The advantages of polished concrete floors are many. They’re beautiful. They’re sustainable. They’re easy to clean. They last the life of the building.
But the fact is, concrete is reactive with acid. I’m not talking about the serious scary stuff like hydrofluoric acid, either. Did you know milk is acidic? It’s got lactic acid. Vinegar, fruit juices — all have enough acid, though mild, to etch polished concrete floors if left long enough.
Some of the products ladies use on their hair can etch concrete, too.
Solvents, like bleach, lighter fluid, alcohol and even some floor cleaners, while they won’t harm the concrete, can dissolve the dyes or stains used to color concrete floors.
So quick spill clean up is important. And just like anything else, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.
Here are some tips that may save the time, trouble and expense of repair work.
1. Be prepared.
Keep spill-removal materials close to the places where spills could happen. Protective treatments can buy you time, but the sooner you can get the spill off the floor, the better. If it’s simply polished concrete with no shield or penetrating protective treatment — minutes count.
2. Identify the spill.
Usually pretty easy, since the containers, or pieces of them, are usually still around. It’s a good idea to know what you’re cleaning up for safety’s sake. Cleaning bleach or other hazardous spills usually requires specific safety gear.
3. Surround and blot
Surround the spill with an absorbent material like kitty litter or Fullers Earth. Your best bet is to use a proprietary absorbent made for this purpose. Then, cover the spill with the absorbent to blot it up. Don’t wipe or mop. You’ll drive the liquid into the concrete’s microscopic pores, where it continues to damage the surface, even though to the unaided eye it appears gone.
Remove the spent absorbent and soaked-up spill with broom and dustpan, or other appropriate tools. Gently clean the stained area with an appropriate cleaner. Again, a proprietary cleaner specifically made for polished concrete floors will give you best results.
Dispose of spilled material, spent absorbent, cleaner and other materials responsibly, following the guidelines of your location.
Don’t worry too much if you can’t get the spill off in time and you end up with an etched or bleached area of concrete. This type of damage is nearly always fixable. But that’s another story.
# # #