Concrete pavers are a functional and decorative element to any backyard, creating excellent patio spaces for relaxing or entertaining and clear walkways through yards. As a homeowner, you want to ensure those pavers look beautiful. That’s why, if they aren’t looking their best, quickly figuring out how to clean concrete pavers becomes a priority.
Cleaning concrete pavers is reasonably straightforward. Often, a solution of water and gentle liquid dish soap is a functional cleaner for pavers, making dirt, grime, and greasy residue easy to remove. Plus, it’s safe around people and pets. But it won’t work in every situation.
Depending on the type of grime or stain, you may need to use another option. If you’re trying to figure out how to clean concrete pavers effectively, here’s everything you need to know.
- How to Clean Concrete Pavers
- Can You Use a Pressure Washer on Pavers?
- How to Remove Stains on Concrete Pavers
- Should You Use TSP to Clean Pavers?
- Is Muriatic Acid Good for Cleaning Pavers?
- Can You Clean Concrete Pavers with Bleach?
- Can You Use Dawn to Clean Paving Stones?
- Best Cleaner for Pavers
- How Often Should Pavers Be Cleaned and Sealed?
- What Is the Best Way to Wash Pavers?
How to Clean Concrete Pavers
1. Gather PPE
Before you begin cleaning, take a moment to gather any personal protective equipment (PPE) you’ll need to do the job safely. You’ll want gloves and goggles, as those shield your hands and eyes from the cleaners. A breathing mask is also wise, particularly if you’re using chemical cleaners.
If you want to avoid skin exposure more broadly or protect your clothing when working with chemical cleaners, coveralls make that easier. Also, closed-toed shoes are a must to stop splashes from hitting your feet.
After gathering any PPE, make sure it all fits correctly. Breathing masks need a good seal to provide protection, so make sure it sits perfectly when worn. Additionally, ensure that gloves are tight enough to stain in place and that the goggles provide a good seal.
2. Prepare Pavers for Cleaning
Another step you’ll need to take before you start cleaning any pavers is removing any furniture or items sitting on the surface. Furnishings, potted plants, and similar décor can get in the way of any cleaning efforts. Plus, some cleaners may damage different materials or harm plants.
Once the items are removed, you’ll want to sweep the surface to remove any loose debris. Additionally, take tarps and place them over nearby landscaping. The tarps protect nearby plants from splashes, reducing the odds of any harm from cleaners.
If you’re using harsh chemical cleaners, you may need to tarp off nearby parts of your home’s structure. Many chemical cleaners can damage housepaint, so it’s wise to cover painted surfaces if they’re nearby.
3. Remove Weeds and Moss Between Pavers
If you have moss or weed growth between your pavers, removing it before you start cleaning the concrete pavers is best. Use a stiff-bristled broom to agitate and push up moss, gently pull weeds by hand, or use a weed removal tool.
When weeds or moss aren’t coming up, you may need a moss or weed killer to get the job done. If so, read the manufacturer’s directions to deal with the vegetation. Then, rinse thoroughly and wait at least two weeks after dealing with the moss or weeds before moving on to paver cleaning.
4. Saturate the Surface
Once you’re ready to start the cleaning process, you’ll begin by saturating the surface of the pavers with water. That allows any cleaners you’ll apply to spread more easily and helps lift up dirt caught in surface pores. Plus, it can prevent any cleaners from penetrating the pavers, leading to a cloudy or murky appearance once dry.
Usually, the easiest option is to use a garden hose to soak the concrete pavers. The goal at this stage is to wet them down, not necessarily remove any dirt or grime. As a result, pressure isn’t needed.
5. Prepare Cleaning Solution
Usually, a mild cleaning solution is needed to clean pavers effectively. Many people find gentle liquid dish soap free of ammonia and bleach an excellent option.
Along with gentle cleaning, dish soap is a degreaser, so it can remove oil and grease from the surface. Plus, it’s safe to use around people and pets. Just be mindful that it can harm plants, which is why tarping and diluting is critical.
Get a bucket and fill it with one gallon of warm water. Add one to two cups of dish soap, and stir thoroughly to create the solution.
