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How to clean a patio

Melanie Whitehouse / 10 May 2016

Get your patio ready for summer with our guide to cleaning patios and paving slabs.

Cleaning a patio
Cleaning a patio with a pressure washer can make the job faster

Before you can relax in your sunny garden, it might be a good idea to give the patio a quick spruce-up after such a lengthy, wet winter.

Algae and moss may have built up and they can make surfaces slippery, and earth is bound to have washed into the tiles.

But no matter what your patio is made of, a bit of regular maintenance and a clean with a stiff-bristled broom and soapy water will make it look brighter and more cared-for.

Add kerb appeal to your house 

How to clean

First, clear your patio of pots, furniture and ornaments. Throw away any broken items, then give it a good sweep.

Next, pull up the biggest weeds and use an old kitchen knife to prise small ones from between the patio tiles. If you spray weed killer on them, make sure your pets don’t get it on their paws. Pouring salt or white vinegar between the tiles is a more environmentally and pet friendly alternative.

The patio is bound to be stained and mossy after the winter, so it will need a good wash-down. Either use a proprietary cleaner (but again, ensure it’s pet friendly if you have cats or dogs) or make your own with one cup of bleach or soda crystals in a bucket of warm water. If the patio is really dirty, use undiluted bleach; if it isn’t too bad, washing-up liquid in warm water will suffice.

Brush the entire patio vigorously. If you’re using chlorine bleach, avoid getting it on grass or plants because it can kill them. If you are using undiluted bleach, pour it on the patio and let it rest for a while (how long depends on how dirty the patio is), then start scrubbing.

Rinse the patio afterwards using a hose, flushing as much of the water into the drain as possible.

Power washing

A steam or pressure washer, which can be hired, will give your paving or patio a really deep clean.

Work your way over the surface of your patio removing as much grime as possible. It’s best to sweep the pressure washer back and forth over the surface, as it’s a powerful jet and can cause damage.

Be careful around joints, as the pressure can blow apart cracked concrete and mortar. It can also blow out all the sand/mortar filler tamped between paving cracks.

How to choose a steam cleaner

Finishing off

Refill the gap between paving with a suitable jointing sand or mortar mix compound.

After cleaning, you could seal your patio surface with a specialist sealer to stop it absorbing water and dirt. Choose one that suits your particular type of patio – consult your handbook or ask the manufacturer if in any doubt.

Top tips for cleaning the patio

If you’re handling caustic substances, like bleach or soda crystals, wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.

Wear old clothes in case you spill bleach onto them.

Keep children and pets indoors while you clean the patio.

Never mix cleaning products together – it can cause a dangerous chemical reaction.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.