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Alkaline cleaners

When to use them:
Also known as "concrete degreasers," alkaline cleaners are most often used to eradicate oil, grease, or other hydrocarbon-based stains in concrete. The high alkalinity of these cleaners emulsifies, or breaks down, the oily contamination. The other application for alkaline cleaners is to neutralize concrete surfaces after acid staining or acid cleaning. Alkaline cleaners are the best way to bring the pH of concrete from acidic to alkaline, which is concrete's natural state. Modern alkaline soaps and cleaners far exceed the neutralizing ability of the old-school method of baking soda and water. They are economical too, since 1 gallon of cleaner fully diluted will treat approximately 4,000 square feet of concrete.

How they work:
Alkaline cleaners typically come as concentrates and are diluted with water, depending on how aggressive the stain is. Apply the cleaner full strength for deep or older stains, and dilute it for newer stains that haven't penetrated far. Agitation or scrubbing to work the cleaner into the oil stain is critical for good results. A common mistake when using alkaline cleaners is to not allow enough time for the cleaner to work. Depending on the type and depth of the oil stain, multiple applications may be necessary, with each being allowed to work for a few hours to get acceptable results. Another important step when using alkaline cleaners is to "lift" the oil stain out of the concrete once the stain has been emulsified. You can use an industrial wet vac, poultice, or rags. Remove the residue with clean water, and reapply more cleaner if needed until the stain is gone.

Where to get them:
These types of cleaners can usually be found at concrete distribution outlets or online stores that carry concrete cleaners and degreasers.

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