How to treat driveway stains

August 21, 2014

A driveway is one of the first things guests see when visiting a home. Taking up a good portion of the front acreage of the home, a driveway can add visual appeal to the property. But when driveways are stained, cracked or pitted, they become eyesores that can rob a home of its curb appeal.

Concrete driveways are notorious for absorbing stains. Anything from automotive fluids to fallen leaves can affect the appearance of a concrete driveway. And while cleaning the driveway can take a little effort, the end result is well worth the effort.

Asphalt driveways may not show stains as visibly as concrete driveways, but that does not mean they cannot benefit from some TLC. The following cleaning methods can give a tired or dirty driveway a good-as-new look.

 

Pressure washing

Pressure washing machines can be used to remove ground-in stains from driveways. The power of the streaming water and a combination of mild cleanser may be able to remove a number of stains, including those from leaves, mold, spills, dirt, fungus, and bird droppings.

Proceed with caution when using pressure washers, as they can be powerful tools. If the nozzle is set incorrectly, it is quite easy to pit out portions of the driveway or create a streaky look. Widen the spray and pass over each area several times to remove ground-in stains.

Pressure washers may come equipped with various attachments to make the process easier and eliminate stripping. Beginners may want to consider an attachment to make the job less arduous.

A rotary turbo nozzle will focus the water in a fine stream but constantly rotate that stream to cover a wider area. A water broom will clean a wider area in one pass and some have castors that keep the nozzles the same height over the driveway surface. According to the Pressure Washing Industry Resource Center, pressure washing a driveway will go a lot faster and becomes easier if you use a water broom.

A surface cleaner is another attachment that enables you to push a rotary arm over the driveway for faster cleaning.

 

Non-chemical cleansers

Cleaning driveway stains may only require a few items you already have around the house. Sometimes stains can be minimized simply by absorbing spills or residual oils and fluids.

Sawdust, cat litter and baking soda are ideal, absorbant materials. Sprinkle these substances on oily stains in the driveway and allow them to sit for a few days before sweeping away the residue. After a few days, the oily stain will most likely be minimized.

Laundry detergent and dish soap also can break through some greasy stains. Try making a solution of water and the detergent of choice. Use a stiff-bristle broom to work the cleanser into the stained driveway, then rinse away the suds with a hose. Repeat until the stains have lifted.

 

Commercial products

Auto supply and paint stores typically sell driveway cleaners. Always read the manufacturers' instructions and guidelines prior to purchase to determine if the product will work to remove your driveway stains. Some products may be too harsh to use on asphalt, which is more malleable and porous than concrete and paver driveways. Only use products that are recommended for your particular driveway surface. If you don't, you may cause even more damage.

Muriatic acid, also known as hydrochloric acid, is used in swimming pools and for different applications around the house. It is a strong solvent that can clean some of the more stubborn driveway stains. Always exercise caution when using chemical cleansers. Wear eye protection, gloves and be sure to mix properly, as many chemicals are flammable.

Preventing stains

Allowing fluids or other substances to sit on a driveway may contribute to soaked-in stains. Being proactive can mean less scouring later on. Routinely examine the driveway for automotive fluids and take your car in for a tuneup to remedy any leaks.

Rinse away leaves and other debris before they affect your driveway's appearance. Keep cat litter on hand to soak up minor spills and stains before they grow into larger problems.

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