Concrete is one of the most rigid materials, yet its visual appearance is quite vulnerable. Oil stains, mould, and even coffee spills can stain it. And if you don’t think through your cleaning method, you can further damage your patio’s look and surrounding grass.
Here’s how to clean the patio without killing the grass: Make a 1:1 vinegar and water solution with white vinegar diluted. Apply the solution after the concrete is saturated with water and the surrounding grass is watered to lower absorption. After scrubbing the concrete patio, spray the grass with water to wash away any residual solution.
This article will teach all you need to know about cleaning concrete, including the best products to use, what risks different cleaning options pose, and how you can maximize room for error by making intelligent choices at each stage.
Materials and Tools Required
- Grass-friendly detergent – You can use a pH-neutral degreasing agent or patio-specific cleaners, but whichever detergent you use should be flora-friendly.
- Protective gear – Depending on the cleaning solution you use, you’ll need varying degrees of protective wear ranging from gloves to a full-body suit that falls short of a hazmat.
- Bucket – This will be used as the container where the detergent is diluted and stored throughout the cleaning process.
- Spray bottle – You will most likely use a spray bottle to apply the solution to the heavily stained areas. It keeps the detergent from spilling over to the surrounding grass.
- Broom – High-bristle count reduces the scrubbing required, and stiff bristles remove more dirt per pass. But just about any straight non-wire broom works for patio cleaning.
- Mop – The mop is necessary for the later stages of the cleaning process.
How to Protect the Grass While Cleaning (Step-by-Step)
Cleaning concrete, stone, and hardened clay surfaces require care, so you’re wise to research in advance!
In some instances, materials like concrete get damaged when exposed to acidic detergents. But in most cases, cleaning with care is necessary because of the grass surrounding patios, sidewalks, garden steps, and paving stones.
Follow these steps to clean the concrete patio without killing the grass:
Step 1: Make a Diluted Detergent Solution
The most effective approach to position oneself for victory when cleaning concrete is to make an error-friendly cleaning solution alongside an error-friendly application method. Pressure washers are pretty efficient but are not error-friendly.
A simple error in positioning the washer’s outlet can permanently dent the concrete (by pressure etching) and uproot the nearby grass.
A spray bottle is an error-friendly application method because a mistake in spraying doesn’t result in severe consequences.
When it comes to cleaning solutions, essential solutions (opposite of acidic) are the most mistake-friendly. Still, they need to be significantly diluted because they can harm the plants if spilled over.
Step 2: Harmproof the Concrete with Water Saturation
Water saturation refers to watering the concrete to the point where it cannot absorb more water.
How can you know if the concrete can absorb any more water?
Start by touching the concrete to see how damp it is. Noticeably wet concrete with no standing water is saturated. In this context, the saturation helps reduce the chances of the detergent seeping into the patio.
While this doesn’t directly protect the grass, it does set you up for the next step, which preserves your garden.
Step 3: Harmproof the Plants by Watering
Like saturation reduces the chances of water absorption in concrete, watering your plants ensures that they don’t inadvertently absorb the detergent from the soil or the land surrounding concrete.
Watering also makes the non-root areas of the plants less likely to absorb the harmful solution and gives you more room for error.
Step 4: Transfer the Solution to a Spray Bottle
A spray bottle is the ideal application method for spot-cleaning a patio, mainly because it lowers the risk of dumping significant amounts of the cleaning solution onto the nearby grass. It also gives more control to the one cleaning.
The only drawback is that it does not cover a wide enough area. AKA, it can be a tedious process.
When cleaning a large patio, you might want to swap the spray bottle for a bucket and a mop, but only if you can avoid the grass.
Step 5: Spot Clean the Visibly Unclean Areas
The key to preserving grass while cleaning a patio is as precise as possible. The first pass in concrete cleaning should feature spot-cleaning areas that stand out, like removing dirt from specific spots by using a high-bristle-count brush.
First, you should spray the stained/dirty spot with up to three pumps of the cleaning solution from the former steps. You’ll notice visible saturation by this point.
After that, you should wait for 10 to 15 minutes and let the detergent loosen up the dirt. You’ll recognise how easy it is to remove the compounded dirt with a broom or a brush once the solution dislodges it from the concrete.
Step 6: Wash the Patio With a Bucket and a Mop
Clean the rest of the patio with water. Once the visibly unclean areas are spot-cleaned, the rest of the patio needs to be washed with water only. We suggest waiting for the detergent solution to air dry. The water will not immediately displace the solution and push it onto the nearby grass.
Our advice regarding error-friendly application methods applies to this step as well. While you could use a garden hose to spray the concrete, the safest application method is a mop. The mop-cleaning routine is a little time-consuming but is worth the peace of mind knowing your garden is secure.
Step 6: Let the Patio Air Dry
The final step in cleaning the patio or pavement is to let the washed area air dry.
If you didn’t know, your patio will naturally air dry by itself.
