With a concrete patio, you have the best of both worlds. Not only is it extremely durable, but it’s also quite stylish and sleek-looking.
Its only problem is that it starts looking bad after a while due to the accumulated dirt and grime. But, fear not. You can restore your concrete patio to its former glory by following our cleaning guide. So, let’s see how to properly clean a concrete patio, shall we?
Full Guide on How to Clean a Concrete Patio Without A Power Washer
What You’ll Need:
- Broom or leaf blower
- Sponge mop
- Stiff nylon-bristle brush
- Garden hose
- Plastic tarp
- Protective gear (gloves, safety goggles, etc.)
- Dish soap and water
- Distilled white vinegar
- Baking soda
- Muriatic acid
- Oxalic acid
- Chlorine bleach
- Oxygen bleach
- Kitty litter or cornstarch
- Commercial degreaser
- Power washer
Step 1: Sweep the Patio
Start by removing any furniture, plants, or grills on your patio and place a tarp on the surrounding greenery.
Then, get your broom and sweep away any dirt, leaves, or trash that’s lying around. You can also use a leaf blower for the same effect.
Once all the loose debris is gone, turn on your garden hose and spray the concrete. It’s better to use the hose with a nozzle that provides a healthy stream of water. That way, you can wet all the corners of your patio while also removing any clinging debris.
Step 2: Choose and Apply Your Cleaning Solution
When you come to choose your cleaning solution(s), you need to ask yourself two questions:
- What type of stains is present on the patio?
- How dirty is your patio?
So, let’s see how your answers will affect your decision:
Type of Concrete Stains
Rust stains usually originate from grills and metallic furniture legs. However, they may also arise from red mud as it contains a high level of iron. To treat rust stains, you can either use oxalic acid or white vinegar.
If you go with oxalic acid, be it in raw form or within a commercial cleaner, leave it on the stain for about 10 minutes. Make sure to keep the mixture wet as it sits. Once the 10 minutes are up, get your nylon-bristle brush and start scrubbing.
Now, if you’re looking for a more eco-friendly cleaner, go the white vinegar route. Simply spray it on the stain and let it sit for an hour or so. Then, scrub with your nylon brush until the stain starts improving.
For quicker results, mix the vinegar with baking soda in a 2:1 ratio until you achieve a creamy consistency. Then, spread on the stain, let sit for 30 minutes, scrub, and rinse.
The thing with grease/oil stains is that they need to be treated as soon as possible. Otherwise, they’ll penetrate too deeply into the porous concrete and become difficult to remove. So, once an oil spill occurs, place a thick layer of cornstarch, sawdust, or even kitty litter on the spot immediately.
Wait for 1-3 days, then remove the absorbing layer. If the stain is still apparent, repeat the process. It can take a few applications to achieve the desired outcome, especially if the oil stain is old. Once the stain is nearly gone, apply a commercial degreaser to the spot, and scrub.
Water and Mildew Stains:
The only way you can get rid of mold and mildew stains is to use a chlorine-based bleach. While oxygen-based bleach will also remove the stains, it won’t kill the mold spores, resulting in the recurrence of the stains.
So, to make your cleaning solution, mix 3/4 cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water. Then, spread it on the area, let it sit for 5-30 minutes, and start scrubbing.
Wear old clothing and gloves when mixing and using the bleach. And make sure the surrounding plants are covered because the bleach will seriously damage them.
Tip: If you’ve got both rust and mildew stains, make sure to treat the rust stains first. That’s because chlorine bleach may set into rust stains for good.
Level of Grime
Slight: For only slightly soiled concrete patios, all you need to bring back the shine is some dish soap, water, and elbow grease. Simply mix warm water with a few dollops of dish soap, spread the mixture on your patio, and mop away.
Moderate: If you’re dealing with a bit more dirt, you can either use oxygen bleach or vinegar to get the job done. Spread your cleanser on the patio, scrub with a nylon-bristle brush, and wait for about 10 minutes.
Severe: If the previous methods just don’t cut it, you need to get a power washer. This will provide you with a stream of water strong enough to wash away the remaining grime.
Make sure to test the power washer out in a small area to discover the best pressure settings. And don’t use homemade cleaning solutions with the device, as they may damage it.
Extreme: When the patio seems hopeless, that’s when you whip out the muriatic acid. This chemical is the end-all-be-all of concrete patios. It can remove oils, rust, minerals, and even paint. Moreover, it leaves concrete with a much brighter appearance.
Just take care that it’s a bit dangerous to handle. When using it, wear protective gear and a respirator. And make sure to protect your grass as well. If you’re not sure you can handle it safely, call in a professional.
Step 3: Rinse and Let Dry
Once you’re done cleaning your patio, rinse it down with your hose. If you’re using multiple cleaning solutions, it’s best to rinse between each one.
Make sure you also rinse the surrounding plants to ensure their survival. After that, all you need to do is sit back, relax, and wait for the patio to dry. Once completely dry, restore your furniture to its original place and enjoy!!
How Often Should You Clean a Concrete Patio?
Thankfully, you typically only need to clean concrete patios once a year. If you use your patio a lot, it may need more deep cleanings after gathers. Or if you have frequent pet stains, like dog urine on your patio, you may need to clean more often.
Once winter and all its mud and grime are gone, whip out your cleaning supplies and start at it. That way, you’ll be ready to proudly use your patio in the spring and summer.
Still, if you frequently use your grill, you may need to throw in another cleaning session once fall begins.
How to Prevent Stains From Forming on a Concrete Patio
If your patio is liable to staining, use a concrete sealer on it once it’s all clean. It’ll preserve the appearance of your patio while also prolonging its life.
You can apply the sealer yourself by using a paint roller or sprayer. However, if you’re not up to the task, use the services of a professional.
Tips and Tricks for Cleaning Concrete Patios
- Choose an overcast day to clean your patio. A hot, sunny day on your patio will make the cleaning solution evaporate before it’s had time to do its job.
- If you’re unsure what cleaning solution to use, pick one and test it out on a small, hidden area. Keep at it until you find the one right for the job.
- If your patio is designed with a grain or a certain look to it, make sure to brush along the design. If you don’t, you’ll end up with rather obvious scratches.
- Don’t use a wire brush to scrub your concrete patio. Not only will the metal scratch the surface, but you’ll also end up with metallic particles in the concrete that’ll eventually rust.
- Don’t use a vinegar/baking soda mixture with a power washer.
- Don’t ever mix bleach and other cleaning solutions.
- Wash the patio furniture with soap and water before putting it back on the clean patio.