What is Driveway Pressure Washing?
Driveway pressure washing involves using high-pressure water to remove heavy dirt and grime found on driveways. Dirt can build up generally from rain and cars, from the tyres or dirt leaving the car from being washed or generally just falling off.
This dirt can become trapped in and on driveways; depending on the surfaces that the driveway is made of depends on how difficult the dirt removal will be and which problems are more prominent.
Driveway pressure washing relieves your driveway of all dirt and other things growing on it with high-pressure water. To do this, machines can be bought or hired, called pressure washers. Pressure washers come with many attachments to allow you to clean every part of your driveway and other areas.
Pressure washers attach to the main water source and an electrical or fuel source and produce very powerful water jets (different companies and models produce different pressure). The higher the pressure, the easier the dirt removal will be.
Depending on the amount of time the dirt has been there and the type of dirt there is determines how difficult the clean will be. Usually, pressure washers can remove most dirt and grime with ease. Sometimes there are very tough and sticky stains such as oils and brake fluids, which can often cause difficulty, but with the correct angles and effort, they can be removed with ease using pressure washing.
Pressure washers often come with lots of attachments to allow for an easier cleaning experience and to allow easier stain removals. These attachments allow for easier cleaning of tight edges or big areas. Most attachments are made so that the pressure and angle are adjustable, giving you complete control on how to clean.
Different attachments allow for different speed, pressure, and quality of cleaning. For example, with a higher-pressure attachment, dirt is blasted away quicker than with lower pressure attachment, keep this in mind for tough stains. Some attachments are made for tighter areas, or more pressure, so you might find you may have to switch the attachments depending on the stain and dirt.
Which Attachments Should I Use?
Different attachments can offer different benefits, such as higher pressure or a bigger cleaning area. There are a few main attachments that are great to use on a dirty driveway.
Rotary Surface Cleaner – This attachment is very good for cleaning a large area in a shorter time. The tool is circular and equips with a long handle for easy movement. The tool splits the high-pressure water into multiple jets to evenly remove dirt. These jets swivel round and spray onto the material beneath them. This is very useful for cleaning large, flat areas like driveways.
Water Jet – This attachment is very useful for tough, immovable stains. It allows for very high-pressure water in a tight spot. Although with high pressure, means there is a smaller cleaning area, which will increase the cleaning time. It is very useful for material deposits such as chewing gum or oil, it can remove these with ease.
Foam Cannon – As described in the name, a foam cannon mixes cleaning solution with water and sprays it in a thick layer of foam. This layer of foam quickly dissolves dirt and loosens it up, allowing for an easier, and better cleaning result.
There are other different types of attachments available, but not commonly used ones. Before getting started with the job always make sure that you take the time to read the instructions and make sure you’re using the right attachment for the job.
Benefits of Pressure Washing
Driveway pressure washing has many benefits. We’ve included them below for you!
Reduces safety risk – After a while, your driveway can build up with lots of mould, oil residue and mildew, which form a nasty combination and creates a slippery driveway. Pressure washing easily reduces the danger that could be on your driveway, which could, if left untreated, cause an accident.
Better for the environment – The power of the water itself can clean almost any stains, but if needed, some bio-friendly cleaners can help clean up. As the main cleaner itself is water, it is very good for the environment and causes almost no pollution.
Reduces harmful growths – Mould, mildew, moss, algae and other growths can cause harm to you and your driveway. Leaving these on your driveway can easily lead to a quick degradation and a very slippery surface.
Reduces weeds – The roots from the weeds can go down into the foundations of the driveway, and can often break up the material beneath it, slowly breaking your driveway underneath. Pressure washing your driveway allows for easy removal of the weeds themselves, and the dirt that allows them to grow, which reduces the chance of them growing back. To reduce the chance further, a coat of sealant almost reduces any chance of weeds growing back.
Improves home value and overall appeal – If you’re looking to sell your home, you may be able to bump those selling numbers up a little bit more by cleaning your driveway. As a visitor, the first thing that they will notice is the driveway. If your driveway is looking clean and nice, it will make a nice first impression and will improve the overall appearance of the house itself.
Saves lots of time – Cleaning your driveway is often a very tedious task, and is often not done. Other options to clean a driveway are to scrub it clean, which is often not ideal and may not be an option for people with disabilities. Pressure washing your driveway reduces the manual labour and time required and gives a much better result.
Saves lots of money – After a while, stains, growths, and dirt can easily eat away at your driveway, ruining it over time. If left untreated, the driveway can form dips, and cracks, which leave you with no option other than repairing it. Repairs can cost up to thousands, depending on the severity of the damage, and time left untreated.
