Cleaning Concrete WITHOUT a Pressure Washer (5 simple steps)

Published by: | Updated: January 23, 2023
JCS Refresh how to clean concrete without a pressure washer

Pressure washers are great, but can you clean without them?

We talked a lot about them in our blog because they are the quickest (and most efficient) way to clean. 

However, we know that purchasing or renting isn’t always an option.

In this article, we’ll go over the specific steps for cleaning concrete without a pressure washer and the best method for different surfaces.

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About The Author

Meet the expert behind this article. 



Co-owner & Service Director

Hey there, I’m Cody. 

A decade of residential and commercial pressure washing led me to start JCS Refresh. Now I can share my knowledge with folks like you. 

Reading from Washington State?

Contact our team for a quote and you might meet me in person.

Quick Answer

Want to skip to the good stuff?

Cleaning concrete differs depending on the surface type, but in general, remember these five steps:

  1. Clear the area
  2. Apply the cleaner, either by spraying, pouring or with a mop
  3. Scrub the area
  4. Rinse thoroughly
  5. Apply a sealant over the surface
JCS Refresh how to clean concrete without a pressure washer

Quick questions before starting

Before we get started, there are three things you should know.

How difficult is this to do? Cleaning without a pressure washer is hard. It takes longer and requires more effort, but it is certainly doable.

How long does it take? A small area (about 1,500 square feet) will take about 90 minutes if you’re manually scrubbing.

What is the best chemical to clean concrete? You can use a variety of cleaning products, but the ones we recommend are the following:

  • Commercial concrete cleaner – $20 to $22 per gallon
  • White vinegar –  costs between $14 and $20 per gallon but is easily accessible in any kitchen.
  • Baking soda – $17 to $20 for 5 pounds of baking soda powder, but smaller quantities can also be accessed from the kitchen.
  • Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) – costs between $16 and $20 per pound.
  • Graffiti remover – costs around $10 to $14 
  • Degreaser – around $19 to $22
  • Dishwashing liquid – costs anywhere between $11 and $18
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How to clean concrete

Let’s put pressure washers aside and talk about how to clean concrete without one.

As with any project, preparation is vital. First, remove leaves, furniture, toys, dirt, and debris from the concrete surface you’re cleaning. 

If possible, sweep the area with a broom beforehand. If the dirt has hardened and turned into mud, spraying it with a garden hose will help.

Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)

TSP is a chemical compound that comes in the form of a powdered cleaner and works well on various surfaces, including concrete. 

It is easily accessible and widely available in general home stores. TSP can also be used to clean or remove dog urine from concrete.

When using TSP, however, use caution and carefully read the label instructions because misusing it can cause eye and skin irritation.

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Hydrogen Peroxide

Because hydrogen peroxide is oxygenated bleach, mixing it with baking soda and dish soap is safe to clean and brighten the concrete surface.

Baking soda

When using baking soda, use a mix of 12 cups and one gallon of water. 

Spray the solution as a spot treatment or all over the surface. 

Allow the solution to sit for 15-20 minutes before scrubbing with a stiff-bristled brush and rinsing. Adding a little baking soda to your vinegar solution also removes the odor of dog urine from concrete.

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What’s the best method for cleaning a concrete patio?

Commercial concrete cleaners are less expensive than some people believe. 

They are available in large quantities, and multi-purpose types can be used, such as unsealed concrete floors, driveways, walkways, and patios, making them cost-effective in the long run.

When choosing a cleaner, ensure that it’s concrete and environmentally safe. 

What’s the best method for cleaning concrete floors?

Concrete floors come in different forms as well. 

Polished or stamped floors should not be cleaned with highly acidic substances like ammonia, bleach, citrus cleaners, or vinegar.

There are numerous floor cleaners on the market, but we recommend that you choose one that is mild, multipurpose, and pH neutral so that it does not dull the sealant on your concrete flooring. 

Apply it with a mop and a bucket, then mop it again with clean water to rinse.

How do I clean dog urine from my concrete patio?

Vinegar is a kitchen staple that many people have on hand. 

If you use it to clean concrete, combine equal parts white vinegar and water. Apply the solution to the darker areas and scrub with a stiff-bristled brush. 

If the stains aren’t coming off, spray undiluted vinegar, let it sit for 10 minutes, and scrub again.

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Vinegar can also be used to remove the odor of urine from concrete. For fresh urine, use a microfiber cloth or towel to absorb as much urine as possible from the surface. Then, make a two-part vinegar-one-part water solution and apply it to neutralize the odor before using an odor eliminator.

Urine that has dried on a concrete surface smells awful, especially if it has been there for a few days. 

If vinegar, baking soda, or trisodium phosphate (TSP) doesn’t remove the odor, an enzyme-powered odor eliminator can be used as an additional step. Enzyme cleaners degrade the bacteria that cause stains and odors.

What’s the best method for cleaning an oil stain on concrete?

Garages, workrooms, storage rooms, and basements are familiar places to find unsealed concrete floors. 

Dish soap acts as a natural degreaser and can be used in place of commercial concrete cleaner. It works well with baking soda and warm water, especially on unsealed concrete floors with oil stains.

For fresh oil stains, absorb excess oil with old rags before soaking in cat litter or baking soda for 20 to 30 minutes (or overnight for larger oil spills). 

JCS Refresh how to clean concrete without a pressure washer

Dish soap can be used as an initial solution for mild oil stains. However, for larger oil spills, a degreaser is required.

Add a generous amount of degreaser to sit on the affected area for 5 to 10 minutes. Then, scrub the stain in a circular motion with a stiff-bristled brush to distribute the product. 

This step breaks down the oil and grease for easier cleaning. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes or as directed, but don’t let the soap dry before rinsing.

If you also need to remove a stain from your concrete driveway and have access to a pressure washer, we have 6 steps to remove driveway oil stains with a pressure washer.

How do I clean bird poop off concrete?

You can also use dish soap to clean bird poop out of concrete. 

Pouring pure dish soap on each stain as an initial remedy can work if the stains are new. 

If the bird poop stains have dried, you should use a commercial concrete cleaner to dissolve the stain, then scrub as usual with a stiff-bristled brush.

Finally, rinse the surface with a garden hose; however, pour cat litter or sawdust for large affected areas. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Then, sweep and dispose of the cat litter.

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Even without a pressure washer, concrete surfaces require routine cleaning and maintenance. 

Hiring professionals like JCS Refresh is also the best decision you can make for your property. 

We use top-notch equipment and high-quality products to tackle dirt, grim, and mold.

If you have access to a pressure washer, we’ve made a separate guide on how to pressure wash concrete that you can read.

For any pressure washing jobs in Washington State, you can request a quote through our contact form.

Thanks for reading!