Homeowners’ Guide to Walkway Cleaning

As your guests step out of their vehicles and walk towards your front door, they will likely be looking down at their feet, watching where they walk as they follow your walkway path. Because of this, your walkway is one of the first things people notice when they see your home. This fact means they make a first impression on your home before they even walk through the front door!

The walkway’s primary purpose is to serve as a safe passage from your driveway to your front patio or door. As dirt and grime build up over time, this area could become slippery and hazardous for you, your family, and guests. 

You will want to keep your walkway looking its best throughout the year to “wow” your guests and keep everyone safe. Like any other outdoor component of your home, walkways tend to get pretty filthy quickly as they are constantly exposed to all the elements. But, with time and effort, you can make your walkway look sparkly clean in no time at all. 

Keep reading to discover the best way to DIY clean your walkway from start to finish.

Walkway Cleaning Methods – Pressure vs. Power Washing vs. Hand Washing

There are three common methods for cleaning your walkway: pressure, power, or hand washing. While all techniques are highly effective in cleaning your walkway, there are several factors to consider, such as experience with heavy machinery, walkway material, budget, and time restrictions. 

Below, we’ll discuss each method in detail, so you can feel confident making the right decision for you and your home. 

Pressure Washing

Pressure might sound the same as power washing. However, several key things differentiate the two cleaning methods. 

Pressure washing involves using high amounts of pressurized water to spray the surface of your walkway and remove dust, dirt, or other debris. You can combine this technique with an effective cleaning solution for the best results.

If you’re considering using a pressure washer to DIY clean your walkway, be aware of the cost implications and risks associated with using this heavy machinery without a professional. 

Pressure washers, as the name implies, use extremely high amounts of pressure that can be dangerous if someone else comes into contact with the stream. Be cautious when using this machinery to avoid injuring yourself or others. Stay away from the road, be aware of your surroundings, and keep children and pets far away from your working area. Always wear protective gear such as safety goggles, hearing protection, protective footwear, and gloves when handling heavy machinery like a pressure washer.

Furthermore, a pressure washer can damage your walkway if misused. Do not use a pressure washer on your walkway if it’s made of bricks or other loose, disconnected materials. Additionally, use an appropriate amount of pressure. Most pressure washers have nozzles ranging from 0-40 degrees. We recommend never using the 0-degree setting as this is an unnecessary amount of pressure that poses a high risk. Regardless, always test a small amount of walkway surface with your pressure washer before attempting to complete the entire project.

Finally, the cost of renting a pressure washer, assuming you do not own one already, depends on how powerful the machinery is. To give you a rough idea, the average cost is around $100 daily. 

If you feel comfortable operating this heavy machinery by yourself to clean your walkway, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  • Clear debris. Before pressure washing, use a broom or leaf blower to clear your walkway of any loose dirt and debris. 
  • Cover nearby surfaces. Cover any nearby walls, doors, and structures with a tarp or painter’s tape to avoid accidental chipping during the pressure washing process.
  • Start at the highest point. You’ll want to begin pressure washing at the highest point of your walkway and work your way down to prevent streaking. 
  • Use a degreaser. Take a moment to apply some degreaser to any tough stains.
  • Slow and steady. Use slow, steady movements back and forth across the walkway to get a nice, even finish.
  • Finish with a sealant. After pressure-washing the entire surface, allow it to dry before applying a sealant. A sealant will help protect your walkway from future stains. 

Ultimately, pressure washing is an efficient way to clean your walkway. However, it does require proper knowledge and techniques for a safe, effective job. If you feel uncomfortable doing this method yourself, we recommend hiring a professional or using one of the alternate methods listed below. 

Power Washing

Similarly, power washing also utilizes high-pressure water to clean surfaces. However, this method also implements high heat for an even more efficient and effective cleaning process. It also removes any remnants of dust, dirt, or debris, saving time during the task’s beginning. This method can be done fairly quickly. 

Power washing is great for walkways that have built up excessive grime over time. The combination of heat and pressure allows you to work quicker and limit the use of heavy detergents and degreasers to get the job done. 

As with pressure washing, be aware of the safety and budget considerations before attempting this cleaning method. 

Since this machine also cleans with high pressure, take caution when cleaning your walkway. Be aware of your surroundings (i.e., stay away from the road), and keep children and pets far away from your working area to avoid accidental injuries from occurring. Always wear protective gear such as safety goggles, hearing protection, protective footwear, and gloves when handling heavy machinery like a power washer.

Only use a power washer on tough surfaces that can withstand pressure and heat. For example, power washers work well on  concrete and cement, but not brick. 

Finally, power washer rentals are comparable to pressure washer rentals, but the average cost is slightly more at $144 per day because of the added heat component. You can rent a gas or electric-powered machine. 

Keep the following tips in mind for a safe, effective washing of your walkway with a power washer:

  • Cover nearby surfaces. Cover any nearby walls, doors, etc., with a tarp or painter’s tape to avoid accidental chipping during the pressure washing process.
  • Start at the highest point. Begin power washing at the highest point of the walkway and work your way down to prevent streaking. 
  • Slow and steady. Use slow, steady movements back and forth across the walkway to get a nice, even finish.
  • Finish with a sealant. After you have power washed the entire surface, allow it to dry before applying a sealant. A sealant will help protect your walkway from future stains. 

