Removing Stains from Paving

The sun-kissed patio, once a sanctuary of tranquility and the perfect spot for hosting gatherings, has gradually succumbed to the wear and tear of time, leaving behind unsightly stains that mar its once pristine surface. Whether it's stubborn oil spills from a weekend barbecue, the aftermath of an adventurous afternoon with arts and crafts, or the relentless assault of nature's elements, these stains can tarnish the beauty of your outdoor haven. But fear not, for there exists a wealth of knowledge and practical solutions to revive your patio and restore it to its former glory.

In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the depths of stain removal techniques, uncovering tried-and-true methods and innovative approaches that will leave your patio looking refreshed and rejuvenated once again. Prepare to bid farewell to those stubborn stains as we embark on a transformative journey to reclaim your outdoor oasis.


Types of Paving Stains & How to Remove Them

Now, let's dive straight into identifying the nature of these blemishes and dive into the realm of stain removal. 

How to Remove Food and Beverage Spill Stains from a Patio:

A lively patio gathering often involves indulging in delicious meals and refreshing drinks. Unfortunately, accidental spills are all too common, especially with greasy substances like barbecue sauce, salad dressings, or wine. These organic compounds can penetrate porous patio surfaces, leaving behind deep-set stains if not attended to promptly.

How to Clean: For fresh spills, swift action is crucial. Blot the stain gently with a paper towel or cloth to absorb excess liquid. Prepare a mixture of mild washing up liquid and warm water, then gently scrub the stained area using a soft brush or sponge. Rinse with clean water and pat dry. For tougher, set-in stains, consider using a stain-specific cleaner or a mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, applied and scrubbed gently, followed by thorough rinsing.

Here are the recommended ratios for this stain removal method:

  1. Baking Soda Mixture: Create a paste-like consistency by mixing equal parts of baking soda and water. For example, you can start with 1 tablespoon of baking soda and gradually add water until you achieve a thick paste.

  2. Hydrogen Peroxide Solution: Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with two parts water. For instance, you can combine 1/3 cup of hydrogen peroxide with 2/3 cup of water.

When using these mixtures, adjust the quantities based on the size of the stain and the surface area you need to treat. Remember to gently scrub the stained area with the mixture and rinse thoroughly with clean water afterward.

Always conduct a patch test on a small, inconspicuous area of your patio first to ensure that the mixture does not cause any adverse reactions or discolouration. Do not use bleach or acidic cleaners on limestone. Some sandstones with high iron content may exhibit rust marks following treatment with bleach or acid based cleaners.


How to Remove Grease and Oil Stains from a Patio:

The presence of grills, outdoor kitchens, or even parked vehicles near the patio significantly increases the risk of grease and oil stains. Dripping oil, lubricants, or motor fluids can seep into the patio material, creating stubborn and persistent marks that resist regular cleaning methods.

How to Clean: Absorb any excess oil or grease by sprinkling an absorbent material like baking soda or cornstarch over the stain. Allow it to sit for a while to draw out the oil. Sweep or vacuum the area to remove the powder. Next, use a degreasing agent or a commercial oil stain remover specifically designed for outdoor surfaces. Apply the product as directed, scrub with a brush, and rinse thoroughly.

How to Remove Organic Matter Stains from a Patio:

Nature's contributions to patio staining cannot be overlooked. Falling leaves, pollen, bird droppings, or tree sap can all leave their marks on the surface, forming discoloured patches over time. The tannins found in decaying leaves can cause particularly resilient stains, making them a challenge to remove.

How to Clean: Start by gently scraping off any dried organic matter using a plastic scraper or a soft brush. Create a mixture of water and mild detergent or a mild bleach solution, then scrub the stain using a brush. Rinse thoroughly to remove any residue. If the stain persists, you may need to use a specialised enzyme cleaner formulated to break down organic stains. Follow the product instructions for best results.

Here is a recommended ratio for creating the mixture:

Mix 1 part bleach with 4 parts water.

It's important to note that bleach is a powerful chemical and should be used with caution. When working with bleach, always follow safety precautions such as wearing gloves, eye protection, and working in a well-ventilated area. Additionally, avoid mixing bleach with other cleaning products as it can produce harmful fumes.

Before applying the bleach solution to the stained area, conduct a patch test on a small, inconspicuous part of your patio to ensure that it does not cause any discolouration or damage. Each patio surface may react differently to bleach, so it's important to proceed with care. Do not use bleach or acidic cleaners on limestone. It can also cause iron minerals within sandstone to rust. 

