How to Clean Dirty Terra Cotta Garden Art Items

How to Properly Clean & Seal Terra Cotta Medallions

I received an email from Gerry asking me:

Hello, How are you? I currently have the 6.5”x6.6” terra cotta medallions as shown on your website. Apparently, the contractor never sealed them after installation and as a result they get dirty easy and require a lot of maintenance.

I would like to get them cleaned and sealed properly. What cleaning product do you recommend? What sealer do you recommend? I prefer a sealer that is going to make the terracotta tiles appear darker then they currently are. Thank you in advance for your input – Gerry

My reply:

Gerry, since I don’t know how dirty they are, I will assume it’s just an accumulation of dirt that’s made your garden art medallions grungy and also has worked it’s way into the crevices.

dirty terra cotta potI’d just use a semi-stiff bristle brush, and some liquid dish soap and water. Hopefully with a little rubbing and scrubbing (rinse them off really well with a strong stream of water from your hose) they’ll look fine. I wrote an article that will give you more cleaning information, so please read: Cleaning Terra Cotta Preparation.

If the medallions were made from concrete, and if they weren’t too thin or the raised portions weren’t getting a bit crumbly from the exposure to the elements, I’d suggest using a power washer. Cleaning with a power washer can make the worst looking concrete patio stones look almost brand new – and just with using water. But you’ve got terra cotta, so I wouldn’t trust a power washer to not break them.

As far as sealing terra cotta, once they are completely dry, you could use a spray on or brush on sealant like Krylon. If you want them to look darker, then you can stain them with a liquid stain first, let the stain dry thoroughly and then seal. Use at least 2 coats or sealant; I always do 3 coats.

If you want to learn more about colorants and sealants, you can go here and download this free colorant guide I offer (the link for the guide is about 3/4’s down the page: Concrete Stain and Colorant Guide. Some of the colorants and stains will also work on a terra cotta garden art item. If you’re unsure, ask a salesperson in the paint department.

Good luck!

Comments

  1. Thanks a bunch for sharing this – I’ve got a super grungy pot that I love, but haven’t used it in awhile because the outside looks pretty bad. I’m going to try your suggestions. I especially think soaking it will work great to make it easier for me to remove the crud from the outside.

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