Stop ignoring your driveway.
It’s a functional part of your home and is not only unsightly, but, can reduce the value of your property in the long-run.
Not to mention, the build up of grime, road salt, and organic matter can increase your driveways rate of deterioration, causing avoidable and expensive repairs.
In this article, we’ll go over every detail of refreshing your driveway from start to finish and answer the question on your mind, how do I correctly pressure wash my driveway?
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About The Author
Meet the expert behind this article.
Co-owner & Service Director
Hey there, I’m Cody.
A decade of residential and commercial pressure washing led me to start JCS Refresh. Now I can share my knowledge with folks like you.
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Pressure washing your driveway in 5 simple steps
If you want to dive right in, here’s how you can clean your driveway with your pressure washer in 5 easy steps:
- Prep the area by clearing large, loose debris
- Apply detergent or a pre-treatment solution
- Start pressure washing
- Apply a post-treatment and/or sealant after surface is completely dry (optional)
- Rinse surrounding areas
However, if you want to learn more about these steps and additional tips and tricks, we recommend you keep reading.
You’ll only need a few items on hand:
- Concrete and cleaning soap can be used alone or in combination with bleach pre-and post-treatment. The average price ranges from $39 to $47.
- A surface cleaner is optional, but highly recommended. Concrete is difficult and time-consuming to wash, but surface cleaners do the job quickly and effectively (hence why most professional cleaners use them). A good quality surface cleaner can cost between $60-$75 to rent for the day.
- Sealant is an optional after-treatment product that aids in preventing oil spills and other sticky residues from becoming permanent on the surface while protecting against damage from corrosive materials like road salt. A sealant will cost from $125-$180 per five-gallon bucket and, if done properly, will cover about 80 square feet per gallon.
Quick questions before starting
To give you a sense of how much time and effort is required, here are some questions we’ve answered.
How difficult is this to do?
Pressure washing is somewhat difficult; If you’re a beginner, you might leave streaks or damage nearby areas. However, cleaning a driveway is pretty straightforward and should only take about 30 minutes.
How much do materials cost?
- Soap: $20 to $22 per gallon
- Surface cleaner: $60 to $75 to rent
- Bleach or Sodium Hypochlorite: $19 to $25
- Sealant: $150 to $210 (optional)
How to clean your driveway with a pressure washer
Here’s a more in-depth overview of the steps mentioned above.
1. Prep the area
Remove any objects blocking your driveway, and blow away debris and wet plants and grass around to ensure they don’t absorb any cleaning solution.
You can also use painter’s plastic to protect plants, doors, and windows from being accidentally hit while cleaning.
2. Apply detergent or a pre-treatment solution
Pour the concrete and driveway soap solution into your detergent tank.
If you’re using a pre-treatment solution, fill a 2-gallon pump sprayer with 0.6 gallons of 6% household bleach, 2 ounces of soap (some soaps aren’t compatible with bleach and can be dangerous to mix, so be careful), and the remainder of the container with water.
Apply the solution to the concrete from the bottom up and wait for 5 to 10 minutes so it can work in to the grime.
3. Pressure wash your driveway
You may now rinse your driveway from the top down.
If you’re using a surface cleaner, attach it to your machine, apply 2500–4000 PSI, and start from the top then working down toward the bottom.
Be sure to have a very slight overlap on each pass to prevent missing streaks. You can adjust your speed accordingly, depending the condition.
Pro tip: Always work in smaller sections and test on a less visible spot to ensure the PSI is correct and won’t damage the concrete.
4. Apply a post-treatment or sealant (optional)
Apply the same pre-treatment mixture as a post-treatment to brighten the surface, help remove any visible streaks, kill any remaining bacteria, and fight organic growth.
A sealant will protect your surface longer and make your next cleaning much more manageable. You will need to wait until the surface is completely dry with no rain in the forecast for at least 24 hours.
5. Rinse surrounding areas
After cleaning, rinse your plants with a garden hose to remove any soap or chemical residue.
What PSI pressure washer is ideal for my driveway?
PSI stands for Pounds per Square Inch and is essential when purchasing a pressure washer.
Driveways are dirt-filled surfaces that may be more difficult and time-consuming to clean if the proper unit with the ideal PSI is not used.
Here are the different types of PSI levels and how they are typically used:
- Light Duty (1200 to 1900 PSI) – These pressure washers are for home use. It can still clean, but it takes much longer and requires much more effort. Also, with this pressure, it might be difficult to remove oil stains.
- Medium Duty (2000 to 2900 PSI) – Slightly more powerful than light duty pressure washers.
- Heavy Duty (3000 to 3400 PSI) – This is the ideal pressure to clean driveways, sidewalks, and pathways.
- Extra Heavy Duty (3500 PSI or higher) – For driveways that are heavily filled with grease and caked-on dirt, these are better suited for industrial or commercial use. You must be careful when using them because they can easily take paint off and damage surfaces.
What size pressure washer is best for a driveway?
Bigger means more power.
PSI represents power, but that’s not the only factor to consider. Your machine needs to have good levels of GPM or Gallons Per Minute.
GPM measures the flow rate or the amount of water that flows out of the unit every minute. It represents speed. A higher GPM means higher efficiency.
Here are some GPM levels to remember:
- 2.0 to 2.5 GPM is a good starting point for most homeowners. They are inexpensive but effective at cleaning.
- 2.6 to 3.9 GPM – Slightly better and more effective than the first option.
- 4.0 GPM – The ideal GPM consumes more water but achieves a good balance of efficiency and cost.
- 5.0 and higher GPM – This uses much more water and is more expensive, but it cleans faster. This GPM is suitable for industrial and commercial use.
To learn more about this topic, read our ultimate guide on pressure washing GPM and PSI.
WAIT – here are a few good read to expand on this topic.
- Before and after pictures of driveways after pressure washing
Should I seal my driveway after pressure washing?
You bet! Sealing after pressure washing shields it from leaks and fluids, which makes cleaning easier the next time and protects it from corrosive materials like road salt.
What chemicals do you use to pressure wash a driveway?
The most common chemicals are citric acid and bleach (sodium hypochlorite). Other eco-friendly and driveway-safe soaps on the market may include these chemicals.
Can you damage the driveway with a pressure washer?
Yes, applying too much pressure, using the wrong cleaning solution, and leaving your surface cleaner or pressure stream in one spot for too long may damage your driveway.
Do I need soap to pressure wash my driveway?
Yes, high-pressure water alone can clean driveways, but you may need soap for stubborn stains, grease, and caked-on dirt. Using a soap or detergent will also help loosen the grime and organic matter, making the actual washing phase more effective and efficient.
WAIT – here are a few good reads to expand on this topic.
Driveways can be challenging to clean, but they must be kept in reasonable condition to avoid problems in the future.
Always remember to prepare ahead of time, select the proper cleaning solution, consider the material, and understand the PSI and GPM levels that are ideal for maintaining the appearance and longevity of your driveway.
If you’re uncomfortable taking on this task or simply don’t have the time, you can always learn how much it is to pressure wash your driveway.
Thanks for reading