Home Decorating Tips

Learn how to properly use muriatic acid to clean concrete.
Home Decorating Tips

How to Safely Use Muriatic Acid to Clean Concrete?

Unhappy with the current state of your concrete surfaces and want to give them a new look? Why not paint over them and start fresh with the help of various paints and sealers.

But before you start repainting your concrete surfaces, make sure these are clean. Given that concrete surfaces are porous, dirt, dust, grease, oil, and other debris can be trapped within them. If the surface(s) are not thoroughly cleaned and you apply primer and paint over them, unwanted lumps and bubbles can appear and ruin the final outcome of your project.

Given the strong and durable nature of concrete though, you may need something more “heavy-duty” to effectively clean the surfaces you will be working on. If you are wondering what substance or even acid you can use to clean concrete, consider trying muriatic acid. 

Learn why industry experts have suggested the use of this substance when it comes to cleaning concrete and how to safely use it without putting yourself at risk for injuries. 

What Does Muriatic Acid Do to Concrete?

Muriatic acid is considered the strongest acid-based cleaner that can be purchased and used by the public. It is essentially hydrochloric acid or hydrogen gas that has been dissolved in water.

Muriatic acid, such as Island Chemicals’ Apollo Muriatic Acid, can serve multiple purposes and provide some benefits. This type of acid may help:

  • Serve as an ion exchanger regenerating pickling or cleaning agent
  • Remove paint, oil, rust, and mineral (such as calcium efflorescence) stains efficiently
  • Eliminate mold and mildew on hard surfaces like concrete 
  • Clean, brighten, and etch concrete by removing dirt, mold, algae, and other types of debris so the surface is ready for paint or stain application
  • Regulate the pH levels of concrete surfaces
  • Lower acidity of swimming pool water and maintain ideal pH levels

Although muriatic acid has many uses, industry experts constantly highlight that it should be carefully used and handled.

Be Warned: Here’s Why Muriatic Acid Can Be Dangerous

What makes muriatic acid potentially dangerous would be the concentration of muriatic acid in a particular product. In some instances, the acid can be stronger than what is needed to clean the concrete surface you are working on. Furthermore, muriatic acid is said to cause damage to:

  • Plants: If the particular plot of land or landscaping has not been thoroughly soaked with water prior to cleaning, it can lead to plant damage. 
  • Penetrating sealers or acrylic sealers: Experts have noted that muriatic acid may damage these particular primers. If you are not sure whether the concrete contains acrylic sealers, test a small area.
  • Skin, eyes, and other body parts: This type of acid can cause burns to the skin and eyes if exposure is prolonged. In some cases, muriatic acid can also cause damage to the respiratory tract.   

With these dangers and cons in mind, it may be crucial to ask an industry expert first whether the use of muriatic acid is recommended for the concrete surface you have. You may also want to ask for the help of a contractor to carefully inspect the substrate and its condition.

This way, you may learn what type of cleaner or degreaser is needed for the concrete surface. You can also learn how long you leave muriatic acid on concrete and how to properly clean the surface once it’s done.

How to Properly and Safely Use Muriatic Acid When Cleaning Concrete

Once you have been given the go-signal to clean your concrete surface with muriatic acid, remember the following tips to ensure your safety:

  1. Read product instructions: As an added layer of safety, make sure to read the product instructions included when you purchased muriatic acid. These guidelines will help you carry out this task safely. 
  2. Wear personal protective gear: These include face masks, gloves, long-sleeved clothing, goggles, and respirators. 
  3. Dilute muriatic before using: Remember: Always add muriatic acid to water and not the other way around. A heat reaction and even an explosion can happen if concentrated muriatic acid is dissolved in water. To dilute muriatic acid, add 1 cup of the substance to 1 gallon of cool, clean water. Should you need a stronger solution, combine 1 part acid with 10 parts of water. Do not mix other types of muriatic acid with any chemicals at all costs. 
  4. Use a sprayer to work on areas that need to be cleaned: Add the diluted muriatic acid and water solution to the sprayer and clean the concrete. If there are stubborn or difficult spots, use a stiff, wire-bristle brush. Rinse the concrete surface with cool water once the stains are gone and let the concrete dry.
  5. Store muriatic acid properly once done: Make sure to store muriatic acid away from children. See to it that the container is tightly sealed and is not stored in a location above 35 degrees Celsius.

    If you are using Island Chemicals’ Apollo Muriatic Acid, remember that it is a medium-strength, corrosive hydrochloric acid solution. This colorless to yellow substance smells pungent, contains approximately 18% hydrochloric acid, and has a shelf life of at least one year. 
  6. Dispose muriatic acid properly: Follow government regulations for throwing away muriatic acid. Do not throw muriatic acid together with household garbage, and see to it that the substance does not reach your local sewage system.
  7. Seek medical attention if needed: Should there be accidents related to muriatic acid use, do not hesitate and seek medical attention immediately. In the event that muriatic acid makes contact with the eyes, rinse immediately with plenty of water. If accidental inhalation occurs, move the person away from the scene so he or she can receive fresh air and let him or her rest. 

Cleaning up concrete surfaces may seem like a challenging task, especially with muriatic acid in the picture. However, with Island Chemical Paints, you can get the job done and safely use muriatic acid to clean up dirty concrete. For more information about cleaning and repainting concrete and the ideal products you should use for these steps, visit the Island Chemical Paints website and learn more!

References:

https://www.houselogic.com/remodel/painting-lighting/concrete-painting/

https://www.hunker.com/13421410/how-to-clean-stones-with-muriatic-acid

https://www.washmtpleasant.com/pressure-washing-tips/how-to-clean-concrete-with-muriatic-acid https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/a34285564/how-to-safely-use-muriatic-acid/ 

https://www.paintzen.com/advice/floor-painting-tips-how-to-quickly-wash-before-painting

https://www.bobvila.com/articles/how-to-clean-concrete/ https://blog.prepscholar.com/muriatic-acid-uses

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