How to Clean a Concrete Driveway

  • November 25, 2019
  • / By Dale Keese
Sweeping Concrete Floor

One of the first things that people notice when they visit your home is your driveway. A neat and clean concrete driveway can create a good first impression. However, concrete driveways are constantly exposed to several factors that make it dirty. Knowing how to clean your concrete driveway is very important in maintaining its appearance.

Sweeping Concrete Floor

There are many issues that can make your concrete driveway dirty such as oil stains and moss. Also, weeds and other debris on the driveway can cause problems and may damage your or a visitor’s vehicle. By itself, concrete is a tough material that is extremely durable and with proper maintenance and regular cleaning, it can last for over 25 years—especially if it has been installed and sealed professionally.

You are probably aware of the strengths of concrete and are more interested in knowing how to clean concrete driveways to keep it in top condition. Here are some tips and tricks that will ensure your concrete driveway is as clean as the rest of your beautiful home.

Soap and Water

If you are able to clean regularly, then all you have to do is wash concrete driveways with soap and water. Add a few drops of dishwashing soap into a large bucket of water. Dip a stiff bristle brush into the soapy water and scrub your driveway clean using a circular motion.

Liquid Soap

To start your driveway cleaning efficiently, begin at the end of the driveway and work towards the street. Using a garden hose, rinse the soapy water from the concrete driveway with clean water.

Trisodium Phosphate

Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is a heavy-duty cleaning agent that is available at most home improvement and hardware stores. However, when cleaning concrete driveway with TSP, ensure that you wear rubber gloves and protective eyewear. To use this driveway cleaner, add a cup of TSP for every gallon of hot water.

Using a sprayer, saturate the concrete of the driveway with the TSP cleaner and allow it to sit for around 15 to 20 minutes. Using a stiff bristle brush, scrub the concrete and then rinse the driveway with clean water using a garden hose.

Power Washing

Using a power washer is an excellent and effective way to clean your concrete driveway and remove stains. Set your power washer to a low setting and begin at the rear end of the driveway. Hold the cleaner wand around 12 inches from the concrete surface and start washing by moving the wand from one side to another to clean the concrete driveway.

Power Washing a Driveway

You must use the power washer with caution as it can be dangerous and you must never point the wand of the power washer at any person because they can get seriously injured. Also, avoid pointing the power washer at a single spot over 10 seconds while cleaning concrete to avoid damages on the cement surface.

Bleach

Bleach is a commonly used household cleaner product that is not only effective to do your laundry but also can clean and brighten your concrete driveway too. Mix 1-part water with 1-part chlorine bleach to make the cleaning mixture. Put the solution into a garden sprayer and spray the mixture onto your concrete driveway. 

Let the solution sit for around 10 to 15 minutes and then scrub using a stiff bristle brush. Next, rinse the concrete clean with water using a garden hose. 

Chlorine bleach is quite harsh and can irritate your eyes and skin. So, it is recommended that you wear rubber gloves, protective eyewear, and clothes that cover your arms and legs to protect yourself and prevent any damage while using it as a driveway cleaner.

You can also use poultice and lime as cleaners, which act in a similar manner as bleach, and can help in cleaning your concrete driveway.

Removing Oil Stains

Oil and other fluids from your vehicles can stain your concrete driveway. You can use clay-based cat litter or sawdust for your driveway cleaning. These materials can absorb the oil and remove the stain. Place the sawdust or cat litter over the stain and stomp on it. Let it rest on the stain overnight and sweep clean the area on the next day. Then, rinse the area with clean water.

You can also use other common items from your home like laundry detergent, oven cleaner, baking soda, and even Coca Cola to remove oil stains and clean concrete for your driveway. These are particularly effective cleaners to remove newer stains. For older stains that may be tougher to remove, you may need to clean with more powerful commercial stain removal agents and cleaners.

Removing Mildew

If there are water deposits on your driveway that are not cleared out, over time, they can cause the growth of mildew in the cracks and crevices of the cement. Mildew also grows in unlit and damp areas. Mildew is very slippery and can result in accidents if you step on it. This poses as a serious health risk.

Mold and Mildew on Wall

However, mildew is treatable and to get rid of it, simply apply a cleaning solution of water and bleach on the affected areas. Wait for a few minutes and sweep the area and then, rinse with clean water. It is ideal to clean the mildew on a warm, clear day so that your concrete driveway can dry completely. This can help to prevent any future mildew growth.

Concrete Driveway Maintenance Advice

The best part of a concrete driveway is that it does not need a lot of maintenance and care. However, no driveway material, including concrete, is completely maintenance-free. So, apart from understanding how to clean concrete driveways, you should also know some tips on how you can preserve its life and appearance.

  • Cleaning your concrete driveway occasionally and sealing it can be the best measure that you can take to keep your driveway cleaning to a minimum. The frequency of resealing and cleaning concrete, however, will depend entirely on the traffic that it gets and the weather conditions your cement driveway is exposed to. Generally, it is a good idea to reseal your concrete driveway every 1 to 2 years or whenever it starts showing wear.
  • While sealing your concrete driveway can help to protect the concrete from absorbing stains, it is definitely a good idea to clean any oil, grease, and gasoline. with a concrete cleaner as soon as possible. In the event that the concrete gets discolored, you can use pressure washing or other chemical cleaners to remove most of the stains.
  • Avoid using chemical deicers like urea, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and calcium on your concrete driveway because it can cause damage to the cement surface such as scaling and spalling by forcing the moisture to thaw and refreeze. Cleaning products that contain ammonium sulfates and ammonium nitrates are particularly harmful as they attach to the concrete chemically. While calcium chloride and sodium chloride (rock salt) cause less damage, they can corrode metal and harm vegetation. Try and avoid using deicers in the first winter especially after your new driveway has been laid because new concrete is more vulnerable to the harmful effects of the deicers. Sand is a good alternative to provide traction.
  • Although concrete is among the most durable materials for paving your driveway, the driveways in most homes are not engineered to support heavy vehicles or equipment. You must be very careful when shoveling or plowing your driveway and avoid using metal blades that can scrape and damage the cement. Fill and repair cracks in the cement immediately.
Large Home and Driveway

Your driveway is the part of your home that greets your visitors and a well-kept driveway is not only aesthetically appealing but also functional too. So, it may be worth your time, effort, and money to invest in cleaning your driveway as it only adds to the value of your property, especially if you plan to sell your home in the future. A clean driveway just shows how much love and effort you put into your home.