Like pressure washing, power washing is a great way to clean a filthy walkway. However, you should always take precautions when doing, so as this equipment is powerful and can easily injure someone or damage your walkway if not used properly. 

Hand Washing

While time-consuming, hand washing is another great way to clean your walkway. This method is recommended for smaller surface areas that do not have a ton of dirt and grime built up. However, you can save a lot of money by using this method, and you won’t be putting yourself or the integrity of your walkway at risk. Plus, you can use this method with any walkway, including those made from brick, without worrying about potential damage. 

The cost of hand washing your walkway is low or even free, depending on what cleaning products you have lying around the house. To get started, we recommend gathering the following supplies:

  • Broom
  • Garden hose
  • Spray bottle or bucket
  • Water
  • Wire bristle brush
  • One or more of the following cleaning solutions:
    • Bleach (recommended)
    • Vinegar
    • Peroxide

After you’ve gathered your supplies, follow these simple steps for a squeaky-clean walkway:

  1. Prep your surface. Before you start anything, prep your walkway for cleaning by removing any loose dirt and debris collected along the surface. You can sweep the area well or use a leaf blower to clear any debris. 
  2. Mix your cleaning solution. Next, prepare your cleaning solution of choice. We recommend bleach which is safest to use outside. It’s the strongest, most effective product. However, you could also use vinegar or peroxide. Be careful to not mix the two together. For bleach, you’ll want to mix bleach and water in a 2:1 ratio. For other options, mix the cleaning agent in equal parts with water. Alternatively, you could purchase a cleaning solution for walkways, such as Simple Green. However, homemade cleaning solutions work great on their own.
  3. Apply your cleaning solution. Once your cleaning solution is mixed, fill your bucket or spray bottle. Then, saturate the surface of your walkway with the mixture. Seriously, don’t be shy. Cover the entire surface area with the cleaning solution! 
  4. Let it sit, then scrub! Let the solution soak for five minutes. If you are using a bleach solution, let it soak for at least 15 minutes. After soaking, you may need to re-saturate the surface if it has dried. Then, take your wire brush and scrub as hard as you can. Try to focus on tough stains and any cracks that have collected grime. 
  5. Rinse. Once you’ve given the walkway a good scrub, rinse with your garden hose or dumping a bucket of clean, cool water over the walkway’s surface. The walkway will air dry on its own with time.

And that’s it! The process is super simple and shouldn’t take too long if you have a moderate-sized walkway with a normal amount of dirt buildup. We don’t recommend using a sealant at the end of the hand washing process because it is likely you won’t get the walkway 100% clean, and you don’t want to seal in any dirt or grime. Only use a sealant after giving your walkway a thorough power or pressure washing. 

Why Should I Clean My Walkway?

You might be thinking, who cares if my walkway is cleaned? It’s outside anyways. It’s bound to get dirty again anyways!

However, there are some important considerations regarding a clean walkway. We’ll go over a few reasons why it is important to have a clean walkway as a homeowner:

Keep Your Home Looking Clean

If you haven’t cleaned your walkway in a while, it will visibly appear dirty and become an eyesore on your beloved home. When you invite guests over, you will want to make a good impression, and the best way to do this is by keeping surfaces clean, especially the surfaces guests see first! Plus, a cleaner-looking home can increase your property value significantly. 

Reduce Mold or Mildew

Mold is dangerous to touch and breathe in. Unfortunately, walkways are breeding spaces for bacteria like mold to grow and thrive. Your children will want to play outside, and it won’t be safe for them to do so if mold is growing in common areas like the walkway. Additionally, mold or mildew can become slippery when wet, posing an additional danger to kids, pets, and guests.

Prep Your Space for Sealant 

Applying a sealant is a great way to improve your walkway’s appearance and longevity. It prevents further buildup of grime and unsightly stains. However, you should not apply a sealant to a space that has not been properly cleaned. Otherwise, you might end up sealing stains and dirt into your walkway. Therefore, we recommend having your walkway pressure-washed or power-washed before applying any sealant. Remember that hand washing might not be enough in this instance.

Keep Yourself, Your Guests, and Your Family Safe 

Without regular cleaning, your walkway can become dirty and slippery, which can be detrimental to your health and your family’s health. Mold and mildew become slippery over time, in addition to other substances like oil. 

Additionally, as vegetation grows in the cracks of your walkway, it can lead to splitting and cracking in the cement or concrete surface of your walkway. As cracks form, they can cause a tripping hazard for you, family, and guests. 

The Verdict

As you can see, keeping your walkway clean is an important part of being a homeowner. A filthy walkway poses serious risks to you, your family, and your guests. Plus, it makes your home look bad, which can decrease your property value. Luckily, there are several DIY methods effective in cleaning your walkway. Whether you use heaving machineries such as a power or pressure washer or to keep it simple by hand washing, your walkways are sure to look and function their best.