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Removing Stains from Pavers

You have a beautiful outdoor living space, but with people coming and going, and the changing of the seasons, you may find that enjoying your space has left some unsightly residue behind on your pavers.

What causes stains?

There are a number of things that can cause staining on your paving stones. Organic material, like fallen leaves, berries or flowers, may stain when left on the pavers, especially through a season of precipitation. Sweeping or blowing away fallen debris on a regular basis will reduce the chance of staining.

Oil and grease may find its way onto your driveway from vehicles, or onto your patio from dining outdoors. These typically will not stain if any spillage is removed promptly with an absorbent material.

What should I know about cleaning?

To maintain your pavers, it’s a good practice to adopt a general cleaning schedule. Regular cleaning helps keep your pavers looking tidy and reduces long-term staining.

Always start by identifying the type of stain – this will help to understand what type of cleaning product you should use. Identifying the source can also help you prevent future staining.

Most cleaning can be done using everyday household cleaners, and rinsed with a high-pressure spray. With any sort of cleaning, whether using a household cleaner, specialized cleaner or a pressure washer, a small area should be tried first to test the result.

When using a high-pressure spray, never spray too close to the stone that you damage the appearance of the surface. Care should also be taken to not blow or wash the sand from the joints. The best approach is to use a wide spray nozzle, and angle the spray so that it is kept from directly penetrating the joints.

For all cleaning products, always follow label directions for use, application, precaution and first aid.

What steps should I take?

1. Remove the excess.
When it comes to removing liquids, like oil, grease or beverages, dab them promptly with an absorbent material such as paper towels or a cloth to remove the excess. The spillage should be soaked up, not rubbed, to prevent spreading it over a large area and driving the spill deeper into the concrete, where it could turn into a stain.

For organic matter, like plant debris, sweep or blow away anything that remains on the surface.

2. Wash the area.
Start with a high-pressure spray and see what will come clean with water. Then, move to a household cleaner. A dish soap, like Dawn, is a safe place to start. The surfactants in dish soaps are designed to remove oil and grease, they’re gentle to be used without issue on your pavers.

For any areas that require agitation, a firm plastic bristle brush works best. DO NOT use a wire brush, which can damage the surface and may leave metal bristles behind, which can result in rust staining.

3. Go pro.
For tougher stains, a speciality professional cleaning product may be required. These specialty cleaners dissolve, dislodge and encapsulate dirt and oil to ensure thorough cleaning, without leaving residue behind. It’s important to follow the directions to ensure the proper mixing, application and rinsing of the cleaner.

If you’re uncomfortable taking this on yourself, hiring a hardscape firm that specializes in cleaning is also an easy choice.

Your local supply dealer is a great resource – they’re there to help you with any questions, and can help with selecting the correct cleaning solution. Dealers can also recommend a local hardscape firm should you decide to hire someone for the job.