Clean the concrete thoroughly prior to staining.

How to Clean a Concrete Slab for Staining

by Matt Smolsky

If you're planning on staining a concrete floor, the most important step in the process is cleaning. Anything that prevents the stain from penetrating the concrete will mean a less-than-satisfactory result. Grease, oil, dirt, paint and anything else that's not a part of the actual concrete will prevent the stain from penetrating the concrete. Once you have a clean floor, you can focus on finishing it with a beautiful stain.

Sweep the concrete clean of as much dirt and debris as possible.

Hose down or wipe down the floor with clean water.

Rent a rotary scrubbing machine with a pad specially made for scrubbing concrete floors.

Scrub the floor with a trisodium phosphate (TSP) solution. TSP solutions are available under a variety of brand names at home centers.

Clean up any remaining glue, caulk, tar or any other material with a paint scraper. If the material doesn't come off with scraping, try a chemical stripping compound. Be sure to wear chemical-resistant gloves.

Scrub the floor again with TSP, using the scrubbing machine.

Rinse the floor with clean water.

Allow the floor to dry thoroughly before applying stain.

Items you will need

  • Broom
  • Dust pan
  • Hose or bucket
  • Rotary scrubbing machine
  • Concrete scrubbing pad
  • Chemical-resistant gloves
  • Trisodium phosphate


  • If you're still not getting all the stains up with just TSP, you might need to try a more aggressive method. Try mixing 1 ounce of trisodium phosphate, 1 cup of water and 1 cup of an absorbent material such as diatomaceous earth to form a paste. Spread the paste over grease and oil stains. When the paste dries, scrape it up and inspect the area. Tough stains may need two or three treatments.

About the Author

Matt Smolsky has been writing for more than 25 years. He wrote news, sports and feature stories for the "Omaha World-Herald" and other publications and has continued on in direct marketing and general advertising. He now writes for the web as well. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and journalism from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Photo Credits

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