A patio is an excellent place to relax and unwind. Just you, chilling and enjoying the fresh air with a cold drink after a long, busy day at work—or so you thought.
Unfortunately, outdoor elements and regular foot traffic left your comfort space with debris and stains, resulting in discolored concrete. With that, you decided it was time to clean.
The problem is you don’t have a pressure washer to eliminate the caked-in dirt. But you would rather spend your savings on more essential expenses—and understandably!
So, how would you clean a concrete patio if you don’t have a pressure washer to do the job?
Thankfully, there are DIY and affordable ways to keep your patio looking fresh and clean without investing in a pressure washer. Let me walk you through each of them.
How to Clean Your Concrete Patio Without Pressure Washer
A pressure washer is a handy tool whether you are using it to clean dirty siding, hose down dirty toys for the kids, or spray down dirt that has dried onto the sidewalk.
However, a pressure washer isn’t something we all have conveniently stashed away in our storage. So, here are six effective alternatives to deep clean your concrete patio without a pressure washer or other expensive cleaning machines:
1 – Getting Rid of Loose Debris
If the issue is loose dirt and debris on your concrete patio, the solution is simple: sweep or spray it away. You should sweep-clean your concrete patio regularly anyway to keep dirt and grime from building up.
But then there’s the issue of the deep-seated buildup of dirt, grime, or fungal growth on your patio. When that happens, you can use commercial concrete cleaners to get the job done.
But there’s a catch.
Most of these cleaners contain harsh ingredients that could affect your concrete patio’s appearance, hurt neighboring plants, or cause issues if breathed in.
Luckily, there are alternatives to using those household cleaners that are much safer and better for the environment.
2 – Using Vinegar
Vinegar is a cheap and natural cleaner that’s safe to use on your patio and throughout your home. It contains about 5% acetic acid, which helps break down dirt, oil, grime, and deep-seated surface stains.
All you have to do is mix white vinegar with equal parts water, and it can be used as a stain remover for different surfaces.
When cleaning a concrete patio with vinegar, you will want to go at heavily soiled areas using something stiffer, such as a hard bristle broom or a scrub brush made for flooring, decks, and patios like this one on Amazon.
Here’s a pro tip:
If the stain is still not coming up after a good scrub, try spraying it with undiluted vinegar and give it around 10 minutes or so to sit.
When the vinegar has had a chance to set, you can scrub it again. It should pull up tough stains with relative ease.
Then, you can simply use your hose to spray away the cleaner and the loose debris created by the scrubbing.
3 – Using Baking Soda
Another natural, environmentally-friendly method of cleaning your concrete patio is baking soda. This cake ingredient contains alkali, a soluble salt that dissolves dirt, oil, grease, and stains.
If you have a soiled hardscape, here’s how you use baking soda to clean it:
- Mix a half cup of baking soda into about a gallon of water to create your natural cleaning solution.
- If you’re dealing with tough stains and want a more potent solution, add about an eighth of a cup of liquid dish detergent.
- Stir until you get a consistent mixture.
- When you have created your concoction, spray it on the stains (or on the entire patio surface if you want that perfect shine).
- Then, let it sit for 20 minutes to give the baking soda (and detergent) a chance to break down the dirt and grime.
Finally, give the patio a good scrub. You should see the grime begin to rise with relative ease.
When you have successfully scrubbed the area, you can use the hose to rinse off the concrete and enjoy your freshly cleaned patio again.
4 – Using Bleach
Using bleach should be a last resort when dealing with terribly tough stains or grime on concrete. It’s a potent and dangerous chemical, so use it away from pets and children for safety.
Before cleaning, you will also want to take the proper protective measures. Use gloves to keep the bleach from contacting your skin and a mask to avoid inhaling the fumes.
Once geared up, follow these steps to use bleach:
- Mix an equal amount of bleach and water in a container.
- Then, put that solution into a spray bottle to prevent concentrating the potent mixture in a particular area on your patio.
- When you have put together your bleach mix, spray the solution onto the stained area and give it around 10 minutes to sit.
- You don’t want to spray a lot because it can then begin to flow off of the patio and onto the grass or adjacent flowers.
- After 10 minutes, use a deck brush or something stiffer to scrub the stains off.
Bleach solution is powerful, so you shouldn’t have a hard time scrubbing the stains off. Just ensure to rinse the area after you’ve gotten those stains out.
Here’s a quick reminder when using bleach:
Let your concrete patio completely dry before you return any objects or furniture to the space. Don’t leave damp spots to avoid attracting algae and moss, especially for patio stones.
See my tips on how to remove moss from your patio.
5 – Using Muriatic Acid
Muriatic acid is corrosive, making it an excellent tool to dissolve molds and stains from surfaces, including concrete, stone, and brick. If you have dried grout or rust, this powerful chemical can remove them, too.
However, just as when using bleach, you should use extreme caution as muriatic acid is a highly toxic chemical. Wear gloves, protective eyewear, and coverall clothes, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
For added safety, dilute the acid with water before application. For cleaning concrete, a mixture of one part muriatic acid and ten parts water should do the job adequately.
Spray the DIY solution on your dirty concrete patio and let it sit for 10 minutes before brushing. Then, mix one cup of ammonia and one gallon of water and use it for rinsing to neutralize the acid.
6 – Using Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)
Trisodium Phosphate, mixed with water, is an effective cleaning solution. Formulated for heavy cleaning, TSP can lift deposits of grease, dirt, soot, and stains from concrete and walls.
Best of all, you can find TSP in most home improvement stores for generally easy access.
Nevertheless, TSP is still a chemical that can cause eye and skin irritation. As such, use the same caution when using it as a cleaning solution.
Wear protective clothing at all times when dealing with TSP. I highly recommend using rubber gloves, eye protection, and a ventilation mask.
After mixing your TSP solution, simply scrub it onto the stained area with a nylon brush or a thick bristle brush to create an effective tool for removing tough stains.
Here are some frequently asked questions when cleaning a concrete patio you might find interesting:
Does vinegar clean concrete?
Yes, vinegar can be a handy ingredient when cleaning concrete. The acid content of a vinegar solution is potent enough to eliminate everyday dirt on surfaces—even bacteria!
That said, apply minimum care when using the acidic agent on surfaces other than concrete. Waxed wood, aluminum, and natural stone can deteriorate when exposed to vinegar.
Is muriatic acid good for cleaning concrete?
It might sound surprising, but muriatic acid, the chemical used to lower pH levels in industrial wastewater, is a great agent to eliminate rooted dirt from concrete.
See, the corrosive property of the acid takes out mineral stains, leaving your concrete with its natural bright white appearance. It also works well in removing deposits, including rust, in hard-to-reach cracks and crevices.
How long can you leave muriatic acid on concrete?
Muriatic acid might be a great cleaning agent, but it’s not something you’d want to leave on your concrete for more than 15 minutes.
Beyond that, the chemical can start weakening the structure of the cement, which can result in unappealing cracks, scaling, and deterioration.
A pressure washer is an effective cleaning tool for concrete patios. But it’s not something that all of us have available. And you may not even need it as much to justify the cost.
Cleaning your concrete patio doesn’t have to be difficult and expensive, though. With the right tools and ingredients discussed above, you can keep your concrete patio clean and neat!
If you want more backyard tips, including recipes, how-tos, and more, make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
If you want more backyard tips including recipes, how-tos and more, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel