Experts warn you not to use these 4 things when cleaning your patio

When tackling the big patio clean, make sure to avoid using any of these harmful (but all too common) cleaning methods.

(Image credit: Garden Trading / Little Greene)

Cleaning a patio can be made a lot easier with the help of some cleaning solutions. But not every cleaner is suitable for different patio types. In fact, many common solutions are actually harmful for patios and the surrounding plants.

There are ways to clean patio pavers without a pressure washer, but it's important to make sure we're not using harmful chemicals instead.

We spoke to some outdoor cleaning experts to learn what we should avoid using when cleaning our patios and what we can use instead to achieve the same effect.

Vinegar (of any kind)

'Never use vinegar to clean a patio,' says Mause Ramirez, owner of MCS Cleaning Services. This is because it can damage the surrounding grass and plants.

Trevor Knight, technical garden and driveway specialist for Marshalls expands on this: 'Despite often being a popular choice for cleaning the patio, vinegar can harm the biodiversity of your garden.'

outdoor living room patio with plants

(Image credit: James Farmer)

Acidic cleaners

Just like vinegar, other acidic cleaning solutions should be avoided at all times.

'Any product with an acid composition has the propensity to cause burn/etching marks in natural stone and even wooden-based patios,' explains Delah Gomasi, Director of MaidForYou.

Trevor Knight agrees, highlighting the importance of protecting your patio's surface: 'The use of acidic solutions should be avoided, particularly on calcareous pavers such as those made from limestone. Use on these pavers can lead to irreparable damage of the material.'

'If you're looking to clean your patio and pavers, you'll want to use a non-acid cleaning solution or no cleaning solution at all,' says Delah. He recommends the Wet & Forget Moss, Mold, Mildew, & Algae Stain Remover at Amazon as a non-acidic cleaning solution.

Wet & Forget Moss, Mold, Mildew, & Algae Stain Remover | $28.99 at Amazon

Wet & Forget Moss, Mold, Mildew, & Algae Stain Remover | $28.99 at Amazon
For a completely acid-free cleaning solution, this bottle from Wet & Forget can tackle build-ups of mold, mildew and algae without the risk of damaging your patio. It cleans with the wind and rain too, removing any tough, black stains.


'Bleach is harmful to plants and, therefore, can harm your garden’s biodiversity. Any bleach solution that runs off of the patio onto grass or plants when cleaning can cause significant harm to these, likely causing them to die,' explains Trevor.

'Over time, bleach can also lead to discoloration and irreparable damage to paving slabs, particularly those that are man-made such as concrete slabs,' he adds.

This isn't exclusive to bleach, either: 'Using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners can damage furniture, plants, or grass. Pay attention to the instructions, as every chemical or cleaning product is labelled by experts,' says Mause.

High pressure water

As we learned in how to pressure wash a patio - you should always start on the lowest possible pressure. High pressure can seriously damage patios of any kind, and is unnecessary as low water pressure will generally clean the patio anyway. Niki O'Brien, operations manager at Custom Exteriors LLC, explains what's worked best for them:

'When we clean patios or porches, whether wood, synthetic, or even concrete, we start with the lowest pressure water and no cleaning materials. While many cleaning products are safe for deck cleaning, we find that the best solution is to start with low-pressure water, and we're able to get most areas clean just by using this method.'

Once you know what to avoid, it doesn't take too long to get the patio looking clean. While you're at it, getting stuck into some spring patio prep will leave it looking ready for these warmer days.

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.