When spring starts knocking on the door, we’re all itching to get back outside and enjoy our backyards, patios included. But when the snow melts and you’re left with a dirty, littered patio, you’re going to want to give it a good cleaning.
Cleaning your patio isn’t necessarily as easy as spraying it with the hose—but it’s really not much harder than that when you have the right know-how. We’ll go over eight easy steps to clean your patio, which cleaners to use, and lots of other tips to make the job easy, so look below!
Cleaning Your Patio in Eight Steps
Cleaning your patio doesn’t have to be rocket science. In fact, it’s pretty straightforward, no matter the amount of dirt and gunk you may have built up.
Here’s a thorough, easy-to-follow guide to help you through it.
Gather Your Tools
First and foremost, any good project starts by gathering all the tools you need beforehand. If you wait to grab them until you need them, then you’ll constantly be interrupting yourself, and the job will seem twice as long as it needs to be!
To start, grab these items:
- A friend, if necessary, for moving furniture
- A trowel or other weed-removal tool (a butter knife will work in a pinch)
- A regular kitchen broom
- A stiff-bristle scrubbing brush with a long handle (avoid metal bristles)
- Concrete or paver cleaning solution of your choice (Simple Green is our choice and is a time-tested cleaner)
- Your garden hose
- Cleaning gloves
In addition, these items are very helpful but not necessary:
- A leaf blower
- A wide push broom
- A weed whacker (edger, weeder, etc.)
Once you have all of those gathered, borrowed, or bought, then all you’ve got to do is wait for the next sunny day.
Clear the Space
When you get a warm sunny day, grab all the equipment mentioned above and lay it all out somewhere easy to reach.
The first thing you’ll need to do is clear the patio completely of all furniture, potted plants, or anything else that could get in the way of your cleaning. The patio needs to be completely clear, or it will slow you down considerably.
Start by Blowing and Sweeping
Once you’ve got a nice flat and clear space to work on, it’s time to start getting the biggest bits of dirt and debris out of the way. Otherwise, the later steps will be a much bigger headache than they need to be—and you might end up having to scrub the patio twice.
Use your broom or leaf blower to clear the patio of any larger dirt and debris, like fallen leaves and sticks. Pay extra attention to the corners since leaves and other debris will often pile up there.
At this stage, don’t worry about the cracks between the concrete or pavers—we’ll work on those next.
Remove Weeds and Other Eyesores
Once you’ve got most of the bigger junk cleared off the patio, it’s time to give a little attention to the cracks between the tiles or slabs. This is an often overlooked step, but it makes a big difference in your end result. A clean patio with weeds and dirty cracks still just ends up looking dirty.
A trowel or other weed removal tool is often best, but a kitchen knife will do in a pinch. Our goal here is just to remove as many weeds and greenery from between the cracks as possible. If you have too many weeds to remove by hand, a spray weedkiller can do the trick—but this has to be applied after you’re finished cleaning, or it will just be washed away.
This is also a perfect time to edge the grass around the patio. Do it now so you can wash all the grass clippings off when you clean in the later steps.
Loosen the Dirt with a Brush
This is another often overlooked step, but it makes a big difference in how easy the cleaning process goes.
Before you do any “wet” cleaning, you’re simply going to:
- Grab your scrub brush
- Apply medium pressure (enough to loosen dirt, but not proper “scrubbing” pressure)
- Quickly do a once-over of the entire patio, focusing on spots where there is built-up dirt and gunk that didn’t blow away earlier
In this step, the patio may not begin looking that much cleaner, but that’s ok. You’re just loosening up the dirt so it can be more easily washed away later.
Spread Your Cleaner Over the Concrete
Now we get to where the real transformation begins.
Before you continue, however, make sure to put on gloves, safety glasses, pants, and good shoes. Patio cleaners, by necessity, contain cleaning agents that can be harmful to living things, so always take proper precautions.
Take your concrete cleaner of choice and spread it over the patio, diluting it if the instructions say to do so. Of course, if your patio isn’t concrete, then don’t use a concrete cleaner—it will be too harsh and may damage your patio. Use a cleaner appropriate to your patio’s material instead.
Spread a thick coat over the entire patio with no spots uncovered (including the cracks). Make sure not to get too much of this cleaner on any plants nearby or on the siding of your house. Concrete cleaner is made of pretty potent stuff, and it could harm both.
Scrub Your Patio Very Well
After waiting the appropriate amount of time that the manufacturer recommends, grab your scrub brush and get to work.
The cleaner should have done most of the work for you, but you’ll still probably have to put in a fair amount of elbow grease to get the job done. There’s no special scrubbing method to keep in mind, just start at the house side and work your way out.
Make sure to wear shoes that you don’t care too much about as some cleaners could stain them.
Give It One Final Rinse
Lastly, but certainly not least, it’s finally time to take a look at your hard work.
If you’ve done everything right, you should be treated to a very satisfying, squeaky clean patio as the suds get washed away.
The only caveat here is to make sure that you also rinse off the side of your house and any nearby plants to remove any cleaner that may have accidentally gotten on them.
Should I Pressure Wash My Patio?
If the idea of scrubbing all afternoon with a brush doesn’t particularly excite you, then there may be another solution. Pressure washers can be the perfect tool to clean the most stubborn dirt and grime from your patio, but they don’t come without downsides.
Pros of pressure washing your patio:
- Pressure washers give the best and deepest clean, often leaving your patio looking brand new
- Many people find them fun and satisfying to use
Cons of pressure washing your patio:
- Some patios shouldn’t be pressure washed because they are too old and will crumble. If your patio concrete already has crumbling edges, then a pressure washer will only expedite that process.
- It can be expensive to either rent or purchase a pressure washer
- Pressure washing comes with some inherent dangers because the water is often being sprayed with such force that it can cut your skin or worse. You’ll need to wear proper safety gear and be aware of the potential dangers.
At the end of the day, a pressure washer is likely the absolute best solution for most patios, even if it’s pricier. However, you should still follow the rest of the steps, including applying the cleaner, and simply replace scrubbing with pressure washing. Be sure to check out our review on the Ryobi Electric Pressure Washer.
Getting Your Patio Ready for Summer
A dirty patio full of dead leaves and spiderwebs is an instant downer for any summer BBQ. Thankfully, with just a little know-how and some elbow grease, you can have it looking good-as-new.
Just remember to follow our process above and wear safety gear when required. If you have patio pavers, be sure to check out our article were we give you tips on how to clean your backyard pavers.