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How to Remove Odors From Concrete Floors: Three Methods

Concrete floors can cling to odors. Let’s solve that problem.

A concrete driveway or sidewalk is often the opening to a home. If it smells bad, it can lead to poor first impressions.

Whether you have musty, mildew, gasoline, or urine smells, it’s not the end game. We will share how to remove odors from concrete floors, so they smell as good as new.

We’ll walk you through various methods using vinegar, ionic cleaners, and more. And we won’t leave you without tips for preventing these stinky smells in the future.

Key Takeaways

  • Concrete absorbs odors due to its porous nature, leading to lingering smells like urine, mold, and mildew.
  • Remove urine smells from concrete by using a mix of distilled white vinegar and water, or an enzymatic cleaner specifically made for pet urine.
  • For gasoline smells, use an oil remover or degreaser, or try a natural alternative like distilled white vinegar combined with baking soda.
  • Prevent odors on concrete surfaces by sealing the concrete, cleaning spills immediately, and ensuring proper airflow in indoor spaces.

Does Concrete Absorb Odors?

Concrete is porous — therefore, it’s absorbent. Not only can this lead to stains, but it can lead to lingering odors. This can include rotten meat scents, urine, mold, mildew, and more.

However, some concrete is sealed. This protective layer can prevent odors from settling into the pores, making the concrete easier to clean and deodorize.

If the concrete is unsealed, it doesn’t have a protective coating and is, therefore, more absorbent to odors and stains.

How To Remove Odors From Concrete Floors

Many odors can cling to your concrete. But the main ones are musty and mildew, gasoline, and urine odors. We’ll walk you through each one and the best odor-removal methods to try.

Musty or Mildew Smell

To remove musty and mildew smells, we recommend using a specific cleaner designed to kill these odors. RMR Brands Pro Instant Mold Stain and Mildew Stain Remover is our top choice. Not only can it remove lingering odors, but it can tackle stains, too.

Another option is bleach. Mix one cup of bleach per gallon of water. Always test it in an inconspicuous spot, as bleach can discolor concrete.

Gasoline Smell

The best odor eliminator for gasoline is an oil remover or degreaser. For this, we recommend CHOMP! Cleaner Degreaser Concentrated Spray, which is an excellent deodorizer for oil-based and grease-stains, including gasoline.

Another option — one that’s more natural — is distilled white vinegar. Vinegar is a natural odor neutralizer, and it’s super effective. You can also use this in combination with baking soda, which is especially handy for absorbing odors and stains.

Urine Smell

When animals urinate on concrete flooring, and it’s not cleaned up immediately, it can seep into the pores. It’s not the easiest odor to remove, but it’s certainly possible.

The best way to remove cat or dog urine odors from concrete is to use an enzymatic cleaner, such as Rocco & Roxie.

It’s a good idea to follow that up with a heavy-duty cleaner called trisodium phosphate (TSP), which can remove all urine elements and bacteria.

Finally, you can also try ionic cleaners. This is useful if you’ve cleaned the stain but odors remain; if you want super fast results; or if you want a food-grade cleaner. A popular product is Live Pee Free! Odor Eliminator.

How To Get Urine Smells Out of Concrete Floors

Are you ready to learn how to get smells out of concrete? We’ll walk you through three super-effective methods.

With TSP or Vinegar

These two cleaners are great for oil-based and paint-based odors. Vinegar works for a variety of general odors, while TSP is the best option for heavy-duty and lingering smells. So if you’re tackling urine odors — either one is worth a go.

