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Best patio cleaner 2023: Give your patio, decking and paving the clean it needs

Away with the algae and goodbye to grime. Here’s how to keep your patio looking fresh – and the best patio cleaners to use

For many of us, patios and decking is a useful extension of our home living spaces, perfect for relaxing and socialising, particularly during the summer months.

But when the sun sets and the weather gets cold and damp, they quickly get covered in a film of green and grey grime. It looks unpleasant, and can get very slippery too. That’s because that slimy green layer is algae and when accompanied by black spots, mildew, moss, birdlime and plant debris, your previously pristine patio can look past its prime.

All is not lost. And don’t think you will be spending a day scrubbing, down on your hands and knees, as there’s a wide range of patio cleaners out there to make the job easy. These detergents and specialist fluids are designed to cut through the grime to make your patio look as good as new.

Some require the assistance of a pressure washer and some don’t, but even without the need to scrub, you should find these cleaners will ensure your garden looks fresh for six months or more. Some will work on paving, paths, decks, driveways, and even outdoor furniture.

So, which is best? We’ve rounded up our pick of the bunch, plus we’ve included a guide showing how to get the most from your patio cleaner.

Best patio cleaner: At a glance

How to choose the best patio cleaner for you

What types of patio cleaner are there?

As with many other types of cleaning detergents, there are a range of patio cleaners with each suited for slightly different jobs. Some you can use with a pressure washer, and these usually represent the quickest way to clean. Others are concentrated fungicides, surface cleaners, or antibacterial disinfectants you need to apply by hand.
Whichever you choose, it’s important to follow the instructions and use appropriate protective clothing. And, depending on the solution, you might have to keep pets indoors for a period of time.

If you’re using a pressure washer, you will need to add the patio cleaner through the spray lance or a feed on the washer itself. Your pressure washer manufacturer may recommend specific brands or types of detergents – most usually their own – and the manual may have advice on what to use and how to add it. Remember that using detergents other than those recommended could invalidate your pressure washer’s warranty, so check the fine print first. 

The majority of patio cleaners that you apply by hand need to be diluted first, then the mix is either applied from a bucket or with a watering can and then brushed over the surface, or sprayed on using a garden sprayer. This normally means one that works under pressure using a simple pump, preferably with a high-capacity tank and a separate spray wand. One of these will set you back £10 to £30.

The key thing is to follow the instructions, as different cleaners will work in different ways. Some work better if applied to a wet or dry surface, and may need rinsing off a few hours after application. Others use a ‘wet and forget’ approach, where you just apply the cleaner then leave it on to do its work.

Are there different types of patio cleaner for different problems?

Yes. For example, if you have natural stone patios with Indian sandstone or limestone paving, they will be vulnerable to the spread of black spot – a particular type of lichen that can be tricky to remove – and there are special detergents aimed at tackling this. Other detergents might be designed to remove moss or algae. If you’ve got a particular problem with one or the other, it makes sense to use a cleaner that’s been designed to tackle it.

Are the results instant?

Not usually. You will often have to wait a few hours before seeing any difference, and in many cases the effects will seem small at first, but the area will look much cleaner after a few days. Patience is key.

Is there a way to clean my patio without buying patio cleaning substances?

Yes, but they will require a decent application of elbow grease. You can spray the entire surface with water using a garden hose, then dissolve 75ml of washing soda in a gallon of hot water and scrub with a brush soaked in the solution, re-dipping as required. Alternatively, you can sprinkle powdered dishwashing detergent over the entire surface and scrub.

However, not all patio cleaners come packed with harmful chemicals. Some use organic compounds and are biodegradable, so they’ll do no long-term harm to your garden or the environment.

If you’ve already got a pressure washer, it might do the job without any detergent. All the same, a patio cleaning fluid may do more to get rid of stubborn mould or algae, and will also leave a preventative layer to slow future growth.

How we test patio cleaners

We use the patio cleaner as suggested, diluting the formula if stated, on a small area of paving, spare slab or spot of decking. We then use it to clean a larger area of paving and a similar area of decking, applying it with a garden sprayer, brush or pressure washer as directed. Having rinsed off or left the cleaner to dry, as per instructions, we check the results after three hours, 24 hours and 48 hours, comparing the results to any other cleaners being tested at the same time. During testing, we also take note of a product’s smell, any special safety instructions, and how easy or difficult it is to apply.

