How to pressure wash a patio – 6 expert tips

The big task of cleaning your patio can be made quicker with a pressure washer. Follow these tips to make sure you're doing it safely.

Patio furniture on decking with planters and trees in background
(Image credit: Getty Images/KatarzynaBialasiewicz)

As soon as spring comes around, many of us start thinking about how we can get our outdoor spaces ready for the warmer weather. 

When it comes to tackling the patio, getting the pressure washer out is one of the quickest ways to get it clean. But this method has its potential risks, as pressure washers are so powerful. 

While making sure to avoid these 5 patio cleaning mistakes, we've got a roundup of tips on how to make sure you're pressure washing your patio in the best and safest way possible.

6 tips for pressure washing a patio

We spoke to the experts to hear their tips on how to pressure wash a patio safely and effectively. Here's what we learned.

1. Brush and treat the patio first

An outdoor table on a paved patio with gaps left for planting

(Image credit: Jack Hobbs / Future)

It's a good idea to brush any debris from your patio before getting the pressure washer out. Using the washer to dislodge solids might leave you applying too much pressure on the surface, potentially causing damage.

Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal, has worked in the landscaping industry for years. He explains that his 'go-to move before firing up the pressure washer is to treat the area with a diluted Simple Green solution.' 

Pre-soaking the patio with a cleaning solution will loosen up the dirt and algae, making the pressure washing a lot easier. 

Simple Green Oxy Solve Total Outdoor Pressure Washer Cleaner | $23.99 at Amazon

Simple Green Oxy Solve Total Outdoor Pressure Washer Cleaner | $23.99 at Amazon
Available at Amazon, this concentrated pressure washer cleaner can be used to soak your patio. After treatment, you can use the same cleaner for your pressure washer. 

2. Test the cleaner (if using one)

Whatever cleaner you decide to use, make sure it's safe for your patio. 'Always use something environmentally friendly and mild. That water will drain into the wastewater system, so avoid using harsh chemicals. Additionally, some chemicals can impact paint and the synthetic materials many decks are made of,' advises Niki O'Brien, Operations Manager at Custom Exteriors.

If you've never used the cleaner before, it's a smart move to test it on your patio first. Cleaners can often be incompatible with certain materials and cause damage. 'Pick a spot that is typically covered or not front and center,' suggests Niki. 'That way, if the product you have chosen does have an effect on the deck, it won't be right in the center for everyone to see.'

3. Start on the lowest pressure

patio with dining area

(Image credit: Jacky Hobbs/Future)

There are things you should never clean with a pressure washer because of how powerful they are. So when it comes to cleaning your patio, make sure to start on the lowest pressure to avoid damage.

Niki O'Brien elaborates on this: 'Start on the lowest pressure available. Slowly increase the pressure as needed to clean, but use the lowest pressure you can and still get the job done. High water pressure is no joke! You can create a hole in your siding or deck if not used properly.'

4. Direct the nozzle at 45 degrees

'A general piece of advice for pressure washing is to direct the nozzle at a 45-degree angle to the paving, at a suitable distance from the paving,' suggests Andy McLaughlin, landscape specialist from RF Paving.

Pressure washing your patio at angles closer to 90 degrees could seriously damage the surface, particularly wood. Washing at 45 degrees also helps to disperse the water and any cleaner more effectively. 

5. Attachments & motions

dining furniture by Atkin and Thyme beneath parasol

(Image credit: Atkin and Thyme)

Scott Paul, owner of DeckStainHelp, suggests the safest way to pressure wash a patio is to use a surface cleaner attachment or a 25-40-degree fan tip. 'Never use a "turbo" tip as this will heavily scare your patio surface,' says Scott. 'When washing use a "pendulum" sweeping motion. Never stop and reverse direction while directly above the surface. This leads to scarring called 'stop marks' that cannot be fixed,' he adds. 

It's also worth trying to keep the distance of the nozzle from the ground the same to make sure there's a consistent pressure and finish on the patio.

6. Be careful around grout and joints

Andy also warns against pressure washing joints, particularly if pressure washing with a water cleaner: 'If the pressure is too high, and/or sprayed directly at the joint, this could result in dislodging the jointing compound.'

For brick patios, Bryan advises to be 'super careful around the grout between brick pavers.' General advice when pressure washing brick patios is to keep it as gentle as possible. Bryan learned firsthand that breaking away the sand and mortar holding everything together can cause disastrous results!

Once your patio is looking clean, be sure to go through the spring patio prep checklist to get it ready for hosting season. 

Dan Fauzi
Home Tech Editor

Dan is the Home Tech Editor for Homes & Gardens, covering all things cleaning, smart home, sound and automation across the Solved section. Having worked for Future PLC since July 2023, Dan was previously the Features Editor for Top Ten Reviews and looked after the wide variety of home and outdoor content across the site, but their writing about homes, gardens, tech and products started back in 2021 on brands like BBC Science Focus, YourHomeStyle, Homes & Antiques and Gardens Illustrated.

Dan is based in Bristol, UK with a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Magazine Journalism. Outside of work, you'll find them at gigs and art galleries, cycling somewhere scenic, or cooking up something good in the kitchen.