Is your block paving covered in moss, slime or stains? Find out how to get your paving sparkling in just 30 minutes with our guide to block paving cleaning.
Just like any area of your home, paving needs to be regularly cleaned and maintained to keep it in top condition. Since paving is exposed to the elements on a daily basis, it’s even more important to spend time protecting and cleaning it; this will ensure your paving is safe to walk on, looks great and will last for years to come. Even a simple, 30-minute clean a few times a year can help keep your paving in good shape – here’s how.
To clean your paving, a simple and safe way is to use soapy water to scrub it. Some people believe that it is more effective to use hot soapy water, but truly, it does not matter what kind of soapy water you use. Make sure you use a soap-based cleaning product that does not contain acid or a wash-up liquid. Acid-based cleaners have adverse effects on some concrete or natural stone paving and thus, should not be used on them.
You need a bucket or pail where you will have the soapy water and a stiff brush that has thick bristles. You can swill the soapy water on the paving’s surface and scrub with the hard-bristle brush. The strength of the force combined with the chemical action of the soap will loosen all the detritus on the surface of your paving. You can have some truculent or shiftless teenagers do this for you, although you may have to give them monetary compensation. I would not mind having them do it without getting paid, but if they insist, I will not offend them by not obliging.
The next thing to do is to wash off the dirt that you have loosened with the scrubbing with clean water. Swill the clean water around the scrubbed pavement to wash off all the dirt.
How to clean block paving
Prevention is always better than a cure, so carry out these simple steps at least once a month to stop dirt, moss and algae building up on your paving:
- Sweep your paving with a tough-bristled broom to remove surface dirt and debris such as leaves and other plant matter which can encourage weed growth and make the surface slippery.
- Apply soapy water to the paving and scrub lightly with a brush; pay attention to stubborn areas of dirt.
- Take care not to damage the grout and joins when you clean and rinse well afterwards with a hose or plenty of fresh water.
- Power washers make the job easier but can damage surfaces if used too often or at too high a pressure. In particular sand-filled joins can be removed and cause the paving to become unsteady so be careful if you use a power washer.
- Look out for moss, weed or algae growth, especially during periods of wet weather and deal with the problem before it escalates.
Sealing your paving is also a good preventative measure which will help stop weeds from growing in paving joins. However, if leaves and plant matter are left to accumulate on top of paving, weeds can simply grow on top of sealant, so you still need to make sure you regularly sweep and clear the paving to avoid that. Sealants are good for paving that needs extra protection such as more delicate sandstones.
How to remove stains and spillages
- There are different types of treatments for various spillages and stains.
- Before using a treatment, first, apply it on a small part of the affected area while following the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter.
- Find out the source of the stain and fix it.
How to treat your driveway or patio with acids and chemicals
- Wear protective clothing in case the chemical splashes on you while cleaning.
- Make sure there is sufficient ventilation in the area where you are using the chemicals.
- Take extra care not to damage or stain surrounding materials with the chemicals.
- Always remember this rule of thumb when diluting acids – add acid to water at all times and instead of adding water to acid.
- If your clothes get stained with chemicals, make sure you dispose of the clothes.
- Keep the operating area safe so that it does not pose any danger to other people working in the surroundings.
- Any runoff material that you have no use for should be disposed of properly.
- How to treat efflorescence
After you just installed any product that contains cement, you may notice a white discoloration called efflorescence. This discoloration does not mean the product is faulty, it is normal, and it will disappear gradually once it is exposed to the weather and you use the product over time.
- Wash the area with propriety a cleaner based on biodegradable citric acid. You may have to do this more than once depending on how severe the efflorescence is.
- You should never use chemical methods to remove clay products.
- You should never use wire brushes to clean clay paving.
This post will highlight some simple general maintenance tasks that will help you ensure that your purchase lasts long in excellent condition.
Block paving cleaning tools
Here’s a list of block paving cleaning equipment you’ll need for your 30-minute clean:
- Bucket or hose
- Hard-bristled brush
- Soap or cleaning products
- Power washer (not essential)
Block paving cleaning products
There are such a wide variety of products available for cleaning paving slabs that it can be difficult to choose which is suitable for your paving. It’s always best to use a simple soap and water mixture to begin with; washing up liquid or acid-free solutions work well while bleach is good for cleaning more stubborn areas of dirt.
However, getting rid of weeds, oil, algae and stains can require specialised cleaning products; it’s a good idea to consult your paving manufacturer for advice on what to use to avoid staining. If you’re in doubt about whether a cleaner is suitable, test it on a small patch of paving before applying it to the entire surface.
Dealing with weeds, moss and algae
If paving isn’t regularly cleaned it’s likely that weeds, moss and algae will build-up – these problems usually become more difficult to deal with the longer they’re left, so tackle the problem as soon as possible following this advice:
Weeds will grow between the joins in paving slabs or on the surface of paving, especially when plant waste is left to build-up. Weeds simply need to be scraped or pulled away to remove them; regularly brush and wash your paving to stop them from reappearing. In severe cases, you can use weed killers to solve the problem, but these usually only work for a limited period of time.
Weed killers, like any chemicals, can be dangerous to the environment and pets, so use them carefully and as per the manufacturers’ instructions. Look for products which are more eco-friendly and designed to be used on paving to prevent damage to plants and discolouration of the stone.
Algae grows on damp, permeable surfaces and sandstone paving is particularly susceptible to algae. Use bleach to get rid of algae but be careful not to kill other plants in the process; make sure bleach is properly diluted and leave it to work for a few minutes before rinsing well. You may need to do this every few months if your paving is prone to algae growth.
Moss will grow where debris has been left to build up in moist conditions. It’s easier to get rid of moss than algae and lichens as you can often just brush it away; if that doesn’t work you can also use weed killer, bleach or special moss killer to get rid of it.
Lichen latches on to the surface of paving causing dark spots to appear and it can be very hard to get rid of. Again, bleach can be used but you’ll need to scrub with a stiff brush to get rid of lichen over a few applications.
Cleaning Oil for Block Paving
Cleaning tough stains like engine oil from driveways can be particularly difficult and may require a few applications of an oil patch removal product; refer to the paving manufacturer to find out which type of product is best for your paving.