(BPT) - The backyard truly is an extension of the home these days, so it makes perfect sense that homeowners are placing greater emphasis on the upkeep and maintenance of these areas. In fact, the primary reason homeowners start a landscaping project is to upgrade deteriorated features of their outdoor living space, according to the Houzz 2018 Landscaping Survey. Patios, paths and other outdoor concrete surfaces are literally and figuratively the foundation to entertaining in many backyards, so it's important to clean them regularly. The daily wear-and-tear of weather, surrounding vegetation, foot traffic, lawn equipment and other potentially harmful nuisances vary from backyard to backyard, so assessing the dirt and stains on the concrete surface will dictate the best cleaning approach.
Assuming the concrete surface doesn't have cracks, chips or require any other repairs (that's another topic), there are several appropriate cleaning approaches to consider. In some cases, you might even use a combination of these cleaning options to get the best results. Always start by removing any loose dirt or sediment with a broom or blower.
- For light dirt or stains to a concrete patio, simply mix liquid dishwashing detergent with water in a spray bottle, squirt it on the desired areas and scrub with a stiff nylon bristle brush or broom. For heavier dirt and stains, you can take the same approach with other more aggressive cleaners like trisodium phosphate (TSP) or QUIKRETE® Concrete & Asphalt Cleaner, being sure to follow mixing directions on the packages. Be careful using acid based cleaners that can discolor or otherwise harm the concrete, plants and other things around the patio. In addition, using a brush with wire or metallic bristles can scratch or damage the concrete. After cleaning, rinse the area thoroughly with a water hose.
- For concrete patios with slightly more challenging dirt and stains, consider a home remedy combining vinegar or baking soda with water in a spray bottle and clean as you did with the liquid dishwashing detergent mix above. Explore different ratios of water with the vinegar or baking soda progressing from a high-water to low-water concentration until the right mixture for removing the desired dirt or stains is achieved.
- To remove extremely stubborn dirt and stains from a concrete patio, clean with a 2,500 PSI pressure washer, which can be rented at many home improvement and hardware stores. When working with a pressure washer this powerful, be sure to wear protective eyewear and gloves. You should also consider putting plastic sheets down around the base of your house and over plants surrounding the concrete patio for protection.
- For the most difficult dirt and stains, try QUIKRETE® Cleaner Etcher & Degreaser. It's a safe alternative to acidic cleaners strong enough to remove the toughest dirt and stains. Mix the cleaner with water in a plastic gardening sprayer or plastic watering can, according to the directions on the bottle. It's always a good idea to test the strength of your mix in a small inconspicuous area of the concrete patio in case the concentration needs to be adjusted. After cleaning, rinse the area thoroughly with a water hose.
Once the concrete patio is clean, apply QUIKRETE® Concrete & Masonry High Gloss Sealer or QUIKRETE® Concrete & Masonry Waterproofing Sealer to protect the surface so cleaning is easier in the future. Keep in mind sealed concrete can be slippery when wet, so avoid walking on the surface until it has dried for 24 hours. For more information on other concrete and masonry home improvement projects, including how-to videos, visit www.QUIKRETE.com.