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ICAN/ATEX: How can I clean painted cinder blocks?

December 19, 2012

Many cleaning professionals visit the International Custodial Advisers Network (ICAN) Ask the Experts page for insight and, every business day, we deliver advice to better help you perform your job.

Wednesday’s Question:ICANATEX Logo

How do I clean painted cinder block walls to remove oil and grime that have been exhausted from manufacturing machinery onto the walls for 20 years or so?

The walls that need this cleaning are 25 feet high, but the bad part only goes up approximately five feet.

I have tried some industrial strength cleaners and a stiff brush, but this didn’t work.

I was wondering if any rental equipment such as dry ice blasting or steam cleaning would do the trick.

Wednesday’s Answer:

You have two things working against you here.

painted cinderblocksThe first is the age of the buildup. 20 years is long enough to allow the filth to get a really good foothold on what is a porous surface even if covered by a couple of coats of paint.

The second problem is you are obviously inside and have to control the mess.

My recommendation for this is to use a pressurized tank sprayer to apply a detergent solution (degreaser) to a small area and allow about 10 minutes of dwell time.

Start at the floor and work up to avoid stubborn streaking from runs. Don’t let … - Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX editor.

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