How To Clean Concrete Patios Without a Pressure Washer

Bill Taylor
Written by
Last update:

Preparations

Concrete is a durable and affordable product used widely in construction today. Homes with concrete patios save on costs since they don’t need a lot of upkeep to maintain the look. But a lot of people use pressure washers to save the time needed to maintain the patio furniture and barbecue grill. For a more economical way of cleaning the patio stones you can use three household ingredients. Apply on the patio with a large brush, and once you’re done, the patio stones will glow with a sparkling shine that will last a long time.

You will need the following ingredients for preparing the cleaning liquid.

  • Hot water
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar or lemon essential oil

Baking soda and vinegar both act as alkalizing substances while lemon essential oil has a fresh scent that will not damage the patio.

{1}. In a tub you mix two liters of water with two tablespoons of baking soda. Use the hottest tap water you can get.
{2}. The second ingredient you need is equal amounts of vinegar and hot water. So, if you used two liter of water with two tablespoons baking soda, mix two liters of water with two tablespoons of vinegar. Stir the mixture well and set it aside for about 15 minutes.

What To Use To Clean Concrete

Let's face it, no one likes to spend time on tedious tasks. But many of the things we do to maintain our home are necessary, so we don't have to do them very often. For example, it's hard to spray out the garage floor after the kids have been playing in there all day for the past three days straight … but it's not hard to turn on the hose, point and direct. And, it doesn't always take a lot of time once the frequency is spaced correctly.

If you follow these simple steps to clean concrete, you can accomplish this tedious task with minimal effort with a few hours of work spread over a month or two. You probably don’t want to use this approach for your entire driveway, but if you have a small spot that is hard to reach that's tough to maintain, this is right for you.

DIY Homemade Cleaners

There are millions of DIY recipes for cleaning concrete. Each one claiming to be the best. We found a few strategies that work really well. Some are extremely cheap and they are all fairly effective.

For starters, there isn't anything on the concrete market that isn't a cleaner. It's half empty instructions. Option 1 – For really tough stains, apply a concrete sealer. This will replace those nifty, but limited directions, with ways to take care of a more stubborn mess. If you've never sealed your concrete, should be your first line of attack. For thousands of dollars of new concrete, it's amazing how much it can help.

Next, in the category of "EXPENSIVE BUT WELL WORTH IT" is pressure washing. How much cleaner do you need to be? How old and how dirty is your concrete? If it's only a few months old, and it's not that terrible, the extra cost may not be worth it.

The reason, pressure washing requires a reasonably large working space and the ability to get that water where you need it. See, concrete absorbs water like a thirsty sponge so that heavy, gunky job can't really be done with a mop and bucket.

Last up is the third strategy. Most people overlook this, but it has the least expensive price tag for sure. Good old fashioned elbow grease.

Process

The very best cleaning process would be to use a pressure washer to strip away all amounts of dirt and grime built up on your patio. That sounds great, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, that high-powered string of water that forcefully blasts your patio, can also blast your patio right off your house, as well as the siding, the windows, the doors, and so on.

So you’ve gone to the next best thing to a pressure washer; you bought some concrete patio cleaner and some scrubby pads to clean your patio. But the cleaning does not last more than a day or two, before the patio has built up an immense amount of dirt and grime that does not seem to want to budge.

I know going against your impulses when you’re tempted to clean the patio with the power of a pressure washer can be difficult. But, fortunately, I’ve got an easy solution that will make your hands and knees happy.

First, you have to prep your patio area. Start on a dry, windless day. Remove everything from the patio: grills, furniture, toys, etc.

Next, give the porch a good sweep. Sweep all the dust toward the house so you can proceed with detergent.

More Difficult Marks

If the patio has deep-set concrete stains, you may have to scrub harder to get the stains out. First, try brushing them using the steel-bristled brush. You can also try a soft bristle brush on some concrete stains.

To remove lime and calcium stains, paint the area to be treated with a concrete penetrating sealer. Once the sealer has dried, use a scrub brush or steel wool to remove the stains. You will note that concrete penetrating sealers come in a variety of colors, so you may have to paint the stained area a different color to match the rest of the patio.

