Patio Perfection: Expert Tips on How to Clean a Concrete Patio

As a woodworker and DIY enthusiast in Chicago, I always seek ways to care for and revive my home’s outdoor living spaces. Nothing beats a clean, inviting patio for hosting friends or relaxing outdoors. But like any surface, concrete patios can get grimy over time from exposure to the elements. Don’t despair – with the proper techniques and products, you can get your deck looking fresh and renewed again. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll explain everything you need to know to deep clean and maintain your concrete patio. Grab your bucket and scrub brush, and let’s get that outdoor oasis back in tip-top shape!

Understanding the Nature of Concrete Patios

Before we dive into cleaning, it’s helpful to understand what makes concrete unique as a patio material. Concrete’s durability, versatility, and relatively low maintenance make it a popular choice for patios and outdoor living spaces. The material is designed to withstand heavy use and extreme weather conditions over many years.

How To Clean A Concrete Patio

At the same time, it’s important to remember that concrete is porous, meaning it has small holes throughout its surface that allow liquids to seep in. This trait makes it prone to staining if spills aren’t cleaned promptly. Different concrete finishes – like stamped, stained, polished, or coated concrete – have their distinct cleaning requirements as well. Knowing the nature and type of your concrete patio is vital for targeting your cleaning approach effectively.

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Gathering the Proper Cleaning Tools and Supplies

Like any good DIY project, having the right cleaning tools and supplies will make the job much smoother. Here’s my recommended lineup:

  • Broom or leaf blower – sweep away loose debris first 
  • Garden hose with spray nozzle – rinse and wet patio surface 
  • Pressure washer (optional) – deep clean stubborn stains 
  • Sponge mop or scrub brush – apply cleaning solutions 
  • Bucket – mix cleaning solutions 
  • Cleaning solutions – see next section! 
  • Protective gear – gloves, eye protection, etc. 
What You Will Need to Clean Concrete Patio

It’s also wise to take safety precautions before scrubbing away, including:

  • Clearing furniture/decor from the patio 
  • Protecting surrounding plants and grass 
  • Testing cleaners in inconspicuous areas first 
  • Using protective gear when handling chemicals 
  • Following all cleaner instructions carefully 

Mixing Up a Basic DIY Concrete Cleaning Solution

For routine patio maintenance cleaning, simple DIY solutions often do the trick. Here’s an easy homemade cleaner to try:

  1. Grab your bucket and mix:
    • 1 part white vinegar
    • 1 part warm water
    • A squirt of mild dishwashing liquid like Dawn 
  2. Use a mop or scrub brush to apply the solution over the concrete surface. Let it soak in for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Scrub thoroughly to lift dirt from the pores. The vinegar will help dissolve chalky residue and calcium buildup.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove all cleaner residue.

Repeat this process as needed for periodic upkeep. The vinegar neutralizes alkaline mineral deposits while the detergent cuts through grime.

How To Clean Concrete Patio Without A Pressure Washer

Tackling Tough Oil, Grease, Mold, and Other Stubborn Stains

DIY cleaners work well for light-duty cleaning, but sometimes, you must bring out the big guns of severe stains that resist basic methods. Here are some of the most common stubborn patio stains and how to bust them:

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Oil/Grease Stains

  • Try blotting with an absorbent material first. If needed, apply a degreasing cleaner like concentrated dish detergent or a mix of washing soda, vinegar, and dish soap. Let it soak, then scrub. 

Mold/Mildew Stains

  • Mold feeds on the organic matter in dirt and debris. Wash the patio with an outdoor hose or pressure washer first. For remaining stains, use a commercial mold/mildew remover like Mold Armor or a chlorine bleach solution. 

Rust Stains

  • Rust stains can form when metal furniture or tools sit on the patio. Scrub the rust spots using white vinegar or a commercial rust remover. The oxalic acid in vinegar dissolves rust effectively. 

General Tough Grime

  • Degreasing cleaners like trisodium phosphate (TSP) or commercial concrete cleaners help tackle layers of grime buildup. Apply the cleaner full-strength, let soak for 15+ minutes, then scrub. 

Always spot-test commercial cleaners first and take precautions when using caustic chemicals like bleach. Proper PPE is a must!

How Often Should You Clean Your Concrete Patio

Power Washing Your Patio for a Deep Clean

For a deeper level of cleaning, you can’t beat the power of a pressure washer! Gas-powered pressure washers with a PSI of over 3000 are ideal for concrete cleaning. Here are some tips:

  • Test the pressure washer in an inconspicuous spot first to avoid damage.
  • Use the 40 ̊ spray nozzle and keep 6-12 inches between the nozzle and the patio.
  • Apply a degreasing cleaner and let soak 15 minutes before power washing.
  • Work in sections using an overlapping crisscross or “Z” pattern.
  • Rinse thoroughly until all cleaner residue is gone.

Take proper precautions when power washing, including wearing protective eyewear and gloves, protecting your skin, and cleaning on a dry day without wind.

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If you don’t own a pressure washer, some DIY car wash stations and commercial pressure washing companies offer concrete cleaning services.

How Often Should You Clean Your Concrete Patio

Sealing and Protecting Your Patio to Lock In Your Hard Work

Once you’ve conquered cleaning and reviving your patio, it’s essential to take steps to protect it going forward:

  • Seal It – Sealing your concrete every 2-3 years prevents moisture and stain penetration. Look for siloxane-based sealants. 
  • Sweep Often – Regular sweeping keeps abrasive debris from scratching and wearing down the surface. 
  • Use Furniture Pads – Plastic or felt pads under furniture legs prevent scraping and imprints. 
  • Shade It – Minimize sun exposure, which can fade and damage sealed concrete over time. Awnings or umbrellas help. 
  • Repair Cracks – Fill small cracks with concrete caulk or patch products to prevent damage. 

With the proper sealing and care, your freshly cleaned patio will stay pristine-looking for seasons to come. Let me know if you have any concrete cleaning questions – I’m always happy to chat DIY!