The patio area is a common portion of many homes and condos. This is because they are affordable to install, practical in their use, and durable to boot.
Not only that, but there are many different kinds of stamping, stains, and sealers so that patio owners can get the look that they want.
Concrete has become a much more versatile material for both indoor and outdoor home uses. And even though it gets exposed to plenty of use and the elements, it can be quite durable with just a little bit of care.
A common issue when it comes to patio use is how to keep those concrete slabs looking their best. And the best thing is that they don’t need to be cleaned often to maintain that beautiful look.
A good cleaning once a year or so should be enough to keep that concrete patio looking good and ready to enjoy.
Of course, that is just an average. If your patio gets a lot of use — maybe you have grease drippings or food stains on yours — it could need more cleaning than others. You can see your patio when you use it; you will know when a cleaning is in order.
Depending on how often you clean your patio, once in the spring could be enough. If not, just add another cleaning during fall and your patio should look good as new throughout the rest of the year.
Cleaning Your Patio
For most, cleaning the patio is just something that needs to get done and it doesn’t matter how that happens. Using a commercial cleaner is generally the preferred method and going to the store to get the right one is quick and easy.
But there are plenty of people who wish to go a different route. They want to avoid those chemicals not only because of the adverse impact that they have when inhaled but the impact that they can have on the concrete too.
After all, if you are going through the trouble of cleaning your patio, you care about how it looks. This means that you don’t want any potential fading that those chemicals can cause. You want the patio to look fresh and new with each use.
It is important to note one thing. Many people use pressure washers on their patios. That is fine if you use it on its own. That water pressure should be enough to bring up most tough stains without the aid of a commercial cleaner.
If you feel as though a cleaner is necessary, however, do not use baking soda and vinegar with a power washer. Use one or the other if you must but never both together.
Cleaning Your Patio Without Chemicals
The good news for those looking to clean their concrete patios is that you don’t have to use those commercial cleaners to get the job done. All you need is some baking soda, distilled white vinegar, and some common garden tools such as a hose and a broom.
The first step is to clear off the patio. If there are things in the way, you will never be able to reach all of the areas of the patio effectively. That means taking off any grills, plants, furniture, children’s toys, and what have you.
Next, you’ll want to get rid of all the debris. It is common to have grass clippings, leaves, and other debris on your patio, especially on a windy day.
Use your broom to sweep the entire area thoroughly, ensuring that there is no loose debris around. All that’s left is to spray down the concrete with your garden hose to get it nice and wet.
Mixing Your Natural Cleaner
Now comes the time to mix up your natural cleaner. You do this by pouring a cup of baking soda into a big plastic bowl or bucket.
When it comes time to add in the two cups of distilled white vinegar, do so slowly. This mixture will begin to foam up and pouring too quickly can lead to it getting out of control. Give it time to settle by mixing slowly.
When you’re creating this concoction, the mixture should be something resembling a cream soup in consistency. It should be thick enough that it will stick to the surface of the patio but not so much that it becomes difficult to spread.
After you have finished mixing together the ingredients, it is time to spread out the mixture over the surface of your concrete patio. The most effective way to do this is by using a sponge mop to ensure more accurate spreading.
Keep the size of your patio in mind when making your mixture. If you run low during the process of spreading it over the patio, just make double or triple the amount to ensure even spreading.
Covering the patio in your cleaning mixture is important to getting it looking fresh and new again.
Time to Scrub, Rinse, and Dry
Give the cleaning mixture time to do its thing. Wait around 30 or so minutes so that the mixture can begin to eat away at the grime and dirt sitting on the surface of the patio. From here, it is time to scrub, scrub, scrub.
If you planned on using a metal brush, toss it. The metal brushes can leave small pieces of the metal embedded in the concrete. These small pieces can rust and create a whole new cleaning issue that you have to deal with.
Use something such as a brush with nylon bristles. These are gentle enough to not score or break off in the concrete but sturdy enough to get the grime up. You can also go one of two ways with the size of brush that you choose.
The first is a small, handheld brush. This allows for the greatest leverage but it also means getting on your hands and knees or bending down to do the scrubbing. There are plenty of us out there who have bad backs, making this a less than ideal option.