So why even mention this step?
…because you have to guard your freshly-washed patio while it is wet!
Wet concrete is conducive to sneaker marks, dirt, and other stains because of concrete’s grain and water’s potential adhesion. So, to defend your hard work like your life depends on it!
DIY & Purchased Eco-Friendly Patio Cleaning Solutions
Patio cleaning has a long history, but this isn’t a history lesson. People have been cleaning patios since 1818 BC, which means there is more than one “right” method.
This section will discuss different homemade solutions and the top products in the market.
Best in the US: Simple Green Oxy Solve Concrete Cleaner
The best thing about Simple Green is that it is made for adamant stains and does a great job despite being limited by its eco-friendly nature.
We advise washing the plants that come in contact with this cleaning solution as it can damage them over the long run.
In the short run, it is pretty safe for the green surrounding the concrete, which is why over 2000 reviews and ratings place it at 4.2 out of 5 stars.
Best in India: Drive-Up Super Cleaner
Drive-Up is a little on the expensive side, but it packs enough value to command the price. This eco-friendly cleaner is readily available in India via Amazon and major stores.
It is non-toxic and biodegradable and doesn’t harm plants in the short run. It works the best against oil and grease stains but can weaken dirt buildup.
Best in Australia: Natural Elements 30% Vinegar
Natural Elements is a vinegar-based eco-friendly solution that doesn’t harm the grass and plants in your garden in the long run.
You cannot directly water your plants with it and must still be cautious while using it on your patio as it is an industrial-strength cleaner.
Best in New Zealand: Terradis Microbial Eco Cleaner
Terradis microbial cleaner effectively removes oil and grease stains from a concrete driveway, and it can be used to clean spills from a patio.
Its working principle involves specialized microbes eating away at the stain and dirt on the concrete. It is, therefore, 100% biodegradable.
Best in Europe – Simple Solution Patio & Decking Cleaner
This Simple Solution cleaner is available on Amazon Netherlands and the respective Amazon marketplaces for most European countries. It is eco-friendly and patio-oriented and leaves plenty of room for error when it comes to the application as it is not hazardous to the plants and greenery in the short run and is easy to wash away.
Now that we’ve covered the top patio cleaning solutions all over the globe, it is time to address what they have in common: the need for caution.
It doesn’t matter how eco-friendly a cleaner is, because if you’re using it around greenery, you have to be careful. And if you need to be cautious with store-bought cleaners and homemade DIY solutions, you might as well go for the latter and save money.
DIY #1: Use Vinegar
This DIY solution entails using a quarter cup of vinegar in 1 gallon of water to create a cleaning solution.
Depending on how much “bite” you want the solution to have, you can increase or decrease the concentration. It is better to err on having an over-diluted solution, though.
For spot cleaning an area occupied by a stubborn stain, you can mix equal parts vinegar and water, but this solution should not be used all over the patio.
DIY #2: Use Baking Soda
To spot-clean the patio, you can mix baking soda and liquid detergent with equal parts of water.
The same solution can be diluted four times in a bucket (add three equal spray containers worth of water) and applied with a mop to clean the entire patio.
DIY #3: Use Muriatic Acid
One part of muriatic acid added to ten amounts of water can create a powerful destaining agent, which must be applied with care.
It needs to be neutralized with a diluted ammonia solution later, and you need a protective respirator before applying that. Muriatic is one of the most creative ways of cleaning your patio at home but can work when other solutions fail.
How to Deal with Moss, Mould, and Grease on Concrete
Because concrete is most commonly used for driveways, most cleaning solutions and resources are geared towards oil spill cleanup. But when your patio is made of concrete and is surrounded by lush grass, it can be conducive to moss, mould, and grease. Here are some tips on managing this problem:
- Use a vinegar solution to remove moss, mould, and grease. White vinegar diluted in equal part water can be used to kiss moss and mould goodbye. The same solution works for grease as well. You just need to saturate the patio with enough water so that vinegar doesn’t get absorbed into it.
- Avoid grass and surrounding areas. To prevent killing the grass around the patio, you should use a spray bottle with a smaller spread and start cleaning from the centre and move outward. You can also use a water-resistant sheet to cover up the surroundings of the patio.
- The best product for patio cleaning with a vinegar solution is Zep Professional Sprayer bottle, which allows you to adjust the spray settings by spread and fineness to target the moss, mould, or stains without spraying the surrounding grass.
Recap: How to Clean Your Concrete Patio Without Killing the Grass
Cleaning a concrete patio without killing the grass is a game of making room for error at each step.
When selecting a detergent, you should opt for a non-acidic one, and when choosing an application method, you can get a narrow nozzle spray. These choices will allow you to mess up a little without killing the grass around your patio.
The concrete and the grass surrounding it should be saturated with water before you begin applying the cleaning solution. Kindly click on the links if you have to clean patio furniture or even free wash the house.