How to Keep Your Patio Looking Fresh and Clean
After a long night of guests enjoying drinks and dinner, patios can become stained and dirty. Taking steps to keep up with regular cleaning prevents these issues and keeps the space looking fresh.
Start by sweeping the patio and blowing away debris and trash. Next, use a hose with a spray nozzle to wash the concrete patio.
Remove Dirt and Debris
When leaves, twigs, and other debris collect on the surface of concrete paving, it can decompose and create a dark stain. It can also hold moisture that leads to mold, mildew, and slippery surfaces.
A simple solution of warm water and a bit of dish soap works well to clean many types of stains. Pour a few drops of the soap onto the surface, let it sit for a few minutes, and scrub with a brush. Then rinse and dry the patio.
For oil stains or other heavily set-in stains, you can try using a commercial product designed for concrete or stone flooring. Be sure to read the label carefully and protect your lawn, shrubs, plants, furniture frames, and pets before spraying the product.
For severe stains, you can use chlorine bleach to clean and prevent further growth. It's important to wear rubber gloves and eye protection before spraying. The bleach may burn greenery and discolor the surface of natural or man-made paving materials, so be sure to thoroughly rinse the patio after applying the cleaner.
Remove Algae and Green Deposits
Algae and mildew are a common problem in paved areas where there is a lot of shade. They thrive in damp shady conditions where the water does not evaporate as quickly as it would in sunnier areas. The growth of these unsightly substances makes your patio unattractive, but they can also be a serious health hazard if someone falls and hurts themselves.
Use a commercial product specially formulated for this purpose (HG algae and mold remover is one example), which can be bought in garden centers and large stores. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for applying the solution. Be careful not to get the solution on any greenery in the vicinity – it will kill them.
Home remedies such as full-strength vinegar and bicarbonate soda also work to remove algae stains. Dip a brush or sponge in the solution, apply it to your furniture, and scrub it well. Rinse thoroughly with your hose. Do not use metal brushes as they can leave behind rust marks on concrete surfaces.
Remove Mildew and Water Stains
If the greenish-black debris on your patio is mildew and not algae, you may find that a simple sweeping and hosing down with a garden hose removes it. Use a degreaser made for concrete if necessary, and scrub stubborn spots with a nylon bristle brush (avoid metal, as it may scratch the surface).
If mold or mildew persists on your patio, you can try a mixture of bleach and water. Mix one-quarter cup of bleach with a gallon of hot water and scrub the discolored area, using a brush. Wet down nearby plants to avoid rust or plant damage from runoff. Rinse thoroughly.
If the problem still lingers, try adding liquid laundry detergent to your bleach solution. This helps to penetrate deep into the mold infestation and kills it. Regular cleaning, a good drainage system, and regrading can help prevent mold from growing on your patio in the first place. In addition, a well-ventilated area that isn’t damp for extended periods will discourage the growth of fungi.
Clean Natural Stone
Natural stone adds a distinctive look to patios but it can quickly become less attractive when covered with dirt, mildew, and stains. Homeowners should sweep regularly and use pH-neutral soap and water to clean the surface. This is a more gentle approach than using an electric power washer, which could hurt the stones or leave them with unsightly scratches.
If a stone patio needs extra cleaning, homeowners can try commercial products to remove hard-water stains and oil and grease spots. These products include BioClean, which can make food stains disappear on acid-sensitive stones. Homeowners should test these cleaners in a small area first to ensure they will not discolor the surface.
Efflorescence is a whitish haze that appears on many stone surfaces and can be difficult to get rid of. This problem typically results from the buildup of salts in the base materials and aggregates used to create the stones. A product such as Wet & Forget Outdoor Concentrate can remove this growth without the need for scrubbing or pressure washing.