6. Apply Cleaner and Scrub
Once you have the cleaning solution, you can apply it one of two ways. First, you can pour some into your pavers. Second, you can take a stiff-bristled push broom, dip it in the solution, and apply it using the broom.
After applying the cleaner, you want to use the stiff-bristled push broom to scrub the surface. Use short, firm strokes to loosen up dirt and debris. Additionally, scrub in different directions to get the best results.
Ideally, you want to work in small sections. Doing so makes it easier to ensure that every area is thoroughly scrubbed.
7. Rinse the Pavers
After you’re done scrubbing, you want to thoroughly rinse the pavers. Rinsing removes any cleaner residue and dilutes the solution to limit damage to your yard.
Usually, it’s easiest to rinse with a garden hose. Start near any connected structure, and rinse toward your lawn. Once you reach the grass or nearby landscaping, add water to ensure the soap is diluted.
8. Allow to Dry
Once your finished rinsing, let the pavers thoroughly dry before use. That ensures the water won’t catch dirt from shoes, leading to a clean surface.
When the pavers are dry, you can put any items you removed from the area back in place. At that point, you can start enjoying the space once more.
Can You Use a Pressure Washer on Pavers?
You can use a pressure washer on pavers, but it does come with some risks. Pressure washers can damage certain surfaces, so they may harm pavers that aren’t in good condition.
Additionally, if there is sand between your paving stones, it may push the sand out, creating gaps. Since that can occur, skipping the pressure washer is usually best if you have sand in the joints.
Before using a pressure washer, ensure it’s set to the lowest pressure setting. Choose an inconspicuous test spot to see if your pavers can withstand the pressure, and increase the pressure slowly to find a setting that cleans without causing harm.
If you’re wondering whether power washing removes weeds between pavers, it can tackle them at the surface level. However, it typically won’t deal with root systems, so the pressure washer won’t kill the weeds. Since that’s the case, the weeds will often return quickly if you only rely on a pressure washer for removal.
How to Remove Stains on Concrete Pavers
Oil and Grease Stains
Several options work well for removing oil and grease stains from pavers. If the oil or grease is still wet, dab up as much as possible using an absorbent material, like paper towels or microfiber cloths. Then, you can add baking soda over the top to absorb more of the oil or grease.
If the stain is dried or the process above doesn’t get all the grease or oil, shift to a degreasing dish soap or laundry detergent solution. When choosing dish soap or laundry detergent, make sure that they are ammonia and bleach-free.
Around one to two cups of liquid dish soap or laundry detergent per gallon of warm water usually does the trick. Soak the spot with water, apply the solution to the stain, let it sit for a few minutes, and scrub with a stiff-bristled push broom. Then, rinse thoroughly with clean water.
For rust stains, both lemon juice and white vinegar are worth trying. Use undiluted, pure lemon juice and soak the stain for 10 minutes. Then, scrub the spot before rinsing thoroughly with a stiff-bristled push broom.
White vinegar is stronger than lemon juice, so you may want to dilute it instead of using it straight. A 50-50 mixture with water is a solid starting point. Apply it to the stain, let it sit for about 10 minutes, and scrub. Then, rinse thoroughly to dilute the vinegar further and remove any residue.
If vinegar or lemon juice isn’t working, consider a commercial rust remover. Review the manufacturer’s directions if you go this route, as the instructions can vary from one product to the next.
If you’re dealing with leaf stains, OxiClean can typically remove them. When mixed with water, OxiClean releases hydrogen peroxide and soda ash, which can remove tannin stains. Plus, it doesn’t come with the safety risks associated with many alternatives, and you can use it around people and pets.
Begin by wetting down the concrete. Next, add four scoops of powdered OxiClean to one gallon of warm water. Use a stiff-bristled push broom to apply the cleaner, wait up to 30 minutes for it to penetrate, then scrub the stain.
After scrubbing, rinse the pavers with a hose to remove residue. If any stain remains, repeat the process until it’s gone.
Should You Use TSP to Clean Pavers?
Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is a strong and capable chemical-based cleaner, but it’s challenging to work with and hazardous. It’s dangerous to use around people, pets, and plants, so extreme caution is required if you go this route.
You’ll need to wear PPE, including gloves, goggles, coveralls, and a breathing mask. Additionally, read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to ensure you dilute it correctly.
