If you are doing construction work, installing concrete floors, pouring concrete countertops, or simply crafting something with cement, some of it may find its way onto your clothes and shoes, or worse, carpet and upholstery. It's always a good idea to wear old clothes when working with cement and protect your best items by covering them with a tarp or plastic sheeting. Tackling the stains depends on whether you have dry cement dust or wet cement stains on fabric.
How to Remove Cement or Concrete Stains from Washable Clothes
For dry cement dust, avoid getting it wet! Use a firm-bristled clothes brush to brush away as much dust as possible from both sides of the fabric. Then, wash as usual. Use plenty of water and don't overcrowd the washer so that all of the dry cement will be flushed away.
For wet concrete stains, first, use a plastic spatula or dull kitchen knife to lift away as much of the solid matter as possible. Do not rub the stain because that pushes the cement deeper into fabric fibers.
Cement is a lime-based product. You can use Lime-A-Way or CLR to remove the stains from fabric left by wet cement. BE AWARE: the products may cause color loss and fade fabrics. Use the products by applying a few drops to the stained area and then rubbing the stains while wearing protective gloves. Rinse immediately and repeat if necessary.
Wash clothes as usual but separately from other garments to prevent accidental spotting.
How to Remove Cement or Concrete Stains from Dry Clean Only Clothes
If you happen to brush up against or step into wet cement that splashes up onto clothing labeled as dry clean only, lift away any solids with the edge of a dull knife or credit card. DO NOT RUB! This will only push the cement deeper into the fibers. Sponge the stain with cool water and allow it to dry. As soon as possible, take the garment to a professional dry cleaner and identify and point out the stains. This is not a stain you should attempt to treat at home.
How to Remove Cement or Concrete Stains from Shoes
Cement is very corrosive to fabric, synthetic leather, and natural leather shoes. That's why cement and concrete workers wear rubber boots. The best chance for success in removing cement from any type of shoes is to act promptly.
As soon as you see that you've encountered wet cement, immediately use a dull edge to remove as much of the solids as possible and then flush the shoes with water to remove the rest. This can be scary to use so much water, especially for leather shoes, but if you don't the shoes will be totally ruined if the concrete hardens.
After flushing away as much of the cement as possible, wash tennis shoes as usual. Dry other types of shoes with a soft cloth and allow to finish air drying away from direct heat or sunlight.
You will probably see discoloration on the shoes due to the lye in the cement. Try using saddle soap on leather shoes to remove the stains (this works for dry cement dust as well) and then follow up with a leather conditioner.
How to Remove Cement or Concrete Stains from Carpet and Upholstery
Again, the cleaning technique depends on whether the cement is wet or dry.
For dry cement dust, simply vacuum the affected area immediately. Avoid getting the area wet! Go over the stain several times to be sure all of the dry cement is removed.
For wet cement, use a dull knife or plastic scraper to lift as much of the solid matter off the carpet or upholstery as quickly as possible. The longer the cement stays on the fibers, the more chance of discoloration and staining. Treat the area with a few drops of dry cleaning solvent on a white cotton cloth. Keep moving the cloth to a clean area as the stain is transferred.
When the stain is removed, blot the area with a white cloth dipped in plain water. Finally, blot with a clean white dry cloth to absorb as much moisture as possible. Allow to air dry; no direct heat.
If the activated cement has dried, again use a dull edge to scrape away as much as possible. Vacuum up the dry pieces. For longer carpet fibers, you may be able to carefully clip away the dried cement using small scissors.
For silk or vintage upholstery, consult a professional cleaner especially if you need more stain removal tips.