When it comes to driveway and sidewalk cleaning it generally varies from area to area as well as the specific daily uses of the driveway and sidewalk. A restaurant for example may have to clean weakly if they incur a heavy amount of foot traffic from customers and degrease the back area such as the dumpster pads to fight off pests from eating the food scraps. When it relates to homeowners driveway and sidewalk the common uses that make the walkways dirty are usual foot traffic, car marks, car stains from grease, oil, transmission fluid and so on, cutting the grass, rainy climate calling for more mold and mildew to build up, rust from the sprinklers irrigation system.
Below are a few examples of the mold and mildew that are on the driveway and sidewalks in south florida........
The most efficient and practical method to clean any sort of flatwork is with a pressure washer and the correct cleaning detergents. When the surface is only cleaned with high water pressure this may look good at first but will not hold off the organics for long enough. The mold will come back quickly within the next 2 months but when the correct application of chemicals such as sodium hypochlorite and soaps are added the organic growth is killed off instead of removed from the naked eye. Making for a much cleaner and longer lasting clean.
When done properly and thoroughly the cleaning should last just under a year until the next cleaning should be done. As stated before it is tough to say exactly when the cleaning should be done because this varies on your personal situation. We would strongly urge you to contact a pressure cleaning professional in your area to better guide you in this matter. The professional in the area will go over the common practices in the area and what intervals he or she recommends to use for the best results. To find a professional it is suggested to do a detailed search into google for their past work pictures, how long they have been in business and what kind of reviews they have in store.
The biggest factor in cleaning any flat surface from driveways, sidewalks, patios, street gutters, concrete, pavers and walkways are the mold and mildew that build up on the material. From a far these look like black and brown patches of dirt but upon closer inspection we notice they are organic embedded in the surface.
For the homeowners who have a overhanging tree over the sidewalk or driveway they may notice orange colored stains that at first seem to be rust but are in factor organic growth. Typically caused by tree nuts and leaves (these stains are tough to get out with water pressure alone) the best method to get the stains out are by using a strong mixture of chemical (preferably 50/50 ratio of chlorine and water) to eat at the organics deep in the stones pores. Please note when using a strong chemical such as this mixture to use gloves and do not inhale the fumes and be very careful with the landscape around the affected area.
Thank you for taking the time to read our article on "How often you should clean your driveway and sidewalk"
For more information on professional pressure cleaning tips and tricks please refer to your blog page.
What is a House Wash?
In pressure cleaning a House Wash refers to the disinfecting and cleaning of the gutter trim, walls, doors and cleans up the windows nicely with a streak free shine.
A house wash primarily uses low pressure chemicals and water. Not as low as a typical garden hose but not as high as a professional high grade pressure washer. Depending on the level of dirt and mildew built up will determine what concentration of chemical we must use to rid the surface of bacteria. For normal bacteria's such as algae and light mildew a low concentration of chlorine and soaps should be used but if we see lichen and orange mildew it is best to go for a high mix to cut down on the dwell time but just be sure to rinse off any surrounding plants during the House Washing process.
Above are perfect picture examples of the mold and mildew that build up day after day on south florida homes. This specific picture was taken at a house wash cleaning we did in Boca Raton Florida a few months back. With the right amount of chemicals these ugly stains will lift up and leave behind a clear bright window. After applying the chemicals to the homes affected area you must rinse off very well to prevent any paint damage such as oxidization.
The best part about cleaning a homes exterior with low pressure is there is zero chances that the paint will be damaged. Hard pressure on a home exterior will wear it away and can risk paint damage. With a low pressure chemical cleaning it is the chemicals that do the cleaning, not the dangerous high presure. Once the solution has done the cleaning you may then rinse off with high volume and low pressure water. This also helps take care of the chemicals smell.
We recommend a house wash be done every 6 months to keep your home looking its best.
When cleaning a driveway we first must asses what exactly is on the surface?
At a quick glance we think it is dirt but upon closer inspection of the driveways concrete, pavers or other materials with pores we see it is actually mold and mildew from the built up humid weather. In most instances the unclean driveway will appear black and dark colored as well as green, from the algae and gleocapsmagma.
The best solution for this as with any cleaning is picking the proper tool for the job and the right chemical to achieve the best results.
Driveway Pressure Cleaning requires a professional pressure washer to push out the organic material in the driveways surface, typically concrete, paver or painted, then the chemicals usually being chlorine loosen the bacteria and kill it off. Making for a sanitized and clean surface.
Not only will the chemicals make the cleaning process easier but it will make it last longer. Water pressure alone will not kill the mold and mildew only remove it from the naked eye.
