How to Remove 15 Common Outdoor Concrete Stains

by Katie Dillon

How to Remove Concrete Stains


Even the most well-maintained concrete slab patios, driveways and garage floors suffer the accidental stain.

If you entertain outdoors or just use your house like the average person does, making a mess on the concrete is a fact of life whether nature, your guests or you are responsible.

Take a deep breath and don’t stress.

We’ve identified the most common household concrete stains and removal methods to try before turning to more drastic measures.

 

Before You Begin

 

1. Don’t scrub concrete with a wire brush as it can scrape it.

2. Be mindful of rinsing oil and other chemical stains into plants and other sensitive areas.

3. Spot test whatever you do on a small, hidden area of your concrete to make sure no further damage will be created by any of these methods.

4. Think about wearing protective clothing and gloves, depending on which method you choose.

5. Concrete countertops require extra precautions, so consult your manufacturer prior to using any of these stain removal tips.

6. Be careful using bleach or other chemicals on colored or stained concrete as it can discolor. Concrete is often colored in shades of grey so check to make sure yours isn’t.

 

1. Red Wine

 

If the spill is caught early, blot or wash it into a drain right away.  

Add a few drops of tea tree oil and glycerin (can be purchased at a drugstore) to a few quarts of water in a bucket.

Scrub and let sit on the wine stain for 20-30 minutes.

Don’t let it dry too quickly–apply more if necessary.

Scrub again and rinse.

Increase the amount of tea tree oil and glycerin if the stain isn’t lifted.

Alternatively, after rinsing or blotting the initial spill, apply a 1:1 ratio of water to white vinegar and scrub with a sponge soaked with water and dish soap.

Rinse and blot dry.

Apply glycerin with a damp sponge on any remaining stain and repeat the cycle.

 

2. Potted Plant Stains

 

How to remove potted plant stains

 

They’re so pretty, but moving potted plants around often leaves behind a stain from water getting trapped beneath the pot.

These can be tough to remove so we offer you options ranging from simple to severe.

Using water and dish soap, scrub the stain and rinse.

If this doesn’t work, sprinkle dry detergent over the wet area and let sit for 10 minutes.

Pour hot water (be careful not to burn yourself) over the detergent and scrub well.

Repeat.

Stain still showing?

Cover it with distilled white vinegar and leave for a few hours without allowing it to dry.

Next, try a 1:2 ratio of oxygenated bleach to water.

Apply and let it soak for 10 minutes.

Scrub using more hot water.

Lastly, if this fails, try trisodium phosphate which can be bought at a hardware store, however, keep kids and pets away from it.

Mix 1 cup of trisodium phosphate with 1 gallon of water and leave on the stain for 20 minutes.

If you can, blot it up versus rinsing as it will kill plants.

 

3. Mildew

 

It’s unattractive and causes respiratory issues.

Aside from being a health hazard, it’s also slippery.

Mildew often results from moisture trapped by plants covering areas of concrete.

Make sure to keep plants pruned and away from the concrete.

It’s important to kill the mildew and sometimes the sun and ventilation is enough to do that.

Otherwise, you’ll need a mildewcide.

This mildewcide was developed by the U.S.

Department of Agriculture’s Forest Products Laboratory and can be mixed up at home. 

Pour 1 quart of chlorine bleach into 3 quarts of water.

Add 1/3 cup of powdered laundry detergent.

Apply with a brush to mildew stains.

Let it sit until the black or green stains turn white, but don’t let it dry.

Rinse off.

 

4. Moss and Algae

 

Moss and algae can spread rapidly if not controlled.

Using Simple Green, a scrub brush and a hose can help small areas.

Or, try distilled white vinegar and a scrub brush.

For larger areas, homeowners report success eliminating algae by attaching a liquid fertilizer delivery device to the end of a garden hose and filling it with pool chlorine.

 

5. Sidewalk Chalk

 

Clean Sidewalk Chalk Off Concrete 

Even chalk that’s meant to be used on the sidewalk can be difficult to remove.

Using a brush and water, rise off as much sidewalk chalk as possible.

Next, apply Soft Scrub and work in a circular motion.

Rinse.

 

6. Coffee

 

You let the dog out first in the morning and trip over the door sill– launching coffee all over the concrete patio.

It happens to the best of us.

Coffee is tannic, like wine, so use a 1:4 ration of glycerin to water on a sponge to scrub and remove it.

Rinse.

 

7. Crayon

 

Washable crayons will probably remove with soap and water.

Non-washable crayons are a different story.

Try using an oil-based lubricant or cleaner like Goo Gone or WD-40.

Use a scrub brush or toothbrush to get the crayon out.

Wipe away the crayon and cleaner.

If there’s an oil-like film remaining, use dish soap and water to remove it.

 

8. Rust

 

Patio furniture, garden tools and other metal objects can leave a dreaded rust stain.

