100 Tips For Cleaning Your Driveway
Your driveway is one of the first things people see when they arrive at your house. It stands to reason then, that you’d want it to look clean, presentable and welcoming. But between housework and gardening, cleaning the driveway doesn’t always come top of the list of chores and can often lead to it being neglected for some time.
If this sounds familiar and the time has now come for you to tackle your driveway, you might be facing a herculean task (especially if you’ve got a big drive or there are lots of stubborn stains that need to be removed). But despite all the daily use and hard-wearing materials, cleaning your driveway can still be a delicate procedure and the method you choose will depend on the type of paving you’ve got. What’s more, it can sometimes be a two-day operation if you’ve got to consider additional work such as stain removal and weeding!
As such, you need to know which tools and techniques are going to give you the best results. That’s why we’ve put together this guide of 100 handy tips for cleaning your driveway.
In this guide we’ll offer these guide:
- The Equipment and Products You’ll Need to Clean Your Driveway
- How to Prepare For the Day of Cleaning
- How to Remove Stains
- Using a Pressure Washer for Your Driveway
- How to Wash Your Driveway Without a Pressure Washer
- Caring For The Different Types of Driveway
- The Best Time to Clean Your Driveway
- Choosing the Right Cleaners and Solutions
- When you Should Call in the Professionals and How to go About it
- Maintaining Your Driveway For the Future
So now you know what to expect, let’s get started! Here are our 100 top tips for cleaning your driveway.
The Equipment and Products You’ll Need to Clean Your Driveway
There are a handful of different techniques for cleaning your driveway depending on your resources and the type of driveway you have. But to help you get a better understanding of some of the basic tools you’re going to need, here are our top 10 tips for choosing your cleaning driveway equipment:
- A broom– You’re going to want to give your driveway a good sweep before you wash it.
- A large bucket– You might need this for water or cleaning products if you’re washing your driveway manually.
- A scrub brush– You’ll want a brush with stiff bristles to help you really scrub the driveway.
- A garden hose or sprayer – You’ll need this for rinsing if you plan to wash your driveway manually and not with a pressure washer.
- Pressure washer– If you’re going to be using a pressure washer, you’ll need to either purchase or rent one.
- Chemicals or solutions required to remove stains– These might be paint stripper, acids or brake fluid depending on the stains that need removing, but we’ll look at this in more detail later on.
- Sawdust or cat litter– It sounds a little strange at first, but these absorbent materials can be used for soaking up and removing stains.
- Weeding knife– It’s a good idea to get rid of any weeds before cleaning your driveway, this adds to the lovely tidy finish.
- Weedkiller– If you’ve got a problem with weeds, you might also want to use some weed killer to help eliminate these faster and keep them away for longer.
- Protective gear for removing stains– If you’re using strong chemicals to either clean or remove stains, make sure you’re wearing the right protective gear. This includes appropriate clothing for cleaning as you might get wet and dirty.
How to Prepare For The Day of Cleaning
Before you begin washing your driveway, it’s a good idea to clear and prepare it as much as possible. This is especially true if you won’t be using a pressure washer to help you clean.
To do this, there are some simple steps and tips you should follow. Again, which of these are most relevant to you will differ depending on whether you’re going to be using a washer or doing it manually, but for the most part, you’ll need to consider the following when preparing your driveway:
- Decide how you’re going to do it – First of all, you need to decide whether you’re going to use a pressure washer or if you’re going to be putting a lot of the hard work in yourself. You also have the option to hire someone in to do this for you. Your chosen method will largely depend on the resources and budget available to you and how quickly you need the job done.
- Choose the right time to do it – You need to choose the opportune time for cleaning your driveway. If you know you’ve got to do some weeding, cleaning or stain removal, you might want to set aside two days to get the job done. Either way, this can be a time-consuming process so make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to get the job done and let it dry.
- Make sure you’ve got all the right tools– Once you’ve decided on the most effective method, you’re going to need to make sure you’ve got all the right tools for the job.
- Removing and pots, plants or obstructions– Whether you’re doing the driveway yourself or hiring someone in, you need to make sure you’ve cleared away any pots, plants or other objects that might be obstructing the driveway. You don’t want these getting in the way or potentially getting damaged during the cleaning process.
- Wear old clothes– Make sure you’re wearing old clothes that you don’t mind getting wet and dirty, especially if you plan to spend time removing stains and weeding as this will involve kneeling on the ground and a lot of elbow grease!
