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Get The Dirt On Cleaning Concrete And Paving Stones

Posted January 21, 2023 by Mike Lewis under Tips

Get The Dirt On Cleaning Concrete And Paving Stones


Cleaning concrete and paving stones can seem like an overwhelming task, but with the right tools and techniques, you can get your outdoor living spaces looking brand new. As a homeowner who loves DIY projects, I’ve learned a lot over the years about the best practices for making concrete and pavers sparkle.

In this article, I’ll share everything I’ve learned about cleaning concrete and paving stones. You’ll get tips on choosing the right cleaners, tools to have on hand, techniques for removing different types of stains and dirt, and how to maintain your hardscapes after cleaning. With a little bit of time and effort, you can get the dirt off and have your concrete and pavers looking like new again.

Evaluating the Condition of Concrete and Pavers

Before choosing cleaners and techniques, it’s important to fully evaluate the condition of your concrete or paving stones. Here are a few things I inspect:

  • Type of stains or dirt – Oils, rust, mildew, efflorescence (a white hazy residue), and embedded dirt need different types of cleaners and scrubbing. Take note of all the types of stains.

  • Damage or deterioration – Cracks, pitting, and spalling need repairs before deep cleaning. Pressure washing damaged concrete can make it worse.

  • Previous sealants or coatings – Check for existing sealers or paint which may impact cleaning ability. You’ll need to strip them first.

  • Type of concrete or pavers – The material affects product choices. Acidic cleaners can damage some natural stone, pavers, and concrete.

Thoroughly evaluating the surface first allows you to plan the most effective approach.

Choosing the Right Concrete and Paver Cleaning Products

With the right cleaners, you can break down and remove almost any type of dirt or stain from concrete and pavers. Here are some of my go-to products for different cleaning needs:

  • Degreasers – For oil, grease stains, and tire marks. Look for heavy-duty alkaline degreasers.

  • Mold and mildew removers – Choose chlorine-based removers to kill and remove mold and mildew.

  • Concrete and paver brighteners – Contain acids that break down dirt, stains, and efflorescence.

  • pH balanced cleaners – For regular maintenance cleaning that won’t damage sealed surfaces.

  • Stripper for sealers – Needed to remove old sealers and expose pores for deep cleaning.

Always read labels thoroughly and test products on inconspicuous areas first to ensure compatibility with your concrete or paver type. Wear protective gear when using caustic or acidic cleaners.

Must-Have Tools and Equipment

Having the right tools makes cleaning concrete and pavers much easier. Here are the supplies I always keep on hand:

  • Pressure washer – Crucial for deep cleaning concrete and breaking up stubborn stains. Use at least 2700 PSI.

  • Stiff bristle brush – For manual scrubbing of stains. A broom brush also works for pavers.

  • Putty knife or scraper – Helpful for chipping off old sealers or thick deposits.

  • Garden sprayer – For applying cleaners evenly across large areas.

  • Squeegee – To move dirty water off the surface after rinsing.

  • Eye protection, gloves, boots – Important safety gear when using chemicals.

  • Water supply – A hose with good water pressure is ideal.

Getting supplies ready saves time and makes the cleaning go smoothly from start to finish.

Techniques for Removing Specific Stains and Dirt

The technique you use depends on the type of stain or dirt you need to remove. Here are some of the best practices I’ve learned for specific cleaning challenges:

Oil and Grease Stains

  • Apply a degreaser, let it soak for 10-15 minutes.
  • Scrub with a stiff bristle brush.
  • Pressure wash away residue at 2500 PSI or more.
  • Repeat as needed for tough stains.

Mold and Mildew

  • Use a garden sprayer to evenly coat the area with a chlorine-based cleaner.
  • Let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
  • Pressure wash at 2500-3000 PSI.
  • Repeat for stubborn growth.


  • Wet the area, apply an acidic paver brightener.
  • Scrub with a stiff bristle brush.
  • Rinse thoroughly with water.
  • Let dry fully before sealing.

Embedded Dirt

  • Apply alkaline-based cleaner designed for concrete and pavers.
  • Use a pressure washer to spray at an angle along the surface.
  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Organic Stains

  • Use an oxygen bleach cleaner to break down and lift the stain.
  • May need to apply poultice paste and let sit for 24 hours.
  • Pressure wash and rinse away residue.

Rust Stains

  • Apply a rust remover gel and let sit for 15 minutes.
  • Agitate with a brush.
  • Rinse thoroughly.
  • May need to use an acidic brightener after.

Testing different techniques in hidden areas will help you find the best process for your situation. Don’t be afraid to do multiple cleaning rounds for tough, set-in stains.

Maintaining Concrete and Pavers After Deep Cleaning

Once you’ve put in the hard work to deep clean concrete or pavers, you’ll want to keep them looking great. Here are some of my top tips for ongoing maintenance:

  • Seal surfaces – Applying a protective sealer prevents stains and makes cleaning easier. Reapply every 1-2 years.

  • Sweep often – Use an outdoor broom to regularly sweep up dirt and debris. Don’t let it sit and get ground in.

  • Rinse spills quickly – Blot up spills as soon as possible, then rinse the area well with water. This prevents staining.

  • Dealing with snow – Use a plastic shovel and deicers safe for concrete to avoid damaging the surface when removing snow.

  • Moss prevention – Areas with lots of shade and moisture may need moss killer applied periodically.

  • Spot clean regularly – Treat stains right away with the appropriate cleaning method, before they have time to set in and get tougher to remove.

With the proper maintenance strategy, you can keep your concrete and pavers looking like new long after your initial deep cleaning.

Let Your Concrete and Pavers Shine

I hope these tips give you the confidence to tackle cleaning your concrete or paving stones. It takes some work, but the results are so satisfying. Spending an afternoon doing a thorough deep clean can make your outdoor living space look brand new. With the right tools and techniques for your specific stains and dirt, you can get rid of the grime and restore the beautiful surface.

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