How to clean a patio

Want to know how to clean a patio? Get your paving looking as good as new with our step-by-step guide and video

How to clean a patio
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Looking for a simple guide to how to clean a patio? You've come to the right place. If you’ve been spending more time than normal in the garden, little things, like how dirty your patio is, have probably started to bother you. The good news is, you can get any patio looking as good as new if you know how. There are four ways to clean a patio, and it all depends how dirty the surface is and how much elbow grease you want to put in! 

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How to clean a patio

The best way to tackle a dirty and stained patio will depend to some extent on what state it’s in following the winter’s onslaught. A patio that’s only a tad grubby can probably be cleaned with soapy water. 

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly approach, then our household favourite vinegar is a possibility and can do sterling work outside the house just as it does in kitchens and bathrooms.

Prefer to use a specialist product? There are some brilliant options out there, including biodegradable and pet-friendly versions. We have a guide to the best patio cleaners but read our tips on using them below.

The best pressure washer could help you turn your patio from marked to marvellous again, too. 

Here’s the lowdown on each alternative.

1. Clean a patio with soapy water

If your patio has come through the winter in fairly good shape, a soap solution might be all that’s needed to return it to its former glory. Tidy away any furniture that’s spent the winter on the patio first, then brush loose debris from the surface, and pull up any weeds.

In a bucket make up a soap solution with warm water plus washing-up liquid or soda crystals. Pour the solution over the patio and use a stiff brush to clean the stains away. You can rinse with clean water when you’re done, using the hose or a pressure washer on a low setting (see below) if it’s easiest. 

2. How to clean a patio with vinegar

More set-in stains might need the extra power of vinegar to lift them. Although vinegar is eco-friendly, do bear in mind that it is acidic, so clearing the patio of furniture or pots before you start is vital. As with using a soapy water solution, brush the patio clear of debris before you begin as well.

Make up a 50:50 vinegar and water solution, and apply to the paving – a watering can will mean even coverage. Leave to soak for around 20 minutes, then use a stiff brush to remove stains. Once you’re done, mop with clean water. Leave to dry before you put anything back on to the patio.

Patio particularly stained? Use more vinegar than water in your cleaning solution.

3. Clean with a patio cleaner

Before and after using Wet&Forget patio cleaner

Before and after using Wet & Forget spray-on patio cleaner

(Image credit: Future)

Prefer the idea of transforming a stained and slippery patio with a product made for the job? Our number one is Ultima-Plus XP Ultimate Patio Cleaner. You’ll need to keep an eye on the weather forecast when you use this cleaner as it shouldn’t be applied when rain is expected within eight hours. As well as cleaning, this product promises to prevent re-growth for up to six months. You can use it on decking, fencing, roofs, sheds, greenhouses and more as well. It’s safe round children and pets once the area is dried, and is biodegradable.

Looking for an organic cleaner? Check out Algon Organic Path & Patio Cleaner. Again, you’ll need to get your cleaning in when there’s no rain expected and the patio is dry. Simply make up a solution according to the instructions, and apply to the patio with a garden sprayer, soft broom or paintbrush. This cleaner doesn’t need scrubbing or rinsing. Be patient, though. Results should be apparent within a week or so and it will stay active for months to come, the manufacturers say.

4. Cleaning a patio with a pressure washer

A pressure washer can be an extremely effective – as well as easy – way to clean your patio. Bear in mind that some suppliers don’t recommend using a pressure washer on their paving, and if you’re not sure yours will stand up to this treatment, do test somewhere inconspicuous first.

Clear and sweep the surface before you start. Start with a lower setting and increase pressure carefully as needed; avoid using a high pressure on any chipped paving. Use a low angle and a fan setting if available. Clean section by section so pressure doesn’t become concentrated in some areas.

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