Keeping Your Garage Floor Skidmark-Free

Your garage floor doesn’t have to be a Jackson Pollock painting of tire skids and stains made by grease, oil and other car fluids. You can keep things looking fresh by taking some steps both before and after things get ugly. While there aren’t a lot of practical reasons for keeping the surface clean, doing so is a helpful step before you sell or rent out your home.

TLC’s How Stuff Works tells you how to keep the garage floor looking good enough to eat off of — not that you’d want to.

* Close your door and spread kitty litter. The substance is excellent at absorbing grease and oil, leaving you less to mop up. Keep the door closed to the outside in order to stop breezes from ruining all your handiwork.

* Seal your floor. In order to make your floor easier to clean, spread a sealant over the concrete. You can usually spray away any stains atop a sealed floor with a hose, rather than having to scrub them.

* Mop up flagstone and slate. If your floor is made up of fancier stuff than concrete, you’ll probably want to avoid harsher cleaners and treat the surface with greater care, wiping it down with a damp mop.

Floor-cleaning Tips [TLC How Stuff Works]

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  1. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    We don’t park in our double-car garage and only keep our cat in there. Kitty litter? It’s all over already. ;^)

    So, just don’t park cars in there and you’ll have no stains or skid marks.

    • econobiker says:

      One of our cats lived in our garage for a while but it’s hair was fuzzing up my motorcycles so it was eventually banished to a sun porch with a newly acquired cat playmate (once the introductory mutual hissing was gotten over with). I was ok with the cat sitting and lounging on the motorcycle seats but not the fuzz balls left in nooks and crannies of the cycle frames and engines. And the cat was not ok with when the air compressor ran and me blowing off the motorcylces with an air nozzle- imagine cat vs. vacuum reaction x 10.

  2. MutantMonkey says:

    * Don’t peel out like a jackass.

  3. DJ Charlie says:

    My garage floor is gravel, since I park in the side stall of a barn.

  4. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    Don’t let the dog on it?

  5. PadThai says:

    Don’t poop in your garage?

  6. Bob says:

    If your car leaks any fluids, just toss a piece of cardboard on the garage floor where you park. Problem solved. Those epoxy sealant coatings will ultimately end up peeling or chipping over time, which will look worse than having done nothing in the first place.

    • dangermike says:

      I would dare say most commercial products will do this. But a well-formulated high quality epoxy or urethane should be able to penetrate into the concrete’s pores and remain flexible enough post-cure to not chip or crack as the slab ages, and should last several decades.

  7. pop top says:

    If your car leaks, get it fixed?

    • yosemitemtb says:

      That’s my advice too. That way, when you do see a spot you can look for a problem. This worked for me just last week. A small drop of coolant on the floor led me to a very slight leak in my radiator.

  8. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    A long-handled brush and Lysol…. oh… wait…

  9. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    I’ve never put too much thought into keeping the garage clean.

    Aren’t most garages just dirty outbuildings, located next to the alley, and full of chemicals, tools, paint, and scraps of wood? I sweep it out a few times a year and paint over any graffiti but other than that, it doesn’t get much effort. The floor looks fine, especially considering it’s around 100 years old.

  10. dulcinea47 says:

    Why do you really care if your garage floor is dirty? I’d be more concerned about the leaky car.

  11. kobresia says:

    What are these “garages” of which you speak?

    Oh, you mean the storage lockers that many people have attached to their homes for putting all their crap in? Yeah, I guess you could keep a car in there, too.

    • Potted-Plant says:

      I’ve never understood why people will store a bunch of crap they haven’t gotten around to throwing away yet in their garages and keep the second most expensive thing they own (usually) outside in the elements. Hurricane season is always a treat for those guys.

      • kobresia says:

        The garage might be sheltering all their prized possessions, which would otherwise be ruined by children or pets.

        For a little while, I thought I could have nice things, but then I got a puppy with amazing destructive potential. It’s like she has super powers or something. I’ve resigned myself to the reality that I just can’t have nice things since I don’t have a garage to keep them in.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      Attached to their home? Now, that must be living the high life.

      I don’t think I’ve ever lived anywhere that had those kind of garages, they’ve always been off of the alley and involve a 30 ft walk to the house.

  12. Dallas_shopper says:

    I park in my garage but there aren’t any skidmarks or oil puddles.

  13. econobiker says:

    As I have older chain driven cycles sometimes oil does drip from the chains (or the occasional 30+ year old engine seal needing replacement). I have always had a 4′ x8″ piece (or two) of dunnage plywood on which to park my motorcycles. Dunnage is the term for the messed up plywood used on the top and bottom of a stack of plywood to protect the “good” wood. “Dunnage” can also be good plywood that had been damaged some way. In this way I have kept the floors of various rental house garages clean. The plywood also provides for a more healthy place to stand versus hard concrete floor while working on the motorcycles.

    You could do the same thing for a car but the wood might be affected much more by rain/snow moisture from the car than from a motorcycle.

  14. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Whatever happened to “Janitor in a Drum”? My Dad used to use that on our garage floor back in the ’70′s and it worked like a charm.

  15. Me - now with more humidity says:

    Laundry room is in the garage. Thought this was an article about picking up the kids’ underwear. 8-)

  16. QrazyQat says:

    I used to have a car repair shop. We used swimming pool paint on the concrete floor. Mind you, this stuff has a catalyst and you have to be careful about ventilation when you paint, and you have to thoroughly clean and etch the concrete with a dilute acid/water mix first, but it works great. Even brake fluid won’t take it off (which if you have worked with it you know will take just about any paint off anything). Brake fluid dulls the paint slightly, but any one-step liquid wax brings it to a shine again. We used a brick red color which is tends to look better dirty than other colors, for those times inbetween cleanings.