When using the bleach solution, apply it to the stain, allow it to sit for a few minutes, then scrub gently with a brush or sponge. Rinse the area thoroughly with clean water to remove any residual bleach. Ensure proper ventilation during the process and rinse any plants or lawn areas thoroughly to dilute the mixture down as it will cause damage.


How to Remove Rust and Metal Oxidation Stains from a Patio:

Patio furniture, planters, or decorative elements made of metal are susceptible to rust and oxidation when exposed to moisture and humidity. Similarly, many paving products will have iron content within the stone that can gradually weather and produce a brown hue. Another rust causing chemical is lawn feed and also acid based patio cleaner or cement film remover. These chemical reactions can result in unsightly reddish-brown stains that tarnish the appearance of the patio.

How to Clean: Rust stains can be particularly stubborn, but they can often be treated with a solution of equal parts water and vinegar or lemon juice. Apply the mixture to the stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Scrub gently using a brush, and rinse thoroughly. For more severe rust stains, consider using a commercial rust remover designed for outdoor surfaces. Follow the instructions carefully to avoid damaging the patio material.

Test on an inconspicuous area first and do not use bleach or acidic cleaners on limestone. Acidic cleaners can also cause rust spots on iron minerals within stone.

How to Remove Mould, Mildew, and Algae Stains from a Patio:

Shaded or damp areas of the patio can become breeding grounds for mould, mildew, and algae. These growths not only pose health hazards but also leave greenish or blackish stains on the surface. Their presence is often exacerbated in regions with high humidity or inadequate drainage.

How to Clean: 

  • Power washer: As a general rule, a power washer is a gentler resolution to the problem than a chemical cleaner and should be attempted as a first approach.
  • Bleach: Prepare a solution of one part bleach to four parts water. Apply the solution to the affected area using a sprayer or a brush, ensuring proper ventilation. Let it sit for a few minutes to kill the mould, mildew, or algae, then scrub gently. Rinse the area thoroughly with water. Alternatively, you can opt for a commercial mould and mildew cleaner or an oxygenated bleach solution designed for outdoor surfaces.

Test on an inconspicuous area first and do not use bleach or acidic cleaners on limestone. Acidic cleaners can also cause rust to appear on stone with high iron content such as some sandstones.


How to Remove Paint Stains from a Patio:

Paint spillage can occur when painting your home's exterior or your fences and can cause an unsightly eyesore on your paving. 

How to Clean: Removing paint stains requires careful attention and the right approach. The technique you employ depends on the type of paint and the patio surface. Here are some methods to tackle paint stains:

  • Power washer: As a general rule, a power washer is a gentler resolution to the problem than a chemical cleaner and should be attempted as a first approach.
  • Wet Paint: If the paint is still wet, act swiftly by blotting the area with a cloth or paper towel to absorb as much paint as possible. Avoid spreading the paint further. Rinse the area with water while gently scrubbing to remove any residue.

  • Dried Paint on Non-Porous Surfaces: For surfaces like sealed concrete or porcelain tiles, use a scraper or putty knife to carefully scrape away the dried paint. Be cautious not to scratch or damage the patio surface. If some paint residue remains, apply a commercial paint remover or mineral spirits to a cloth or sponge and gently dab the affected area. Rinse with water once the paint is dissolved.

  • Dried Paint on Porous Surfaces: Porous materials like brick or unsealed concrete may require more effort. Start by applying a paint stripper or solvent recommended for the specific paint type. Follow the product instructions carefully, allowing the stripper to penetrate the paint. Use a brush or scraper to remove the softened paint. Repeat the process if necessary. Afterward, rinse the area thoroughly and clean with mild detergent and water to remove any residual chemicals.

Test on an inconspicuous area first

How to Remove Chewing Gum from a Patio:

Although it's not top of the list of paving stains, there may be occasions when a piece of discarded chewing gum is accidently walked onto your patio and left to dry. 

How to Clean: The sticky nuisance of chewing gum can be challenging to remove from your patio. Thankfully, a few simple techniques can help you reclaim your pristine outdoor space:

  • Freezing Method: Apply ice or a cold pack directly to the chewing gum to harden it. Once the gum is firm, gently scrape it off the patio surface using a plastic scraper or a butter knife. Be careful not to scratch the surface. If any residue remains, use a mild detergent or dish soap mixed with warm water to scrub the area and remove any stickiness.

