Return your concrete hardscape to a near-pristine surface with a good cleaning. There are many products for whitening driveways, ranging from household items to commercially prepared cleaning solutions. Once cleaned, consider sealing the driveway to maintain the concrete and prevent new stains from marring the newly whitened surface.
Soak Up Spills
Prevent stains on your driveway by soaking up spills as soon as possible. A bag of inexpensive clay cat litter or another absorbent spill-cleanup product is an easy method of soaking up oil and other automotive fluids. Simply pour the kitty litter over the spill and let it dry. Then sweep it up and put it into the trash.
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In addition to soaking up spills, sweep your driveway regularly. Decomposing leaves; fertilizer overspray; organic messes, like feces or vomit; and black tire marks can also discolor your driveway if not promptly cleaned up.
Scrub With Soap
- Mix a solution of dishwashing liquid and hot water.
- Apply the solution to the stains and allow them to soak for a few minutes.
- Scrub with a nylon brush.
- Rinse well with plain water.
If the stains are still visible, squirt them with full-strength dishwashing liquid or sprinkle a powdered laundry detergent or oxygen bleach over the stains and scrub again. Repeat as necessary and then rinse thoroughly.
Use Acidic Solutions for Stains
Concrete driveways may develop rustlike stains from chemicals, rusty tools, and/or lawn fertilizer. Depending on the severity of the stain, put on gloves and safety googles. Then:
- Mix equal parts of white household vinegar and water and apply it to the stains.
- Allow it to sit on the stains for 30 minutes and then scrub with a stiff nylon brush.
- Rinse with water from the garden hose.
A stronger option is muriatic acid diluted with water, but be aware that any type of acidic solution can etch the surface of the concrete. Be sure to test the solution on an inconspicuous spot first.
- Pour 3 ounces of muriatic acid into 1 gallon of water in a plastic bucket. For heavy cleaning, double the muriatic acid to 6 ounces.
- Spray or roll the solution on the entire driveway.
- Wait 20 minutes and then scrub if necessary using a deck brush.
- Rinse thoroughly with water.
Keep a large box of baking soda and the garden hose handy to neutralize acids in case of a mishap in mixing or spreading the acidic solution. Keep children and pets away while mixing the solution, applying it, and rinsing the concrete.
Bleach the Driveway
Concrete stained by mold and mildew can be cleaned with bleach. Avoid spilling bleach on nearby plants, the lawn, or yourself, as it can damage the foliage, roots, and your skin.
- Mix 1 cup of bleach per gallon of water.
- Pour the solution over the entire driveway.
- Allow it to soak for a few minutes until the stains begin to fade and the driveway whitens.
- Scrub and rinse thoroughly.
Try TSP and Hot Water
Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is another option when cleaning and whitening your driveway. However, avoid rinsing TSP solutions into storm drains.
- Mix 1/2 cup of TSP with 2 gallons of warm water. For a stronger solution, combine 1 cup of TSP with 3 gallons of water.
- Pour it over the stains and allow them to soak for 30 minutes or more.
- Scrub with a deck brush or scrub brush.
- Rinse thoroughly.
Alternatively, use a phosphate-free TSP product or borax in place of TSP. While not as effective as the original TSP products, the alternatives are environmentally friendly and don't lead to algae overgrowth in local waterways.
Pressure Wash the Concrete
After trying other methods, using a pressure washer on the concrete may be necessary to finish the job. Apply the recommended cleaner to the tank per the manufacturer's directions and then apply the solution to the driveway using a low-pressure nozzle. Scrub with a deck brush and then power wash the concrete. Rinse with fresh water and allow the concrete to dry completely.