How to clean a patio

Richard Partington

Published on: 27 April 2020

An outdoor area with grey paving slabs

After months of wind, frost, and torrential downpours, it’s fair to say your patio slabs have been through a lot since last summer. And now, with spring giving new life to your al fresco area, the grime is really starting to show.

But don’t worry, Simply Paving can help with that; even if your patio has a sheen of green or you can spot signs of mould, it doesn’t take much to get your patio back to its best.

So, what are you waiting for? Read on to see our top three methods for how to clean your patio.

Note: For all methods listed below, remember to remove all patio furniture first, brush away any dry, loose debris, and test a batch of the solution on your patio before continuing with the rest of the process.

Soapy water method

Man cleaning patio with soapy water

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need any fancy products to clean a patio without a pressure washer. In fact, one of the most effective patio cleaning products is good old-fashioned washing-up liquid mixed with warm tap water.

Here’s how it’s done.

What you need:

  • Washing-up liquid
  • Warm water
  • Bucket
  • Hard-bristled brush

How to clean your patio with washing-up liquid

  1. Squirt a little washing-up liquid into the base of your bucket and fill with warm water. This should give you plenty of soapy suds to work with.
  2. Now you can start cleaning. Starting from the corners, splash a little water, grab your brush and scrub. You should be able to see the dirt and debris lift and rinse away as you go. TOP TIP: Remember to scrub diagonally; this will be gentler on the jointing compound and less will come out during cleaning.
  3. Repeat with the splashing and scrubbing routine until you’ve covered your whole patio. You will likely need to head inside a few times to top up your cleaning solution if you are cleaning a large patio
  4. Finally, clear the dirty water away with a bucket of clean water so that it flows into a drainage point.
  5. Don’t forget to check your joints at this stage. If you notice some of the jointing compound has come out during your cleaning, you’ll have to add in some more to fill in the gaps.
  6. Leave to dry and reset your patio furniture to finish off.

In need of an environmentally-friendly, non-toxic and non-chemical patio cleaner? Sounds scarce, but we’re actually talking about white vinegar – and it can be found in just about any supermarket.

Tailored to tough cleaning jobs, you’ll want to opt for the white vinegar patio cleaning method if you are freshening up a very dirty patio or removing dirt from high traffic outdoor areas. However, please note that you shouldn’t use this method on limestone pavers as the acid will permanently damage their surface.

What you need:

  • White vinegar
  • Warm water
  • Bucket
  • Hard-bristled brush

How to clean your patio with vinegar

  1. In a bucket, mix your white vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio. Dirtier patios with more stubborn stains, however, may need slightly more vinegar in the solution.
  2. Pour your vinegar and water solution over your patio (you may need several buckets) and leave the vinegar to work its way into the paving slabs for 30 minutes to an hour.
  3. Once the time is up, follow the soapy water method from step 4 onwards.

Pressure washer method

Cleaning a patio with a power washer

For a speedy way to clean your patio, a pressure washer is your friend. This intense patio cleaning method removes stubborn dirt via powerful streams of cold water – but it can also damage your pavers if you’re not careful.

Try to apply the other two cleaning methods above before considering pressure washing, but if all else fails, ensure you are staying a good distance away from your patio. Direct the jet stream too close and you risk removing the top layer from your paving slabs and exposing their aggregate.

For more on how to safely use a pressure washer on your patio, follow our instructions below.

What you need:

  • Pressure washer
  • Garden hose
  • Pressure washer detergent
  • Washing-up liquid (optional)

How to clean a patio with a pressure washer

  1. Plug in your pressure washer and hook it up to your garden hose.
  2. If your device has a detergent chamber, dilute the pressure washer detergent and fill up your chamber before starting. Alternatively, dilute your detergent as instructed on the product and apply across your patio directly. If you don’t have detergent, a simple solution of washing up liquid with warm water should do the trick.
  3. Starting from the top corner, hold your pressure washer at a 30-degree angle and spray diagonally across your patio. Don’t stand too close to the surface as the powerful jet of water could damage your patio slabs.
  4. Ensure all standing water is rinsed away into a drainage point and check over your joints for signs of loose jointing compound.
  5. Move your patio furniture back into place.

Aftercare

While you should only need to clean your patio once a year (one of the perks of choosing a patio over decking), a small amount of maintenance will deliver a consistently clean finish all year round.

One sage piece of advice is to remember to regularly brush your patio, especially during the autumn months. This should prevent crushed leaves building up and causing those stubborn discolouration stains come spring.

Elsewhere, you might want to consider a patio sealant. This helps to prevent weathering and is also effective at preserving the colour of patio slabs – a good option if you have recently laid dark patio slabs.

Got a question about cleaning your patio slabs? Just give us a call on 0800 032 6306 between 8pm and 6pm, 7 days a week, or start a live chat with us.