- Remove stains – If you’ve got any large or obvious stains it’s a good idea to treat these separately and try to get rid of them before the big clean. As such, it can be a good idea to tackle any oil, paint or rust stains the day before you want to wash the driveway to try and get rid of these first.
- Weedkiller– Similarly, if you want to put down some weed killer it can be beneficial to do this the day before the clean to give this time to work.
- Weeding – Once your weeds are dead, you can get your weeding knife and get rid of what remains. Try to remove all or as much of the weed as possible to stop these growing back.
- Sweeping to get rid of any loose dirt– Now you’ve got a blank canvas you can sweep up any loose dirt, stones or weeds you’ve pulled from the ground to clear the area ready to be scrubbed and washed.
- Mix the detergent – When you’re ready to begin it’s time to mix up your chosen detergent or solution.
- Get cleaning– The final stage is to scrub and rinse your driveway if you’re doing it manually, or to use your pressure washer to hose it down if you’re using a pressure washer.
Of course, if you’ve hired someone in you can ignore these final stages, you just need to make sure you’ve weeded and cleared the space ready for them to get started when they arrive.
How to Remove Stains
Above, we’ve mentioned the process of removing stains from your driveway before you begin cleaning. Several different types of stains may have found their way onto your drive and it is often best to give these some attention to remove them as much as possible before you clean.
Below are some of our top tips for approaching stain removal and some of the best products you can use to help make this as simple and easy as possible. These include:
- Tire marks – If you’ve got tire marks on your driveway, one of the best ways to get rid of these is using brake cleaner. You may have to give it a little scrub after spraying it on, but this should be enough to make the tracks disappear.
- Antifreeze stains – Unfortunately, antifreeze stains can be tricky to get off so if you notice the spill early, it’s best to use sawdust or cat litter to quickly soak it up. If it’s been there a while, you’ll need to get some driveway cleaning detergent and give it a good scrub to remove the stain. If it sticks around, you might need to repeat the process until it’s gone.
- Rust marks – If you can, get your hands on some muriatic acid as this is a great way to remove rust stains using a stiff brush. Just be sure to get the measurements right and wear protective gear such as gloves to avoid contact with your skin.
- Rust marks – Another way to treat the rust stains with more accessible products is white vinegar. It has been suggested that if left on for 20 minutes before being scrubbed and rinsed, this can also remove rust marks.
- Grease stains – If there’s grease on your driveway you may be able to absorb this using sawdust or cat litter. This would need to be left for between 12 and 24 hours so it’s best to do this the day before you plan to clean the driveway. If the stain has been there for some time and needs a little more convincing, you might want to scrub it with detergent afterwards.
- Oil-based paint spills– If you’ve ever spilt a bit of paint on your driveway, you’ll know how unsightly it looks. For oil-based paints, you can use paint stripper and a scrubbing brush to remove the marks.
- Latex-based paint spills – If however, the paint is latex-based, regular scouring powder and water should do the trick. Just give it a good scrub and rinse it well afterwards to wash away the spill.
- Oil stains – If they’re caught early, oil stains should be soaked up using sawdust or cat litter. Otherwise, oil stains can be treated in several ways. The first one is using oven cleaner which can be used to remove oil and grease from a concrete drive. Spray it on the stain and leave for 10 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing the area. You may need to repeat this method more than once for stubborn stains.
- Oil stains – Did you know that you can also use DW-40 to remove oil stains? Just spray the oil mark generously, leave it for a few minutes and then rinse well with water.
Pressure Washing Your Driveway
If you’re going to be using a pressure washer to do your driveway
(and these can be much more effective than the manual approach) there are a few things you need to take into consideration both before and during the clean. Below are some of our top tips for safely pressure washing your driveway and achieving the best results when doing so.
- The washer pressure -If you’re looking to hire or buy a pressure washer, it’s recommended that you find one that pumps out a minimum of 3000 PSI of pressure. If you can find one that is, if not, try to get the next best thing.
- The water temperature– If you can get a hot water unit to connect to your pressure washer, even better! Hot water gives a deeper clean than warm or cold water, but again, if this isn’t possible then don’t stress over it.
- Be careful– Following on from this, be careful never to hook up a cold-water unit up to the hot water coming from your house. If you do, this could cause a lot of damage to the pump.
- Be sure to prepare your driveway – By sweeping away any debris or stones you make it a smoother surface and therefore easier to clean. You also protect the driveway from becoming damaged by any rocks or stones. It also pays to treat any bigger stains before cleaning as there’s no guarantee the washer can get these off completely.
