One of the most common reasons people choose to go with an epoxy floor covering is they are extremely durable and easy to maintain.
But as easy as that sounds, epoxy floors still need to be cleaned and protected to help them last a long time. Even simple dust and dirt can cause the epoxy finish to wear down given time.
So how do you care for an epoxy floor?
Epoxy flooring is incredibly durable, but even the highest grade epoxy flooring isn’t indestructible if not properly maintained. In order to keep the flooring in the best shape, here are a few things to do to clean and maintain your floor:
- Never use harsh chemicals to clean your epoxy floor – it’ll dull the finish!
- Sweep it frequently with a dust-mop or wet mop.
- Clean up any spills immediately so they don’t set in.
- For deeper cleaning, use Simple Green or even a pressure washer.
In this article, we’ll give you a brief rundown of everything you need to know to care for your epoxy floor, including the right and wrong cleaners and tips to protect your floor so it can last a lifetime.
So let’s get started..
Environmentally Friendly Epoxy Cleaners?
First, a quick word on selecting the right cleaning product, not just for your epoxy floor, but for everything in your house.
Using a cleaning product – ANY cleaning product – on your garage floor means that it’s going to quickly find it’s way into the ground as soon as you’re done.
That’s called ‘direct release’ into the environment.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a set of guidelines to help consumers find products that will do the job, but not be toxic to the environment.
Those guidelines are called the Safer Choice standard and if you want to read more information, you can find it on the EPA’s website here.
More importantly, the EPA has a consumer-friendly search function set up to help us find products that are effective while still being environmentally friendly.
You can use that search page to find products that meet the Safer Choice Standard here.
Each product will clearly say whether it’s “acceptable for outdoor use.”
That said, just because a product is environmentally friendly doesn’t mean that it’s friendly to your epoxy floor!
Let’s take a look at some types of cleaning products that you should never use on your epoxy garage floor.
Never Use These Products On Your Epoxy Floor
I guarantee at least one thing on this list is going to be a head-scratcher, but stick with me, OK?
As tough as epoxy floors are, there are some cleaners that may cause damage to the finish. You won’t necessarily see the damage right away, but in the long-run your epoxy floor won’t be as shiny and may even develop some pitting.
So avoid these types of cleaners at all costs!
I use citrus cleaners on my bamboo floor all the time. It’s an all-natural cleaner that helps protect a wooden finish with essential oils.
The trouble is, those same oils will just add an extra layer to your epoxy floor. In the short-term, that layer will make your epoxy floor very slippery.
But it gets worse.
Over time, those same essential oils will eat away at your glossy epoxy finish and your floor will lose its shine.
Do yourself a favor and just skip any citrus based cleaners for your epoxy floor.
A quick note: Simple Green is NOT a citrus based cleaner (source), but we’ll discuss Simple Green in more detail later in this article.
Strong Acidic or Basic (Alkaline) Cleaners
Here’s a short chemistry lesson. The pH scale is a scale from 0 to 14 with pure, distilled water being smack in the middle with a pH of 7. Anything less than 7 is Acidic. Anything higher than 7 is called Alkaline, or Basic if it is water soluble.
The farther away from 7 you go in either direction, the stronger the substance is.
To give you a frame of reference, soaps will usually be around pH of 7-8, while bleach will be between 12-13. Vinegar is at the opposite end of the spectrum with a pH of around 3. (source)
What does that mean for your epoxy floor?
We’re already talked about the durability of an epoxy coating that helps it protect concrete against damage from moisture and cracks.
But that coating also makes your floor look really good.
And that’s where you want to be careful with what you use to clean it. A strongly acidic or basic cleaner will start to eat away at the coating, making it lose that signature epoxy shine.
You’re probably already thinking “You mean to tell me that I shouldn’t use soap on my epoxy floor? How am I supposed to clean it?”
I want to be clear here: A mild soap is safe to use on your floor, but it might not be that safe for you to walk on afterwards.
Most soap-based cleaners contain several ingredients that make them difficult to rinse the product clean.
If you don’t thoroughly clean all of the soap off, it’ll leave a thin residue behind, much like the soap-scum film in your shower.
In the short term, that makes your floor slippery when wet, so you’ll need to be extra careful when walking on it so you don’t slip and fall.