Effective stain removal – Driveways often get very dirty, especially with the dirt of cars. Cars can also leak different fluids which also get onto the driveway that become very difficult to remove. Stains can lead to slippery surfaces and can cause accidents if left untreated. Pressure washing allows for very easy stain removal, saving you the hassle, and leaving you with a pristine driveway.
Health – It isn’t immediately clear, but the growths that grow on your driveway can become potential issues. These growths often pollute the air, making your breathing air impure, which can become an issue if too much enters the body. People with respiration difficulties may benefit more from a clean driveway, as the air is less polluted.
Pressure washing your driveway is not suitable for everyone. There are many other methods that you can do if pressure washing is not suitable for you.
Cleaning up major stains or spills – Major stains can become a nuisance to clean up. Lots of liquid can be very troublesome to clean up without some form of machine. Unknown to most, all that is needed is some form of extraction material. The best materials to use are sawdust and cat litter. Place a thick layer of the material on top of the stain and leave to soak in for around 12-24 hours before sweeping it away and disposing of it.
Removing dirt – After cleaning up any stains or spills, sweep the entire driveway thoroughly. This should remove any more dirt that lies on the top of the driveway, which could seep into the cracks. Clear out the cracks in the driveway, whether this is block paving or concrete with a thin brush. If you don’t have a thin wire brush, a nail at the end of a broomstick handle works a treat! Cleaning out the areas where dirt can fall reduces the chances of weeds and other growths growing.
For a general clean, removing surface dirt is one of the main priorities. Surface dirt builds up after time and can cause many issues with regards to degradation. Without a pressure washer, this dirt can be very difficult to lift and remove but do be mindful that a pressure washer is not necessary. Here is the best method for cleaning without a pressure washer.
Firstly, picking a cloudy day is very beneficial as it increases the potential cleaning time you have, which allows you the time not to rush. A cloudy day slows the rate of evaporation, which means you can clean for longer.
Then, you’ll want to spray the entire driveway with a hosepipe, this allows for some dirt to be lifted in the water and gives a softer blow when the cleaner is added.
After that, mix around 70 grams of soda crystals or washing soda into roughly 4 and a half litres of hot water. Mix until completely combined, and pick up a stiff garden broom.
Then, dipping the broom into the cleaning solution, scrub the driveway, starting with one side, and slowly move towards the other side, covering the broom in more solution as necessary. Keep scrubbing until you see the dirt lift before moving to another area. Repeat until the entire driveway has been cleaned.
Rinse the driveway with clean water, towards a drain if possible, and away from any plant beds or soil, as the detergent can affect the growth of the plants.
How Do These Methods Compare?
Using other methods, usually include using some form of chemicals or cleaners. Using chemicals such as detergents and washing soda can cause damage to nearby plant beds and soil.
Pressure washing usually only uses water to clean the surface, in comparison to other methods that use heavy chemicals that damage animal and plant life. Without using any chemicals, and only water, pressure washing is much easier and less harsh on the environmental side.
In terms of cost, pressure washing does seem more expensive than using some cleaners and some water, but that may not always be the case. If you bought the pressure washer outright, it would set you back a few hundred pounds depending on the quality and brand, etc. Although this may seem like a large upfront cost, this can easily last for a good few years, given that it’s kept in good nick. Pressure washers can also be used for different cleaning methods, such as cleaning cars, walls, and structures. This means that the money that was spent on the pressure washer itself can be spaced over more jobs, making it a great investment for your cleaning routines.
When thinking about cost, you also have to factor in the quality of the job that has been done in comparison to using chemicals, a pressure washer would do a better job, and complete the task quicker.
Other options include hiring a company to clean your driveway for you. Some companies can charge lots for a job like this but would ensure that the job is done correctly and to the best standard, which includes all of the tough bits that people don’t like to do.
Another option would be to hire a pressure washer, these can be hired for set amounts for roughly 24 hour periods. This is enough time for you to completely clear your driveway and any other tough stains you may have. Remember to keep in mind the forecast, so you don’t get caught out with dirt drying on your driveway.
Overall, using cleaning solutions and brushes is a cheaper option when it comes to cleaning. However, the results don’t compare in comparison to a pressure washer, which boasts a better, and faster result.
Hiring a Company
Some jobs are often left to the professionals who can bring the right results. Although it’s possible to do these yourself, it’s sometimes a better choice to get the right people in to help. Hiring a company is always somewhat scary, there can always be better companies and some for cheaper prices, hiring a company for driveway cleaning is easier with this guide. When looking for a company to hire, there are a few main aspects to keep in mind. The main three are professionalism, location and price. Let’s explore these!