- Use a detergent– You need to add your chosen detergent or degreaser to the water to help eliminate any stains and to get a good clean finish. The water alone might not be able to remove all the stubborn dirt and stains.
- Understand the equipment– Before you begin, make sure you’ve properly read the instruction manual so you know how your washer works. You must understand how to turn it on and off, change the pressure and adjust the temperature if that’s an option.
- Keep it level – It’s a good idea to make sure your pump is on level ground so it doesn’t accidentally roll over while you’re using it and spill out across the driveway.
- Be safety conscious– It can be beneficial to wear protective eye gear with some of the heavy-duty washers in case anything is thrown into the air by the jet, that could potentially harm you.
- Keep your distance– When using the pressure washer, you don’t want to get the nozzle too close to the ground. Stay a couple of metres above the ground and create a nice steady flow of water.
- Beat tough stains – If there are any particularly tough patches or remnants of a stain you may want to go over this section a couple of times to ensure you get rid of all the dirt and marks.
- Give it a rinse– Once you’ve used all of your detergent, you should switch nozzles or change the pressure to a low pressure to rinse off the driveway one last time. This will ensure you’ve got rid all dirt and debris.
How to Wash Your Driveway Without a Pressure Washer
Haven’t got access to a pressure washer? That’s OK too! With a bit of detergent and a lot more elbow grease, you can do it manually. The process for washing your drive without a pressure washer is fairly similar to the methods we’ve discussed above, but of course, you don’t have a pressure washer to take on a lot of the hard work. Nevertheless, you can still achieve great results cleaning it yourself, just follow our tips and simple steps below:
- Get rid of any weeds– Firstly, you need to clear any pots, plants and weeds from your driveway. Remember, if you plan to use weed killer make sure to do this the day before the clean.
- Get rid of stains– Similarly, you might need to give yourself 24 hours to get rid of any bad stains. These can be harder to get off completely when scrubbing the driveway manually, but keep trying! Most stains will disappear eventually.
- Clear your driveway – Now it’s time to sweep the drive to get rid of any debris or stones that could scratch the surface when scrubbing.
- Prepare your detergent – The final step before you can begin cleaning is to prepare your chosen detergent. Fill up a bucket of water or get ready to sprinkle the solution or powder directly onto the driveway. Just be sure to read the instruction on the bottle first so you know what to do.
- Wet the ground – Once you’re ready to go, you need to spray the entire driveway with water using your hose.
- Start scrubbing – Once the driveway is wet and you’ve got your detergent ready you can begin scrubbing. The more you put into it, the cleaner it will be, so really go for it.
- Keep using detergent– A helpful tip as you go is to keep dipping your brush in the detergent (or keep adding more if you’re applying it directly) to ensure that every inch has been cleaned properly.
- Rinse the driveway– Once you’re happy that you’ve cleaned the whole driveway, get some clean water or get your hose ready and give the driveway a good rinse. Be careful not to wash too much of the detergent into nearby flower beds if you can avoid it.
- Let it dry – Once you’re finished, just let nature takes its course and dry your driveway. This should only take a few hours.
Caring For The Different Types of Driveway
There are several different types of driveways out there including concrete, tarmac, blocked paving and asphalt. These different materials require different levels of care, so before you jump right in and start cleaning, it’s a good idea to understand the specific needs for each type of driveway. That’s why we’ve put together some of our top tips for cleaning and caring for your driveway below, based on the material it’s made of. Check them out here:
- Ice and your concrete driveway– If possible, avoid using de-icers on your concrete driveways during the colder months. These can leave unsightly discolouration that cannot be removed when cleaning. Rock salt or calcium chloride can be less harmful alternatives.
- Care for your concrete driveway– One of the best ways to make cleaning your concrete driveway as simple as possible is to look after it and clean and reseal it regularly. As a general rule, clean and reseal your driveway every two years, but more frequently if it’s exposed to a lot of vehicle traffic.
- Address oil stains– You should address oil stains on your concrete driveway as quickly as possible and when cleaning, this should be the first important step.
- Preparing block paving– An important step when preparing your block paving driveway to be cleaned is to get all the weeds and moss out of the joins. You can use weed killer for this, but be sure to leave it a day or two to work its magic.
- Filling the joins– After you’ve cleaned your block paving driveway, finish the look by replacing lost sand in the joins. You can simply brush this in. Just make sure it’s a dry day when you do it.
- Reseal your block paving – By using a recommended sealant, you can maintain your block paving driveway. Allowing the solution to harden in the sand will also help stop weeds and moss growing back in the joins.
