How to Remove Cement Stains From Clothes, Shoes, and Carpet

cement worker

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If you are doing construction work, installing concrete floors, pouring concrete countertops or patios, or simply crafting something with cement, some of it may find its way onto your clothes and shoes, or worse, carpet and upholstery. Act fast and you can handle the stain removal at home.

How you tackle the stains depends on whether you have dry cement dust or wet cement stains. There are slightly different methods for each. Also, the difficulty of stain removal depends on how fast you got to the stain and how set in it is.

Stain type Chemical-based 
Detergent type Heavy-duty detergent, and Lime-A-Way or CLR
Water temperature Cold

Project Metrics

  • Working Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour

Before You Begin

It is always a good idea to wear old clothes when working with cement and concrete materials and protect your best items by covering them with a tarp or plastic sheeting.

Before you clean the stain with soaps, lift away any solids with the edge of a dull knife or credit card. Do not rub. Rubbing will push the cement deeper into the fibers.

Also, if you have dry cement dust stains, avoid getting the dust wet. You do not want to activate the binding element in cement that hardens and turns into concrete.

If you happen to brush up against or step into wet cement that splashes up onto clothing labeled as dry clean only, remove the solid particles, then 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 on dry-clean-only garments.

Do not dry any clothes in a clothes dryer until the stain is entirely gone. Drying the stain in a clothes dryer will make it difficult to fully remove it.

If cement or concrete gets on silk or vintage upholstery, consult a professional cleaner.

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Water
  • Lime-A-Way or CLR (optional)
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • Saddle soap (optional for leather)
  • Leather conditioner (optional for leather)
  • Dry-cleaning solvent (for carpet or upholstery)

Tools

  • Firm-bristled clothes brush
  • Kitchen spatula or dull kitchen knife
  • Washing machine
  • Protective gloves (optional)
  • Vacuum (for carpet or upholstery)
  • Clean, white cloths (for carpet or upholstery)
  • Scissors (optional for carpet or upholstery)

How to Remove Cement Concrete Stains From Clothing

  1. Keep Cement Dust Dry and Brush Away

    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 do not overcrowd the washer so that all of the dry cement will be flushed away.

  2. Remove Wet Concrete Particles

    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.

  3. Use Lime Remover

    Cement is a lime-based product. You can use Lime-A-Way or CLR to remove the stains from fabric left by wet cement. Rinse immediately and repeat if necessary.

    Heavy-Duty Lime Remover

    Be aware that lime removal products may cause color loss and fade fabrics. Use the product by applying a few drops to the stained area and then rub the stains while wearing protective gloves.

  4. Wash as Usual

Wash clothes as usual but separately from other garments to prevent accidental spotting.

How to Remove Cement or Concrete Stains From Shoes

Cement is very corrosive to fabric, synthetic leather, and natural leather shoes. (That is 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.

  1. Scrape Away Solids

    As soon as you see that you have 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. It can feel disconcerting to use so much water, especially for leather shoes, but if you do not, the shoes will be totally ruined if the concrete hardens.

  2. Wash or Clean as Usual

After flushing away as much of the cement as possible, wash tennis shoes or sneakers as usual. Dry other types of shoes with a soft cloth and allow to finish air-drying away from direct heat or sunlight. 

How to Remove Cement or Concrete Stains from Carpet and Upholstery

The cleaning technique you use depends on whether the cement is wet or dry.

  1. Vacuum Dry Cement Dust

    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.

  2. Treat Wet Cement Stain With Dry-Cleaning Solvent

    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.

  3. Rinse and Allow Carpet to Air Dry

    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 the item to air dry; do not use direct heat.

  4. Scrape Away Dried Cement

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.

If the stain persists, repeat the steps as it pertains to the item. If your shoes got discolored, this is 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.