Yes, you can use laundry detergent to remove moss from a driveway – but should you?

Laundry detergent can be effective in removing moss for your drive, but it’s not the only method

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It's highly likely that you find yourself removing moss from your driveaway from time to time. The rough surface of tarmac used on driveways is susceptible to gathering and retaining water, making it a perfect breeding ground for moss, which requires a damp environment to thrive. 

While moss may look harmless, having a lot of moss on your driveway can also be quite dangerous. Similar to having moss on your patio, it becomes very slippery when wet and can cause injury. 

When it comes to moss removal, laundry detergent is always one of the first options that comes to mind since it's such a common household cleaning product. However, there are important factors to consider beyond convenience...

The Pros of using laundry detergent to get rid of moss

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Using powdered laundry detergent can be an inexpensive way to clear up moss on your driveway. I've found it to be similarly effective to more targeted moss treatments such as Wet & Forget Outdoor Surface Cleaner from Walmart; plus, it's much cheaper if it's homemade.

To make use of this outdoor cleaning hack, all you need to do is sprinkle some powdered detergent on any spots of moss you notice and let the application sit for around an hour before returning to scrub or spray away the moss. I've seen a lot of people online even recommend allowing rain to naturally wash it away! 

The cons of using laundry detergent to get rid of moss

I know the appeal of an easy DIY cleaning solution well, but we also have to consider all the potential impacts of using laundry detergent in this way. 

In some situations, a detergent treatment could very well do the trick. If you only have a small, isolated patch of moss in an out-of-the-way part of your concrete driveway, a targeted application following the label instructions may not cause any issues.  

However, a number of details would give me pause about recommending detergent outright. For one, how extensively is your driveway overrun with moss? A little patch is one thing, but a bigger coverage area means more detergent is needed and a higher risk of runoff.

The type of surface also matters a lot. While concrete can handle an occasional cleaning, softer surfaces may not fare as well with repeated chemical exposure over time. We also want to avoid unintended consequences like damage or permanent stains.

For me personally, it's also important that we minimize polluting local waterways and soils that local wildlife depend on. Some detergents aren't the most eco-friendly option in many cases so it may be worth using an alternative.

Alternative ways to get rid of moss on a driveway

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 According to Scott Paul, Owner of DeckStainHelp, bleach is the best solution for removing moss from the driveway. However, Scott says you need to use bleach carefully because it can stain your driveway or kill nearby plants if it's too concentrated. To make the right concentration, mix 20 ounces of bleach with 5 gallons of water and pour the mixture into a garden sprayer, like this one from Amazon

If you’d rather use natural ingredients, try mixing equal parts of vinegar with water. Vinegar safely kills moss because it contains acetic acid and can be more cost-efficient than bleach and other solutions. Even simple diluted white vinegar is effective. Once you have your solution, pour it into a spray bottle and apply it directly onto the driveway.

A pressure washer is also a great way to remove moss. 'Pressure wash your driveway and your patio to keep it free of moss and other weeds,’ recommends Scott Paul. ‘But be careful to not hold the nozzle too close to the tarmac, as it may become damaged from prolonged pressure.’ 

Scott Paul
Scott Paul

Scott has been around the pressure washing industry since attending college. In 1993 he started his first company called Oakland Pressure Wash specializing in exterior pressure washing and deck staining. That company evolved into OPW L.L.C. shortly thereafter concentrating more on exterior wood and deck restoration. Scott and his Deck Cleaning Michigan company have restored over 10,000 decks in the Metro Detroit area since the early years. 


 Is moss easier to remove when it's wet or dry?

Unless you are using a pressure washer, it’s typically easier to remove moss when it is dried out. When moss is wet, it sticks to everything and is time-consuming to remove. Dead moss is dry and will be much easier to scrape off. 

We all want fast solutions, but a little extra effort upfront goes a long way. Considering the extent of the moss, your surface type, location, and personal values will point you toward the best method, whether that's manual scrubbing, natural cleaners, or a specialty product made for the job. 

Seraphina Di Mizzurati
Contributing Editor

Seraphina is a contributing editor at Homes & Gardens, writing Solved features on organizing and storage. She loves to decorate and also grow her own produce from her home in London. Her previous experience includes working at Women's Health and Fabulous Magazine.