  1. Dilute: If using TSP, mix ½ cup per gallon of very hot water. For distilled white vinegar, mix it at a 2:1 ratio with water.
  2. Pour: Pour the cleaning solution onto the affected area.
  3. Scrub: Scrub lightly with a scrubbing brush.
  4. Wait: Give the solution at least five minutes to set. However, the longer, the better. The important thing is to add more cleaning solution if you notice that it starts to dry into the concrete. Don’t be alarmed if the urine smell becomes stronger — this is a normal reaction between the solution and the pee.
  5. Apply hot water: Pour hot or boiling water over the area to rinse it well.
  6. Vacuum: Use a wet/dry shop vacuum to remove all liquid. Rinse the floor again, vacuum once more, rinse again, then vacuum one more time.
  7. Dry: Leave the floor to fully dry overnight.

If a large area is affected by odors, clean one small area at a time (about three by three feet). This allows the mixture to sit on the concrete without drying out too fast.


TSP is unsafe to breathe in and can cause skin irritation. It’s vital that you wear protective gear such as gloves, glasses or goggles, and a respiratory mask.

With an Enzymatic Cleaner

Enzymatic cleaners are great for a range of odors, especially pet urine. They break down the uric acid within the pee and help to bring it out of the concrete, neutralizing the odor. It’s important to choose an enzymatic cleaner specifically made for pet urine, such as Rocco & Roxie.

Whatever product you use, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, as they may vary.

Typically, here is how to get urine smell out of concrete with an enzymatic cleaner:

  1. Apply the cleaner: Apply a generous amount of cleaner to the affected area. If your product comes in a spray bottle, pouring the liquid onto the concrete might be more effective..
  2. Wait: Wait for the time recommended by the manufacturer. One hour is usually enough, but some allow you to leave it on for longer. This provides better results.
  3. Place a heavy object: Fold a towel over the area and place a heavy object on top. This will absorb the excess odor from the concrete.
  4. Vacuum: Once the area is dry, use a shop vac to hoover the area.
  5. Repeat: Do a sniff test and repeat the process if necessary. If the stains were old, it might take a few attempts to remove all traces of the odor.

Did you know that all mammal urine, including human urine, contains uric acid crystals (1)? That means that cleaning an enzymatic cleaner is truly the best method for all types of urine: cat, dog, or human.

With an Ionic Cleaner

Ionic cleaning solutions contain positive ions — this is best for removing dog and cat urine odors. These cleaning solutions usually contain billions of positive ions to counteract the negative ions within the urine and odors. This can absolutely eliminate the odors without needing any surfactants, fragrances, or other chemicals.

Depending on which product you purchase, the instructions may vary. Generally, you can follow this method:

  1. Dilute: Dilute the product according to packaging instructions. This will usually be a 1:1 solution with water. You can put the solution in a spray bottle or bucket.
  2. Saturate with water: Saturate the area with water.
  3. Vacuum: Use a wet/dry vacuum to vacuum up the water. This dampens the area without leaving behind too much excess liquid.
  4. Apply ionic cleaner: Spray or pour the cleaning solution onto the affected area and leave it to dry into the concrete.
  5. Repeat: If necessary, repeat the process a few days later. Continue until the odors are 100 percent gone.

Tips for Getting Rid of Tough Smells

While the above methods are great for heavy-duty cleaning, they might not always work immediately.

The most important thing you can do to tackle tough odors is to repeat the process a few times. You should space this out over a few days to allow the product to work. But in general, expect to repeat the process three times over a week.

If the odor remains, give it a few months to dissipate before trying again.

Another tip is to ensure that you dampen the concrete first, apply your cleaning solution and cover the area with wet towels or plastic wrap. This seals in the product and prevents it from evaporating, allowing the product to reach into the concrete’s pores.

Finally, you can try bleach, but be aware that this can discolor the concrete. So always test in an inconspicuous area. Here’s how to use the power of bleach to remove tough smells from concrete:

  1. Dilute: Mix one cup of bleach per gallon of water.
  2. Dampen: Dampen the concrete with a garden hose or pressure washer. If the concrete is indoors, use a sponge.
  3. Apply laundry detergent: It’s important to apply laundry detergent first, as this can penetrate the concrete, allowing the bleach to work better. Mix one cup of laundry detergent per gallon of water and apply it to the concrete using a brush or sponge.
  4. Scrub: Scrub the detergent into the concrete with a scrubbing brush.
  5. Rinse: Rinse the area well.
  6. Apply the bleach: Pour or spray the bleach onto the area, leaving it to soak for 15 minutes.
  7. Rinse: Rinse the bleach away with a hose, pressure washer, or sponge.

