How to Clean Basement Walls?

The ideal methods for cleaning basement concrete walls are the use of Trisodium phosphate, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide. Some are multipurpose, acting as a cleanser, fungicide, and bactericide all in one. They don’t harm the concrete, but they do aid to break down tough stains like oil and grime.

Concrete is a popular choice for floors and walls because it is long-lasting, durable, and easy to clean. However, because it is porous, it can absorb dirt and mold. As a result, you’ll need to clean concrete surfaces on a regular basis to keep them looking nice.

This post will go through the types of concrete basement stains to expect on your walls, the importance of pre-cleaning basement walls, and the best ways to clean them. Also, keep reading for more information on how to be safe while utilizing some of the most effective cleaning products.

Basement Wall Stains That Are Most Common

Basement wall-stains aren’t simply an eyesore; they could also contain mold or mildew, affecting air quality and your family’s health. It can induce respiratory ailments and degrade the quality of your indoor air.

Although not all ugly stains are mold, the majority of them indicate groundwater penetration to your concrete walls. Engineers frequently rely on adequate foundation drainage to prevent the problem, but if the soil around the walls isn’t dry enough, wall discoloration becomes a recurring issue.

You’ll need to be aware of the most prevalent basement wall-stains in order to deal with them effectively. Using the incorrect cleaning chemicals to remove a stain can result in additional issues, including significant health hazards.

On your basement concrete, you’re likely to come across the following wall-stains:

Efflorescence – white powdery substance

Have you ever seen a concrete wall that has become white and developed a powdery substance? The substance is called efflorescence, and it’s a loose mineral salt that’s deposited on concrete surfaces by groundwater.

Although it’s unpleasant, efflorescence isn’t a cause for concern because it’s completely safe. It is, however, a sign of extremely humid concrete, which you must address right away.

High-level humidity, if left unchecked, can cause serious problems, including the growth of mold in your basement.

Eco-Etch Pro Concrete Etcher & Cleaner is a 100 percent biodegradable, non-toxic, and VOC-free product with a good reputation for removing efflorescence.

Stains – reddish/orange in color

Rust can be identified by reddish/orange stains. If you reside in a region where the soil has a lot of iron, your concrete walls are quite prone to be infiltrated by iron ochre. Groundwater seeps into your basement walls, carrying the ochre with it.

Although iron ochre is not harmful to your health, it can block your waterworks systems if it accumulates. Iron ochre can also be difficult to remove from your surfaces because it stains practically everything, including plastic and carpets.

This non-toxic, effective Singerman Laboratories Rust Remover for Concrete can be used to remove these stubborn stains from concrete walls.

Stains – dark black or grey

If you’ve seen heavy black or grey spots on your walls, you’re likely dealing with a mold problem.

Mold grows best in humid, warm settings. Mold feeds on organic materials, therefore it’s also a sign that there’s any in your walls.

To keep mold at bay, you must eliminate one of the elements that favor its growth, such as maintaining the humidity in your basement below 60%.  

Chipping and Flaking Materials

When building basement walls, you may be tempted to use coatings such as sealants, hydraulic cement, and paints to cover the concrete walls and make them water-resistant and airproof. You could also wish to tidy up your walls.

However, as water seeps into your walls, pressure builds up behind the coatings. The result is the coatings caving in, causing a mess as paint chips fall all over your basement floor.

As a result, you shouldn’t use any paint or sealer on your basement wall. They’ll almost certainly make a mess that will be pricey to clean up, since scraping, sanding, and power washing your walls due to chipping and flaking may be costly and time-consuming.

However, there are techniques for painting on concrete that will last. All you have to do now is make things right.

Walls that are flaking or crumbling

When the concrete in your basement wall begins to erode, flaking and chipping occur. Spalling, on the other hand, is a more significant issue that must be addressed right away. You may have to replace the entire concrete wall if you fail to do so.

When water penetrates your wall, spalling occurs, just like other stains. If there is salt in the water, it may fill the gaps between the concrete particles.

As the salt grows, these holes grow larger, causing the concrete to crack and flake away. As a result, keeping humidity levels low is one of the most effective strategies to avoid this issue.

Why Should You Clean Your Basement Walls Before Using It?

When it comes to cleaning concrete walls, you should never rush. The first step is to clean out any dirt, debris, or cobwebs that have accumulated on your wall.

Begin at one corner and work your way across, diagonally, and vertically until all dust and filth have been removed.

Cleaning Basement Concrete Walls Various Methods

Following that, you can use any of the ways listed below.

Using Trisodium Phosphate

Because of its alkaline properties and high water solubility, trisodium phosphate (TSP) is one of the most often used cleaning chemicals.