To eradicate, mix unsweetened Kool-Aid lemonade with hot water.

Scrub and rinse.

Or, pour distilled white vinegar over the stain and let it soak in for a few hours.

Repeat.

Then, scrub the stain with a brush.

Blot occasionally while scrubbing to absorb rust.

Rinse well.

 

9. BBQ Grease

 

How to remove oil and grease stains


If your juicy steak splattered grease on the concrete patio, make a paste of powdered laundry detergent and water.

Cover the stain with 1/4 inch of paste and securely tape plastic wrap on top.

Leave for 24 hours.

Scrub and rinse.

Repeat, if necessary.

 

10. Oil And Grease

 

If it’s a fresh stain, grab paper towels and mop up the excess liquid.

Make sure to dispose of them safely.

From here,  you have several options.

Scrub with some dish soap and water using a old towel or nylon scrub brush.

Blot up the excess liquid as it’s not the best thing in the world to rinse it elsewhere.

Another strategy that seems to work well is using kitty litter to soak up liquid.

Cover the area with kitty litter and grind it in wearing old shoes.

Consider wearing a mask to avoid inhaling any kitty litter dust.

Sweep up the kitty litter and rinse the area.

Spray a generous amount of WD-40 over the stain.

Blot up and make sure to rinse the liquid off of the area.

Spray a generous amount of oven cleaner on your grease stain.

Let sit 5-10 minutes and use a high-pressure hose to rinse off.

Repeat if necessary.

 

11. Berries and Other Dark Fruit

 

Remove berry stains from concrete

 

The sun can dry stepped-on berries into an unsightly stain.

In this case, using soap will actually cause the stain to set.

Mix flour and hydrogen peroxide to form a thick paste similar in consistency to peanut butter.

Cover the stain with the paste in a layer that’s about 1/4 inch thick.

Securely tape plastic wrap over the paste and let sit for 24-48 hours.

As the paste dries, it will lift the stain.

You may need to repeat this a few times to achieve victory.

 

12. Commercial Salt Stains

 

This is a stain prevention tip.

If you live in an area where it snows, instead of using commercial salt to melt the snow in your walkways and driveways, use baking soda.

The commercial salt can stain whereas baking soda doesn’t.

 

13. Leaf Stains

 

How to remove stains on concrete pavers

 

 As pretty as foliage is, the compounds that give it gorgeous color can actually be absorbed into concrete.

Scrub a mixture of dish soap and water on to the stain and rinse it off using high pressure from hose.

It this doesn’t work, try using OxiClean.

Let it sit on the wet stain for about 10 minutes or so, then scrub in a circular motion.

 

14. Pet Urine

 

How to remove pet urine stains

 

Fortunately, most pet stores carry safe, enzymatic urine removal products and if you have a pet, it’s wise to keep some on hand to tackle urine stains and odor.

First, scrub the stain with dish soap and water in order to remove as much urine as possible.

If you catch the stain early, this might be all you need in addition to some sunshine.

Odor can be further reduced by an application of distilled white vinegar, however, the pet store products are most effective.

Did you know that you can identify pet urine on concrete with a black light?

 

15. Cigarette Stains

 

The person who tossed that cigarette butt on to your concrete had better have brought washing soda as a hostess gift.

You can buy washing soda (it’s different than baking soda) or turn your baking soda into washing soda by sprinkling some onto a half-sheet pan (or similar) and bake it at 400 degrees until it loses luster and becomes grainy.

Or, just buy washing soda.

Use a mixture of washing soda and water along with a brush to scrub the stain out.

Your best bet is to diligently power wash and seal outdoor concrete regularly because it is so porous.

The other reason why keeping liquid from absorbing into concrete is important because it puts stress on the concrete, leading to  cracking.

 

Final Thoughts…

 

If the above stain removal measures don’t work, contact a professional.

And, don’t panic–concrete stains are a part of life so no one expects it to look flawless forever.

 

Do you have a common stain & solution that we missed?

 

Share it with us below… 

 

About the Author

Katie writes La Jolla Mom, a lifestyle site focused on parenting, luxury travel, cooking with kids, home management and local happenings. When not traveling, she lives in the seaside community of La Jolla, CA with her 5-year-old fashionista, dog, and husband. Follow Katie on TwitterPinterest and Google +.

Enjoyed this post? Get our blog posts sent to your e-mail
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Add your comment

Blogger image

Bluebox

We at INSTALL-IT-DIRECT specialize in Pavers & Synthetic Turf installations.

We have transformed 100's of homes making them the ENVY of their neighborhood!

Read how to choose the right contractor for your project.

Calculator

Banners

Pavers Installation

  • Beautiful Backyard in Less Than a Week
  • Increased Property Value
  • The Last Paver Installation you’ll ever need, It Will Last a Lifetime

Artificial Grass

  • Have a beautiful yard all year around
  • Save on Maintenance Costs
  • Save Time, no more Watering or Mowing