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Looking for a quick way to clean garden paths and the driveway outside your home? This simple DIY method will help you not just clean, but also maintain your driveway and garden paths.
Cleaning Paths and Driveways – And Keeping Them Clean
Outdoor surfaces like driveways, garden paths and pool surrounds are often constructed out of porous masonry materials. These materials include:
- Tiles and grout
With exposure to water, weather, use, and the surrounding environment, these porous surfaces take on many forms of cosmetic and structural degradation. Common signs include moss, algae, mould, dirt, grime, efflorescence and staining from fallen vegetation, food, oil or other matter.
There are a number of ways to clean these surfaces, each with benefits and considerations of their own. However, cleaning these surfaces is only the beginning; they must be maintained and protected otherwise the surface will deteriorate once again.
We will outline how to clean and maintain these surfaces in detail, below.
Methods to Clean Driveways and Paths
- Minimal effort
- Highly effective at a fast rate
- Can be combined with attachments to deal with a variety of jobs.
- Uses a lot of water
- Uses more electricity than other methods
- Equipment can be more expensive
- Can damage/erode the surface if not used correctly.
The pressure cleaner can be used with no additional attachments and just water, but this is not as thorough or safe for the surface. The ideal technique is outlined below.
- High-pressure, low output power washing system
- Various attachments for cleaning surfaces, including: rotating nozzle and surface cleaner attachment.
- Detergent formulated specifically for your surface and power washer.
- Sweep away/clear all debris and objects from the surface.
- Set the pressure cleaner up and go over the surface enough to remove any stubborn debris that wasn’t removed in the first step. If you have the equipment, a rotating nozzle can be useful here as it will direct water at the surface at varying angles.
- Apply a cleaning formulation/detergent to the surface. The detergent should be formulated specifically for the surface and can be applied via the pressure cleaner system or using a surface cleaner attachment.
The right attachment for cleaning broad sections of the surface is a circular attachment as in the image below:
- Once the detergent has broken down stains and cleaned the surface, hose the surface using the appropriate spray nozzle and/or distance between the pressure cleaner and surface. This is important so as to not damage the surface with high-pressure water. High-pressure water jets can erode porous masonry surfaces like concrete, stone and grout.
- Once the surface is dry and now fully cleaned, the surface will need to be sealed if it is to remain clean.
Use the penetrating sealer Resistain. Details on its use are at that link. Resistain is a liquid waterproofing sealer that preserves the clean state of the surface and protects it from water damage. Resistain is brushed onto the surface, and leaves it water and stain repellent for 15 years.
Washing your surface can be done without using high-powered systems. This is also the less expensive method and is often more appropriate for smaller areas.
This involves using brushes, detergent and manual effort, and will get the job done effectively.
- Costs less
- Uses less water and power
- Requires simpler equipment
- More suitable for small areas
- Less likely to erode the surface
- More effort required
- More time required
- Less suitable for large areas.
- Broom with stiff bristles
- Soda ash/washing soda
- Baking soda/cat litter.
- Clear area of debris and dirt.
- Apply cat litter or baking soda to the stains to absorb as much as possible first. Remove after 12-24 hours depending on absorption.
- Spray area with water.
- Dissolve 100g washing soda into 4.5L hot water.
- Apply this soda/water solution to the surface using the stiff-bristled brush, removing dirt and stains.
- Rinse when clean. Avoid rinsing into plants as this solution can be harmful to plants.
- Seal with Resistain. This will ensure the cleaned surface state will be maintained and protected against further water damage and staining.
Stain removing solutions
Sometimes the above methods will require additional treatment with specialised stain-removal solutions.
In order to remove oil stains, degreaser can help. Simply apply it to the stain, let it sit and break the stain down, then reapply. Scrub the degreaser in.
Degreaser can be diluted if the stain is new.
Baking soda or absorbent material like cat litter can be used to soak up new oil and petrol stains.
Cover the stain with the above, let it sit for an hour or more. The absorbent material will soak the fresh staining liquid up, and further repetitions of this process may soak up more.
- Enzymatic cleaner
Simply apply to the stain, following the instructions on the packaging. The cleaner will break the stains down over days. No major effort is required, just time for the cleaner to work through the stain.
How to Maintain Your Cleaned Driveways and Paths
Sealing the Surface
As mentioned before, the application of a waterproofing sealer is critical if the surface is to be maintained. To do this, apply Resistain. It is a simple, DIY application process using a paint brush/roller/spray.
Details and guides on using Resistain are available here.
With these methods, most outdoor masonry surfaces like driveways and paths can be cleaned back into prime condition and maintained for the long term.