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The best patio cleaners you can buy in 2023

1. Patio Magic Green Mould & Algae: Best patio cleaner for tackling green mould and algae

Price when reviewed: £20 | Check price at B&Q If you’ve forgotten what your patio used to look like because a slimy green mess has taken over, then you need to get your hands on a bottle of this stuff. You can use it on all outdoor hard surfaces, from decking to driveways to patios, with no need for a pressure washer or scrubbing. Once it’s dried, it is broken down naturally in the soil so it doesn’t harm the environment.

It’s not as concentrated as some, so five litres might not go as far as you think, but it gets rid of one of the main culprits of dirty patios exceptionally well. You will need to be patient, though – it can take up to four days to show the results.

Key specs – Quantity: 5l; Can you use it without a pressure washer: Yes

Check price at B&Q

2. Kärcher 3-in-1 Stone & Facade Cleaner: Best patio cleaner for Kärcher pressure washers

Price when reviewed: £7.29 | Check price at Halfords  Kärcher makes some of the best pressure washers around, so it should come as no surprise that its patio detergents are top quality too. This one claims to have an active dirt remover; protection against wind and weather; and general protection to keep your patio looking good for longer. You can use it on all stonework – so that includes walls as well as patios – as well as aluminium, which means you can give the car a quick clean at the same time.

We tried it with the Kärcher K5 Premium Control (a hard-to-fault top-end pressure washer) and Kärcher K2 Compact (cheaper but still brilliant for everyday jobs) and although it guzzled up the litre of liquid very quickly, the speed and efficiency with which it cleaned is astonishing. Plus, you get lots of foam – very reassuring. But it’s expensive and you’re only supposed to use it with Karcher machines.

Read our full list of best Kärcher pressure washers

Key specs: Quantity: 1l; Can you use it without a pressure washer: No

Check price at Halfords

3. Smartseal Patio Clean Xtreme: Best patio cleaner for black spots

Price when reviewed: £37 | Check price at AmazonBlack spots are those nasty black marks that can colonise stonework after a couple of years. It’s black lichen and they start off as tiny, dust-like spores, but they grow, feeding off the minerals in your stonework, and can eventually cover it completely.

They’re a nightmare to clean, although not with this stuff to hand. As a simple cleaning solution, dilute it with equal parts water or, if you’re using it to treat black spot, apply it neat. Add it to wet surfaces and leave it for at least an hour – it mustn’t dry out though, so maybe don’t use it on a hot summer’s day – and then wash it away with a hose or pressure washer.

That said, you might need a little scrubbing in really stubborn areas, but you don’t need to worry about it harming natural stone and it slows down black spot regrowth. It’s pricey, though.

Key specs – Quantity: 5l (25l also available for £110); Can you use it without a pressure washer: Yes

4. Jeyes Fluid Outdoor Cleaner: The most versatile patio cleaner

Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at Amazon This ultra-concentrated detergent is great for all kinds of jobs, cleaning not only patios and driveways but outdoor drains, greenhouses, plant pots and tools. A great all-rounder, it also disinfects and stops the patio surface being slippery. We found it worked quickly on moss and mould and left a really clean look, as well as making it smell nice.

We tried it in the bins and on a conservatory too and again: great results. It works well when applied by hand, but it’s also very effective when used with a pressure washer – often more so than the manufacturer’s detergent.

Key specs – Quantity: 2 x 4 litre; Can you use it without a pressure washer: Yes

5. Jeyes 4 in 1 Patio Power: Best patio cleaner for algae

Price when reviewed: £13 | Check price at Robert Dyas This gave our patio testing area a good clean. Even the slimiest of algae comes off easily and you can use it on decking, fencing, paths, patios, and driveways. It’s a preventative formula so it should slow down regrowth in the future and it’s easy to use as you simply mix it with water, pour it on, and leave it to do its work.

You can then wash it off with a hose or jet wash, the latter of which gave us better results. It does have its limits though, as exceptionally dirty patios will probably need something more powerful, or at the very least a jet wash both before and after use.

Key specs – Quantity: 2l; Can you use it without a pressure washer: Yes (up to a point)

Check price at Robert Dyas

6. Wet & Forget – Moss Mould Lichen & Algae Remover: Best all-rounder

Price when reviewed: £35 | Check price at AmazonFor instructions, the clue is in the name. You just mix one part concentrate to five parts water in a garden sprayer and then give your decking or patio a good soak. Once that’s done, you can leave it a few days and see what happens. It’s a lot less effort than using a pressure washer or scrubbing with a brush, and there’s no bleach or acid involved. In fact, the formula has a pH value that’s just above water although the manufacturers warn that it can be toxic to aquatic life. Once applied, it will clean and protect your wood or stonework for a year or more.

