We all know about the importance of first impressions, well as far as your home is concerned, your driveway is up there with your front fence or door. And hence most people like them clean and tidy. Keeping your driveway presentable however clean puts you at odds with several powerful forces: weather, nature, and vehicles – and just because it rains, doesn’t mean it’s getting cleaned. The good news is, that despite this, there are several ways to keep the gateway to your driveway looking like the day it was laid.
Cleaning your concrete driveway on occasion and keeping it sealed are the best measures you can take to keep it looking its best. How often you clean and reseal will depend on the weather conditions the concrete is exposed to and the amount of vehicle traffic it receives. Regardless, giving it a good hose and sweeping with an outdoor broom/yard brush (or ideally a pressure clean) on a regular basis are musts. Followed by keeping it sealed.
Generally, you should reseal a concrete driveway every two years or so, or when the finish begins to show wear. Good commercial sealers are available from concrete material suppliers and hardware stores. These include some pretty powerful ingredients so always take care to always apply according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. If it sounds a bit hard, scary or you don’t have the time, you can engage a professional to do it for you.
Sealing your driveway is the obvious way to protect and extend the lifespan of the material. Thankfully, it doesn’t require much time or money and a quality concrete sealer can in fact add years to the lifespan of a driveway and therefore save you in the long run.
Aside from regular basic maintenance and less frequent re-sealing, it’s things like stains from hot tire marks, oil leaks, mold and mildew, and chemicals (such as lawn fertilizer) that are going to need your attention.
To remove stubborn stains, a pressure washer is often more effective, but you need to know what you’re doing. A power washer blasts water at anywhere from 1500 to 3300 psi, more than 50 times the force of a typical garden hose with a sprayer. So if you’ve never used a pressure washer, you may want to hire a professional who knows exactly how to clean concrete driveway surfaces without doing damage.
If you’re trying to remove a specific type of stain, you’ll need one of the following:
- For oil, grease, grime and dirt use a concrete degreaser
- For efflorescence, salt deposits, lime or rust stains, use a cleaner made with non-corrosive or biodegradable acid
- For paint, sealers, epoxy, or other topical contaminants, use a coatings remover or stripper
You may have something on-hand already that can be used to clean your driveway. Be careful though, if your driveway has a decorative finish or color, these may not be the right option. Do your research and test a small, out-of-the-way spot before cleaning the entire driveway.
Here are a few common household cleaners that can be used on a concrete driveway:
- Bleach and water solution
- Diluted vinegar
- Liquid dish detergent
- Baking soda
- Cat litter
Just remember to always wear gloves when scrubbing with bleach to protect your hands. And never mix bleach with other household cleaners because the chemical reaction could produce toxic fumes.
Happy sweeping, hosing, scrubbing, and enjoying!