- Regularly clean and care for your asphalt driveway– Because of the darker colour of the asphalt, you need to regularly sweep and clean the driveway if you hope to keep it looking new. This means ideally caring for your driveway twice a year, but certainly at least once every 12 months.
- Removing moss from your tarmac driveway– Tarmac is susceptible to moss and algae because it is porous. After you’ve cleaned and rinsed your driveway, give the drive a coat with moss and algae prevention solution to keep it looking cleaner for longer.
- Cleaning a resin driveway– Softer resin driveways can be cleaned simply with warm water and household detergent. Just be sure to rinse this well afterwards, ideally with a pressure washer on a lower setting.
- Algae on resin– Algae can become ingrained in the resin, but fear not this can be easily removed and the colour restored by using a strong bleach solution.
Best Time to Clean Your Driveway
So, you’ve decided that your driveway needs a clean, but when is going to be the best time to clean it? Believe it or not, there are certain times of day and year that are going to be more beneficial for cleaning your driveway. These aren’t make-or-break of course, but they can help you to make the process easier and achieve the best results. So, to help you choose the right time, we’ve pulled together the following tips for maximum results:
- When you can– You need to make sure you’ve got all the right tools and cleaning products, there’s no point trying to improvise as you might not get the results you want. Instead, wait until you’re confident you have everything you need, whether you’re doing it manually or with a pressure washer.
- When you’ve prepared– Don’t start cleaning your driveway until you’ve completed the preparations we discussed earlier such as stain removal and weeding.
- During the warmer months– It is preferable to clean your driveway in the spring or summer months as moss and algae are more visible then, making it easier to ensure you’ve got rid of it all.
- Try to avoid the winter– There are no rules against cleaning your driveway in winter, but this could lead to it becoming slippery or icy, so it’s best to avoid the colder months if you can.
- Overcast days are better– While it’s lovely to get out in the sunshine either gardening or cleaning your driveway, hot days can make the water evaporate too quickly whilst you’re cleaning. Warm but overcast days can be better for ensuring it stays wet while you’re washing, but dries quickly afterwards.
- When you’ve got time – This can become a two-day project if you’ve got to do lots of weeding or stain removal, so it’s best not to start until you’ve got plenty of time to dedicate to the clean.
- You should do this yearly– It’s advisable to clean your driveway yearly, twice a year if you get the opportunity.
- If you’re selling your property– If you’re selling your property a beautiful, clean driveway can make a huge difference. Remember, it’s the first thing potential buyers will see when they approach the house, so make it look good.
- When your contractor is free– Of course, if you’re using a contractor you may have to be more flexible with your timing and wait until they have availability to fit you in.
- Clean up right away – While the timing of your clean is important, it can be just as important to clean up a stain as soon as you notice it. That way it has less time to settle into the material. Of course, this isn’t always possible, but when you can, clean up right away.
Choosing The Right Cleaners And Solutions
If you’re unsure what cleaning products you should be using, we can help you there too! You need to take into consideration the type of driveway you have and the nearby environment. So, keep these tips in mind when picking the right cleaning detergents and products for your driveway:
- Do your research– Before you settle on the first detergent you see, it might be a good idea to look up specific products that have been recommended for your type of driveway i.e. concrete, asphalt, block paving etc.
- Rejuvenate your block paving– Consider using acid-based products to clean block paving as this can help to bring some of the colour back. Just be sure to wear the right protective gear.
- Specific solvents– Using dedicated driveway (or patio) cleaners and solvents are going to be the best bet. There are some other tips and tricks we’ve shared above (such as bleach) but if you’re ever in doubt, go for a professional product specifically made for driveways.
- Dirty driveways– You could use trisodium phosphate-based cleaners for really dirty driveways, but just be aware that this is a very harsh chemical so wear protective gear.
- The environment– When choosing your cleaners, consider whether you’ve got lots of grass, plants or vegetation near your driveway as harsh chemicals can damage these. You can also find some more environmentally-friendly products on the market if this is a concern for you.
- Look for recommended products– If you’re purchasing a pressure washer to clean your driveway, the shop may also stock recommended cleaning products nearby, so keep a lookout for these.
- Watch out – Be wary of old wife’s tales. These include the use of coke cola, lemon and bicarbonate soda, all said to help you clean your driveway. While this may well be the case and they may on occasion work, it’s important to be wary of these in case you damage your driveway.
- Follow the instructions– Always be sure to use the right amount of detergent, don’t just assume more means better results as you could permanently damage your driveway.
