How to Pressure Wash Your Driveway the Right Way

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by Kyle Ray

Let’s face it: driveways can be a magnet for dirt and grime. Between vehicle/foot traffic and environmental factors, it doesn’t take long to turn an attractive driveway into an eyesore. Dirt buildup on a driveway can also lead to a variety of future problems if not regularly removed.

You can return a driveway to its original splendor with a power wash. Power washing uses some form of pressure washer, a portable machine that pressurizes water to a much greater degree than what you can achieve with a garden hose. 

Using one of these pressurized washers on your driveway can provide several benefits. It can cut down on mold, weeds, and moss growth, stopping them before they get out of hand. It can help to remove oil and other substances that can break down a driveway’s surface over time. And it can add to your home’s value by enhancing your property’s curb appeal.

Power washing a driveway is a task that most homeowners can easily handle by themselves, as demonstrated by Geek Window Cleaning’s Kyle Ray in the video below.

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Rent a surface cleaner

Kyle offers a number of tips to help homeowners successfully clean their driveway. 

First up: carefully consider the tool you will be using for the job, as power wash wands may not be the best option. Kyle recommends a surface cleaner, particularly when it comes to larger driveways.

“Surface cleaners are great; they are essentially lawn mowers for concrete,” Kyle says. “They keep the spray nozzles at the exact same distance above the concrete, avoiding those dreaded tiger stripes that you see a lot of DIYers do because they use wands.”

If you do go with a wand, you should section off the driveway and plan to take a number of breaks during the job. Wand use can easily lead to back pain due to the “hunched” way that you have to stand when using the wand.

Gallons per minute is better than pounds per square inch

While you might think a spray washer’s PSI (pounds per square inch) is more important, the GPM (gallons per minute) it can spray will actually provide you with more cleaning options.

“At Geek Window Cleaning, all of our pressure washers are five gallons per minute. That way, on small and large jobs, we can get through them quickly and efficiently,” Kyle says.

While PSI provides more pressure to loosen grime on a driveway’s surface, a higher GPM will result in more water flow, which can lead to faster cleaning of larger surfaces. Professionals often use a cleaning solution to help break up dirt and grime on driveway surfaces, making a spray washer’s pressure rating less important.

Start with the borders

You’ve either bought or rented a pressure washer powerful enough to tackle your whole driveway, but how do you start? When tackling a power wash of your driveway, it is important to prepare the surface before you begin. 

Your first step should be to remove all stones, dirt, and other debris from the surface of the driveway with a broom or leaf blower. Covering garage doors and nearby plants with tarps can help protect them from accidental pressure spraying, detergents, and flying debris.

Once this is done, you’re ready to start washing.

“Whenever you start power washing, you’re going to do the whole border of your driveway, so from the street, and then all the way at the left side, all the way down the back, and then all the way back down the right side to the street,” Kyle says.

Not only will this make it easier when you’re using something like a surface cleaner, it will also help to protect the grass growing along your driveway.

Post-borders, start at the street

Once you’ve successfully cleaned the border of your driveway (and kept your grass intact), you are next going to want to head to the foot of the driveway – where it meets the street – to continue cleaning.

“The reason for this is because when you’re finished and you reach the back, all the water should be flowing down into the street,” Kyle says. “It makes it a lot easier and faster to rinse the driveway if you start from the street level.”

Another plus of starting at street level is that you are continually rinsing the driveway as you are working your way up to it towards the garage or the end of the driveway. Using this method can considerably cut down on the time needed to complete the task.

Wash horizontally, not vertically

A clean driveway is the main priority here, but if it still looks bad after the fact, you will be left wondering why you bothered in the first place. The actual direction you wash the driveway in can have a big influence on how it looks once you are finished.

“Whenever you’re power washing your driveway, make sure you’re going left to right along, and not up and down your driveway,” Kyle says. “The reason for this is because it creates an optical illusion. If you’ve ever seen anybody’s driveway or if you’ve had yours done before in the past and they go up and down, after a little while you pull into your driveway and you just see those straight lines that are up and down your driveway.”

Spraying horizontally – from left to right, or right to left – will be less noticeable to the human eye, resulting in a driveway that will appear cleaner for a longer period of time.

Power washing a driveway is a fairly simple task that most homeowners can easily manage. The end result – an attractive, long-lasting driveway – provides some of the best return on investment that you will find when doing home maintenance.

If you don’t wish to buy a power washer, you should be able to rent one from your local hardware or home improvement store relatively cheaply. These sources may also be able to point you to professionals in your area, if you don’t have time to tackle the job yourself.

How to Pressure Wash Your Driveway the Right Way | Geek Window Cleaning