There are also brushes with longer handles so that you can operate them while standing. Think of the handles that you would see on a broom or mop.
This can be beneficial when it comes to saving your knees and back so keep these options in mind while picking out your supplies.
Give the entire surface of the patio a good scrub. You should see some of the looser grime and dirt begin to come up right away but a good scrub should get all of the dirty areas clean.
Go over it as much as you need to in order to ensure that your patio is completely clean.
Lastly, all you need to do is rinse away the cleaning solution left over. If you have any plants or shrubbery near the patio, be sure to spray some clean water over those as well. The vinegar can potentially eat away at those.
When the patio has been sprayed and cleared of cleaning solution, it is time to dry. Give your patio the time it needs to dry completely before moving any of the furniture or accessories back into place.
There is nothing worse than thinking that the entire patio has been cleaned only to find a spot after you have moved the furniture back into place.
Getting Rid of Rust Stains and Red Mud
Not all stains are made the same. Common dirt and grass stains are definitely easier to remove than some of the other stains out there. This includes any potential rust that you may have from furniture or grills.
The easiest way to avoid those rust stains and red mud stains is to clean the area impacted immediately.
The longer the stains sit there, the more chance they have to set into the concrete. The longer they set, the more difficult they are to get out. Keep this in mind.
One thing to keep in mind is that you may not be able to get out these tougher stains with a natural cleaner. It is certainly worth trying to use baking soda and white vinegar but don’t be surprised if they don’t get those tough stains out.
If you have tried to scrub away the red mud and rust stains, there is one other thing that you can try to do. You need to have oxalic acid or some kind of commercial cleaner that will have oxalic acid already in it.
In addition to the oxalic acid, having a power or pressure washer will also help to remove those tough stains. The extra water pressure is always great at pulling up the nastier stains that you have around your property but a garden hose is good enough if you don’t have one.
As you would with any standard staining, you want to clear the area. This includes any furniture that you may have as well as sweeping away any loose debris.
It’s a good idea to take an industrial cleaner to those pieces of furniture with rust on them to prevent the rust from staining your patio again.
With your cleaner, it is important to follow the instructions on the back of the package. Deviating can wind up resulting in an ineffective clean and that’s just time wasted.
Apply your cleaner to the area that is stained and then use your nylon brush to scrub the area thoroughly.
You should notice the stain start coming up right away. When you rinse away the area and allow it to dry, it should be completely gone or at least worn away.
Repeat as many times as you need to in order to get the stain up.
Getting up Grease Stains
Because the patio area is commonly used for grilling, it should come as no surprise that grease stains are common. Those grease stains, if allowed to persist, can be incredibly difficult to get up from the concrete.
Keep in mind that if you have a grease stain that has sat for a while, there likely will be the need for an industrial cleaner. A good rule of thumb to follow with stains in general is that the longer they sit, the more difficult they will be to remove.
But if you have a fairly fresh grease stain, all you need is your baking soda/white vinegar mixture, your brush, and a little bit of kitty litter or cornstarch.
The first thing to do is sprinkle the area with that kitty litter or cornstarch. Use a layer about an inch thick or so.
Give the spot 24 to 72 hours so that it can absorb as much of the grease as possible before cleaning. This can be highly beneficial when it comes to the amount of work you have to do to pull up the grease.
After giving it time to soak up the grease, sweep up the starch or kitty litter and look over the stain. There are actually some grease stains that will mostly come up with the spreading of that litter or starch. But if it is there and nearly gone, it is time to scrub.
Use your nylon brush and your cleaning concoction together. Scrub thoroughly over the entirety of the area. It is also helpful to rinse the area and scrub again just to ensure that the grease has been removed from the area.
When you feel confident that the grease stain has been removed, rinse off the entire area and give it a chance to dry. If you feel that it’s necessary, you can repeat the process until the grease stain has been completely removed; it depends on your stain.
These are just a few of the instances where you need to get down and dirty to clean your patio. But with these easy resolutions, you can keep your patio looking fresh and clean all year round. That makes it a great place to hang out.
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