To clean your concrete walls with TSP, you’ll need the following items:

1 gallon (3.8 liters) of warm water

TSP 3 oz (85 g)

A bucket of water

a brush made of wire

After you’ve obtained all of the necessary items, proceed as follows:

To remove loose dirt, spray the concrete wall with water and scrape it with a wire brush.

Rinse the wall with a hose.

Fill the bucket halfway with water and TSP and stir well.

Scrub the stains with the brush after spraying the solution on the stained sections of the wall.

Clean the wall by rinsing it with clean water.

Allow appropriate circulation in your basement by opening the windows and doors. This will allow your walls to dry completely.

TSP Tri-Sodium Phosphate All Purpose Cleaner from Sunnyside, available on, is a product I can recommend.

Bleach and Kills Mold on Non-Porous Surfaces (Inhibit Mold Growth in Basement Walls)

Bleach is an efficient disinfectant that does not harm concrete and may be used to remove stains, mildew, and moss from your walls.

To produce a bleach cleaning solution, gather the following ingredients:

1 quart of bleach

1 gallon (3.8 liters) of water

Bottle for spraying


A bucket of water

One cup of bleach should be diluted in at least one gallon (3.8 liters) of water then spray or wipe the mold-infested portions of your concrete basement wall using the solution.

When cleaning surfaces with a bleach solution, use rubber gloves, a respirator, and eye protection. Mixing the solution with ammonia or vinegar can result in a poisonous and deadly reaction. To avoid being overcome by fumes, make sure the basement is well-ventilated.

Using ammonia to clean your concrete wall

Did you know that ammonia may be used to make a cement cleaner?

Ammonia is one of the greatest concrete cleaners since it dissolves grease and grime quickly. As a result, you can trust it to get rid of tough stains.

To make an ammonia-based concrete cleaner, gather the following ingredients:

Dishwashing liquid

a bath in warm water

14 cup ammonia (59.15 mL)

A bucket of water

Nylon brush, stiff

In a bucket, combine 14 cups (59.15 ml) of ammonia, a few squirts of detergent, and water to produce the solution. Scrub the solution from one end of your wall to the other with the nylon brush until you’ve coated the entire surface. After that, clean the wall with a hose and a clean towel.

When utilizing the ammonia solution, make sure your basement is thoroughly aired by fully opening all windows and doors.

Muriatic acid to clean your walls

Muriatic acid is one of the most effective cleaners, especially when removing stubborn ugly stains.

You will need the following items to prepare its solution:

4 gallons (15.1 l)

Muriatic acid, 1 gallon (3.8 liters)

A bucket with a capacity of 5 gallons (18.9 l)

a brush with stiff bristles

Follow these steps to clean your concrete wall:

After mopping the wall, allow it to dry fully.

In a bucket, combine the acid and water.

Using the solution, scrub the wall.

After that, mop the wall at least twice more to eliminate any residue.

Muriatic acid is extremely poisonous. When using this cleaning, make sure your basement is properly ventilated and use a respirator, goggles, and gloves.

Mold can be removed with hydrogen peroxide.

One of the most versatile cleansers is hydrogen peroxide. In one compound, you get a bactericide, virucide, and fungicide, and it has dozens of uses around the house. It’s an efficient disinfectant since it destroys almost all bacteria, including mold.

If you wish to use this method, you’ll need the following items:

a bottle for spraying

a solution of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide

A brush with bristles

To get rid of the mold on your wall, follow these steps:

Fill the spray container halfway with the hydrogen peroxide solution and saturate the walls.

Allow 30 minutes for it to settle.

Scrub the wall thoroughly with the brush to remove any remaining mold from the concrete pores.

If possible, use a hose to spray clean, warm water on the walls, which will leave them shining while eliminating spores that have stuck to them.

After that, dry the walls with a clean cloth to avoid damp spots.

Use a solution of borax.

When cleaning a cemented surface, you’ll need a detergent that can quickly penetrate oil and filth. One of the detergents designed to achieve just that is borax or sodium borate, an emulsifier.

You’ll need the following items to complete the solution:

12 cup borax (118.29 mL)

1 gallon (3.8 liters) of water

12 cup washing soda (115.20 g) (not to be confused with baking soda)

1 tbsp liquid dishwashing soap

A bucket of water

A brush with a long handle

After you’ve obtained all of the necessary items, proceed as follows:

In a bucket, combine all of the ingredients.

Agitate the mixture for 3-4 minutes with the long-handled brush.

A spray bottle can be used for simple application. If the solution begins to settle, shake the bottle to re-mix it.

Scrub the moldy areas of your concrete basement wall with a stiff brush.

Spray the borax solution on the surface and wait a few minutes for it to dry. You might not want to wash it off because it will prevent mold from growing.

Vinegar is a great way to get rid of mold.

Vinegar is one of the safest cleaners for eradicating mold from your concrete basement wall. Despite its unpleasant odor, this weak acid is one of the most effective disinfectants available.

To produce the cleaning solution, gather the following ingredients:

vinegar (white)

Solution of baking soda and water

a bottle for spraying

To clean concrete with vinegar, follow these steps:

Using undiluted white vinegar, gently spray the moldy areas.

Allow the undiluted vinegar to soak into the moldy areas for at least 60 minutes, allowing it to penetrate the concrete and kill any embedded roots.

To boost the vinegar’s mold-killing efficacy, spray the baking soda and water solution on the wall.

Rinse the wall with clean water to complete the operation.

Unclogging pipes can be done with a mixture of vinegar, baking soda, and water. In the event that your basement emits a sewage-like odor, dump it down the drain. Repeat the method if the clog does not break up.

Rust Stains Can Be Removed With Hydrochloric Acid.

What is the best way to remove rust spots from concrete? If you’re looking for an answer to this question, consider using hydrochloric acid, which may remove any stain.

To produce a concrete cleaner with hydrochloric acid, follow these steps:

It should be mixed with water at a ratio of two cups of acid to one cup of water.

Spray the solution on the wall, paying specific attention to any rust stains, and leave it to soak for 5-10 minutes.

Scrub the rust stain away as soon as possible, then completely rinse it away with water.

If required, repeat these steps.

Caution: Do not leave the acid in the concrete for too long or it may turn blue. When working with hydrochloric acid, wear protective equipment as well. Check the product label for directions on how to avoid reacting aggressively with the acid.

Use Lemon Juice and Vinegar in Combination

Because both vinegar and lemon juice are acidic, you can boost the cleaning power of the vinegar solution by mixing it with lemon juice. They dissolve corrosion as well as eradicate bacteria on your concrete basement walls.

The following are the criteria for making a DIY concrete cleaner with both disinfectants:

vinegar (white)

juice of a lemon

Bottle for spraying

Brush with stiff bristles

Once you’ve gathered your supplies, follow these steps:

Allow at least 10 minutes for the vinegar or lemon juice to sink into the stained area.

Using the brush, scrub the stain. For greater outcomes, apply more pressure.

Using cold water, rinse the surface. If the stains are difficult to reach, soak them with the acids using a spray bottle. Then proceed with the previous steps.

You may also use the vinegar and lemon juice combination to get rid of mold on concrete walls.

Tea Tree Oil is a natural way to kill mold.

Tea tree oil is a fungicide, in case you didn’t know. This is one of the most efficient natural mold and mildew removal treatments.

Tea tree oil can be used on a variety of surfaces, including walls and clothing.

Here’s how to make your own cleaner:

1 tsp tea tree essential oil

236.59 milliliters (236.59 milliliters) water

Bottle for spraying

Brushes for cleaning

Spray the moldy area with a tree oil solution and let it soak for a few minutes. Because you’ll be repeating this every 48 hours, there’s no need to rinse the surface. Scrubbing the mold with a brush or a towel soaked in the solution is also typical.

Warning: Tea tree oil is toxic to pets if swallowed, so keep them away from you when using this cleanser.

Using a Pressure Washer to Clean a Concrete Wall

Another option for cleaning your basement walls is to use a pressure washer. If you don’t want certain sections to get wet, make sure they’re covered with drop cloths. When it comes to applying detergent, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

To clean a concrete wall using a pressure washer, follow these steps:

Begin spraying the detergent one part at a time in a sweeping motion.

Allow 10 minutes for the detergent to seep into the concrete.

Rinse the washer to remove any remaining detergent, then use the highest setting to blast any dirt or soap away with clean water.

Wipe the area with a dry mop after you’ve drained all of the soapy water.


Concrete stains can be rather eyesores. Furthermore, if mold and microbes are allowed to develop unchecked, they might cause health problems. As a result, it’s vital to clean concrete basement walls on a regular basis, especially if you fear groundwater has leaked into them.

Because the procedures do not erode concrete and are reasonably inexpensive to apply, you may use them to give your concrete a fresh look while keeping germs, viruses, and fungus away.

However, before using any solution to clean concrete walls, always read the manufacturer’s recommendations. Also, if necessary, put on safety gear.

If you have certain stains that you can’t seem to get rid of, you might simply paint over them. It should last a long time and look great if you use the best concrete paint and follow the steps in our concrete painting guide.

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