How to clean patio slabs: Step-by-step guide

A man in a blue shirt wityh a pressure washer cleaning patio slabs
How to clean patio slabs is all about using the right products (Image credit: Getty)

Heading into spring is the perfect time to look at cleaning up your garden, but you may not know how to clean patio slabs effectively.

Getting rid of months, perhaps years, of accumulated grime can seem like a daunting task, especially if you live near a busy road where dirt is more likely to accumulate from passing traffic or your patio is in an area where there might be high moss or algae growth. 

But fear not, we are here to help with expert advice on the steps you should take, the equipment you need, the best pressure washers you may require, and anything else you need to be aware of. Plus, it's worth mentioning that frequent washing can help prevent dirt and grime settling into cracks more permanently.

How to clean patio slabs: Step-by-step guide

The method you should use heavily depends on the current condition of your patio, according to Mira Yordanova, owner at TopCleaningGB.

She says that if it’s only in need of a light clean, a simple mixture of dish soap and water could do the trick.

1. Fill a bucket with a simple solution of water and soap, then work away any grime with a sturdy outdoor brush.

2. Start from the corners and splash a little water onto your patio. Then, grab a hard-bristled brush and scrub.

3. Repeat this splashing and scrubbing routine until you’ve covered your whole patio.

4. Clean the dirty water away with a bucket of clean water, ensuring it flows into a drainage point.

5. A top tip is to scrub diagonally as this is gentler on the jointing compound and less will come out during cleaning.

6. Use a pressure washer for deeper dirt removal If your patio is covered in hard to remove stains such as algae and moss build-up, you may want to opt for a power washer. Larger patio sizes may also mean a pressure washer is the easier option. Any weeds growing through should ideally be removed by hand.

7. Check pointing Make sure any appliance you use is suitable for patio areas and be sure to only use if your pointing is solid – not crumbling – as this could damage it further. Clear the patio area before starting work

8. Start with low pressure only building up as needed

Dirty patio slabs with a green lawn

Always check the condition of your patio before using a pressure washer (Image credit: Getty)

What is the best product to clean slabs?

A spokesperson for Simply Paving said: “Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need any fancy products to clean a patio without a pressure washer. In fact, one of the most effective patio cleaning products is good old-fashioned washing-up liquid mixed with warm tap water.”

“White vinegar is also safe to use as a patio cleaner – in fact, it has many benefits as it is environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and non-chemical.

“To clean with white vinegar, mix it with water in a 1:1 ratio in a bucket. Pour your vinegar and water solution over your patio and leave the vinegar to work its way into the paving slabs for 30 minutes to an hour. Then, clean the dirty water away with a bucket of clean water.”

However, they added that you shouldn’t use vinegar to clean limestone pavers as the acid will permanently damage the surface.

If you do feel you prefer a store-bought product after cleaning your newly-installed patio ideas, Amazon sells products like Patio Magic! at £9 for 2.5 litres, while B&Q sells Bostik Professional Patio cleaner at £8.20 for five litres.

How to clean patio slabs without a pressure washer?

You don’t need any fancy products to clean a patio without a pressure washer but the method you should use heavily depends on the current condition of your patio, according to Mira Yordanova, owner at  TopCleaningGB .

She says that if it’s only in need of a light clean, a simple mixture of dish soap and water could do the trick.

1. Fill a bucket with a simple solution of water and soap, then work away any grime with a sturdy outdoor brush.

2. Start from the corners and splash a little water onto your patio. Then, grab a hard-bristled brush and scrub.

3. Repeat this splashing and scrubbing routine until you’ve covered your whole patio.

4. Clean the dirty water away with a bucket of clean water, ensuring it flows into a drainage point.

5. A top tip is to scrub diagonally as this is gentler on the jointing compound and less will come out during cleaning.

6. Consider a pressure washer if your patio is covered in hard to remove stains such as algae and moss build-up, you may want to opt for a power washer. If you do, clear the patio area first, then start with low pressure, only building up as needed. Make sure any appliance you use is suitable for patio areas and be sure to only use if your pointing is solid – not crumbling – as this could damage it further.

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.