While patios, driveways, pathways and brickwork usually age in an attractive, organic way, sometimes the gradual build-up of detritus can become a hindrance rather than a feature. This is especially relevant when it comes to algae which in wet weather can make wooden decking and smooth York stone paving as slippery as an ice rink.
When it comes to patio, pathway and driveway cleaning we would always recommend the best pressure washer for the task of removing algae, mould, lichen, moss, dirt and stains. Granted, most Kärcher pressure washers can work in tandem with a plug-in cleaning agent but the sheer power of high water pressure alone is usually more than enough to restore paving and stone to the way it was the day you first laid it.
However, pressure washers aren’t for everyone. Firstly, they’re not all that cheap to buy and, secondly, they require an outdoor water supply and a nearby electrical output. Also, the act of pressure washing is time intensive, especially if you have a large patio or a long, wide driveway.
In times like this, the best option is usually to invest in an outdoor floor cleaning solution like this fine selection of products we review below. Outdoor floor cleaning solutions may have a few iffy chemicals in their formulae but, by jove, they mostly work wonders without you having to perform much physical activity in the process.
Like with pressure washers, picking up an Amazon Prime Day deal on patio cleaners make sense, as often bottles are discounted. We'd say consider putting a pause on any patio cleaner purchase until Prime Day 2022.
The best patio cleaners you can buy in 2023
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Patio Magic is one of the most popular and glowingly reviewed outdoor hard floor cleaners on Amazon and this writer tends to agree. For the low price, it really does produce excellent results – especially on algae – restoring green, tired-looking paving to nearly-as-new condition after just one application.
However, it does contain its fair share of chemicals, including ‘less than 15% benzalkonium chloride’ which is potentially harmful to pets and exceedingly toxic to aquatic life.
If you’re cautious about using chemicals that are known to be hazardous to the environment, perhaps opt for an organic solution or make your own using lots of vinegar. Alternatively use a pressure washer or even a good dose of hot water and a broom.
However, if you’re happy about using chemicals and you just want a clean patio without breaking into a sweat, this one is as good as it gets. It’s not called magic for nothing.
If you have pets or are concerned about the safety of wildlife, consider this organic option from Algon. According to the manufacturer it is ‘safe for children, pets and wildlife’. Available as a 2.5-litre concentrate, you simply dilute it and spray or pour it over the affected area and leave – there is no need for any rinsing.
Despite smelling unpleasantly vinegary – which is essentially what it is – Algon makes a very fair fist at removing algae and muck from paving and stones and is also a hugely popular product among the vast majority of Amazon users who say it works brilliantly well for them, too.
If you have a Kärcher pressure washer, consider clipping in this ready-made biodegradable solution bottle that’s been designed for restoring outdoor stone slabs, paving and concrete.
Stone & Facade Cleaner works stupendously well on stonework though the one-litre bottle does empty quite quickly if used on a wide area. I found the best answer was to first pressure wash the entire area without the solution and then follow it up with a quick blast with the bottle plugged into the machine’s dedicated port. Then leave it for a few hours before hosing it all off with a hose or, for best results, another blast with the pressure washer. After that substantial amount of graft, your stonework and paving will have returned to its former glory and you will no longer be embarrassed when guests come around.
Need a top-spec Kärcher pressure washer to got with this solution? Head over to our review of the Kärcher K4 Full Control Home for the full lowdown
The active ingredient in Wet & Forget is benzalkonium chloride so avoid using it anywhere near fish ponds – you’re also advised to keep pets away. With that out the way, this cleaner performs exceptionally well on most outdoor surfaces, including wooden fencing and decking.
As is the case with all outdoor floor cleaners, a good-quality sprayer with a decent water capacity makes the job much easier than using a watering can. Wet & Forget comes in a 5-litre concentrated solution that makes 30 litres of cleaner so this is the one to go for if you have a large area to be treated.
According to the blurb, it kills and removes mould, lichen and algae very effectively but then again some Amazon users say it doesn’t tackle lichen that well, so bear that in mind.
As it says on the 5-litre bottle, you ‘simply spray and walk away’. And that’s all you need to know. The end. Pro-Kleen MY16 is said to be okay to use with pets around. Like all cleaners of this nature you simply dilute it according to the manufacturer’s instructions – or use it neat for obstreperous cases of mould and algae – and spray it on. It’s safe to use on a number of surfaces, including fencing, decking and outdoor furniture.
This product has garnered a wealth of reviews, mostly resoundingly positive though it has to said that some users have been less than happy with their purchase. Mind, that’s par for the course with most user reviews these days. Swings and roundabouts.
In the interest of fairness, I’ll leave you with these thoughts plucked from the myriad of Amazon reviews it’s received: ‘Hasn't harmed nearby plants with run-off into flower beds so that's good’, ‘This stuff would work on light algae growth, but we have several areas of heavy green growth due to trees that it hasn't touched’, ‘I'd say about 90% of the slimy coverage has been dealt with’ and ‘I sprayed on, I walked away and literally NOTHING happened’.
How to use a patio cleaner
The best thing about patio cleaning products is that they require very little effort to administer. You simply apply it to paving, stone slabs, decking, what have you and leave it to do its chemical magic. After a few hours you should start seeing a difference. However, we would advise waiting 24 hours or so to really see the benefits. Most good quality solutions should remove all traces of algae, dirt and most stains. Moss will be killed off, too, but will likely remain until you either brush it away or let nature and time play its part.
In most instances, patio cleaning solutions come in concentrated form so you’ll need to add the recommended amount of water to dilute it. You will also need a large spray bottle, a watering can with a sprinkle rose or even a bog-standard bucket.
The first thing to do is saturate any vegetation like grass and plants that border the patio or pathway. This is because the cleaner is made from a host of nasty ingredients that can kill vegetation. If that vegetation is pre soaked, any solution that spills over will be extra diluted and not harm any greenery. In theory, that is.
The next stage is to spray the affected area with plain water because the more damp the surface, the better the solution will perform.
Now follow the manufacturer’s instructions and apply the solution accordingly, wearing some protective clothing and gloves at all times. You should also have a straw broom to hand so you can manually scrub any badly stained areas. If you’re using a pressure washer that accommodates a bottle of detergent, you’re in luck because everything will be blasted away in seconds, right before your eyes.
Once the solution has performed the task of removing dirt and algae, give the area a good rinse with a hose or a watering can.
Repeat the whole process again six months to a year later to keep your patio and other outdoor areas spick and spotlessly span.