Rust is a common problem with new and old concrete. It can mark a concrete surface with an orange powdery substance that eventually turns into more significant rust stains. People will often resort to using bleach to clean rust off concrete, but does it work?
Will bleach remove rust from concrete? Bleach does not remove rust stains from concrete and can even make the orange stains worse in some cases. Bleach will not penetrate the concrete enough to remove rust off.
The bottom line us that removing rust from concrete requires more than simply using bleach. You might now be wondering what the best product to remove rust from concrete is… you can see that below.
What is the best product to remove rust from concrete?
I have found that the best product remove rust from concrete is just WD-40. You don’t need anything fancy, just good old-fashioned WD-40 multi-use spray (buy on Amazon).
When you spray WD-40 on rust on concrete it quickly penetrates it, unlike bleach.
Don’t use bleach to remove rust from concrete
As I’ve now stressed, bleach won’t dissolve rust on concrete that well, and it’s not a good product to use. Here are the reasons why.
1. Bleach has a low pH level
The pH scale is used to measure the acidity and alkalinity (or base) of a substance. The pH level for bleach is around 12 or 13, which makes it highly acidic.
This means that, when applied to concrete, the bleach will etch away at the surface. Since concrete can often be several inches thick, this can take quite some time, resulting in more damage than rust removal.
Bleach is also an extremely corrosive agent that will eat away at metals over time unless they are heavily protected.
If you were to use bleach to remove rust from metal tools or equipment, you are working with the chance of causing the object itself to damage rather than dealing with the rust itself!
2. Bleach isn’t good at penetrating into concrete
Chemicals are either water-soluble or oil-soluble, so they dissolve either in water or oil. Bleach is very good at removing dirt from cloths because it can dissolve in both water and oil, while most other substances cannot do this effectively without being diluted.
However, on a molecular level, rust is made up of oxygen and iron. This makes it oil-soluble, so bleach will have difficulty penetrating the rust to dissolve and remove it from concrete.
3. Bleach needs a lot of diluting
Bleach has a very low level of the active ingredient, so it must be mixed with a great deal of water to have any significant effect on the surrounding area.
If you were only using the bleach straight from the bottle, there would not be enough of it to etch off the rust from concrete, so you’d end up having to pour more and more into your cleaning bucket as time went on.
Eventually, this would dilute the concentration until it was no longer effective for its intended purpose.
4. Bleach could corrode any tools you use for rust removal
The use of metallic appliances is one way that homeowners try to remove rust from their driveways and sidewalks, but this will corrode the tools you are using. You can use a wire brush to scrub off rust from concrete, but these metal wire brushes will eventually rust themselves and need to be replaced.
If you were using bleach, it would corrode the metal in a similar fashion over time since it is a corrosive material when being used in its concentrated form.
How to remove rust from concrete without bleach
To remove rust from concrete, you should use a chemical rust remover, not bleach. I’ve used WD-40 in the past and found it works exceptionally well in removing rust from concrete. Here the steps you need to take.
- Scrub at the rust with a wire brush or sandpaper.
- Spray on WD-40 and allow it to sit for ten minutes before scrubbing again with a brush. This is to allow the chemicals time to start breaking down the bond between rust and concrete. You can also use an agitating cleaner, such as TSP if there is oil involved in the rusting process because it has ingredients that will break up both oil and rust stains.
- Rinse away all chemicals by spraying the area with water from a hose or sprinkler system. Continue this process until you no longer see any staining on your driveway or sidewalk (which may take several attempts).
- Apply a concrete sealer to the concrete so that the rust will not penetrate as deeply and stain your concrete again in the future.
Now you know that bleach will not clean rust off concrete, here are some other common questions on similar topics.
Will baking soda remove rust from concrete
Some people have had success using baking soda to remove rust from concrete, but will mix it with laundry detergent. Baking soda is a mild abrasive that can be used to scrub off rust without scratching the surface of the concrete.
It may also help with removing stains as it’s slightly acidic, so it will react with rust and neutralize its acidity levels when mixed. The effect is much like adding vinegar to baking soda to clean your sink, tub, or toilet!
How to remove rust from metal using bleach?
To remove rust from metal using bleach, start by finding out whether the metal object to see if it has an antique value or not since this may impact whether you should use bleach.
If it does have value, then try another method of rust removal. If it is just a lawn ornament or other metal object that has absolutely no value, then you can use the bleach to your advantage.
There are three ways to do this: spraying, brushing, and immersing in bleach water. Each method will work differently, so you should try all three to see their effect on the rust stains.
Please be aware that if you use bleach water to remove rust, it will destroy any enamel coating (if present) since enamel is like glass under magnification, and bleach is an acid-based cleaner!
The same goes for painted finishes; they will get stripped off very quickly with spray or brush applications using pure bleach!
What is the best way to remove rust from concrete?
There is no ‘best way’ to remove rust from concrete. There are several ways that have been tried, and all have some varying degree of success, so it depends on your goal for removing or preventing rust stains on your driveway or sidewalk.
You can try manually scrubbing the surface by using a wire brush, sandpaper, or an abrasive cleaner such as TSP, but these methods will not work on some types of stains.
For example, if oil was used in the rusting process, you should consider using an acidic cleaner instead since acids are known to break down both oils and iron-based compounds. If this method fails, then you may need to resort to using harsh chemicals like hydrochloric acid!
In conclusion, bleach is not good at removing rust from concrete. I recommend that you always seal your patio or concrete pavers. That way, rust will find it harder to take hold, and you won’t have to work so hard to remove it in the future.
Try to clean up spills that may contain acidic, alkaline, or petroleum-based fluids. Also, do not store things like gasoline or other chemicals on your driveway, and try to use wood instead of metal whenever possible.
Since it has such low pH, bleach can etch or eat away at the concrete, damaging it over time rather than removing the rust. This piece has outlined some of the reasons why bleach will not remove rust from concrete.