Salt Stains On Your Garage Floor
Remove and Prevent Damage
During winter, your garage becomes a haven for your car. It protects your vehicle from ice and snow, and it stops frost from building up on your windshield. When you keep your garage door in good repair, you can easily pull out of your garage without worrying about your radiator freezing.
However, the winter season can wreak havoc on your garage flooring. Every time you pull into your garage, ice and slush from the tires drips onto the concrete. After several weeks and months of bad weather, your flooring will stain and even pit.
Why Does Salt Stain the Floor?
Road salt and other de-icing materials consist of liquid magnesium and calcium chloride. These chemicals lower the freezing temperature of water, causing ice and snow to melt.
As you drive around town, your tires pick up a combination of de-icers and snow. The de-icers turn the snow to mush, which then drips onto your concrete floor. As the moisture evaporates from your garage, the salt remains, leaving behind an ugly white stain.
But that’s not all the damage it can do.
While concrete may look like a heavy, dense, and impenetrable material, it’s actually quite porous. Some of the salt water seeps into the concrete’s pores rather than evaporating. If the temperatures drop too low, the water freezes and expands. The growing ice crystals then blast apart the concrete, resulting in pitting and spalling.
Steps to Remove the Stains
Fortunately, you can take steps to remove stains and minimize damage to your garage. You’ll want to act quickly because the longer the de-icers remain in your garage, the more damage they can cause.
1. Clear Any Vehicles and Objects from the Garage
Ice, snow, and salt can lodge itself in your garage’s nooks and crannies. Move any vehicles and objects that could hide these stains from view. This also protects your belongings from water damage while you clean.
Also, keep your garage door open while you clean, especially if you use stronger cleaners to remove the stains. This ensures that fresh air enters your garage. The sunlight can evaporate some of the water.
2. Spray with Water
Soak your garage floor with a bucket of warm water, or squirt it with a hose. While a pressure washer may seem like a good way to blast away debris, it can also drive the salt deeper into the concrete’s pores. It’s better to let the water sit on the floor for a minute or two to dissolve the salt.
3. Sweep with a Stiff-Bristled Brush
Scrub your floor with a stiff-bristled brush or broom. This dislodges any salt and debris that may have worked their way into the cracks. It may take several minutes of thorough scrubbing before the stains start to lift.
4. Rinse with Water
Once you’ve brushed away the worst of the stains, rinse your floor with the hose to clean away the salt. You may have to alternate between brushing and rinsing to ensure your flooring is completely clean.
5. Mop Excess Water
Because water soaking into the concrete can lead to damage, you’ll want to mop up excess water when you’ve finished cleaning the stains. If you wish, use a shop vac to vacuum the water or a leaf blower to evaporate any moisture left behind.
Stubborn Salt Stains?
If warm water and brushing doesn’t do the trick, you’ll need a stronger solvent to attack the stains. Mix the following into a bucket:
- 1 tablespoon washing up liquid/detergent
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 gallon warm water
As with normal stains, you’ll want to rinse the floor first. Then, dip the broom or brush into the bucket and use the cleaner to scrub away stubborn stains. Rinse and dry as described above.
If this mixture doesn’t work, consider purchasing a salt neutralizer or remover such as Salt-X or Salt Away. Mix 1 oz. of Salt Away with 4 gallons of water to remove salt accumulation. It doesn’t correct past damage, but it may protect against future salt corrosion.
Ways to Prevent Future Stains
Cleaning stains from your garage floor can keep it looking like new no matter the weather. However, it can take a lot of work to scrub the floors after every trip to the grocery store. You can minimize garage stains with the following.
Roll out mats come in a variety of colours, patterns, and textures. They collect de-icing salts, snow melt, and other debris that would otherwise end up on your garage floor. They are easy to clean, and you can roll them up and store them out of the way when winter ends.
This tough floor sealer stands up to just about any chemical or slush you may track into your garage. It’s easy to clean, but you need to install it before winter hits. Epoxy installations work best in temperatures over 50 degrees Celsius. If temperatures have already dropped, you might want a polyuria or polyaspartic coating installed instead, as a professional can install them in temperatures below freezing.
With these applications, you can keep your garage floor stain-free this winter.