    • econobiker says:

      I had an uncle very into home car repair (he even had his own manual tire mounter) who did the white trash version of what you describe. Every spring he would clear the garage, wash and scrub the floor – , and then paint the floor with what ever wrong mix home exterior paint he could find cheap at the paint store to free from someone giving enough away. One year it was white, the next year an olive green, then light blue, and even a pink shade one year though he said it was salmon color. And that didn’t even count the overspray that hit the floor when he painted various project cars and trucks over the years. Sometimes you’d see an odd color coming though a worn spot and he would remember what car/truck and approximate year that he had painted that color onto the vehicle.

  17. Galium says:

    This is a problem? It is a garage, a place that a person puts there car to let it sleep at night and not get towed away by the repo man. It must be awful if you live in the north with snow. A person could spend all day cleaning all the melt from the garage. Anyone really serious about having to clean tire tracks from their garage should see someone (unless totally pretentious, anal, or rich). Oil etc. needs to be picked up so you don’t fall and kill yourself, but tire marks? Who would figure that you might find tire marks in a garage of all places? Next thing you know you will be finding them in public on the streets. When it comes down to it, maybe I can see how some people would be ashamed of having tire marks in their garage. What would the neighbors say?

    • FrankReality says:

      As one who has a two-car garage in Minnesota which holds two vehicles, neither of which are mine (they’re the wife’s cars, mine stays outside), you learn to accept a lower level of cleanliness in the garage in the winter. Typically, you either shovel or broom out the snow, ice and sand.

      One trick is to bring in clean snow on a cold day by shovel, sprinkle it on the gunky floor like sweeping compound, then broom it out of the garage taking the sand and grit out with it. Repeat and the floor is about as good as it can get in the winter unless you have a heated garage and hot water, in which case using a water broom with the hot water and a floor squeegee, but that’s too anal for me.

      Obviously, with both cleaning methods, it really helps to have a completely bare floor to work with.

      Last winter, the 4WD’s differential leaked gear oil out on the concrete floor of the garage. Here’s what I used to clean it up.

      Being 80-90W viscosity, it was near grease like consistency once combined with the dirt and sand on the floor, so I scraped off as much as possible with a putty knife – this was a four foot long slick, so that took quite a while.

      Then got clean sawdust from the shop and sprinkled it over the spill and used an old broom to work it into the residue. Because it was cold, I added some solvent (kerosene) to the sawdust to help it work into the residue. I left it sit for a hour or so, then scraped off the sawdust and the residue it captured. The I repeated this step with fresh sawdust and a bit more solvent. Do not use gasoline for the solvent – it is too volatile and easily inflamed and store the sawdust/solvent/residue in a proper sealed container – mine goes to an pit where I burn brush.

      Now, I used Simple Green straight form the bottle on the residue, scrubbed it in with a nylon brush, let sit, scrub some more, then let sit again, then hose off the surface. Repeat a few more times. Dawn dishwashing detergent will be in this year’s cleaning in the spring.

      Unfortunately, concrete being somewhat porous, this method won’t get 100% of the grease – the area will still show a darker stain from the grease, but it won’t be slippery and you won’t track grease into the house. I’ve thought about taking portland cement powder, sweeping it in the pores, letting it sit for several hours, then washing it off to get rid of the stain, but have no idea if that would work.

  18. DrPizza says:

    Part of my garage floor is carpeted. Part of my garage floor has a wood floor. Part of my garage floor has a linoleum floor. I stuck a toilet, shower, and sink on one side of the garage (in case while I’m working on the engine, I have to use the potty.) I stuck a 10×10 kitchen on the other side of the garage (in case I need a sammich while working on the engine.) There’s also a 12×12 area with a bed and dresser, in case I get tired while working on the engine of my car, and a couch and big screen television on the other side, in case I need a break while working on the car engine.

    Now, all I have to do is hope that I don’t have to work on the engine, because it would take a week to open my garage door. But, from the outside of the garage, it looks exactly like a garage. I’ve chosen to use the modern implements of a broom, mop, and vacuum to keep the garage floor clean. Kitty litter? The cats are allowed in the house, but not in my mancave.

    • econobiker says:

      Sounds like you have an awesome setup.

      I have wanted a garage with a house inside it. At various times I had floated the idea- buy an industrial warehouse and move a single wide or double wide trailer into it, past both the 1st and 2nd wife. Response: “No!” x both wives over a 15 year period.

      My second, more open minded wife, even nixed that idea with the bonus to her of having a massive area for yard sale stuff. #2 wife would be open to loft space, though, but not with cars parked in/next to the dining room, and we live in the Southeast US so lofts are not so common…

      Enjoy the garage, buddy…

    • chargernj says:

      You sounded real manly until you used the word “sammich”.. I hate that word. LOL. But your garage sounds awesome.

      • dangermike says:

        yes, “sammich” “potty” and “mancave” all subtract serious points from the old man card.

  19. Cacao says:

    White man problem.

  20. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I don’t park in my garage. It’s the repository for my tools and the stuff that is making its way out of the house right now. But mostly it’s because it is really small, and whenever I try to back in or out, I knock my mirrors off on the doorjambs. XP