When You Should Call in The Professionals and How to go About Doing it
There could be several reasons why hiring in a professional cleaning service is the best option for you. But before you go ahead and ring the first contractor you find on Google, check out our tips below for when you should call in the professionals and how to go about doing it:
- When you don’t have time– Life is busy and you might have been looking at your driveway for weeks now thinking how dirty it looks, but you just can’t find the time to dedicate to it. If this is the case, hiring in a professional could be the perfect solution.
- If you don’t have the right equipment – If it’s going to cost you a fortune to buy or rent a pressure washer and other tools to clean your driveway, you might be better off investing that money in having a professional cleaning service come out instead.
- If you’re worried about damaging your driveway– If you’re at all concerned about damaging your driveway or you’re unsure what the best cleaning procedure would be because of the material, it’s best not to risk it. Professional cleaning services will know exactly what to do and which products to use to ensure they don’t damage the drive.
- When you need a professional clean– Whether you’ve got important guests coming to stay or you’re trying to sell your house, if you need a professional-looking clean – and fast – then cleaning services could give you the best results.
- If you’re not up to the job – Cleaning your driveway can be a lot of physical work, especially if you haven’t got a pressure washer! So, if you’re not feeling up to the job, there are professionals out there than can do all the hard work for you.
- Be sure to do your research– Before you hire anyone, be sure to do your research into some of the best local companies and make sure they offer the services you need.
- Carefully choose the right contractor– Then you can carefully select the right contractor based on their reputation for a great clean and the services they offer.
- Ask about the equipment– If you’ve got certain requirements or you’re concerned about the driveway getting damaged, be sure to ask them what products and tools they use. They will be able to give you peace of mind and (hopefully) a guarantee on their services.
- Get the right price– Another part of researching needs to be finding a contractor who will do it for the right price. Shop around and compare prices so you know you’re not paying over the top rates.
- Prepare the driveway ahead of time– Don’t forget to remove any pots, plants or other belongings and perhaps weed the driveway if you can. This will allow the cleaners to come in and get straight on with the job.
Maintaining Your Driveway For the Future
You’ve given your driveway a good clean, now what? As they say, prevention is better than cure, and effectively taking care of your driveway could make it much easier to clean next time around. So, our final section in this guide will look at our tips on how to maintain your driveway long into the future, no matter what material it’s made from. Tips like:
- Sealing your driveway -Using the correct sealant you can protect your driveway from stains, weed growth, moss and algae.
- Enhancing the appearance – Sealant can also be used to boost the colour and appearance, so aim to seal your driveway at least once a year and be sure to use the right products for your chosen material.
- Replace blocks – One of the great things about block paving is that blocks can easily be replaced. So, if any have become damaged, dirty or stained beyond repair, you can have these changed for new blocks.
- Invest in a good brush– You might already have this, but if not, a good brush is going to be the key to keeping your driveway clean and clear.
- Sweep your driveway frequently – You don’t have to always be out there cleaning your driveway, but sweeping it once or twice a month can stop debris such as grass or leaves from forming algae or mildew.
- Remove weeds– You should also remove weeds as frequently as you can to stop them spreading and getting bigger. These can cause cracks or movement if left too long.
- Clean up spills – You should aim to clean up oil, grease or paint spills as soon as you’ve noticed them. This will prevent them from spreading and causing serious stains.
- Seal the cracks– It is an unfortunate reality that sometimes cracks start to appear and these could become a home for weeds if you don’t seal them as soon as you notice them.
- Be cautious– Of course, we’re not saying don’t use the driveway that would be silly, but just be cautious when doing so. For example, if you’re going to be painting the garage or front doors/windows, lay sheets down to avoid any paint splatter.
- Be careful what products you use – We’ve mentioned this already but that’s because it is so important! Always read the label on products before applying them to the driveway to ensure they won’t damage the material it’s made from.
It’s Almost Time to Get Cleaning
It’s almost time to get cleaning, but before you do, we just wanted to end with a quick roundup and our two absolute top tops for cleaning your driveway. If you take anything from this guide, our top tips are:
- Always put the care of your driveway first– Consider what material it’s made from, what products would be best for it and how to give it the best clean without damaging the ground.
- Get the cleaners in– Always remember, if in doubt, professional cleaners can offer their advice and services to eliminate any of the risks and do the hard work for you.
So, there you have it! Our 100 tips covering everything from the equipment you need and which products to use, to removing tough stains and maintaining your driveway for the future.
If you’d like to know more about our driveway cleaning services, get in touch with the team today!