It’s easy to tell when a decorative concrete driveway is brand new. It looks stunning for the first year or two until it loses its lustre over time. But that’s fine because cleaning a concrete driveway is not rocket science. It’s easy, undemanding, and only requires a few steps to tidy it up.
Tyre marks, oil leaks, chemicals, mould and mildew, can affect the beauty of your decorative concrete driveway. The good news is that you can follow specific cleaning methods that will allow you to remove them effectively. Here are some tips in cleaning, protecting, and preserving your driveway for the years to come:
1. What Items for Cleaning a Concrete Driveway Can You Use?
Before starting, we recommend that you have certain items first, such as:
- Stiff broom
- Spray bottle
- Scrub brush
- Garden hose
- Concrete driveway cleaner
- Pressure washer
The cleaning items you will use will depend on the stains and dirt you’re dealing with. For example, if it’s stubborn dirt, a pressure washer is the most effective. However, you should know what you’re doing. Despite concrete being a sturdy material, you should understand that power blasting the surface can damage it if it’s higher than required. Power washers can blast from 1500 to 3300 – this is 50 times more than the force of a typical garden hose. Using too high of a setting or blasting too close to the surface will create etchings on the surface.
2. Opt for the Most Basic Route: Soap and Water
Cleaning a concrete driveway does not have to be fancy. The easiest is the trusty soap and water mixture. Use dish soap and add it to a large bucket full of water. Then, get your stiff scrub brush, making sure it is not made of metal. Then, start scrubbing in circular motions.
You may want to begin at the back of the driveway, working your way towards the street. This is the easiest method because it encourages water to run off your driveway instead of going back and doing it manually. Don’t forget to rinse the surface using a garden hose with a spray nozzle to remove the remaining dirt and spots.
3. Power Wash the Driveway
We have touched on power washing above. When it comes to learning how to clean concrete driveway, you will often see power washing. And that’s simply because it is so effective in removing stubborn dirt and stains. Use a fan tip, which is best for concrete surfaces. If you are using a lower setting, go with hot water, which makes pressure cleaning more effective.
In most cases, a low setting of up to 2,500 is the best option. Again, begin cleaning at the back of the driveway, holding the washer at least 30cm away from the surface. Clean using a side to side motion, as if you are sweeping.
Power washers are serious cleaners. You should only use one if you know how to handle it properly. It’s also recommended that you wash one spot and move on to the next every 10 seconds. Don’t spray longer in one location; otherwise, it could lead to damage.
4. Use a Heavy-Duty Cleaner
How do you clean oil from a concrete driveway? The solution is to use a heavy-duty cleaner, such as trisodium phosphate (TSP), which has a degreaser effect. Try your best to make sure the cleaner never comes in contact with your skin. That’s why it is essential to have rubber gloves and protective eyewear when using TSP.
To clean oil from your concrete driveway using trisodium phosphate, mix a cup of the solution with 3.8 litres of hot water (equivalent to one gallon). Get your garden sprayer and use it to spread the mixture on the concrete. Don’t rinse for at least 15 minutes. After that, you can scrub using a stiff brush. Grab your garden hose and wash the concrete with water.
5. Create a Thick Paste for Deep Stains
Even though TSP is a heavy-duty cleaner, some stains that you may not have removed for a long time will not budge. Here’s a mixture that will work on deep-seated stains. First, you should mix cornstarch and TSP. An alternative to corn starch is diatomaceous earth powder. The goal here is to create a thick paste. Both cornstarch and diatomaceous earth help absorb oils, which TSP will then break down.
Once you have the mixture, apply it directly to the stain and let it sit until it dries. Scrape with a putty knife before hosing it off with water.
6. Use Bleach
You already know that bleach is a trusty household product for brightening up stains on garments. But that’s not all; chlorine bleach can also be used for cleaning the concrete driveway. Of course, you should dilute it with equal parts of water or a 1:1 ratio.
With the mixture ready, spray it on the driveway, allowing it to sit for 10 minutes. Then, use a stiff brush before rinsing with clean water. Remember that bleach is not a gentle product, so always wear protective gear when using it for cleaning.
How to Deal with Oil and Grease Stains
Power washers, as well as bleach and TSP, can help you with oil and grease stains in your driveway. Here are more tips for removing these pesky stains:
- Fill a bottle with bleach and water (1:1 ratio). It’s one of the best ways to remove oil stains. But because bleach is a strong product, we recommend that you wear old clothes for this method. Spray it on the surface and allow it to dry for about 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the stain. Start scrubbing with a brush before rinsing with clean water. Hot water can help here if there is still a little bit of stain left. Combine with a power washer, and you will surely be left with a stain-free driveway.
- Have you heard of cat litter as a grease stain remover? It truly works. Simply spread kitty litter on the stain. Leave it there for about three days, which will let it work its magic. Cat litter will soak the grease up. After three days, sweep or vacuum the material.
- If you do not have cat litter, don’t worry; there are a few more ways to get rid of grease stains. An easy option is to use dry cement. Do the same thing: place it on top of grease and let it absorb the stain for a few days. Once you’re done, dispose of the cement properly by throwing it in your rubbish bin, not your sink.
- Sand is also a good choice for petrol spills. Perhaps you have refilled your vehicle or lawnmower, but you missed the spout for some reason. In this case, you can pour ordinary sand over the spill, ensuring that it is completely covered. Leave it there overnight so that sand absorbs petrol fully. The next day, sweep the sand off your concrete driveway and place it into a container with a lid. If there is still some petrol stain left, use dish soap and water. Rinse the surface using a garden hose.
Wear gloves when scrubbing bleach off. Never mix it with other cleaners to avoid creating toxic fumes if you use bleach.
How about Tyre Marks?
Hot tyres can leave marks due to the plasticisers migrating into the sealer. It will cause discolouration that can be difficult to remove. A degreaser is often the most straightforward solution for tyre marks on the driveway. As much as possible, pick an environmentally-friendly product or one that is made with non-corrosive acid. This method is also helpful for salt deposits, rust stains, and lime marks. If you spilled paint, epoxy, or other contaminants on the concrete driveway, you could use a coatings remover.
Always do your research before using any product, whether it is a commercial or mixed product. Test it on a small area to ensure that it will not damage your concrete driveway.
When all else fails, you may want to consult with a concrete repairer. If it is extreme, you may have no choice but to tear out and replace your driveway. Contact Decorative Concrete WA for professional advice and see how we can help you restore your concrete driveway.