How to Clean a Concrete Driveway

  • September 15, 2019
  • / By Dale Keese
Sweeping Concrete Floor

The first thing that people visiting your home notice is your driveway and a neat and clean concrete driveway can create a good first impression. Your driveway is constantly exposed to several factors that make it dirty and 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 dirt, oil stains, moss, etc. 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 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 your concrete driveway to keep it in top condition. Here are some tips and tricks that will ensure that your concrete driveway is as tidy and smart as the rest of your beautiful home.

Soap and Water

If the driveway requires regular cleaning, then just washing it with soap and water is sufficient. 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 using a circular motion.

Liquid Soap

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

TSP or trisodium phosphate is a heavy-duty cleaning agent that is available at most home improvement and hardware stores. However, when working with TSP, ensure that you wear rubber gloves and some sort of protective eyewear. To every gallon of hot water that you use, add a cup of TSP.

Using a sprayer, saturate the concrete of the driveway with the TSP and allow it to sit for around 15-20 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 on your driveway for over 10 seconds or the concrete can get damaged.

Bleach

Bleach is a commonly used household product that is not only useful to do your laundry but can effectively clean and brighten your concrete driveway too. Mix 1-part water with 1-part chlorine bleach. Put the solution into a garden sprayer and spray the mixture onto your concrete driveway. Let the solution sit for around 10-15 minutes and then scrub using a stiff bristle brush. Next, rinse with clean 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. You can also use poultice and lime, 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 kitty litter or sawdust to absorb the oil and remove the stain. Place the sawdust or cat litter over the stain and stamp on it. Let it rest on the stain overnight and sweep the area clean the next day and 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 for your driveway. These are particularly effective to remove newer stains. For older ones that may be tougher to remove, you may need more powerful commercial stain removal agents that you can buy from your local store.

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 crack and crevices of the concrete driveway. Mildew also grows in unlit and damp areas. Mildew is very slippery and can not only result in accidents if you step on it but also can pose a serious health risk.

Mold and Mildew on Wall

However, mildew is treatable and to get rid of it, simply apply a 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, which 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 your concrete driveway, you should also know some tips of how you can preserve the life, as well as, the appearance of your investment.

  • Cleaning your concrete driveway occasionally and sealing it can be the best measures that you can take to keep your driveway looking its best. The frequency of cleaning and resealing however, will depend entirely on the traffic that it gets and the weather conditions your driveway is exposed to. Generally, it is a good idea to reseal your concrete driveway every 1-2 years or when 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 still remove any oil, grease, gasoline, etc. as soon as possible. In the event that the concrete gets discolored, you can use pressure washing or certain other cleaning chemicals that can help to remove most of the stains.
  • Avoid using deicer chemicals on your concrete driveway because it can cause damage to the concrete surface, mainly scaling and spalling by forcing the moisture to thaw and refreeze. Products that contain ammonium sulfates and ammonium nitrates are particularly harmful as they attach 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 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. Also, you must be very careful when shoveling or plowing your driveway and avoid using metal blades that can scrape and damage the concrete surface and if you do notice cracks fill them 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 attractive and aesthetically appealing, but it is also functional too. So, it may be worth your time, effort and money to invest in your driveway as it only adds to the value of your property, especially if you plan to sell your home in the future. The driveway of your home needs as much tender loving care as your home, so take good care of it.