Apply the solution following the directions. Let it sit for the recommended time, and then scrub it with a stiff-bristled push broom. Finally, rinse thoroughly to remove residue.
Is Muriatic Acid Good for Cleaning Pavers?
Generally, muriatic acid is a last resort. It’s highly acidic and can burn the skin, eyes, and lungs. Plus, it’s harmful to many materials. As a result, only use muriatic acid if all other cleaning attempts fail.
With muriatic acid, you’ll need PPE, including gloves, coveralls, a breathing mask, and goggles. Review the manufacturer’s instructions regarding preparation and application, following them closely. Additionally, avoid splashes and drips when working with muriatic acid.
After cleaning the surface, you’ll need to rinse the surface thoroughly. Then, apply baking soda to neutralize any remaining acid, let it sit, and rinse again.
Can You Clean Concrete Pavers with Bleach?
Bleach is a potential option for cleaning concrete pavers, but it’s not ideal. If the concrete is sealed, stained, or painted, the bleach can damage the coating or strip the color. As a result, bleach solutions should only be used on bare, untreated concrete.
There are also risks to nearby grass and plants. Bleach is harmful to plants, particularly in significant quantities. Ideally, you need to shield plants from any splashes and runoff to ensure their health.
Additionally, you need to dilute bleach before using it to clean concrete. The extra power from undiluted bleach isn’t necessary to clean the concrete effectively, and high concentrations may even harm the material, speeding up deterioration.
Generally, if you use bleach, add just ¾ cup of bleach to each gallon of water. That strength is sufficient enough to work but diluted enough to avoid certain types of damage.
Finally, you need to rinse your concrete after cleaning it with bleach. Rinsing ensures that residue is removed, reducing the risk of damage.
Can You Use Dawn to Clean Paving Stones?
Dawn is a gentle dish soap that’s reasonably effective at cleaning paving stones, especially if you’re dealing with basic dirt buildup, grease, or oil. It’s also reasonably safe to use around people and pets, though it can harm plants.
You’ll want to use a dish soap and water solution and a stiff-bristled push broom for any scrubbing. Make sure to shield plants from splashes and runoff, and rinse thoroughly to dilute the cleaner after you’re finished cleaning.
Best Cleaner for PaversWhich cleaner is best typically depends on the type of dirt, grime, or buildup you need to address. A solution of warm water and a mild degreasing detergent, like dish soap, can work well in many situations.
However, if you’re dealing with something other than oil or grease stains and basic grime, you may need to try different solutions. For example, if you have rust spots, lemon juice or vinegar is potentially better for cleaning up those marks. If you have stuck-on grime, baking soda is abrasive but won’t harm the pavers, making it a solid choice.
You can also find commercial concrete cleaners that can tackle various issues. Read instructions carefully and test harsher cleaners in an inconspicuous spot before applying them broadly. Additionally, always rinse thoroughly after cleaning or before switching to a different cleaner to remove residue.
How Often Should Pavers Be Cleaned and Sealed?
It’s best to sweep your pavers regularly, as that removes surface debris and can prevent buildup and certain stains, such as leaf stains. How often you need to sweep can vary depending on how much debris you see, but it’s best to plan for a quick once-over every two to four weeks.
At a minimum, you should thoroughly clean your pavers using a cleaning solution every year. However, cleaning more often is wise if you’re seeing buildup or stains. For some, that could mean cleaning once every two to three months, depending on the season.
For sealer, you generally need to reapply every two to five years. The exact timing may depend on several factors, including the amount of use, inclement weather, and other variables. However, if you see signs of wear, resealing as soon as possible is best.
What Is the Best Way to Wash Pavers?
Generally, the best way to wash pavers is to use the process above, starting with the mildest cleaner that will do the job, such as a gentle liquid dish soap solution. Then, move on to alternatives if you have stains or built-up grime that aren’t coming off, ensuring you exercise caution when using strong chemicals. Finally, always rinse thoroughly, as that removes residue and limits damage to nearby plants.
Did you learn everything you wanted to learn about cleaning pavers? If so, let us know in the comments area below. Also, if you know someone trying to figure out how to clean their pavers, please share the article.