Why you should never use a pressure washer to remove stains from patio paving, according to an expert

Spilled something on your gorgeous new patio pavers? Don't panic – and don't reach for the pressure washer

paved patio area with a corner sofa
(Image credit: Topps Tiles)

We all know the feeling: you've just upgraded your patio with brand new pavers made from a trendy light stone or concrete. And then – all it took was a glass of red wine/splatter of oil from the barbecue, and now it's stained. That's your impeccable patio ideas rudely brought down to earth.

At this point, you're probably tempted to reach for the pressure washer – just blast the stain until it's gone. Resist this temptation, caution experts from Paving Superstore. Here's why you should give it a miss, and what you should do instead to tackle those stains. 

Why using a pressure washer on patio paving is a bad idea

mahina concrete paving from Bradstone in kitchen garden

(Image credit: Bradstone)

Georgina Read, Director at Paving Superstore, is very clear on this: 'high-pressure washers can damage the paving', so you should avoid using them to tackle a stain on your patio pavers. 

Why does even the best pressure washer damage paving? It turns out that while there's technically nothing wrong with using a pressure washer for this task, the reality is that most people overdo it as they aren't up to speed with how to use a pressure washer correctly, which results in damage. 

Garden landscaping experts from Install Direct confirm: 'The problem is not with pressure washing, itself; the problem is that inexperienced folks using a pressure washer can easily choose the wrong nozzle, use higher pressure than warranted or simply not understand how powerful a pressurized stream of water can be.'

'How bad can it really be?' you may be wondering. Well, a pressure washer can cause significant, visible damage, which is usually in the form of pitting, lines or general surface degradation. You can also damage the mortar between bricks and disperse the joint sand between paving stones.

 In the case of concrete, slabs installed less than one year ago are more likely to be damaged than older slabs.'

So, what should you do to clean stains off patio pavers?

eco paving ideas

(Image credit: Bradstone)

The answer will depend on whether your stain is water- or oil-based. If it's water-based, or it's a beverage such as wine, your best bet is warm water. Georgina adds that 'if that is not enough, you can try to dilute bleach with water (1:10 solution) and wash thoroughly with clean water.'

If the stain is oil-based – think cooking oil or paint – the most important thing is to start blotting it out while it's still wet. 'Then, cover the area with dry, absorbent powder and leave it for 24 hours to ensure the area remains dry. Repeat the procedure until the powder no longer absorbs any remaining oil and then remove the powder carefully,' Georgina advises. Make sure you don't try to wipe such stains, as this will only spread them. 

For general maintenance cleaning, try one of the best patio cleaners in our buyer's guide. 

Anna writes about interior design and gardening. Her work has appeared in Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, and many other publications. She is an experienced outdoor and indoor gardener and has a passion for growing roses and Japanese maples in her outside space.