How to clean a patio without a pressure washer — 4 steps to a dazzling deck

Achieve sparkling results the next time you clean a patio without a pressure washer

Long-slabbed patio with house to right and garden trees in background
(Image credit: Tom Merton/Getty Images)

Knowing how to clean a patio without a pressure washer is key if you want that  backyard gleam but don't have specialized equipment for the task.

In this step-by-step guide, our industry experts advise on the steps to manual patio cleaning, including how to treat stains, what adaptations to make for different surface types and the products you'll need.

When it comes to dazzling patio decor ideas, it all begins with a comprehensive clean and with these four simple steps, you'll have a sparkling patio in next to no time.

How to clean a patio without a pressure washer

With so many great patio paver ideas to try, you'll first want to get yours back to its brilliant best after all the seasonal grime it will have recently accumulated.

Where our experts have suggested products, our expert shoppers have curated highly-rated products from trusted retailers.

All prices were correct at the time this article was published.

1. Prep your patio

Slab patio backyard with furniture and grassy area behind with pink swings

(Image credit: John Keeble/Getty Images)

Before diving into cleaning, it's essential to prepare your patio for the task ahead. 

Cleaning expert Wells Ye, of Fresh Tech Maid, says, "First things first, you'll want to clear everything off your patio. Furniture, grills, plant pots — everything must go. You're setting the stage for a deep clean, and that means starting with a blank canvas."

Once the decks are cleared, grab a broom and give your patio a thorough sweep. Don't forget to pull out any weeds or grass growing between cracks or in joints. 

Wells recommends the KeFanta 18 Inches Outdoor Heavy Duty Push Broom from Amazon , while we're fans of Grampa's Weeder from Amazon for effective removal.

Wells adds, "Remember — you're preparing the surface for a complete clean, not just clearing away leaves and other debris. The most tenacious dirt likes to hide in the corners and along the edges, so be sure to get into those hard-to-reach places."

Profile photo of Fresh Tech Maids founder Wells Ye
Wells Ye

Wells Ye is founder of cleaning company, Fresh Tech Maid, which has been sprucing American homes for 25 years. The company's trusted technicians complete a rigorous 10-step evaluation process to ensure customer's receive top quality, every time.

2. Spot-treat stains

Once your patio is prepped, it's time to tackle any stubborn stains. Begin with a close look at your patio surface to identify any areas with stains or discoloration. Common culprits include oil spills, rust, or mold and mildew.

Vanessa Bossart, founder of GreenTerra Cleaning, says, "For stubborn stains, make a paste using baking soda and a little water, then apply it directly onto the stains. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes before scrubbing again with a brush. This method is particularly effective for oil, wine, or barbeque sauce stains that are common on patio surfaces."

Since wood surfaces are more delicate, opt for a mild cleaner or a solution of water and vinegar (such as Walmart's Great Value Cleaning Vinegar). Gentle, natural cleaners preserve the wood's integrity. Use a soft-bristled brush and avoid excessive force. 

Vanessa Bossart, founder of GreenTerra Cleaning, profile photo
Vanessa Bossart

Vanessa Bossart is founder of GreenTerra Cleaning, which has made more than 28,000 American homes sparkle and aims to redefine cleanliness as the cornerstone of healthy, sustainable living. With 18 years’ experience in the cleaning industry, Vanessa is passionate about promoting eco-friendly cleaning practices that improve the health of her clients and the planet.

3. Deep clean

Clean dark wooden patio in foreground with chair and backdoor in background

(Image credit: Radoslav Cajkovic/Getty Images)

With stains treated, it's time to give your patio a thorough deep clean. Mix mild detergent or dish soap in a bucket of warm water. For extra shine, add white vinegar or borax.

Wendy Wang, founder of F&J Outdoors, recommends the 20 Mule Team Borax Detergent Booster from Target. She says, "It's 100% natural and provides extra cleaning power on porous patio surfaces."

Dip a stiff-bristled brush or scrub brush into the cleaning solution and scrub the entire surface of your patio, paying extra attention to any remaining stains. We like the Eyeliden Heavy Duty Scrub Brush Two-Pack from Amazon.

Wendy says, "Scrub vigorously, starting from the farthest corner and moving towards an exit. Use circular motions for stubborn spots. Rinse the brush frequently in a separate bucket of clean water."

Once you've scrubbed the entire patio, rinse away the cleaning solution with a garden hose or buckets of water. Be sure to remove all traces of soap to prevent residue buildup.

For wooden surfaces, you'll want to take more care. Avoid stiff brushes and abrasive scrubbers. Dip the brush into a mild cleaning solution and gently scrub the wood surface. Take care not to oversaturate the wood with water, as excess moisture can lead to warping or mold growth.

Rafi Friedman, CEO of Coastal Luxury Outdoors, recommends the Simple Green Oxy Outdoor Pressure Washer Cleaner from Amazon

He says, "It works well on multiple surfaces, including wood, and is especially good if you're concerned about environmental impact. It's formulated for use in pressure washers, but it'll work just fine in a bucket as long as you follow the mixing instructions."

After scrubbing, rinse the wood surface with a gentle stream of water from a garden hose. Again, avoid using excessive water to prevent damage to the wood.

Profile photo of Wendy Wang, looking happy
Wendy Wang

Wendy Wang is the founder and lead product designer at F&J Outdoor, a premier outdoor furniture cover retailer based in Pennsylvania. With over a decade of experience in the outdoor living industry, Wendy has helped thousands of homeowners protect and maintain their patio furniture. 

Rafi Friedman headshot, white man with dark hair in a grey top
Rafi Friedman

Rafi is the CEO of a pool building, construction and cleaning company in Florida. It services over 1,000 clients and builds over 100 pools annually. Since its founding in 1983, Coastal Luxury Outdoors has dedicated itself to building high-quality custom backyard experiences.

4. Dry and seal

After giving your patio a thorough clean, allow it to dry completely. Avoid walking on the wet surface to prevent tracking dirt or debris back onto it.

Depending on the weather and humidity levels, it may take several hours or even a full day for your patio to dry completely. Exercise patience and resist the urge to rush the process for al fresco fun.

You may want to consider applying a sealant to aid longevity. A good sealant, such as the ready-to-use Low Gloss Patio Paver Sealer from Amazon, will add a layer of water resistance and make it harder for lichens or algae to grow. 

For wooden patios, the Woodlife 902 Wolman Classic Clear Above Ground Preservative from Amazon, rated 4.5 stars by shoppers is a great choice for new wood, and it paintable and stainable within 24 hours.

Clean white slab patio in backyard with furniture and plants, shot from high angle

(Image credit: John Keeble/Getty Images)

These four simple steps will leave you patio gleaming and ready for guests.

Next, our patio lighting ideas will add that extra wow factor to your outdoor oasis.

Andy van Terheyden
Freelance Writer

I'm a senior writer with an English degree and NCJ qualification, plus years of experience writing news, lifestyle and consumer articles for the national and international press. I'm also a copywriter, working on a breadth of consumer and corporate projects, and a private education consultant. I live in the quiet of the countryside and spend my weekends mooching around homeware shops, completing DIY tasks to breathe life into my small, newly-built home.