If the stains are already dry and have become hard, you'll need to use a pressure washer, which is a pretty high-powered tool that prices itself accordingly. That's why it's always a good strategy to try cleaning it out first without the pressure washer just to see if it works. The pressure washer may do some serious damage to the concrete, and you'll want to be careful not to damage it. If you're certain that the stains ain't coming out, then you may want to go ahead and invest in the pressure washer. But again, be careful because pressure washers can do some pretty heavy-duty damage!

Stains

Above ground pools can be notoriously hard to clean because of the type of surface the pool is on. Your concrete patio is not the same at the pool. You can clean your pool with a garden hose and a scrub brush. However, your concrete patio is a much different surface.

Concrete is very porous. This means the pores that are in the concrete are like a sponge. Concrete, as a whole, is made of three parts sand, lime, and water. When concrete is wet, with water or other wet substances, it is at its most porous.

When you use a garden hose or some type of pressure washer on concrete, it will force the water into those pores, turning the pores inside out. This means all those small openings that hold dirt and pollutants are now pointing outward instead of inward.

So, the water will hit your concrete patio and basically run off. It will carry with it all the dirt and pollutants that have entered the pores. Now, the same process that makes concrete so hard and strong, is the same process that is making cleaning it an impossible task.

Rust Stains On Your Patio

Here’s How To Remove Them

After a long winter, it may be time to give your concrete patio a good deep clean. To do this, you will need:

  • mixing bowl
  • warm water
  • bleach spray bottle
  • spray bottle with water
  • steel wool
  • mild detergent
  • steel wool

Pro tip: When using bleach, always add bleach to water and never the other way around. Adding bleach to water can cause an eruption of foam that could potentially cause a poisonous gas. Your eyes will naturally want to squint when you add bleach to water, but don’t let that happen! Keep your eyes opened, but try to avoid splashes into your face.

Step 1: Scrub mild detergent onto areas of the patio with rust spots using a scrub brush.

Step 2: Dip a piece of steel wool in the bowl of water/bleach. Scrub the rust stains and any other area with rust for about one to two minutes.

Step 3: Rinse the patio thoroughly with the spray bottle.

Step 4: If required, spray the patio again with the mixture spray bottle to get rid of any remaining soap residue.

Step 5: Let the patio air dry.

Oil Stains On Your Patio

Over time, oil, grease, tar, and other hydrocarbons will stain your concrete patio. These stains will usually be found in areas where you normally store your grills, outdoor furniture, or kids toys. As these stains increase, they will eventually penetrate below the surface and ruin your patio. The only way to remove these stains is to remove the source or to sand blast the patio.

Over time, the stains will get deeper until there is no way to remove the stain. When this happens, you will have to replace your patio. As soon as the stain has started, you should start searching for the source so you can prevent the stain from taking over your entire patio.

{1}. Remove any excess oil, grease, or other hydrocarbon based substance from the spot. You can use a shop vacuum, compressed air, or a commercial concrete cleaner.
{2}. Scrub the stained area with a wire brush then rinse with water until it is clean.
{3}. Use a commercial concrete sealer in the area.

The Clean Patio

Many people find that concrete patios can be difficult to keep looking clean. We often fall into the "I'll just give the patio a quick sweep" rut, and a peek at the calendar tells us that it's been five days since the last time we did so.

But using the right cleaning technique and avoiding the wrong tools is key to cleaning concrete patio effectively and without the pressure washer.

Cleaning concrete patios quickly and thoroughly is surprisingly easy and can be done without using complicated equipment and materials. Here are a few things you can do to make quick cleaning, so you can avoid using the pressure washer. Before you begin, you should make sure you have the right tools on hand.

You will need:

  • A broom
  • A dustpan
  • Baking soda
  • Cleaning rags
  • A hose
  • A vacuum cleaner

At first glance, you might think these are the tools you will need.

But if you don't have these tools, it's better to find out before you start.

Use a broom for quick cleaning and then vacuum your concrete, to catch all the crumbs.

Once you've dusted your patio, we'll apply some baking soda.

Apply baking soda with a damp cleaning rag.