In the long term, that soapy film accumulates and that great epoxy shine starts to look dull and faded.
I feel I don’t need to go into a lot of detail on this one. It should go without saying.
Abrasive cleaners, such as Comet, or harsh chemicals can damage the surface of the epoxy floor leading to weakening of its protective coating over time.
You’ll also want to avoid using steel wool, plastic mesh pads or other physical abrasives to try to clean tough stains. You might clean up the stain itself, but you’ll end up taking a good chunk of the epoxy finish as well.
What Do You Clean Epoxy Floors With?
Believe it or not, the best cleaning product for your epoxy floor is plain old, ordinary water.
In most cases that’s all you’ll need.
Remember, an epoxy floor coating is a layer of protection and durability, not only against damage to your floor, but against stains and dirt as well.
No, I’m not saying it’s like the Teflon coating on a non-stick frying pan.
But it will make it harder for dirt and liquids to stain the floor.
If you do spill something on your epoxy garage floor, as long as you clean it up quickly, it shouldn’t cause any issues.
If you don’t want to hassle with hosing out your garage, a hand vacuum cleaner or Shop-Vac will make quick work of dirt and dust.
For an even quicker cleaning, a dust mop works wonders too.
Either a dust mop or a vacuum will let you clean your epoxy floor without using any harsh cleaners that may damage the floor.
Tough Stains on your Epoxy Floor?
If you’ve got a tough stain, it doesn’t mean that you’re out of luck.
Spills such as oil, gasoline, or other chemicals can end up staining your epoxy if not cleaned quickly.
Most epoxy flooring companies suggest that a mixture of one gallon of hot water and one-half cup of either ammonia or Simple Green when you need something with a little more cleaning power.
Use caution with ammonia however. It is moderately alkaline (pH of around 11), so be sure it is diluted well!
Personally, I prefer using Simple Green which has a pH of around 9. You can use either the general all-purpose cleaner if you have some around, or Simple Green Oxy Solve Concrete and Driveway Cleaner.
Both can be used with your pressure washer as well for a deeper clean.
That’s right, pressure washing is safe for your epoxy floor as long as your follow some simple safety guidelines! I go into all of those and offer some tips in my article about pressure washing garage floors here.
Follow This Cleaning Schedule for your Epoxy Floor
The easiest way to keep your epoxy floor looking great is to make cleaning it a part of your regular routine.
Take it easy. I don’t mean that you are going to have to worry about your floor every day.
Just follow these few simple steps and you will keep your epoxy floor looking like new.
Once a Week:
Once a week, or more for high traffic floors, use a dust mop to easily clean the floor of dirt and dust. If there are any areas that need attention or if there was a spill you missed, this will help to make sure that nothing sits on the floor long enough to cause permanent staining or damage.
Once a Month:
Each month use a damp mop or sponge mop to go over the complete floor after using the dust mop.
This will pick up any smaller debris, such as tiny pebbles or even sand that may be left behind. There is no need to use any cleaning solutions unless you need to take care of a spill or stain.
Twice a Year:
Even epoxy floors can use a deep cleaning from time to time.
A couple times a year it’s good to thoroughly clean your floor. This is the perfect time to use Simple Green or pressure wash your epoxy floor.
Make sure to fully rinse the floor with fresh water when you’re all done.
Quick Tips for Protecting Your Epoxy Floor
Here are a couple of bonus tips to help keep your epoxy floor looking its best and lasting a lifetime.
- When storing heavy items, consider placing mats under them to prevent dust and dirt from settling on the floor. It’ll also help protect the floor from impact damage.
- Items that could leak fluids such as oils, gasoline, or even water should be placed on shelves or garage cabinets that lets you clean under them. Preventing spills can go a long way to keeping your floor looking great.
As you can see, it’s simple to take care of epoxy flooring and only takes a little bit of time.
I hope you found this article helpful. The information provided is the most general cleaning solutions for most epoxy floor covering. Always follow any specific instructions provided the company that install your flooring, they will know the specific cleaning requirements for the formula they have applied to your floor.
If you’re still deciding whether epoxy flooring is right for you, check out my article titled Should I Epoxy My Garage Floor?