How to Clean a Concrete Driveway: 5 Steps
A concrete driveway is nice because of how durable it is but when concrete gets dirty, it typically looks terrible and it won’t last as long as it should. Even if you clean spills up right away, every day mud and dirt build up and change how your driveway looks.
There are different methods of cleaning a concrete driveway. The most common is with a pressure washer. Nowadays, you can pick up electric and gas-powered pressure washers for a pretty reasonable price.
This article will detail how to clean your concrete driveway and how to seal it to prevent expensive repairs and help keep it from staining in the future.
Getting Prepared: Clean Tough Stains First
Concrete cleaners are potent cleaners. But they aren’t usually designed to tackle tough stains by themselves. These are several common stains you should clean before busting out the pressure washer.
Oil and Grease Stains
If you catch an oil spill while it’s fresh, you can usually minimize cleaning by using a spill absorber.
However, once an oil or grease stain has soaked into the concrete, you’ll need to get aggressive. Spray the stains with a strong degreaser and let them soak for around 5 minutes. Scrub vigorously with a brush.
This may not clean everything, but it will make it easier for the concrete cleaner and pressure washer to finish the job.
There are cleaners specifically designed for rust but you can often use some of the concrete cleaners directly on the rust too. Mixing it with some water in a spray bottle makes application easy.
Allow it to sit for a few minutes before scrubbing with a brush.
If there are paint stains on your driveway, dumping a bit of paint thinner or a solvent cleaner on the stained area will help soften the paint stain. After scrubbing with a brush, it should be good enough for the pressure washer to finish the job.
The 5 Steps on How to Clean Your Concrete Driveway
You’re ready to clean after you’ve pre-cleaned any stains on the driveway.
Start by soaking the entire driveway with water. With this step alone, you’ll be able to get any large chunks of dirt or grime from the driveway. Start at the top of your driveway and wash towards the street.
2. Adding Concrete Cleaner
The easiest way to use the concrete cleaner is by getting a soap attachment for your pressure wand. All you have to do is add the cleaning concentrate, and as you spray, it mixes it into the water.
Some pressure washing machines have other ways to add a cleaner. Add the cleaner to yours according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Once you’ve got the cleaner going, start at the top of the driveway again and wash towards the street. Make sure that you get the cleaner on the entire surface while spraying. Keep the wand around two feet from the driveway to avoid damaging the concrete with the pressure.
4. Flush Out Concrete Cleaner
After you’ve applied the cleaner, you’ll want to flush it out of the system. If you had a wand attachment, this is simple. If you put the cleaner through the pressure washer, you’ll want to run it to ensure it’s clean water for the rinse.
5. Rinse Driveway
As long as the flushing took you a few minutes to do, you’re ready to rinse at this time. Starting from the top again, spray back and forth to rinse all the cleaner from the concrete.
If there are any stubborn stains after you’ve rinsed, give them some individual attention. If all you wanted to do was clean the driveway, at this point, you’re done. However, it’s a good idea to seal the driveway.
Prevent Future Repairs: Sealing the Driveway
When cleaning your driveway, you probably noticed that the stains were quite deep. This is because concrete is actually very porous. Sealing the driveway helps prevent future stains, and it also helps prevent wear and tear from damaging the concrete easily.
You can purchase a handheld sprayer from most building supply stores. Ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s directions for the spray-on sealer. In most cases, this is an even application on the concrete.
One thing to keep in mind is keeping the application even. If the concrete sealer builds up on the driveway, clean the excess with a rag. Also, the directions will often call for two or more coats of sealer.
Just like the spray-on sealer, make sure you’re following the directions. Roll-on sealers are easy to apply. Essentially, you “paint” it on like you’d paint a wall.
Use a roller with an extended handle for comfort and apply the sealer evenly. Let it dry for an adequate amount of time, and then apply a second coat.
Cleaning your concrete driveway fairly regularly isn’t just about looks—although a freshly cleaned driveway is a night and day difference. Over time, certain chemicals that can cause stains will actually begin to erode the concrete.
While specific cleaners and a pressure washer make the job easier, cleaning a concrete driveway can be done with a regular garden hose and homemade cleaners. The task can be as DIY as you want it to be.
Featured Image Credit: Vietnam Stock Images, Shutterstock