by Carolanne Strong
(last updated October 27, 2014)
Have you ever noticed how the sidewalk changes color every time it rains? That happens because even though concrete appears to be solid, it is actually very porous. The word "concrete" can be misleading. Not only is it the name for the substance that forms the foundations of our homes, sidewalks, and garages, but it is also an adjective that means solid, which is actually far from the case.
Concrete is a mixture of rocks, sand cement and water. The spaces between these differently sized particles allow liquids to seep through. This explains why your garage floor accumulates dark greasy patches where you park your car every day. Grease and oil drip from a hot engine and the marks can be difficult to remove. The trick to cleaning your garage floor is to understand that it is not a surface stain, and that you must penetrate the surface to lift the grease.
For this project you will need a bag of kitty litter, liquid dish soap, and a hose or pressure washer. You will be working on your hands and knees for a portion of this project, so wear clothes that you don't mind ruining. Also, any rags or scouring pads that you use won't be good for any other purpose, so use old things that you won't miss.
Start your cleaning project with a clear surface. With an old broom (make sure it's one that you don't plan to use in the house any longer) sweep the area free of dirt and debris, and apply a generous coating of kitty litter. The litter is very absorbent and will soak up surface grease if you leave it on for an hour or more. Sweep up the used litter and discard it according to the disposal rules in your area. Some cities have special depositories for automotive oil and items contaminated by it, so make sure that you dispose of your cleaning waste correctly.
After the cat litter has done its job, apply the area with a liberal amount of liquid dish soap such as Dawn or Palmolive and rub it in with a rag or scouring pad. The molecules in dish soap bind to grease, so work it into the concrete. After you have done this, allow the soap to sit for a few hours before you spray it off. A high pressure water sprayer works best to remove the soap and grease, but if you don't have access to one or don't want to spend the money to rent one, a garden hose with a jet spray nozzle may work. This is the fun part, because you will have a lot of bubbles. After the area has dried, check your work. Remember this is a deep stain, so it may take a few rounds of soap and water to remove it.
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