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Best Concrete Cleaner for Removing Semi-Permanent Stains

When I was a kid, I disposed of some hot oil by throwing it on my backyard patio, and to this day, there is a dark oil stain on the concrete. If you also have stains galore on your patio, driveway, or floor, you know how difficult it is to remove them. Though these unsightly stains are discouraging, do not fear!

The best general concrete cleaner is the Simple Green Oxy Solve Concrete and Driveway Pressure Washer Cleaner, which can be found on This stain remover is well regarded and photo reviews show that this product removes dirt, grease, and a number of other stains. 

Besides the product mentioned above, there are countless other options for semi-permanent concrete stain removers. If you would like a specific stain removed, or if you simply want to explore other options, please continue reading.

Semi-permanent stain on concrete which could be removed with a concrete cleaner

Permanent vs. Semi-Permanent Stains

Before we get into the specifics of concrete cleaning products and stain-removers, we need to be sure that the stain you would like to remove is actually removable, and not a permanent stain.

If you have a stain that has been covered by sealing, resurfacing, or color-staining your concrete, there is little to no chance that it can be removed.

Under the surface, stains are difficult to remove because they have been sealed in and made permanent by whatever material is on top of them, as that overlaying material pushed the stain deeper into the surface.

The best option for getting rid of permanent stains is to paint over them. This will not remove the stain, but it will make it so it is not able to be seen.

Also read: Painting Concrete: Will it look good and last?

If this is not the case for you as you have not sealed a stain into your concrete, there is hope for removal! Be sure not to add anything on top of your stain before you attempt removal because that will turn a semi-permanent stain into a permanent one.

Different Types Of Concrete Stain Removers

Not every stain remover is created equal because not every stain is equal. Some stains are astronomically harder to remove than others (such as oil being harder to remove than dirt), but cleaning companies kept this in mind.

Using a general concrete cleaner or stain remover is a great way to go, but if you suspect your stain needs some special treatment, you’ll be better off finding a removal product and method that best take care of your issue.

Oil Stains

From cars dripping to machines leaking and even messy oil changes, oil is something that always seems to find a way onto concrete surfaces.

To remove semi-permanent oil stains from your concrete you are best off finding a product that talks about “de-greasing” or “breaking down” oil. A great example would be Oil Eater Original Cleaner/Degreaser which does a wonderful job in most cases.

These products often contain dispersants that are made up of solvents and surfactants which break up the oil into small particles which can then be scrubbed or power-washed off.

For more information and guidance, read our article on how to remove oil stains from a concrete driveway.

Rust Stains

Rust stains on concrete

Rust stains are stains caused by aging metal mixed with water, so they often soak into the concrete.

Commercial rust remover is the way to go, and chemicals like oxalic acid, trisodium phosphate, and hydrochloric acid are things to look for.

These chemicals can be dangerous if used incorrectly or inhaled, so be sure to properly protect yourself when stain-removing.

If you want something non-hazardous you should try using Singerman Laboratories Rust Remover as it is one of the most effective consumer products available that also won’t harm grass or other vegetation.

Organic Stains

When I say “organic stains”, I’m referring to stains caused by organic materials such as leaves, pine cones, and sap. Stains caused by organic materials are often difficult to remove because they are carbon-based decomposition stains.

Stains from organic materials are made up of organic pigments, oils, and decomposed materials, meaning – though they are semi-permanent stains – they are complex to remove.

The best chemicals for organic stain removal are detergents that contain ammonia or bleach because these chemicals break down organic material with ease.

Drink Stains

Coffee, wine, and tea are common drinks that are easy to spill and are great at staining.

If your patio or floor has fallen victim to a drink stain, you are best off finding a cleaner that contains acetic acid.

Acetic acid is a solvent, among other things, so as it soaks into the concrete it will dissolve the stain.

Salt Stains

During the winter months, it is not uncommon for people to use salt on their sidewalks, patios, and driveways to prevent slipping on ice. In the spring, you may notice stains that were caused by this very salt.

Hydrochloric acid is a commonly used ingredient in commercial salt-removers, so you will have luck in stain removal if you find a cleaner with this chemical component.

Pet Stains

If you have a dog, cat, or other animals, you may notice that they cause organic stains of their own. Much like organic stains from plants, pet stains can be removed using a product with bleach or ammonia in it.

Paint Stains

Paint stains are nasty things to remove, especially if they have been there for a prolonged amount of time. If you want to remove paint stains from your concrete, your best bet is to use something containing trisodium phosphate. It is a strong cleaning agent that works on difficult stains (such as paint) where other chemicals do not.

Or you could just try the Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover from Dumond Chemicals (available at

Now that you’ve got the run-down of what to look for in cleaners, let’s go into how stains should be removed.

The best methods of removal are scrubbing and power washing. Scrubbing is a method best used when a small surface area has been stained, such as in the case of plant matter or wine spills, as it is more physically taxing but much more direct.

Power washing a concrete driveway

If your stain covers a large surface area or if you have multiple stains (like in the case of pet or salt stains), power washing is the better choice. Power washing uses a lot of water, but it cleans a large area quickly.

The Best Concrete Cleaners

Finally, we’ve reached the part where we show you which stain removing products are the best. I’ve compiled suggestions for which products to use for different types of stains so you know exactly what you need.

Happy cleaning!

Type of StainStain Remover
General Simple Green Oxy Solve Concrete and Driveway Pressure Washer Cleaner
OilOil Eater Original Cleaner/Degreaser
RustSingerman Laboratories Rust Remover
Organic30 SECONDS Outdoor Cleaner
DrinkFILA Heavy Duty Cleaner PS87
SaltCLR PRO Calcium, Lime and Rust Remover
PetNature’s Miracle Melon Burst Stain and Odor Remover Gallon
PaintDumond Chemicals, Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover

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