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How to clean your patio with a pressure washer: Your complete guide

A person washes their patio with a pressure washer

Everything you need to know about pressure washing your patio for a clean, dirt-free finish

Want to know how to clean your patio with a pressure washer? You’ve come to the right place. Whether your beloved patio is overdue for some TLC, or you’ve just bought one of the best pressure washers and can’t wait to try it out, we cover everything you need to know about pressure washing your patio, including answers to some common questions and a handy step-by-step guide.

Better yet, we’ve enlisted experts to help advise on best practices – Harry Turner, product manager for pressure washers at Kärcher, and Jamie Louram, a buyer at Halfords, who knows a thing or two about pressure washers.

What is a pressure washer?

Before we get started, it’s worth quickly covering what a pressure washer is, to make sure you’re familiar with the tool you’re about to use. In short, it’s a device that pressurises water into a powerful jet stream capable of blasting dirt and muck from all sorts of different surfaces. Most consumer pressure washers tend to be electric-powered, though you can get petrol-powered ones as well, which can be handy if you’re likely to be using it away from the mains.

Pressure washers can be connected directly to your outside tap (the one your garden hose connects to), but you can also buy ones that support a more portable setup, with flexible tubing which you can pop in a container of water.

Lastly, you might come across power washers in your search. These are essentially the same as pressure washers except that they use heated water. The heated water aspect can help tackle mould, mildew and grime, however most people will be fine with a regular pressure washer.

READ NEXT: Best Kärcher pressure washers

How to pressure-wash your patio: a step-by-step guide

Before you begin, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared. Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Hose and adaptors (optional)
  • Pressure washer
  • Garden broom
  • Safety goggles (for potential flying debris, like pebbles)
  • Waterproof rubber-soled shoes
  • Cleaner
  • Sand (if required)

1. Clean your patio

Clear the area of all furniture, plants, pots, toys and any other objects, to ensure nothing gets in your way. You’ll want to ensure that the immediate vicinity is clear too, as pressure washing can make nearby objects rather mucky if they’re caught in the crossfire.

2. Connect your pressure washer

You’ll need to plug your pressure washer into a suitable outlet for power. You also have to hook up the hose to an outdoor tap, or if you’re using a portable pressure washer, a large bucket of water.

3. Mix your detergent

Always use a suitable detergent on your patio, such as Kärcher’s Universal Cleaner. Check your pressure washer’s instructions on how to connect the detergent bottle – normally there’s a dedicated port on the pressure washer itself, or a small flexible tube which can be dipped into the bottle.

You can also pour detergent directly on the patio, and give it a scrub to help prepare the area.

4. Clean your patio

According to Jamie Louram, our expert at Halfords, “Keep your pressure washer angled at 30-degrees and spray diagonally on a medium pressure.” You’ll probably find that moving through the area in neat overlapping lines makes the most sense, but experiment with whatever works best for you.

5. Brush in sand, if required: 

Our Halfords expert recommends brushing sand back into joints where required. It might be worth having extra sand on hand, depending on how the cleaning process goes.

READ NEXT: Best patio cleaners

When should I clean my patio and how often?

According to Louram, “Every two years. Doing so more frequently could damage the surface of your patio.”

A person cleans the stone slabs on their patio with a high-pressure washer.

This advice will potentially vary depending on the material of your patio, so it’s always best to check with the supplier for any special care instructions, and whether you’ll need any additional protective finishes after pressure washing.

Do I need a patio cleaner attachment?

Patio cleaner attachments are essentially larger heads that can be used with pressure washers to cover a larger area in the same amount of time. According to Louram, “Patio cleaner attachments are optional, but can be effective for large areas.”

It’s up to you whether you want to spend extra on this additional tool, or if you’re happy taking a little longer, but ultimately, it will depend on your space or your budget.

What detergent should I use for cleaning a patio?

There’s no shortage of detergents and soaps for cleaning your patio with a pressure washer. Our Halfords expert heartily recommends Kärcher Universal Cleaner, but you’re welcome to shop around. You’ll want to be mindful of your patio material and double-check that the detergent you choose is suitable. Always read the label, and use a test patch if you’re still unsure.

What else can you clean with a pressure washer?

Many people rely on pressure washers for reviving their patio, but they can be used for plenty of other things too – decking, for example. “Pressure washers are a cleaning tool loved by many, yet the wide capabilities of the pressure washers can sometimes be missed,” explains Harry Turner, product manager for pressure washers at Kärcher.

However, before you start blasting away at anything and everything, you’ll want to ensure what you’re pressure-washing is suitable. Some softer woods – such as beech, cedar and pine – may be a bit too delicate and the same could also apply to fragile items like rattan patio furniture.

“Whether you’re cleaning cars, driveways or other hard surfaces, when pressure-washing, it’s essential to select the appropriate nozzle and pressure setting for the task at hand to ensure the surface is getting the maximum clean while also ensuring there’s no damage to the surface”, Turner says.

“For washing cars, opt for a gentle spray setting to avoid damaging delicate paintwork, while for driveways, a more powerful setting may be necessary to tackle stubborn stains effectively. Additionally, always maintain a safe distance from the surface being cleaned to prevent accidental damage.”

Do you need to maintain a pressure washer?

Pressure washers are fairly low maintenance compared to some other tools, but there are a few best practices worth bearing in mind. “Regular maintenance, such as cleaning filters and correct storage, ensures optimal performance and longevity of your pressure washer,” Turner states.

So long as you store it in a safe environment, like a sturdy shed, and occasionally check the filters for gunk, your pressure washer should offer you years of faithful service.

How can I clean my patio without a pressure washer?

If you’re desperate to eliminate unsightly grime and don’t currently have a pressure washer, then you can always use good, old-fashioned elbow grease to make a noticeable difference. According to our Halfords expert, “Sweep, scrub with cleaner, rinse well with water”, and it’s as easy as that, though you’ll want to make sure you use a suitable stiff-bristled outdoor brush.

What is the best patio pressure washer?

Check out our full, in-depth guide to the best pressure washers for a handy round-up of some of the best on the market right now.

Read more