When you want to pave a new driveway, you could hardly make a better choice for material than concrete. It is extremely hardy, making it more than capable of withstanding the weight of vehicles and the pounding of the elements. As a result of its durability, you can also expect the driveway to last a long time. Finally, concrete does not require a lot of maintenance.
With that said, maintenance is still necessary. You need to find the right equipment to keep a clean concrete driveway. Otherwise, its hardiness and longevity will significantly suffer, and your investment may not yield as much value as hoped. In this article, we will provide you with plenty of advice drawn from our own knowledge and experiences.
The Right Equipment
Cleaning a concrete driveway is not as simple as a light hosing and a few sprays of household chemicals. To begin with, the bottles of cleaning supplies typically found in any household will not be enough. See, concrete is paradoxically hardy and vulnerable. The wrong chemicals might be too weak to affect the stain. Worse, they may seep into the concrete itself and destabilize the structure.
To that end, purchasing a cleaner designed specifically for concrete is a worthwhile investment. Products of this type have the right chemical composition to get rid of the stain without potentially damaging the material. Where other formulas fall short, these supplies will more than suffice. Better still, just one bottle will last a long time because cleaner concrete driveway maintenance is infrequent.
An Appropriate Brush
Additionally, you should not wipe the concrete cleaner up and down the concrete with a cloth. Driveways are not like cars, windows, or counters. Instead of evenly spreading the cleaner, you will only destroy the cloth. Instead, you must wield a stiff scrub brush or a strong broom.
As with the cleaning products, your household tools may not be enough for this material. Remember, concrete is a hardy material. The one you use should have bristles that are tough enough to withstand grinding against the pavement.
A Warning About Pressure Washers
Much of the cleaning process for any stain involves dousing the concrete with water and letting it soak for minutes at a time. A pressure washer may seem like an obvious and effective solution for removing stains from concrete. However, these devices can blast water at 50 times the pressure of a typical garden hose. If you use too much power at too close a range, you might carve right into the concrete.
We would advise calling a professional to power-wash your driveway. If you do not plan to use the machine more than a couple of times per year, it may be the cheaper and more convenient solution. If you are intent on doing it yourself, a garden hose with a spray nozzle may do the trick for this task.
Cleaning Common Stains
Mildew and Mold
In regions that experience high humidity levels, damp and shaded areas around the house may be ripe for supporting mildew and mold growth. These areas may include your driveway. You would not want to see fungal colonies spotting your lovely pavement — especially because unlike other stains, these can spread on their own over time.
You can find detergents out there designed to eliminate these growths. Just follow the directions and spray it over the mold and mildew, which typically makes the concrete green or black in appearance. Scrub hard with a brush, then take a power washer if possible to blast away any remaining lifeforms.
Once all that is done, the application of some concrete sealer can prevent moisture from seeping into the material. This, in turn, will prevent the conditions in which mold and mildew thrive.
Fresh paint on a driveway is hardly a hassle: just rinse it off and scrub the area. If that paint dries, you have your work cut out for you — especially because concrete can be more absorbent than it looks. Still, it is not impossible. You just need a few trusty tools and some patience.
Anything that you cannot remove with an initial hosing and soaping should be doused in the paint stripper. Let it work its magic over the course of a few hours, then scrub it down and pressure-wash. If some paint remains, just do it all over again until you are left with a cleaner concrete driveway.
The purpose of a driveway is to serve as a place where your vehicle can rest on its tires. It is only natural that it may leave tracks and marks from time to time. Mud stains should be easy enough to hose off, but stains left by hot tires can be tougher to peel off.
These stains are the result of “plasticizers” melting off the tires and merging with the concrete surface. The right cleaner for this job is a concrete degreaser. Pour some over the mark and leave it there to work its magic. After a few minutes, scrub it and rinse it. This may take a few tries, but more of the mark will vanish each time, so hang in there.
Oil and Grease
Science has made significant strides in oil clean-ups after the major pipeline leaks and container spills of the past few decades. One such innovation is the release of microorganisms that sustain themselves on oil. They have been used to clean contaminated beaches and seawater. Naturally, they can be used for any oil that drips from your car to the driveway.
This solution might be a tad above most homeowners’ budgets, though, and your stains likely do not require such drastic measures. Concrete degreasers and spill absorbers should be sufficient, and even average detergent may be enough for smaller marks. Just make sure to scrub hard with a brush afterward.
Tools for a Cleaner Concrete Driveway
My Stone Care is home to all the specialized cleaning supplies you may need for a cleaner concrete driveway. Our selection of concrete products includes material-specific cleaners, polishes, densifiers, and more. We even have sealers that can create a protective layer over the concrete. Check out our wares and keep your driveway safe and spotless.