If your concrete driveway is stained and dirty, it looks ugly and lowers the curb appeal and value of your home. Dirt, stains and grime also compromise the surface of your driveway and cause weak spots. Cleaning your driveway by hand can be tedious and time-consuming, but doing the job with a pressure washer can reduce the time greatly and gets your driveway sparkling clean.
In this article, we provide smart tips to help you successfully clean your driveway with a pressure washer. Read on to learn more.
What You'll Learn Today
- Is Pressure Washing A Driveway A One-Step Process?
- How to Properly Pressure Wash a Concrete Driveway
Is Pressure Washing A Driveway A One-Step Process?
A pressure washer is a portable device that can be powered by gas or electricity. The powerful engine runs a water pump that is fed water by your garden hose. The water is pressurized to come out with tremendous force for super cleaning power.
While you might think that this would be enough to get your driveway good and clean without a lot of initial to-do, the fact is some careful preparation will absolutely ensure excellent results.
Follow these nine steps for safe and effective driveway cleaning with a pressure washer:
1. Protect sensitive items
- Put away toys, bikes, lawn furniture and other gear that may be nearby.
- Cover walls, doors and other structures nearby with plastic or a tarp.
- Protect landscaping and move potted plants.
2. Clear the way
Clear away dirt, debris, pebbles and the like with a broom or leaf blower.
3. Apply a degreaser
Pre-treating with a degreaser before pressure washing will help lift stains easily. Rinse the concrete and use a push broom to apply a degreaser or concrete cleaning solution over the entire surface paying special attention to stains.
4. Familiarize yourself with the pressure washer
While your degreaser is soaking in, read instructions that came with your pressure washer very carefully. Follow instructions to set up the particular unit that you have.
In general, you’ll just need to use a pressure hose to connect the unit’s spray wand to the washer, itself. Then you’ll connect your garden hose to the washer for a water supply. Follow specific instructions to add detergent to the machine.
5. Choose the right nozzle
When applying detergent, you should use a low-pressure nozzle. When rinsing, you should use a high-pressure nozzle unless your concrete is soft, porous and/or has brick elements.
In this case, you should just continue with the low pressure nozzle to avoid damage. If in doubt, do a test in an area that’s not too visible before cleaning the whole driveway.
6. Start cleaning
Position yourself so that you start at the highest point of the driveway and work your way down. This way you’ll always have the water running away from you.
When you are ready, just point your spray wand at the highest point in the driveway, press the trigger and begin cleaning by sweeping the nozzle back and forth at a steady, even pace.
You should overlap every stroke by a few inches to apply detergent evenly over the entire surface of the driveway. Let the detergent soak for about fifteen minutes. Take care not to let the solution dry. You may need to mist it with your garden hose occasionally if it is a very hot, sunny day.
While you are waiting, change out the nozzle on the pressure washer.
7. Rinse off the detergent
Set your pressure washer to its rinse mode and go back over the driveway just as you did when applying detergent. You should find that stains and grime rinse away easily, but if some are stubborn, focus on them with tighter sweeps. Take care to rinse all of the detergent off the concrete.
8. Uncover nearby structures and landscaping
If you’ve put tarps or plastic over plants and structures nearby, remove them promptly. This is especially important for plants, which need air circulation and may be suffering from heat under tarps or plastic.
9. Seal the driveway if you wish
If your driveway is not already sealed, wait a full 24 hours to allow the concrete to dry completely and then give it a coat of sealant. See our article for full instructions on sealing concrete driveway.
How to Properly Pressure Wash a Concrete Driveway
Is It Safe To Use A Pressure Washer?
Pressure washers are made for stripping stubborn substances from hard surfaces. They are not meant to be gentle, so you should take great care and exercise appropriate safety precautions when using one.
Be sure to wear eye and ear protection and closed toed footwear (not flip-flops or sandals) when working with a pressure washer.
Getting hit by the spray of a pressure washer can cause very severe injuries, so you should never point the device at people or animals.
Wounds caused by a pressure washer may not seem serious at first, but if you delay treatment, you may end up dealing with infection, disability or even amputation, so exercise extreme caution when using this device.
Also, keep in mind that use of a pressure washer can cause harm in other ways. For example:
- If you fail to remove debris from the area you plan to treat, the power of the spray may forcefully throw loose objects about causing extreme harm, damage and injury.
- Improper use of a gas powered pressure washer can result in carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Improper use of an electric pressure washer may cause electric shock or electrocution.
It’s easy to see that careful use of this device is of the utmost importance. Always read and follow the instruction manual carefully. Whenever you are using a pressure washer, keep your eyes open.
Be attentive to your surroundings. Watch out for pets and people in the area. Watch your step and don’t inadvertently step into the roadway without looking when you get to the end of your driveway!
Smart Use Of A Pressure Washer Saves Time & Money
Using a pressure washer to clean your concrete driveway can save you a great deal of time and backbreaking labor, and you don’t have to buy one to be able to reap these benefits.
You can rent a pressure washer at your local home improvement center if you don’t need one for frequent use. Follow the tips presented here to safely and effectively use a pressure washer to clean your concrete driveway. Alternatively, here are some tips for driveway cleaning if you can’t afford to buy/rent one.