questionswhat's the best way to clean a concrete basement…

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The best way...is to pay someone else to do it.

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If you have some ventilation or drainage for drying in the basement, it is possible to powerwash a basement floor. You would just need to cover or remove any furniture. You can likely rent a small electric (don't use gas powered in doors :D) powerwasher from Home Depot or Lowe's. A good shop vac would help in clearing out pools of water and gobs of dirt on any parts that are uneven.

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@meh3884: That's not a bad idea. We'd have to find a way around the furnace and washer and dryer, but that might be a good way to go.

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@thedogma: beware of powerwashers!!!!! they can eat thru concrete relatively easy. i would recommend starting with a garden hose and a go from there. just rinsing the dirt away will work most of the time. once you are down to the last layer then find some all purpose outdoor cleaner (be careful. i ruined a pair of shoes with mine). i spilled some oilbased something and with a little bit of cleaner (think it was rubbermaid all purpose by the gallon i got at the hardware store) and a push broom it came right off.

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@moosezilla: Nah, that's why he would use a small, electric powerwasher. 1400-1500 psi.

I spent a lot of time in college working at Home Depot and had a lot of folks come in with powerwasher problems...or "accidents". "It smashed the siding on my house!" Well, that's what you get for using contractor grade 3,500 PSI powerwasher on full blast. You just have to know how to use them.

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@meh3884: @moosezilla: My landlord used to work at Lowe's or Home Depot (forget which) and knows a good amount about tools and such, so I doubt he'd make that mistake, but that's still something good to know.

I'm a little surprised; I thought that some sort of industrial strength cleansing agent would be out there for this situation. Like the pine-sol mix you can put in water to clean floors but just ridiculously powerful.

EDIT: a hose is actually a really good idea (just re-read and noticed the suggestion). We don't have one long enough for the whole basement, but that could get a good chunk of it.

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I like the hose/powerwasher idea. Remember, you can always buy or borrow additional segments from a neighbor.

If you are going to be there for a while I may suggest painting the floor after you get done. Something like this:

http://www.homedepot.com/Paint-Interior-Paint-Stain-Concrete-Basement-Garage-Floor/h_d1/N-bd13Z5yc1v/R-100671626/h_d2/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10053&langId=-1&storeId=10051

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Step 1) shop-vac
Step 2) Mop

Step 3) Paint the floor. It seals the concrete and will make cleanup way easier in the future.

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I have a 800 sqft slap concrete basement. A good broom and vacuum to start with, follow up with a mop and bucket.

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@mml666: I agree, but as an option to paint I would recommend concrete sealer, possibly with a stain if you want it to look really nice.
Sealed concrete looks pretty nice and is incredibly easy to care for. Just sweep/mop as needed. The only issue is that it does get slippery when it's wet, but painted concrete has that same issue.

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@gt0163c: Here's a sand-like additive for paint/stain used on outdoor steps and decks, to make the surface less slippery. Also good for concrete floors.

http://www.amazon.com/50-055004-99-Shark-Grip-Slip-Resistant-Additive/dp/B001ARFJJ4/ref=sr_1_1?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1347488071&sr=1-1&keywords=sharkgrip

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Muriatic acid is what you need. Mixed correctly with water it will "etch" a concrete floor to make it paintable, so surely it would clean it as well. Available at hardware stores and home centers for around $8 per gallon. It will say on the label, but I believe that the mix is 10%....it's very economical.

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@mjtobar: I don't know a ton, I honestly never followed through with this. A couple people mentioned muriatic acid, which it seems you could reasonable find at Home Depot or Lowes. I did sweep the hell out of my basement recently though, and it made a huge difference. I plan on vacuuming, mopping, and then sweeping again.

I'd also look into garage cleaners, I'm sure someone makes a garage floor cleaner, that might be particularly useful for oil stains and such.

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We recently bought a foreclosure home with a full concrete basement. Been vacant for 18 months or so, total remodel, rotten wood, leaking plumbing, etc. the smell in the stale basement was horrible. I tried to mop it like others did on this site, and that was a joke.

I called a big name carpet cleaning company, and because it was over 1700 sq ft they wanted $800!!! They came down to $350 +tax but I just couldn't afford that. So I thought of The Rug Doctor! It was worth a shot.

It was the best $50 I ever spent!! It took me a few hours to clean it, but no more oder, no more dust and dirt! That is the ticket!
Spray it out in one direction and go over it in the opposite direction.

I used the carpet cleaning solution and mixed about 10 oz. to the 3 1/2 gal of water.