The older I get, the more I want to get away from abrasive chemicals that have the potential to cause harm to my family, pets, and belongings. The problem with that is finding alternatives to replacing those chemicals that will still do the same job. I am always on the lookout for new ways to clean and spruce up my home which makes me think that others are too. With spring coming and a particularly nasty winter and fall behind me, I found myself wondering how I was going to clean my patio more healthily, and then it dawned on me.
There are a few methods out there, but by far the least labor-intensive option is pressure washing. Pressure washing uses water under pressure through a machine that forces dirt off your patio and will clean your patio and other belongings better than harsh solvents and scrubbers. Though there are a few other ways to help your pressure washer, it is the most important tool in cleaning your patio without chemicals.
If you have never used a pressure washer, it is not as hard as it sounds. I have compiled a little more information about how to best use a pressure washer to clean a patio without chemicals.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Pressure Washer?
The whole reason you are choosing a pressure washer for your patio is to avoid chemicals, but there are a lot of other benefits that you get from going with this machine.
- Environmentally Friendly – Avoiding chemicals on your patio is safer for your family, but it is also safer for the environment. This way you don’t need to worry about chemicals running off into groundwater or destroying your yard.
- No Scrubbing – If you are using chemicals it also means that you will most likely have to be down on your hands and knees scrubbing the patio. A pressure washer gets in all the hard to reach places, and you don’t even need to bend over.
- Saves Time – Using chemicals is not only unhealthy and labor intensive, but it takes a lot of time. Pressure washing a patio takes only a fraction of the time and leaves your patio looking cleaner than traditional methods.
- Saves Money – There is an initial cost associated with purchasing a pressure washer, but it is a versatile machine that will last you for years and save you countless dollars in cleaning materials and professional cleaning bills.
How Do I Pressure Wash My Patio?
If you have never used a pressure washer before it may seem like a daunting task, but it is an enjoyable experience, and the results are worth the learning curve.
- Pretreat stains with natural stain removers and sweep any large debris off the patio.
- Cover any outlets or loose wires that are around your patio. If covers aren’t available, use heavy-duty duct tape to cover the outlets and hold down wires.
- Make sure that the hose is attached firmly and water is running from the hose into the machine before you turn it on.
- Attach the appropriate nozzle to the pressure washer and put on any safety gear you plan to use.
- Point the nozzle toward the ground and away from people and sensitive objects and pull the trigger to test the strength of the spray.
- Start by working from one corner of the patio, blasting dirt away from you and toward the edge of the patio in a sweeping motion.
- Once the heavy dirt and grime are gone away, switch to a light spray to rinse off the patio.
- Allow the patio to air dry while you break down your machine for drying and storage.
How Do I Protect the Grass and Belongings on and Around My Patio?
Pressure washers are no joke, and if you are not careful, you will dig into the grass at the edge of your patio. You are already choosing to skip the harmful chemicals that can kill the grass around your patio which is a big step.
Soak the grass around your patio to get it to lay down and be more pliable in case of stray spray. You can also loosely cover the grass or any other plants and gardens with a tarp to protect them from accidents. The best thing you can do to preserve the grass is to give yourself a good foot of space between the washer and the edge of the patio. After you finish with the high-pressure spray, come back and use a gentler spray for the last foot of space.
If you have the option to move all of your belongings off the patio, that is your first step. If that is not an option, work around them by moving them all together in the corners of the patio you are not working on. In some cases, like with patio furniture, you may want to give them a good spray down too.
Always make sure to keep the nozzle of the sprayer pointed toward the ground and away from any windows or glass tables. The spray will break right through the glass costing you a ton of money and causing a lot of dangerous and time-consuming cleanup.
Are There Other Natural Cleaning Options?
Just because a pressure washer is the best solution doesn’t mean that there aren’t other natural ways to aid the washer is doing its job.
- Steam Cleaner – If there is a lot of potentially harmful mold build up some people choose to use a steam cleaner first. While this is effective, it is expensive and dangerous in the wrong hands.
- Broom – Though it’s not necessary, some people like to sweep the patio first to get some of the bigger debris out of the way before they pressure wash.
- Vinegar – Vinegar is a natural cleaner and weed killer. Spraying vinegar over the patio will pull up some grime and kill the weeds and mold that are growing in the cracks making it easier for the pressure washer to flush them out.
Be sure to flush it with plenty of water, so it doesn’t kill the grass at the edge of your patio.
- Baking Soda – Mix baking soda, salt, and water into a paste and spread it over stains on the patio. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes before you spray it off with the pressure washer and the stains will go with it.
Are There Any Safety Precautions
A pressure washer is not a toy, and there are some operating precautions you should take along with environmental factors of which to be aware.
- Always point the nozzle away from yourself and others when operating the washer. The jet is strong and can cut like a knife.
- Always wear protective gear including eyewear and close-toed shoes.
- When you first pull the trigger, there will be an initial burst of water that is stronger than the actual stream. Point the nozzle toward an inconspicuous area and hold the trigger through this initial burst to test the actual pressure before using.
- If there is a large amount of mold on the patio, it is important to wear rubber gloves and a face mask while washing the mold away. Keep the patio as wet as possible during this time to prevent to spores from being airborne.
- Look for chips in the pavement before spraying; a strong spray could dislodge a loose chunk of pavement and make it a dangerous projectile.
How Do I Keep My Patio Clean After I Wash It?
After the initial power wash, you can sweep the patio every so often to take care of new debris that has fallen or bust out the pressure washer again since it is so easy to use. You can also find patio sealant that bolsters the luster of your patio and protects it from the elements.
Are There Environmentally Friendly Patio Cleaners I Can Use?
There are environmentally friendly patio cleaners on the market, but they don’t work as well as a power washer, and they take more time and effort to use. You are better off sticking with a power washer that will get the job done right the first time.
How Do I Prevent Weeds from Growing in the Cracks?
If you already have weeds growing in the cracks, the first step is to get rid of them. This can be done naturally using many home remedies, but I suggest sprinkling them with baking soda then spraying them with vinegar. The mixture will usually kill any weeds growing between the cracks.
Once the weeds are dead, one option that you have is to fill the cracks with polymeric sand which is special fine grain sand mixed with other ingredients that form a binding agent when wet. The sand fills in the cracks making it nearly impossible for weeds to grow. This method works great for patios made from small paver bricks.
For patios like mine that are large slabs of concrete, it is faster and easier to use a concrete caulk to fill the spaces between the slabs as well as any cracks. The caulk prevents the weeds from growing and is elastic, so it survives expansion and contraction as the weather changes.