How to Pressure Wash a Driveway

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Learning how to pressure wash a driveway is straightforward. Even if this is your first time, I’ll show you how to do it like a pro. By the time you’re done, your driveway will look good as new.

Put the soap nozzle tip on the pressure washer and spray the driveway with detergent. Let the detergent sit for 5 minutes. Put a 25 degree tip on the pressure washer and wash thoroughly.

Tools and Materials

  • Pressure washer
  • Garden hose
  • Pressure washer concrete detergent (I recommend Zep Detergent)
  • Roller
  • Roller handle and cover
  • Extender pole
  • Stiff brush
  • Broom
  • Plastic sheets
  • Painter’s tape
  • Driveway degreaser (Oil Eater is a good one)
  • Waterproof sealer
  • Paint tray

Safety Gear

  • Safety goggles or mask
  • Shoes or boots
  • Long pants
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Gloves
  • Pressure washer manual

If you want a visual guide, check out this video on how to pressure wash a driveway.

Safety First

Put safety goggles or a face mask on. Wear a long sleeve shirt and pants to protect your arms and legs. Put on shoes or boots on.

If you are new to pressure washing, keep your user manual nearby. It’s a good idea to review the instructions and safety guidelines before you begin.

Step 1: Clear the Area

Sweep the debris off the driveway. Dirt, dust, leaves, etc. Move any plants or outdoor furniture nearby so they don’t get wet. Do the same before you pressure wash your car.

Put plastic sheet over the windows, doors and other areas for protection. It’s particularly important for plants or materials with delicate surfaces because you’ll be using pressure washer detergent.

Step 2: Degrease the Driveway

Apply degreaser on the concrete. Follow the label instructions and spray the surface.

How much you apply depends on how how oily the surface is. From personal experience, pressure washing is more effective when the surface is grease free, so be generous with the spray.

Spray 6 inches from the surface. Wipe the solution with a brush for good measure.

Step 3: Prepare the Pressure Washer Detergent

Attach the nozzle tip labeled “soap” on the spray wand. It’s usually the black tip, check your manual if you’re unsure.

Connect the pressure washer wand and hose to the pressure washer. Take your garden hose and plug it into the pressure washer water connection.

Turn the water supply on. Put the detergent tube into the detergent tank. Once you start spraying, the water and detergent will mix.

Step 4: Spray the Detergent on the Surface

Hold the spray wand and point it down towards the driveway. Keep it at a distance of 8-20 inches and start spraying.

Move the wand back and forth, allowing it to overlap by a few inches. Theoretically you can start anywhere, but I find it’s easier to pressure wash from the highest point on my driveway and work my way down.

Leave the detergent there for 8-10 minutes. This is necessary for the detergent to remove the stains.

Step 5: Rinse and Pressure Wash the Surface

Replace the soap nozzle with a 25 degree tip (usually green). Snap the nozzle in place and point the wand down.

Keep the nozzle at a distance of 8-20 inches from the driveway surface. Wash in a back and forth manner, letting the strokes overlap

You can move the nozzle closer to the surface if the stain won’t come off. The closest should be 3 inches, as that is enough to remove even the toughest stains.

Make sure all the detergent has been removed. Wash thoroughly so you don’t have to go back to those areas again. Wait for the concrete to dry completely before moving to step 6.

Step 6: Seal the Driveway Surface

Put waterproof sealer on the surface. Attach the extender pole to the roller handle and cover. Start from the center, work your way out to the edges of the concrete, sealing it thoroughly.

What Pressure Washer is Best for Driveways?

The higher the pressure washer PSI, the faster it can clean the driveway.

I suggest a minimum 1500 PSI, but if you can get 2300-3000+ PSI that’s even better.

Can you pressure wash a driveway with 1200 PSI? Yes, but it’s going to take more time. The difference between a 1500 and 3000 PSI pressure washer is the cleaning time gets halved.

Gas and electric pressure washers can both do the job. But I prefer gas because they are more powerful and have a higher PSI.

If you have a large driveway that needs a lot of cleaning, invest in a high PSI pressure washer. It makes the job easier and faster.

Tips for the Best Driveway Pressure Washing

The step by step process is easy as I showed you, but there are ways you can make it even more efficient.

Be Safe. You’ll be on a slippery surface, water can splash on you, and you could step on debris. Wearing safety goggles and closed toe shoes provides protection.

Ample Water Supply. Pressure washers use less water than a garden hose, but washing a driveway still requires a good volume. Make sure there is ample supply available. If water pressure is low, cleaning is going to take longer.

Don’t Forget to Clear Debris First. With a powerful pressure washer, it can be tempting to just spray everything away. But that’s a waste. Sweep the debris or use a leaf blower to clear the area. Pressure washers clean faster when there are no debris.

Use the Right Nozzle. In most cases you only need two: the 65 degree tip (black and labeled soap) and a 25 degree tip (green). You use the soap nozzle to clean the surface and the green tip to rinse and wash.

I recommend a distance of 6-20 inches from the concrete surface, but you can lower it for stubborn stains. If that still won’t work, you may use a 15 degree tip (yellow).

The yellow tip should only be used as a last resort. Never use the red tip (0 degree) because it can tear a hole in the concrete.

Always Clean in Sections If you apply detergent on the entire driveway, it’s going to dry off before you have the chance to wash it.

The concrete is going to end up with white stains and make a mess instead of cleaning things up. By focusing on an 8’x8′ area (adjust to match your driveway size), you’ll be able to clean and wash in time.

Why Pressure Wash Your Driveway?

There are many ways to clean a driveway, but pressure washing offers the best solution.

Efficient. Pressure washers use less water than a garden hose, but it packs more pressure. Because water is heavily concentrated, it removes stains, dirt and grime faster and more effectively.

Versatile. Pressure washing removes not just dirt but also mildew, mold, algae and other potential hazards.

Prolongs concrete lifespan. A driveway free from dirt, grime, mold etc. is going to last longer. It also looks better and when regularly maintained, enhances the value of your property.

Affordable. Because pressure washers use less water than hose, you save money. It also cleans faster than a hose, and is certainly more effective than any sort of manual cleaning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my pressure washer not producing a steady stream of water?

There is probably air in the garden hose. After you plug the hose, don’t turn the pressure washer on yet. Let the hose run for half a minute until water steams steadily. This also removes air out of the hose.

Can I use bleach on my driveway?

No. Use only concrete detergent for pressure washers. Bleach could damage the concrete and the pressure washer tank.

Bleach and other cleaning solutions can leave permanent marks on concrete. Read the label and product description before buying. Contact the manufacturer if you’re not sure it is suitable for concrete and pressure washers.

Where is the best spot to start pressure washing a driveway?

I always start at the top and work my way down. If you begin at the bottom, dirty water from the top will flow down the area you just cleaned.

What happens if I use the red nozzle on my driveway?

The red nozzle (0 degree) should only be used to remove rust, tar, glue and similar substances. Use this on concrete and will damage the surface.

And it won’t take long either. A few seconds of spraying with a 0 degree nozzle coupled with a powerful pressure washer will crack concrete.

What is the right distance to pressure wash concrete?

Anywhere from 8-20 inches. Pick an inconspicuous area of your driveway and try there. Start at 20 inches and lower the tip if needed.

Once you find the right distance, keep the nozzle there. Move in a back and forth motion and clean one section at a time.

My pressure washer can’t remove the stains. Why?

Apply concrete detergent on the spot. A spray bottle is the most effective method for this. Leave the solution for 10-15 minutes then rinse with the pressure washer.

For really stubborn stains it could take longer. In that case, apply the detergent multiple times.