You do need a little patience with this one. While the effect varies, you might find that, for the first day or two, nothing much seems to have changed. However, as time goes on, all that slippery algae and stubborn mould will disappear, and the longer you leave it, the better it gets. And while it seems expensive for what it is, this one bottle of concentrate makes 30 litres of spray, so you won’t need any more for a while unless you’ve got vast, palatial gardens. It’s the most effective of the spray-and-go cleaners.

Key specs – Quantity: 5l; Can you use it without a pressure washer: Yes

7. Algon Organic Path & Patio Cleaner: Best cleaner for pets and wildlife

Price when reviewed: £8.95 | Check price at AmazonIf you’re worried about pets, nearby plants, or roaming wildlife, you might be understandably reluctant to spray your patio or decking with a bunch of unknown chemicals or some bleach-heavy fluid. Algon Organic is based on a non-toxic, pet-safe acetic acid that shouldn’t do any serious harm to anything – although it will scorch the leaves of plants on contact. You can even use it around your pond, although it’s advisable to try and avoid causing any runoff.

It’s certainly easy to use: just clear your patio or decking of any surface dirt, then spray it on with a garden sprayer. After that you can just leave it for a few days while it attacks your mould and algae, and it will then keep the surface clean for another year. While it’s not as effective as the heavy-duty cleaners when it comes to tackling long-term staining, we still had great results on paving, decking and garden furniture, bringing green-grey areas back to their original stone or wood. Forgive the slightly unpleasant vinegar smell that hangs around for a day or so after drying, and this one’s a rock-solid cleaner that won’t upset the local critters.

Key specs – Quantity: 2.5 l; Can you use it without a pressure washer: Yes

8. No Nonsense Path Patio And Driveway Sealer: Best preventative patio cleaner

Price when reviewed: £18 | Check price at Screwfix As the name suggestions, this is a patio cleaner that is all about planning for the future. The idea is that any future spillages (such as oil, dirt or moss) should be easier to clean the next time around.

It’s simple to apply – you just spray it onto the stone paving (a garden pump sprayer is fine) but don’t let it pool in the contours as it can stain. We had a garden brush handy to spread any excess. It doesn’t give a glossy look, like some sealers, so only use it if you prefer the more natural look. And be warned you might need a couple of coats. Even so, it offers great value for good protection.

Key specs – Quantity: 5l; Can you use it without a pressure washer: Yes

Check price at Screwfix

9. Nilfisk Stone Plague Cleaner: Best patio cleaner for stubborn stain stains and marks

Price when reviewed: £11 | Check price at Candor Services Nilfisk is unique as a pressure washer manufacturer in offering such a wide range of detergents and while they’re designed to be used with Nilfisk pressure washers (which are up there with Kärchers in terms of quality), you can (subject to warranty conditions) use them with some other brands.

The company does a very good Stone and Wood Cleaner as its entry-level, basic detergent for cleaning patios, but it’s the Stone Plague Cleaner that really won us over, cleaning any plague off stones, tiles and concrete – including black spot that stays stubbornly there even after a jetwash.

For the ultimate finish, complete the job with Nilfisk’s Stone Sealer to prevent further re-occurrence. We tried the products with a Nilfisk 140 Dynamic Pressure Washer/Patio Cleaner, a seriously good precision-control patio cleaner with a long hose and all the accessories you need – plus, it’s quiet.

Key specs – Quantity: 2.5l; Can you use it without a pressure washer: No

Check price at Candor Services

10. KilrockPRO Patio, Driveway & Masonry Cleaner: Best driveway cleaner

Price when reviewed: £14 | Check price at Wickes Anyone who’s had an oil leak on their driveway will know that the resulting stains can be tough to shift, because it’s often ingrained with engine deposits plus, of course, oil resists water very well. KilrockPRO Patio, Driveway & Masonry Cleaner is formulated to remove oil and grease, yet we found it was equally powerful on algae, lichen, and even stains from rusting garden furniture.

It can be applied using a brush or a pressure washer and, depending on the stains and the surface you’re cleaning, can be diluted or used neat – 250ml added to five litres of water is enough to deal with light staining, use 500ml for heavy staining, or to shift oil, use it undiluted. Using a pressure washer is more efficient, at just 30ml per litre, making the competitive £14 purchase cost go further.

It doesn’t smell and, as long as nearby shrubs and plants are saturated before and after application, it shouldn’t be harmful. Kilrock recommends using it in conjunction with its Patio, Driveway & Masonry Sealer for additional protection, and to make subsequent cleaning easier.

Key specs – Quantity: 5l; Can you use it without a pressure washer: Yes

Check price at Wickes