How to keep your patio clean
by Dollar Stretcher Contributors
Cleaning Outdoor Plastic Furniture
Gearing Up for Summer
Cleaning an Asphalt Driveway
During summer, we like to do a lot of outdoor entertaining. We have a nice sized patio that is part pavers and part concrete. Over the years, it's gotten stained and really doesn't look that good. Pressure cleaning only gets some of the bad spots. Is there some way to get it looking really clean again?
Shaving Cream for Cleaning Patios
Shaving cream does a good job of cleaning concrete. Just apply, let it set for at least half an hour, and then rinse.
Visit a Dollar Store
I've always used Awesome (can be purchased at the dollar store) with a little water and scrubbed with a garage broom. Then I rinse off with the hose and let dry. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries (we have an elderberry bush that stains the patio).
It's Time to Power Wash
I have "power washed" patios and vinyl siding myself. I just use some cheap laundry detergent, a push broom (it's best if you clean the bristles first), and my water hose with a spray nozzle set on full blast. If you don't have a spray nozzle, you can put your finger or thumb over the hose opening for the same effect. (If you have a car wash kit where you can put detergent in a jar that you fasten to your water hose, that will work really well, too. But I wouldn't go out and buy one.)
I simply wet down the area, soap it up, use the broom as a scrub brush, and then rinse a time or two. I make sure the water for the first rinse(s) hits the area full blast. I can usually see the dirt loosening and I just wash it away.
It might not be quite as good as paying someone to power wash the concrete, but the price is right. It's almost free. You're only out the cost of the detergent and a little bit on your water bill. This is a great chore for a really hot, sunny summer day. Be careful not to slip on the wet, soapy pavement.
Solve the Stain Problem
You can clean patios with a great product called Stain Solver, which is also safe to runoff and won't harm your plants. You'll find a demo video here.
TSP for Cleaning Patios
You can clean concrete with Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) from the hardware store.
TSP can also be used as a masonry cleaner. However, if efflorescence or mortar staining are severe, you may need to resort to a more powerful but dangerous product, muriatic acid.
TSP and TSP-bleach solutions may be applied with a sponge or brush or can be sprayed on. Generally, you will have to apply some elbow grease if the staining is severe.
TSP is a very strong cleaner at the dilutions normally used, which vary from 1/2 cup TSP to 2 gallons warm water for "heavy duty cleaning" to 1 cup TSP to 3 quarts warm water for "ridiculously heavy duty cleaning" (source The Savogran Company). For mildew killing, household bleach is added to the TSP/water mixture. The recommended ratio is 1 part household bleach to 4 parts water. Read the manufacturer's mixing ratios, as they may vary.
Soak the concrete and let it stand for half of an hour and then scrub with a stiff bristle brush. Afterwards, flood well with water to rinse.
Take the Next Step:
- For more on cleaning your home's exterior, visit The Dollar Stretcher library.
- Never overspend for store-bought cleaners again. Use The Dollar Stretcher's Guide to Homemade Cleaners to find frugal, effective recipes for keeping your entire house and laundry clean and fresh.
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