It’s easy to reach for the pressure washer when your patio is beginning to look a little grubby, however pressure washing is really the method of last resort for cleaning your paving. Read on for our top tips for spring cleaning your patio.
Cleaning your patio or paving – before you start
Paving stones are a natural material, and as such any metal oxides in natural stone, or dyes used in concrete slabs, can react with the acids and alkalis in many cleaning products. Therefore (apart from soap and clean water), always patch test a small area of your patio with your chosen cleaner then leave for 24 hours to check for any possible reaction.
For all of these methods, remember that whatever you are using to clean your patio can rinse off into neighbouring flowerbeds or a lawn. Most cleaning solutions will be very dilute once they are rinsed, however old rolled towels on the edge of the patio are one way to soak up any runoff. Alternatively, generously water the flowerbed/lawn to further dilute any cleaning product.
Patio paving cleaning tips
By far the best way to maintain your paving surface is by regular brushing and a monthly wash down with the garden hose during the summer, which will remove most light staining, stop organic matter from building up between the paving slabs, and keep any dead leaves, moss or algae at bay.
Soap or vinegar and water
For a light clean try simple soapy water – either washing up liquid or liquid laundry detergent. Mix a small amount with hot water and use a stiff brush to work the solution into your slabs, then simply rinse with a garden hose. If you have a porcelain paved area this should be the only cleaning method you will need.
For more stubborn stains use a solution of 50/50 white vinegar and hot water with a generous tablespoon of baking powder, then brush in as above. Leave for 10 minutes before rinsing your paving area with a hose. However, do not use this method with a limestone patio as the acid in the vinegar may damage your slabs.
How to clean algae or lichen from a patio or outdoor space
If you live in a wetter part of the country it’s likely that your patio, especially if made from sandstone, limestone or clay pavers, has a greenish tinge – algae. Or perhaps you have off white blotches - lichen. On some surfaces this can enhance the weathered look of the material, however in some cases it can begin to obscure the surface and become slippery.
A simple method of removal is dilute household bleach – a couple of generous squirts added to a bucket of warm water can be brushed onto the surface, left for 10 minutes then rinsed with a hose.
How to deep clean a patio
If your patio has really been neglected and requires a more radical clean, then a proprietary patio cleaning solution may be required. Again, if you have a limestone patio, look for a formulation that is acid free as acid will damage the slabs.
Pressure washing a patio
Pressure washing is a very efficient way to clean outdoor surfaces, however the strength of many domestic pressure washers is now so strong that they can easily damage your patio surface. This can be especially problematic for slabs with a raised surface pattern, cheaper slabs with a low cement content and some types of natural stone slabs.
This doesn’t mean that you should never use a pressure washer on ornamental stone slabs, but always test a small area first. Never direct the jet of water directly onto the surface from above – always keep the lance at a shallow angle, around 30° to avoid dislodging the mortar between the slabs. In addition, use the ‘fan’ setting if available, rather than a narrow jet, or a rotary brush head if available.
What is a patio sealant?
To really extend the life of your patio, use a proprietary patio sealant. Sealants, such as EASYSeal Sandstone Sealer & Enhancer are like a varnish for your patio slabs, increasing their ability to repel water (and hence water-based stains) and oil.
Ask the experts
For further advice about your paving project don’t hesitate to speak to our experts at your local AVS Fencing & Landscaping Supplies branch. Our ranges of high quality paving are all available for home delivery within our AVS Branch delivery area.