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How to Pressure-Wash Your Driveway

Apr 01, 2022

You know you’re officially an adult when the mere thought of using an outdoor power tool like a pressure washer seems exciting. On the other hand, if you’ve never heard of a pressure washer — much less considered pressure-washing your driveway before — now’s a great time to start learning. You may not even realize your driveway needs cleaning until you see how amazing it looks afterward!

Whether you want to do a little revamp of your home’s exterior or just extend the life of your driveway, pressure-washing is one spring-cleaning no-brainer. But if the thought of handling a pressure washer sounds intimidating, we’re here to help. Just follow the steps we’ve listed below to get the job done safely and achieve that feeling of accomplishment. 

What Is a Pressure washer?

If you’re not familiar: Think of the hand-held power wash wand at a self-serve car wash. A pressure washer is very similar in nature — but please, don’t use it on your car because the pressure can strip off its paint! The pressure washer is often used by homeowners to improve the aesthetic of their driveway and other concrete surfaces (like a backyard patio). It works by using a pump to increase the pressure of water flowing through the attached hose, and that pressure is strong enough to remove loose paint, mold, grime, dust, mud and dirt from these types of surfaces. 

How Do You Pressure-Wash Your Driveway?

As a homeowner, you want to periodically wash your driveway in this manner. Not only do stains weaken the surface of your driveway, but they erode your house’s curb appeal as well. The pressure washer is your go-to tool to help bring it back to life. 

If you’re ready to give pressure-washing a try, follow these six steps to get the job done right: 

Prep Your Driveway

First, you’ll want to remove everything off the driveway (your cars, kids’ toys, planters, tools, etc.) so you’re working with a completely clear space. Once that’s done, tackle the smaller stuff; use a leaf blower or broom to clear loose material like stones, dirt, leaves and any other loose debris. Also, it’s important to cover any walls, doors and windows with tarp and painter’s tape to avoid any damage to your house from accidental flying debris. It’s a good idea to cover bushes or plants near your driveway as well. 

Degrease Stained Spots

Just like when you do laundry, pretreating stains in the concrete of your driveway helps get them out easier and more thoroughly during washing. To proactively loosen these stains (usually oil stains), you’ll want to apply a degreaser. If your pressure washer doesn’t come with an attachment tool for applying degreaser, you can simply scrub some into the stained spots with a stiff-bristled brush or push broom. 

Read the Instructions 

Your pressure washer should come with an instruction manual. So you probably know what we’re going to say next: Before you begin, always read and follow the directions of the specific pressure washer model you’re using; one may have different nozzles, speeds, etc. than another. 

That said, here’s a general breakdown of how to handle a pressure washer: 

  • You’ll need to connect the spray wand to the washer using a pressure hose, then connect the washer to a water supply (e.g., a garden hose). 

  • Different nozzles are used for different purposes (which is why it’s important to follow the directions). For instance, do not use the high-pressure nozzle on brick surfaces. 

  • A pressure washer can remove substances from concrete — so needless to say, it’s very powerful. Never point a pressure washer at another person or yourself. 

  • A pressure washer can even cause damage to your concrete surfaces, so it’s a good idea to test it out on a less visible spot before you work on the entire driveway. 

  • To avoid injury from any flying debris, wear safety equipment to protect your eyes and ears as well as close-toed shoes or boots.

Time to Clean 

  • Start pressure-washing from the highest end of your driveway so you can ensure water will follow the path of gravity, flowing down to the street and away from your work area. 

  • Point the spray wand at the driveway surface and press the trigger to activate water release. 

  • Move the nozzle slowly across the concrete, overlapping strokes to make sure every inch of the driveway is being thoroughly cleaned. 

  • Once done, apply detergent to the entire surface. Let the detergent sit for about 15 minutes to give it time to break up grime before moving on to the next step …

Time to Rinse 

  • When you’re ready to rinse, switch to your pressure washer’s high-pressure nozzle and set the pressure washer to its rinse mode. 

  • Follow the same overlapping pattern as before, again pointing the nozzle at the highest point and working your way down the driveway in the direction of water flow. 

  • Wash away the detergent and use the spray to lift any grime or stains. To lift heavier stains, make tighter strokes.

  • Once you’ve rinsed away all the detergent, allow your driveway to dry completely. 

Time to Apply Sealant 

Once your driveway is dry, apply a sealant to help minimize stains in the future. Using a paint roller with an extension pole is an easy way to complete this step. Make sure to get everywhere, applying an even amount across the whole driveway. Do not use your driveway for at least a full day while the sealant dries and sets.

Shopping with Acima = Less Pressure on Your Budget

Anytime you have an excuse to use power tools can be fun. But, improved curb appeal and appearance of your property is also reason enough to get excited about putting a pressure washer to work. If you’re a homeowner, consider adding this to your annual spring cleaning or home improvement checklist. Always be safe and follow instructions, though! 

Inspired to get started, but concerned about how much a pressure washer costs? Check out a retailer near you that sells outdoor equipment and tools. Our lease-to-own options* help you with manageable lease renewal payments that can easily fit into your home-improvement budget.