  • Heat Method: Alternatively, you can use heat to soften the gum. Place a folded cloth or paper towel soaked in hot water over the gum and let it sit for a few minutes. This helps soften the gum, making it easier to remove. Then, use a plastic scraper or a butter knife to gently lift off the gum. Again, be cautious not to damage the patio surface. Clean the area afterward with mild detergent and water.

How to Remove Salt Stains from a Patio:

Salt film on paving can also be caused by a phenomenon known as mortar salts surfacing or efflorescence. Mortar salts are water-soluble salts that can be present in the mortar used to lay paving stones or bricks. Over time, these salts can migrate to the surface of the paving, leading to the formation of a whitish or greyish film. It casn also be caused by the chemicals within concrete paving reacting with humidity in the atmosphere. 

How to Clean: To tackle salt film caused by mortar salts or efflorescence, it is important to understand that simply washing the surface with water may not suffice. The salts are water-soluble, so repeated exposure to water can actually exacerbate the issue.

One effective approach is to use a mild acid solution or a specialised efflorescence cleaner specifically designed for removing salt deposits. These cleaners work by breaking down and dissolving the salts, helping to restore the appearance of the paving. Once the cleaning solution has been applied, gently scrub the affected areas with a brush or sponge to loosen and remove the salt film. Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove any residue and allow the paving to dry completely.

Test on an inconspicuous area first and do not use bleach or acidic cleaners on limestone.

By identifying the various sources of stains on your patio, you can better tailor your stain removal strategy to address each specific type of blemish. Armed with this knowledge, choosing the most effective method of cleaningmeans you can bid farewell to those stubborn stains and reclaim your outdoor space's charm.

Remember, when using any cleaning agent, always follow the manufacturer's instructions, wear protective gloves, and test the product on an inconspicuous area first to ensure compatibility with your patio surface.

How to Use a Pressure Washer to Clean your Patio

Using a power washer to clean a patio can be an efficient and effective method to remove dirt, grime, and stains. Here's a brief guide on how to use a power washer for patio cleaning:

  1. Prepare the area: Remove any furniture, plants, or objects from the patio that could obstruct the cleaning process. Sweep or brush away loose debris and leaves.

  2. Read the instructions: Familiarise yourself with the user manual and safety guidelines provided by the manufacturer of the power washer. Ensure you understand how to operate the machine and any specific recommendations for patio surfaces.

  3. Adjust the pressure: Most power washers have adjustable pressure settings. Start with a lower pressure setting and gradually increase if needed, particularly for stubborn stains. Using excessive pressure can damage certain patio surfaces, so it's crucial to find the right balance.

  4. Connect the necessary attachments: Attach the appropriate nozzle or spray tip to the end of the wand. Different spray patterns are available, such as fan-shaped or rotating tips. Choose the one that suits your cleaning needs and the condition of your patio.

  5. Wet the patio: Before starting, wet the patio surface with water using the power washer. This helps loosen the dirt and prepares the area for cleaning.

  6. Maintain a consistent distance: Hold the wand at a consistent distance from the patio surface. Typically, a distance of around 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) is recommended. Keep the nozzle moving in a sweeping motion to ensure even cleaning and avoid concentrating the water on one spot for too long.

  7. Clean in sections: Divide the patio into manageable sections and clean one section at a time. Start from one end and work your way across, overlapping the cleaning paths slightly to ensure thorough coverage.

  8. Pay attention to stubborn stains: For tougher stains or heavily soiled areas, you can get closer to the surface or use a rotating or turbo nozzle for more concentrated cleaning power. However, be cautious not to linger too long on one spot, as it can damage the surface.

  9. Be careful of joints: Do not apply too much pressure on joints as it can cause the jointing material to break and come out.
  10. Rinse thoroughly: Once you have completed cleaning a section, rinse it thoroughly with the power washer to remove any remaining dirt, detergent, or cleaning solution.

  11. Allow the patio to dry: After cleaning, allow the patio surface to air dry completely before placing any furniture or objects back onto it.

Remember to follow safety precautions, wear protective gear (such as goggles and gloves), and consult the power washer's manual for specific instructions and recommendations. By using a power washer correctly and responsibly, you can achieve a clean and refreshed patio with less effort and time.

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Deep Cleaner

Salt Eraser

A Word of Warning

Before embarking on any stain removal or sealing endeavors, it is crucial to exercise caution and perform a patch test on an inconspicuous area of your patio. This small test will help determine the suitability of the cleaning product or sealant for your specific patio surface without risking potential damage or discolouration.