How to Prevent Smells on Concrete Surfaces

While you know how to remove odors from concrete floors, it’s still tricky and time-consuming. It can take months for the odors to dissipate completely. So it’s important that you know how to prevent the odors from settling in the first place.

This works great for all concrete or cement surfaces, whether indoors (a loft or garage) or outdoors (a patio or driveway).

  • Seal the concrete: You must use a concrete sealer to avoid stains and odors in the future. If the concrete is in a high-traffic area like dog kennels or a mechanical garage, you may opt for concrete coating, which is more durable.
  • Clean spills immediately: Whether you’ve spilled water or your dog has done their business on your concrete, clean up the spills immediately with soapy water.
  • Be careful with pressure washing: While using a pressure washer to clean the concrete floor, be careful. If you use the wrong settings, the pressure can damage the concrete, making it more susceptible to stains and odors. We recommend the red or yellow nozzle and holding the pressure washer 12 inches from the surface.
  • Good airflow: If you have concrete indoors, ensure adequate airflow through windows or doors. This can air out concrete more quicker. If that’s not an option, set up a dehumidifier.


Why Does My Basement Floor Smell Musty?

Unfortunately, a musty smell in your basement is most likely mold or mildew. Since basements are warm, dark, and often moist, mold and mildew can quickly grow.

What Chemicals Will Damage Concrete?

There are a few things you should avoid using when cleaning concrete:

  • Chloride-based cleaners.
  • Low pH acidic cleaners.
  • Prolonged exposure to undiluted acids, including white vinegar.
  • Petrochemicals.
  • Undiluted muriatic acid.
  • Ammonia.

You should also note that ammonia, bleach, acidic cleaners, pine-based cleaners, and citrus cleaners can break down the concrete seal. So while it might not damage the concrete itself, be aware that this could damage the seal over time. Ultimately, this will make your concrete more vulnerable to staining and odors.

Is Bleach or Vinegar Better for Cleaning Concrete?

We prefer vinegar as it is more gentle and safer for you. However, bleach can be more effective on stubborn stains. Always test it in an inconspicuous spot, as it can discolor the concrete.

Can OxiClean be Used on Concrete?

Yes — OxiClean and oxygen bleach are excellent for organic stains and odors. For example, grass and leaves can leave stains and a rotting odor.

To use OxiClean on concrete, blast away the organic matter residue. Dilute the oxygen bleach according to the packaging instructions before applying it to the area with a mop.

Leave it on for 10 minutes before scrubbing well. This might take about 15 minutes, so you might want to share this laborious job with somebody else.

Once the stains and odors have lifted, rinse the area with water.

Can You Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Clean Concrete?

Yes. Hydrogen peroxide is a safe cleaner to use on concrete. It works great for water-based stains.

Simply blot the stain with three percent hydrogen peroxide before leaving the dampened cloth on the area underneath a heavy object for 10 minutes. You might need to repeat this method a few times.

Can You Use a Steam Mop on Concrete Floors?

You can use a steam mop to clean unsealed concrete floors, but the steam can damage sealed floors. However, some polishes and seals are safe to use with a steam mop so always check with the manufacturer.

Goodbye, Odors

You can remove odors from concrete flooring, but it can be time-consuming and challenging.

To remove odors, you can use trisodium phosphate, distilled white vinegar, an enzymatic cleaner, or an ionic cleaner. These are the most effective concrete odor removers we have found.

However, you can also use hydrogen peroxide, OxiClean, baking soda, or bleach. Just remember it can take a few days — or even months — for the smell to dissipate entirely.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism, and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!