Taking care of and maintaining your driveway may be the last thing on your mind as you first move in a home. But once you start living in a place, your driveway is the first things people can notice as they pull up to your house. If it’s dirty, it will certainly affect your home’s curb appeal. The driveway is an outdoor functional space for vehicles, so it is exposed to lots of potential sources of dirt and stains. Cleaning it regularly at least once a year can help get rid of debris before it settles in. A sturdy and well-maintained driveway gives a great first impression for your home.
The bumpy surface of concrete creates lots of spaces for dirt, oil, gunk, and decomposing leaves to settle and stick. Cleaning your concrete driveway regularly helps prevent those things from building up on the crevices and maintain your home’s curb appeal.
Here are some ways to clean your driveway:
1. Power wash your driveway.
One of the fastest and most effective way to clean a driveway is to use a power washer to clean some stains and most debris. Typically, you can use a pressure hose to connect the spray wand to the washer then connect the washer to the garden hose. The setup varies depending on the type of power washer that you are using. A power washer can take care of oil stains and other driveway blemishes quickly. If you own a power washer, you can do it yourself, but if you rent one, just make sure you’re comfortable with equipment and take the necessary precautions.
If you’re going to do it yourself, set the power washer on a low setting, not exceeding 2,500 psi. You can start at the back of the driveway and hold the wand at least twelve inches from the surface. Then, move the wand from side to side to clean the driveway.
Use power wash with caution. Due to extreme pressure, you must never point its wand to a person as this can cause injury. Avoid holding it on one spot for more than 10 seconds as you may disintegrate the concrete.
Here are some of the best power washers for your home:
- Sun Joe SPX3000 2030 Max PSI 1.76 GPM 14.5-Amp Electric Pressure Washer
- AR Blue Clean, AR383 1,900 PSI Electric Pressure Washer
- AIPER Electric Power Washer 2150 PSI 1.85 GPM Electric Pressure Washer Cleaner
- SIMPSON Cleaning CM60912 Clean Machine Gas Pressure Washer
- Greenworks 1950 PSI 13 Amp 1.2 GPM Pressure Washer with Hose Reel GPW1950
You may also want to clean your driveways and outdoor spaces with an outdoor cleaner like Scotts FBA 51501 Concentrate.
2. Clean using soap and water.
For general cleaning, using a simple solution of soap and water works. Just use some dish soap and add a few squirts on the large bucket and fill it with water. Dip a stiff scrub brush into the soapy water and scrub the driveway in a circular motion. It’s better to start at the back of the driveway and work towards the street, so your dirty water runs off the driveway with a slope. Then, rinse the soapy water from the concrete using garden hose.
Sometimes, with a pressure washer, you can use detergent for thorough cleansing, but make sure you only use those that have been formulated with a pressure washer. But remember to not add bleach because it may cause damage to the washer.
3. Remove oil spills using trisodium phosphate
Trisodium phosphate, known as TSP, is a heavy-duty cleaner that’s available at most hardware and home improvement stores. But you can also buy one online, such as the Savogran 10622 Trisodium Phosphate. TSP offers a degreaser effect that makes it the best chemical for driveway cleaning when you want to remove oil and solvent spills. Use it at full strength for older stains that may have penetrated the concrete, but you may want to dilute it if you’re using it to clean newer stains. Follow the dilution instructions on the label. Usually, you need to let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes, then scrub the driveway using a stiff scrub brush. Once you have allowed it to sit, scrub it into the stain using a wire brush. Once you have used TSP to clean your driveway, you are free to paint if you want.
If your driveway looks dark and muddy, it badly needs some TLC. One common household product you can use to clean and brighten up your concrete is bleach. DIYers can use the simple combination of water, soap, and bleach to restore the original whiteness of their driveways.
Chlorine bleach is a common household product that’s not only good in the laundry, but will clean and brighten up your concrete. Mix a solution of one part chlorine bleach and one part water. Let it sit on the concrete for 10 minutes and then scrub it off with a stiff, scrub brush. Rinse it with clean water from the garden hose.
To get rid of mildew, you must apply a solution of water and beach on contaminated areas before hosing them down with water and sweeping. While cleaning your driveway, be careful not to contaminate your plants or grass with cleaning solution. It’s best to do this on a clear and warm day so that the concrete can fully dry out and prevent further mildew growth.
Just take extra precaution when using bleach. Since this is a harsh product, wear your rubber gloves and make sure you’re wearing old clothing as you clean, since you may accidentally get your colored clothes bleached in the process.
Here are some of the best bleach products:
- Seventh Generation Chlorine-Free Bleach
- Clorox Zero Splash Bleach Crystals
- Soft Scrub with Bleach Cleanser 36 oz. Bottle
5. Use simple household products.
Besides cleaners, you can use simple household products to remove gasoline and oil from your driveway. You can cover the stain with corn starch, cat litter, corn meal or baking soda. You can allow it to sit for at least an hour. If the stain was wet when you applied the absorbent, it will soak up the gasoline or oil that is still on the driveway. But if the stain was already wet when you applied the absorbent, it’s best to wet the stain with water and scrub it with a stiff brush and a paste. Then, rinse the area with water and let it dry. You may need to repeat this process more than once.
6. Apply enzymatic cleanser for stains and pet odors.
Enzymatic cleaners, also known as oxidation cleaners, are the best cleaners you can use for removing pet urine stains and other stains that add a gross odor to your driveway. All you have to do is to apply them to the stain and let it do the work. You don’t need to scrub or water when you use enzymatic cleaners, because the enzymes in the cleaner will ultimately destroy the stain. The Flo-Kem 11192 Enzyme Odor Eliminator is a great product to use especially for removing pet odors. If you’re working on stains, it may take days or weeks to remove it and you may need to reapply.
7. Hire a professional cleaner.
If all else failed, you can consult a professional cleaner to take care of your dirty driveway. Sometimes, you just don’t have time to do the cleaning, so it’s a wise idea to hire someone. A professional cleaner may use muriatic acid or other chemicals to clean the driveway, and they can also seal it to protect it from spills, dirt and other damage that you driveway may receive in the future. This is a more expensive option, but if you have the extra money to do it, why not? Just make sure that you shop around for a good deal before you hire a cleaner.