Whether you've got a suburban garage or modern grunge-inspired loft, you've most likely got concrete surfaces somewhere in your home. And even though they may look impervious to spills, at some point even the toughest surfaces can stain—or just gradually build up the general grime of life.
Everything needs to be cleaned eventually, and steam cleaning is one of the easiest and most eco-friendly ways to do so.
The phrase "steam cleaning" as it's commonly used actually covers several very different techniques:
- High-pressure steam: while it can be very effective, high-pressure steam uses gallons of water per minute and high pressure and heat to clean.
- A "steam" vac: which is actually chemical extraction using, at best, hot water and chemical cleaners that are laid down and then extracted. No steam is actually used at all.
- Steam vapor: on the other hand, steam vapor uses quarts of water per hour and uses heat rather than pressure as its cleaning mechanism. The steam carries the heat to the surface and into the pores, then the heat disengages the soil and draws it to the heat source (in the Advap case, the floor cleaning tool).
It's important to know whether you're using high-pressure steam, a steam vac, or steam vapor system in order to get the results you want.
The instructions provided below are specific to the Advap system; if you are using a different system, make sure to check their manual and parts instructions before beginning use and keep in mind that the attachments may behave differently.
And as always, spot check the steam clean somewhere inconspicuous before doing your entire surface.
How Does Concrete Get Dirty?
No matter how impenetrable its materials may seem, a floor is still a floor.
Not only are you and any smaller members of your household walking over it, dropping food and other materials, and bringing in detritus from outside, but concrete is also especially used in high-traffic, high-dirt areas like garages, basements, patios, and dog kennels.
And despite its smooth surface appearance, concrete is porous, so stains and dirt can sink in.
There are two types of concrete floors for this discussion:
- Unsealed/unpainted: unsealed concrete floors are extremely porous and will, therefore, soil quickly in nearly every indoor environment, or even a garage—think about all those oil drippings.
- Sealed/painted: a sealed, polished, or painted concrete floor, however, is much easier to clean. If you're installing a concrete floor somewhere it's likely to become stained, you should make sure to seal it in some way.
Can You Use Steam Vapor to Clean Concrete?
Short answer: yes! Steam vapor can be used on both sealed and unsealed concrete surfaces. As for the "why", there are plenty of reasons:
- No extra chemicals. The heat does all the work, no extra cleaning solutions required.
- Less physical work. The heat does this part too, so you don't need to get down on the floor to do the scrubbing.
- No rinsing step. Since you haven't used any messy chemical cleaning mix overflow, there's no need to rinse any byproducts away.
- Less degradation. The steam vapor won't degrade the concrete or any sealants, keeping your floor investment clean, chemical-free, and in top form.
Especially if you've already invested in a steam vapor system, it makes sense for you to add this to its list of uses.
How Do I Clean Unsealed/Unpainted Concrete?
We're glad you asked.
Step 1: Set up your equipment.
Use two extension handles and attach a floor brush to your steam cleaner. Clip a microfiber towel made of terry cloth or another breathable microfiber (you'll know by being able to blow through the microfiber) to the front clips of the floor brush.
Step 2: Light scrub in one area.
Set your cleaner to a low volume steam setting and flip the towel up onto the brush. Using the exposed brush bristles, lightly scrub the floor over a roughly three-foot by three-foot area.
Step 3: Repeat in reverse.
After you've covered the 3' X 3' area with the bristles out, flip the towel down and go back over it with the towel under the bristles to pick up moisture and soil. Repeat in this area until it's clean, then move to a new three-by-three spot and repeat steps two and three there.
Step 4: Return to stubborn spots.
If there are any stubborn spots left, return to those using the nozzle and small nylon brush. Stay on low volume steam and light scrubbing. Place the nozzle and the brush on a terry towel, turn the steam back on, and then go over the spot again to remove the remaining soil and moisture. If this still doesn't work, try the step again using the brass brush.
Don't stay in any one area for too long. If a spot just won't budge, leave it alone to cool and return to it later. The area in question needs to be cooler than the tool in order for the heat to pull the particles out and transfer them to the surface and eventually the towel for removal. Remember, spots can be removed, stains cannot.
What About Sealed Concrete?
Of course, though the steps will be slightly different than for its unsealed cousin.
Step 1: Set up the cleaner.
Start by placing a filler pad in the cavity inside the bristles of the large floor brush. Using all four clips, completely cover the floor brush with a terry towel.
Step 2: Run the brush.
Move the brush back and forth across the floor, at a speed a little bit slower than what you would use for a vacuum. This process alone should be sufficient for getting your concrete clean.
If the floor is painted, make sure to do a spot check in an inconspicuous area before you start to make sure the paint won't be affected by the process. The note from the previous section about leaving stubborn spots to cool is also still applicable here. Let it sit and cool off and think about what it's done, then return to the spot later for maximum effect.
What Else Can It Clean?
In addition to your standard floor spots, steam vapor is also great for removing moss and mold from concrete. Not only does it increase the aesthetic value, your sidewalks and patios will also be less slippery when wet once the moss has been removed.
How Do I Clean off Moss and Mold?
To tackle this outdoor task, simply use the triangular brush and a steam volume setting of medium. Lightly scrub the surface until the target mold or moss is loosened, then spray it off with a garden hose.
The Best Steam Cleaner for Concrete Floors
Advap's Ladybug steam vapor solution is an ideal choice for both concrete and many other surfaces. Everything you need is included with your purchase, and all the accessories are ergonomically designed for maximum cleaning comfort. The continuous fill setup allows you to safely refill the machine while in use, rather than having to wait.
Of course, concrete isn't the only job you can make easier with steam vapor. Check out some of our other posts about all the other ways you can use your steam vapor cleaner and make healthier cleaning choices for both yourself and the planet.
That should cover it! Steam vapor is an easy, all-natural way to clean your concrete, whether it's in your basement or your bedroom (or your dog's bedroom).