How To Clean Patio Pavers Without a Pressure Washer

Updated: Jun. 20, 2024

Are your patio pavers looking dull and dirty? Learn how to clean them safely by hand, with tips from our experts.

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Introduction

Do your patio pavers need a good washing, but you're unsure how to do it without a pressure washer? The great news is you can clean pavers with just a few tools, materials and some elbow grease.

Although pavers are known for their durability, pressure washing may damage them if you're not careful or use the wrong equipment. Conversely, properly maintaining and washing pavers keeps them looking good for years. "Pavers are durable but do need some light routine maintenance to keep them looking clean and fresh," Joe Raboine from Oldcastle APG says. Read on to learn how to clean your patio pavers without a pressure washer with pro tips from Raboine and Ryan Farley from Lawnstarter.

Safety Precautions

Wear gloves and protective glasses if using harsh chemicals. Pavers can become slippery when wet, so wear sturdy, non-slip footwear.

When to Call a Pro

If stains are too severe for a DIY cleaning job or your pavers are starting to wear, contact a professional for an assessment.

How much does it cost to hire a pro?

There are many factors to consider, but expect to pay between $1 and $2 per sq. ft. to have your pavers cleaned, sand replaced and sealed.

Tools Required

  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Garden hose with spray nozzle
  • Outdoor push broom
  • Rubber garden gloves
  • Scrub brush (optional)
  • Weeding tool (optional)

Materials Required

  • Liquid dish soap
  • White vinegar

Project step-by-step (10)

Step 1

Remove objects and debris

  • Remove furniture, plants and all other objects from the patio.
  • “Sweep off your paver patio to remove dirt, debris and leaf buildup,” Raboine says.
  • Remove weeds from between pavers with a weeding tool. Wear gardening gloves to protect your hands.
Step 2

Saturate pavers with water

  • Spray pavers with water, making sure you don’t miss any areas.

The colorful cobblestones of a rain-soaked sidewalk in BrusselsColors Hunter - Chasseur de Couleurs/Getty Images

Step 3

Mix cleaning solution

Depending on the condition of your pavers, you may need to follow mixing directions for light or heavy stains. Location will also dictate how often you will need to wash your pavers. “If your pavers are in a wooded, shady area and you keep things swept often, you should only need to perform a thorough cleaning annually. If your pavers are in a sunny location, you may only have to clean them every few years,” Raboine says.

For light stains:

  • Fill a bucket with warm water.
  • Add a tablespoon of liquid dish soap per gallon of water, says Farley.
  • Mix until the water turns sudsy.

Close-up of bubbles water in a plastic bucket from a water hoseboonstudio/Getty Images

For heavy stains:

  • Put on rubber gloves to protect your skin from the vinegar.
  • Farley says to mix equal parts warm water and white vinegar in a bucket. Only use white vinegar, as other types can stain your pavers. Also, remember that vinegar is acidic, so only use this method on tough grime.

Pro-tip: Raboine suggests tackling stains with a specially formulated cleaning solution when needed. If your pavers harbor organic stains from leaf buildup, spray on a solution specifically for those kinds of stains. He suggests this Organic Stain Remover for moss, mildew and dead leaves, following the manufacturer’s directions. I’ve also had good results applying baking soda directly to organic stains.

Step 4

Clean pavers with a push broom

  • Dip the push broom into the solution.
  • Scrub all the pavers thoroughly with enough pressure to remove dirt and grime.
  • Continue dipping and scrubbing until you’ve cleaned all the pavers.
Step 5

Let the cleaning solution sit

  • Skip this step for light stains.
  • For heavy stains, allow the cleaning solution to sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
Step 6

Rinse pavers and air dry

  • Rinse the pavers with a hose to remove all the soapy cleaning solution. If using the vinegar solution, rinse thoroughly to avoid leaving acidic residue on your pavers for too long.
  • Let the clean pavers air dry naturally before putting any objects, plants or furniture back onto the patio.
Step 7

Replace sand

Raboine says if there’s joint sand between your pavers, you may have to brush in more after you’ve finished your cleaning. Be sure to add sand similar to what’s currently in the joints. If it’s polymeric, add polymeric; if it’s standard joint sand, use that. Keep the sand type consistent.

  • Deposit sand onto paver surface.
  • Use a push broom to sweep it into cracks from several different directions to ensure full coverage.
  • If using polymeric sand, use a broom or leaf blower to remove sand from paver surfaces. Activate the sand by misting with water from a garden hose.

Broom Sweeping Sand into Brick PaversDeborahMaxemow/Getty Images

Step 8

Seal pavers (optional)

Consider sealing your pavers to prevent future stains and protect the color and finish. Sealing only needs to be done once every three to five years. Choose between two types of sealants: film forming, which creates a wet, glossy look, and non-film forming for a matte finish. If you prefer glossy, try Techniseal’s WL4-Seal High Glass Wet Look. For a matte finish, try Techniseal’s NS Paver Sealer Natural Look Finish.

Step 9

FAQs

Can you clean pavers with bleach?

Yes, you can clean pavers with bleach. Mix one part bleach with three parts water to remove mold and stubborn stains. Always test it on an inconspicuous spot to ensure it doesn’t discolor your pavers.

Can you clean pavers with muriatic acid?

It’s not recommended to clean pavers with muriatic acid because it is a strong chemical that can damage pavers. It’s best to avoid.

Can you clean pavers with vinegar?

Yes, you can clean pavers with vinegar. Diluted with water (50:50 ratio), vinegar can be an effective cleaner for tough paver stains.

Step 10

About the Experts

  • Joe Raboine is the vice president of design at Old Castle APG, a leading supplier of building materials and products in North America. He has over 30 years of industry experience.
  • Ryan Farley is the co-founder of LawnStarter. a modern lawn care service provider that connects homeowners with qualified landscaping professionals. He has 10 years of industry experience.