How to Clean Concrete with a Pressure Washer

Updated 5/3/2023

Life can get messy, and the concrete surfaces around your home are no exception. With dirt, grime, and even the occasional gum wad on your driveway and sidewalks, it’s time to take matters into your own hands.

Enter the pressure washer. This powerful tool can help you quickly clean concrete surfaces, leaving them looking like new.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to clean concrete with a pressure washer, along with concrete cleaning tips and maintenance advice to keep your surfaces pristine.

So grab your pressure washer and protective gear, and let’s get started!

Preparing for Pressure Washing

Before you dive into blasting away dirt and grime, it’s essential to consider safety. Pressure washers can cause serious injury if not handled correctly. 

Here are some smart pressure washer safety tips to get you started:

  • Always read the user manual and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for your pressure washer model.
  • Wear protective gear such as goggles, gloves, and closed-toe shoes to shield yourself from debris and high-pressure water spray.
  • Keep children and pets away from the area you’re cleaning.
  • Never point the pressure washer nozzle at yourself or others.

What you’ll need

To clean concrete with a pressure washer, you’ll need a few essential items:

  • Pressure washer: Choose either a gas or electric model based on your preferences and requirements.
  • Cleaning solution: Use a commercial concrete cleaner or make your own with a mix of water and mild detergent.
  • Protective gear: Equip yourself with goggles, gloves, and closed-toe shoes to stay safe while pressure washing.

Choosing the right pressure washer for concrete

For smaller jobs like cleaning your patio or walkway, an electric pressure washer with a PSI (pounds per square inch) level of 1,300-1,900 will suffice.

For larger tasks like driveways and garage floors, opt for a gas-powered pressure washer with a PSI level of 2,000-3,000.

Remember that higher PSI levels can clean more efficiently but may also cause damage to concrete surfaces if not used carefully.

Prepping the concrete surface

Before you start pressure washing your concrete surfaces, preparing the area is essential. 

  1. Sweep away dirt, leaves, and other debris from the area.
  2. Remove any obstacles, such as furniture or potted plants.
  3. Cover nearby plants and electrical outlets with plastic sheeting to protect them.
  4. Check the concrete surface for any cracks or damage.
  5. Repair any cracks or damage as needed to avoid further deterioration during cleaning.

Setting the pressure and spray pattern

  1. Choose a nozzle with a wider spray angle (25 to 40 degrees) to minimize the risk of damage.
  2. Test the pressure and spray pattern on an inconspicuous area of your concrete surface.
  3. Adjust the pressure and nozzle as needed to achieve the desired cleaning results.
  4. Avoid using too much pressure that may cause damage to the concrete surface.
  5. Regularly adjust the pressure and nozzle to maintain control during the cleaning process.

How to Clean Concrete with a Pressure Washer

When pressure washing concrete, technique matters. 

  • Stand about 3 to 4 feet from the surface when pressure washing concrete.
  • Use smooth, overlapping strokes to clean the area evenly.
  • Hold the pressure washer wand at a 45-degree angle to the surface to avoid etching or gouging the concrete.
  • Move closer to the surface for stubborn stains or to remove ingrained dirt, but be cautious not to damage the concrete.
  • Work in sections and rinse each area with clean water before the cleaning solution can dry.

Concrete cleaning solution recommendations

Choosing the right cleaning solution for your concrete surfaces is essential for effective cleaning.

Commercial concrete cleaners are readily available and formulated to remove dirt, grime, and mildew.

One example of a highly effective cleaning agent is Trisodium Phosphate (TSP). It can be used to facilitate the cleaning process and remove oil and grease from surfaces.

In my experience, it’s one of the best solutions out there for cleaning concrete.

However, TSP can be harmful if not handled correctly, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and use it in a well-ventilated area.

If you prefer a DIY approach, there are many other eco-friendly and safer cleaning options available that are also effective in removing oil and grease from concrete surfaces.

Some of these options include:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Citrus-based cleaners

Wrapping it Up

Pressure washing effectively and efficiently cleans concrete surfaces, offering a revitalized appearance and long-lasting results.

Following proper safety precautions, choosing the right pressure washer and cleaning solution, and utilizing correct pressure washing techniques, you can transform your grimy concrete surfaces into pristine walkways, driveways, and patios.

Don’t forget to maintain your concrete surfaces regularly to ensure they stay in top shape for years to come!

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