burns.

Pour the warm vinegar on the painted surface and wipe with an applicator brush or sponge.

Agitate with a scrub brush and let the vinegar sit for 10 to 15 minutes to break down the paint. Gently scrape the residue with a putty knife or razor blade.

Repeat as necessary until you remove all unwanted paint from your cement.

Will Vinegar Remove Oil From Concrete?

Yes, vinegar will remove mild oil stains from concrete. It even works on stubborn, deeper stains if you create a cleaning solution of vinegar and dish or laundry soap.

After soaking up any excess oil with sawdust, mix half a cup of vinegar with Dawn dish soap and water. Then, pour the mixture onto the concrete and allow it to settle.

Agitate the mixture using a scrub brush or sponge. This cleaning solution helps to break down the chemical bonds in the oil, allowing you to wipe it up.

Will Vinegar Remove Mold From Concrete?

Vinegar also helps to remove mold from concrete. In fact, vinegar is more effective than bleach for removing mold and mildew stains from concrete.

Bleach only removes the top layer of mold, allowing it to grow back even stronger. However, most molds die when they encounter vinegar, which helps prevent new mold from growing.

Only use distilled white vinegar or cleaning vinegar to kill mold, not natural vinegar like apple cider vinegar. Natural vinegar can harbor trace amounts of bacteria.

Always use a mask, gloves, and face shield when cleaning mold. Mold spores spread very readily, and you don’t know what you’re dealing with. In fact, many people hire professionals to avoid potential health risks from cleaning mold. However, if you are careful and the area is manageable, you can do it yourself.

Combine undiluted distilled white vinegar with one teaspoon of baking soda in a spray bottle. Spray the solution to saturate the concrete surface.

Let it sit for 60 minutes.

Then, wipe away the mold and reapply as necessary.

Will Vinegar Remove Algae and Moss From Concrete?

Yes, cleaning concrete with vinegar will remove algae and kill moss on concrete. Vinegar does remove algae from concrete, similar to how it removes mold from concrete. Algae that comes into contact with vinegar dies just like mold.

You can use a spray bottle or pour diluted vinegar directly onto the concrete you wish to clean. After 30 minutes, use a hard-bristle brush to scrub the algae or moss off the affected area. Repeat as many times as necessary until all of the algae is removed.

Vinegar can be used for longer periods on unfinished surfaces to remove algae, serving as an excellent cement cleaner.

Cleaning concrete with vinegar is a natural, safe alternative to using harsh chemicals. In the case of algae and mold, it does a better job than bleach and is better in the long term for killing these infestations.

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Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.

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