The primary cause of a dirty driveway surface is the weather and humidity that is built up day by day. After months without cleaning of untreatment the bacteria begins to eat at the salt mineral in the concrete and pavers, taking away its color and luster. A good driveway cleaning is recommended to be done every 6 months to a year. For homeowners looking for a lower cost alternative it may be best to rent a pressure washer at a local hardware store. For the homeowner tight on time it is best to hire a professional to get the job done right and with efficiency in mind. Common mold and mildew requires a low concentration of chemicals from a 1% to 3% with a high pressure cleaning and finish off with a low pressure rinse. For other organic stains like acorn stains, leaf stains and lichen bacteria a stronger mix should be used from 4% to 5% concentration of chemical mix. We caution you or the pressure cleaning professional to use caution while keeping the surrounding landscape in mind. There is nothing worse then being happy with a bright clean driveway but dead burnt grass all around and dried up shrubs along with burned flowers. When power washing any surface you must take into account the plants and painted surfaces, especially any organic paint from sherrwin williams paint that will stain just at the touch of any chlorine chemicals.
To recap this article we always recommend you use caution when handling pressure and chemicals this can not only harm you but your plants and property when handling incorrectly.
When soft washing you homes exterior walls, roof, driveway or even back patio the aim is to clean the area with no damage to any of the near by landscape including trees, shrubs, grass and flowers that take months and up to years to grow.
There are a few main keys to watch for before tackling the cleaning job.
What are we planning to clean?
What plants should we look out for?
What concentration of chemical should be used enough to kill the mold and mildew but not harm the plants?
How do we water the plants when in the process of cleaning?
In this scenario lets cleaning a two car concrete driveway and sidewalk with a barrier of flowers on each side and grass, The common household exterior cleaning needed in many south florida homes.
As stated before we are cleaning up a driveway and sidewalk with flowers and grass as our surrounding landscape to watch out for. The plants to look out for are the beautiful but sensitive flowers and brittle green grass that can change colors fast when sprayed with chemicals from the soft washing and pressure cleaning. The level of concentration we should use is a lower dilution of chlorine and soap to lift the organics sticking to the concretes pores and pressure cleaning off and because the concrete has many deep pores we recommend leaving a added layer of chemical to kill of any residual bacteria lingering around. When doing this type of cleaning we recommend you to water the landscape after as a final rinse to water down the low concentration of chemical and any dirt that was lifted up on the walls and plant foliage, plus it also helps with the harsh chemical smell that many homeowners find undesirable.
In just about every scenario we only recommend you to water the plants down with water throughout the pressure cleaning process especially when using a higher dosage of chemical and soaps. Using tarps and covering the plants make seem like a good idea at its surface but if the outside temperature is hot then the tarp acts as a convection heater and literally burn the plant. Tarps also hider us from looking at where the chemical is falling down, it make seem like the chemical hits the tarp and thats it problem solved but if we look closer we can see the chemical drip straight down to the plants delicate roots and dry up at the source. With the focus being on the cleaning, all eyes are kept off the chemical going to the root and that means game over for the plant that look years to grow and mature.
DILUTION IS THE SOLUTION TO POLLUTION!!!
Before starting the task of cleaning a driveway it may be a good idea to consult with a professional about what chemical ratios should be used and how often the exterior car surface should be cleaned.
Ideally a mixture of bleach and soaps are the best solution to loosening the organics from the driveways surface. The Chlorine or bleach in this case works systematically to kill anything organic. Be careful when using as improper use can cause skin burns and the fumes can cause lung damage and will lead to an uneasy feeling after the job is completed. For this we recommend spraying the cleaning solution with a pump up sprayer of about 2 gals on the surface before applying any pressure.
While the chlorine attacks the bacteria the soap helps in allowing the bleach to eat at the mold or mildew. It is best to use professional surfactants instead of your normal dawn dish soap as when mixed together causes a deadly gas.
After allowing the proper dwell time to take effect in killing off the dirt and mildew driveway of about 15mins. It is time to break out the pressure washer to power out the dirt out the pores.
Plug in your water source, prepare your tools and turn on the machine.
You want to make sure you clean evenly and make sure to not miss any spots. There is nothing worse then finishing up your work and load up the machine just to find out you missed a spot.
Always check your work. A surface cleaner or also called a hover brush may be very beneficial in completing your work in a timely even manner.
Next you want to rinse off any excess dirt left on the driveway and again check your work.
If needed apply a final coat of chemical to the driveway that was cleaned. This acts as a final layer of clean to kill off any residual bacteria and avoid any clean streaks.
Clean streaks in the pressure cleaning industry refers to the leftover streaks made from the cleaning process itself. Clean streaks occur when you clean over the same areas more than once. Think of it as cleaning one side once and another side twice. The side of the driveway that was cleaned twice will most likely appear cleaner and brighter. The solution to this is the cleaning chemicals themselves to be applied as the last step and allow all the time it needs to dissolve with the driveways surface.
By the next day you will have a bright driveway to enjoy for months to come and depending on weather years.
Although pressure cleaning refers to the cleaning of the surface, cleaning only with water is not cleaning at all. The tiny bacteria particles are still in the driveways pores painted, concrete or pavers. The proper method of cleaning is a combination of pressure and chemicals to remove and kill the dirt embedded. Leaving a short lived clean that will have to be repeated continuously throughout the year.
In conclusion the best method of cleaning and sanitizing a driveway in south florida is a combination of water pressure and biodegradable chemicals and surfactants.
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