Keeping a clean driveway brings you peace of mind, keeps your property looking nice, and prevents tracking dirt and grime into your house. Over time, your concrete driveway will go from a bright-white color to a blackish-grey color due to mildew, mold, algae, and general dirt and grime. These contaminants get tracked into your home, and if your driveway is out of shape, it can be a fall hazard due to the dirt and microbes causing a slick outer layer on the concrete. We are going to outline how to use household bleach to clean your driveway like a pro. Bleach is a professional pressure washer’s best friend when it comes to concrete cleaning and removing all these contaminants, and it should be yours as well. It is cheap, effective, and easy to handle.
Cleaning your driveway is one of the easiest outdoor cleaning projects that can mirror professional results, while savings hundreds of dollars in the process. With a few gallons of bleach, the right tools for the job, and a bit of patience, you can turn your unsightly, moldy driveway back into its shining white self in a matter of hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Chlorine the Same as Bleach?
Bleach, pool shock, and chlorine are all synonymous terms for chemicals that contain the active ingredient sodium hypochlorite. Bleach is often marketed as a household cleaner, while pool shock and chlorine are stronger concentrations used in pool maintenance. Household bleach usually contains somewhere between 3% and 7% sodium hypochlorite, whereas pool shock/chlorine contain 10% sodium hypochlorite. So to put briefly, yes, chlorine and bleach are the same chemical, just different strengths.
Can Bleach Hurt a Concrete Driveway?
Bleach is unlikely to hurt a driveway, but it could damage things around your driveway including your grass, painted surfaces on your house, and yourself. If not rinsed off after spraying, bleach can leave spots on painted surfaces and kill grass. Bleach is an irritant, so we recommend using gloves, a respirator, protective eyewear, and long sleeves when cleaning with bleach.
Where to Rent a Driveway Cleaning Machine
There is an attachment you can add to your pressure washing wand called a surface cleaner, which is meant to clean concrete much faster than using the pressure washing tips that come with your machine. These attachments can be bought at big box stores or at online retailers. For your pressure washer, we recommend getting one that is 12-16 inches in diameter.
How Often Should I Pressure Wash my Driveway?
An effective driveway cleaning service should last you 2-3 years between cleanings. Using a proper bleach treatment and a thorough pressure wash should give your concrete a bright-white finish, free of mildew and mold for a few years. Any stains from berries, acorns, etc. between pressure washings can be treated with a spray bottle of full-strength bleach and left to dry into the concrete.
Tools you Will Need to Get Started
- 2-gallon garden sprayer
- Household bleach or pool shock (2-3 gallons)
- Pressure washer
- Garden hose
- Personal protective equipment (gloves, respirator, eyewear, long-sleeve clothing)
- Surface cleaner attachment (optional)
Once you get acquainted with the tools listed above, it’s time to start getting your bleach cleaner mixed up. We are going to base our measurements off pool shock, which is the stronger version of household bleach. If you bought household bleach, double your concentration of bleach in your mixture.
How to Make a Bleach Cleaner for Concrete
In your pump sprayer, add 1.5 gallons of water, followed by a half gallon of pool shock. If you bought household bleach, do 1 gallon of water and 1 gallon of pool shock instead. If you want to hide the bleach smell, you can add 1-2 ounces of laundry detergent to your solution to give it a nice smell. Mix the solution in the pump sprayer and set to the side. For the average 2-car driveway, you will use approximately one or two pump-sprayers worth of solution.
Start Setting up to Clean your Driveway
After your get the proper clothing and equipment on, start by hosing down your grass and nearby landscaping with either a garden hose or a wide-angle tip on your pressure washer. It is important to get the plants to absorb water before absorbing any nearby bleach to prevent damage to them.
Next, use your pre-made bleach cleaner with a fan or cone-shaped tip on your pump sprayer to evenly apply your solution to the concrete. You should apply it heavy enough that it takes 5-10 minutes before it starts drying. Don’t worry about the bleach solution drying on the concrete – it does not damage the surface and will be removed during pressure washing. Treat the whole driveway in one go to achieve maximum cleaning results. The longer it sits the better!
Once you treat the whole driveway, look at all the areas you just cleaned. All the greyish-black contaminants should turn a light brown color. If you have a light brown color, then that means the bleach cleaner worked as it should, and you can move onto pressure washing. Any stubborn areas can be applied over once more.
Pressure Wash Your Driveway
Start at the top of your driveway and work down toward the street. If using a surface cleaner, moving down toward the street and then back up over the same area you cleaned. This will create an even finish across the whole driveway. If using a pressure washing nozzle, use the high pressure 25-degree tip and move back and forth slowly. As you move down the driveway, rinse off the debris from the areas you just cleaned so all the dirt doesn’t dry back onto the concrete. If the loose dirt and debris dries back into the concrete, you will have to pressure wash the area again.
Once dry, your results should look something like the picture below:
The concrete should have a bright-white, even finish. Sometimes there will be visible “stripes” in the concrete, where the surface cleaner attachment cleaned certain areas better than others. This can be combination of not a strong enough bleach treatment, and/or moving too fast with your wand or surface cleaner. If the final, dry results after cleaning your driveway do not look like the picture above, take some of your bleach cleaner and spray it lightly around the area to even it out. If the lines persist, pressure wash your driveway left to right versus top to bottom. Both steps should eliminate any dirty spots leftover.
Now you are ready to clean your driveway like a professional. With the right tools and knowledge, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars by doing a professional driveway cleaning yourself. It will take you about 4-8 hours longer than a professional cleaning, but you can save a lot of money doing it yourself. If you have a much larger driveway or would rather save a weekend and leave it up to the professionals, call our team at Westfall Power Washing. Our top-rated concrete cleaning services leave our growing clientele base with sparkling clean concrete year-round. From thoroughly trained technicians to exceptional customer service, we provide Battle Creek with the quickest and most effective pressure washing service.