Professionalism – Looking for a good company benefits you with better service, a better result, and better quality for your money. Many companies use very high-quality machines, which allow for the best possible result, and in a quicker time. To make sure, look at the company’s website, and see if they have a gallery area, where they show off their best work. Here, you’ll be able to find pictures of the workers working and the completed job. You’ll want to check the machines they are using (check for a more heavy-duty style) and the finished clean.
Location – Also, try to choose a company that is relatively local to you, to save some unexpected charge for being called out further than usual. Websites will have their location on their website, showing where they are based.
Price – If possible, try to get yourself a quote for how much the job will be, from multiple companies, as some rates will be different from others. As for the price, you should take into account the quality of the work, for the price that you will pay.
Tips for Pressure Washing
When pressure washing for the first time, there are often many things that you may miss out on, such as different angles to remove the most dirt, or not clearing out the cracks in the driveway. Here is a list of tips to help you get your driveway looking as clean as possible.
Keep times in mind – When is a good time to pressure wash your driveway? Well, as soon as you notice it becoming dirtier and stains may have formed. Clearing your driveway as soon as possible is one of the best things you can do, as it reduces the time that the dirt and other impurities can degrade your driveway.
Also, choosing a cloudy day can increase the result, as it gives you more time to remove the dirt, without the water drying up, and leaving you to complete the job again.
Remove stains before washing – Stains are always unattractive and a pain to remove. Pressure washing can make them easier to remove, but they can be much easier using an absorbent, such as cat litter, or sawdust. Absorbing stains before pressure washing is much easier as most of the stain has already been taken away. To absorb a stain such as brake fluid, oil, or fuel spills, place roughly 5cm of either cat litter or sawdust on top of the stain, and wait roughly 12-24 hours.
After the stain has been cleared up, sweep it away, and dispose of it.
This method of removing stains can leave some behind. So, to clean the rest of the stain, using detergent (powder dishwasher detergent or washing soda) helps to loosen it up, before using a pressure washer or a powerful hose to clear it away. The recommended dilution ratio is 2 cups of detergent to 7 and a half litres of water. If your driveway is made of asphalt, some detergents can affect the asphalt itself, so use professional detergents made for asphalt to avoid damage.
Spread some of the detergent mixture over the stain, and leave to soak for roughly 25-30 minutes, before rinsing off with a pressure washer or a hose pipe at high pressure. If possible, rinse into a drain, and not into surrounding areas such as plant beds or soil as it can easily damage plant life.
Clearing Organic Materials – Materials such as leaves and grass can so very easily get stuck in cracks of your driveway, unnoticeably. If left for long periods, these can begin to decompose and leave brown, ugly stains on your driveway, and in small cracks and gaps of your driveway. To reduce this, take regular maintenance of your driveway, such as sweeping it weekly, and clearing out cracks and gaps with a thin brush. If, however, these materials have been left for too long, and stains have already formed, they are easily cleaned.
Mix some dishwashing powder or liquid and some hot water, to make a foamy solution. Using a stiff garden broom, dip into the solution and scrub away at the stain. If needed, leave the stain to soak for 5-10 minutes beforehand, to loosen the stain and make it easier to clean. Wash away the stain with a hosepipe or pressure washer.
What to do After Cleaning Your Driveway
Cleaning driveways is one thing, but what should you do after cleaning your driveway to keep it that way? Over time, your driveway will accumulate dirt regardless of your best efforts. Here is a list of how to protect your driveway from damage.
Minimise water on the driveway – Water can cause lots of difficulties on your driveway, as it can easily move towards cracks and other slim areas and can cause lots of damage, especially in the colder months where freeze-thaw can occur and widen the cracks.
Prevent and fill in cracks – Cracks are where your driveway begins to collapse. During the colder months, these cracks can widen very quickly, and repair can eventually cost lots more than you’d think.
Prevent bigger cracks forming by patching very small cracks, these often widen throughout the year, and if not filled in can become very big.
If the cracks in your driveway have become big, clear them out using a chisel to remove loose material, and then apply a crack filler and a patching compound.
Regular checks – Checking your driveway is the best start to protecting your driveway, is checking it regularly. Regular checks reduce the time weeds and growths can grow, and time that stains have been on the surface. Completing a small check, even something simple such as a quick look around when you get home from work or get home from a car journey can save you money if your driveway decays.
While completing a check, look for anything that could affect your driveway if left there. Weeds, spillages, and cracks are one of the main priorities when doing a check.