It's worth noting that not all types of stone or patio materials are compatible with every cleaning chemical or sealant. Certain chemicals, such as acidic solutions or bleach-based cleaners, can etch or discolour sensitive stones like marble or limestone. Similarly, abrasive cleaners may scratch or dull the surface of delicate tiles or polished surfaces. To illustrate, marble requires pH-neutral cleaners to prevent etching, while limestone is vulnerable to damage from acid-based cleaners. Granite, on the other hand, is generally more resistant to chemicals but can still be adversely affected by strong solvents.

To ensure the safety and integrity of your patio, it is advisable to consult the manufacturer's recommendations or seek professional advice regarding suitable cleaning agents and sealants for your specific patio material. Taking these precautions will help prevent unintended consequences and maintain the longevity and beauty of your patio surface for years to come. Remember, an informed approach is the key to successful stain removal and maintenance. 

It's also important to note that safetywear such as gloves and eye portection should be used when working with chemicals. Keep children and pets away.

While many stains on patios can be successfully removed with the right techniques and products, there are instances where stubborn stains prove to be resistant to DIY methods. In such cases, seeking the assistance of a professional cleaning service might be the wisest course of action. Professionals have access to specialised equipment, commercial-grade cleaners, and advanced stain removal techniques that can tackle even the most stubborn discolorations effectively. Furthermore, when dealing with delicate or high-value patio surfaces, such as natural stone or intricate tile patterns, professionals can provide the expertise necessary to avoid causing further damage. Additionally, one proactive measure to protect your patio from future stains is to apply an impregnator sealant. This sealant forms an invisible barrier, penetrating the surface and preventing substances like oil, grease, and water from seeping in and causing stains. The benefits of sealing your patio with an impregnator sealant include enhanced stain resistance, easier maintenance, prolonged lifespan of the patio materials, and the preservation of its original appearance. By investing in professional assistance when needed and taking preventive measures like sealing, you can ensure your patio remains a stunning and inviting space for years to come.

Top Tips to Avoid Patio Stains

To preserve the pristine appearance of your patio and prevent stains, here are some top tips to keep in mind:

  1. Avoid De-Icing Salts: Refrain from using de-icing salts or chemical ice melt products on your patio during winter. These substances can seep into the porous surface and cause discolouration or damage. Instead, opt for alternative methods like using sand, cat litter, or non-corrosive de-icers specifically formulated for outdoor surfaces.

  2. Do Not Use Acid-Based Cleaners on Limestone: Limestone is a sensitive stone that can be easily damaged by acidic substances. Avoid using acid-based cleaners, such as vinegar or lemon juice, on limestone surfaces as they can cause etching and discolouration. Opt for pH-neutral cleaners that are safe for use on limestone.

  3. Exercise Caution with Pool Cleaning Agents: If your patio is located near a swimming pool, take care when using pool cleaning chemicals. Chlorine and other pool cleaning agents can be corrosive and cause damage to the patio surface. Protect your patio by covering or rinsing it before adding any pool chemicals, and be mindful of any overspray during the cleaning process.

  4. Use Care when Pressure Washing Paving Joints: High-pressure washers can be an effective tool for cleaning patios, but exercise caution when using them on paving joints. The force of the water jet can dislodge or damage the jointing material, leading to instability and potential gaps between the pavers. Adjust the pressure to a lower setting or consider using gentler cleaning methods for the joints.

  5. Clean Spills and Stains Promptly: Promptly attend to any spills or stains on your patio. The longer a stain sits, the more challenging it becomes to remove. Quickly blot or clean up any spills using appropriate cleaning methods and products for the specific stain type and patio surface.

  6. Regularly Sweep and Remove Debris: Regular maintenance is key to preventing stains. Sweep your patio regularly to remove leaves, dirt, and debris. This minimises the chances of organic matter decaying and causing staining.

  7. Apply Protective Sealants: Consider applying a suitable impregnator sealant to your patio surface. These sealants create a protective barrier that repels liquids and stains, making them easier to clean and preventing deep penetration into the material.

By following these tips, you can proactively protect your patio from stains and maintain its beauty and longevity for years to come.


A beautiful and stain-free patio enhances the appeal and enjoyment of your outdoor space. By understanding the causes of patio stains, implementing effective stain removal techniques, and adopting preventive measures, you can keep your patio looking pristine for many years ahead.