My Dirty Little Garage Secret
I have a confession to make. I’m a garage slob. There, I’ve said it. Not that there is a bunch of stuff scattered around my garage. No, no. My kayaks are hung near the ceiling with special lifts. My bikes and other stuff is hung neatly on the walls or stowed away in wall mounted cabinets. OK, I might be a bit of a garage snob too.
No, my slobbery is a dirty garage floor coating. While not one of the 7 deadly sins, the fact that I co-own a garage floor coatings company (and for 7 years owned a garage makeover company) and keep a dirty garage floor doesn’t sit well with some people. These people include: Steve (our PA Sales Manager), Kim (my wife), my father-in-law (his floor is always meticulous) and everyone who seems to visit our house during the winter.
The reality is that I only do a full cleaning on my garage floor about 3 times per year. And, winter is not one of those times.
Summer is Coming!
Let’s all hope the Polar Vortex is done with us here in the mid-Atlantic. In Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, we have had a very messy winter. TONS (and I mean TONS) of road salts, sand, pebble stones and pre-treatments have traveled from the road into our garages. All that debris has made a HUGE mess of my garage floor.
While my floor coatings have been messy since December, I did still follow our cardinal rule of garage coatings maintenance – “Clean up the stones and debris.” I did occasionally shop-vac up all the pebbles, stones and other debris. But, what do I still have to look forward to?
- Lots of leftover road salt and other chemicals are still hazing and crusting on top my chip floor.
- Once again, I set my snow shovels directly on the coatings and now I’ve got rust stains to clean off.
- Something sticky & blue is a spot near my sink. Not even surewhat it is and not sure I want to know. But it’s got to go.
Cleaning Your Garage Floor Coatings
So, let’s tackle how to clean up this Polar Vortex of a mess.
If your garage floor has an epoxy coating (professionally installed, DIY epoxy kit or garage floor paint), your mess is most likely just an inconvenience.
Here is my suggested approach:
- Open the garage doors and let the floor dry out. This goes a lot easier if there are no puddles or dampness.
- Vacuum up all the debris with a shop-vac style vacuum. Use the floor attachment that has bristles to remove the bulk of the road salts and other crusted dirt.
- Spray out or quickly spot mop to get the worst of the crud off the floor.
- Using a firm sponge type mop and a combination of hot water & clear, non-sudsing ammonia, mop the floor until only rust stains, sticky spots and road tars remain.
- Using a somewhat-used, kitchen scrub sponge (with the green or blue scrubbing side) and Soft Scrub, scrub away the rust stains left by shovels, snow blowers, tire chains and other metal objects. This may take some work, if the rust marks were left there for a long time. Same goes with grass stains from lawn mowers and weed eaters.
- Use the same approach for sticky, hazy spots or other stains on the coatings.
- Use paint thinner and a rag (just dampen the rag, do not pour the paint thinner directly on the garage coatings) to remove any road tars or stains that will not come off using Step 5. Be careful disposing of the rags, as they are now flammable.
Granted, this is my spring clean-up recommendations. Throughout the remainder of the year, I usually only do spot cleanings before picnics and other special events. I like the fact that my garage floor’s chip colors help hide the dirt. I don’t want to clean my garage floor on a regular basis. I’ve got to save time for biking and kayaking.
In case you need a little more help, check out:
Mike Mincemoyer is the President of Stronghold Floors and one member of the ownership team. While Mike enjoys the prestige of having a completed garage makeover since 2004, he doesn’t enjoy spending a lot of time cleaning the garage.