CLEANING your patio before winter arrives not only “keeps your garden looking tidy but also helps to reduce the risk of mould and mildew growth forming”.
Nick Ee, product and training manager at Black + Decker spoke exclusively to Fabulous about the best methods and products to use to leave your patio sparkling and ready for the winter weather.
Nick said: “During the autumn season, leaves, debris and organic matter can accumulate on your patio which when wet can create the perfect environment for mould and mildew to grow.
“Cleaning your patio before winter will remove these materials, reducing the risk of fungal growth that can damage the patio’s structural integrity making it dangerous to walk on.
“Depending on the materials used to make your patio, avoiding cleaning, and maintaining could lead to the deterioration of the surface”, so it’s best to give it a scrub in the next couple of weeks.
Step 1: Remove debris
Nick explained: “To make the cleaning process easier it is best to sweep or blow away any loose debris like leaves or dirt, this way you can see what you’re working with.”
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Step 2: Check for black spots
Dark areas on patio slabs could just be dirt, so using a hard brush, give the area a quick scrub.
If you notice black spots, then it’s likely you have mould and algae that have settled into the pores of your patio slabs.
Nick said: “Using a pressure washer is an effective way to remove black spots and stains from a patio.”
Step 3: Clean
Nick added: “Before you begin, you must ensure you have all the proper safety measurements in place.
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“I would always recommend wearing protective gear especially safety goggles when pressure washing to protect your eyes from debris.”
If using a pressure washer, Nick recommends “starting one end of the patio using slow and even strokes to work your way across the surface, holding the nozzle wand at a slight angle and about 12-18 inches from the surface to avoid damage.
“To remove those stubborn black spots, focus the pressure washer on the stain and move the wand closer if necessary.
“Always be extra cautious on grout lines as the pressure can loosen them.”
The expert continued: “Once you’ve successfully cleaned the area, use the pressure washer to give the patio a final once over to rinse away any remaining residue or cleaning solution.
“Don’t forget to store the pressure washer in a safe and dry place ready to be used another time.”
If you don’t have a pressure washer, you can still clean your patio and remove black spots, but it will take more effort.
You’ll need a bucket, a hard-bristled brush (the bigger, the better) and access to warm water.
If you’re cleaning your patio with soapy water, you’ll need to have some soap – washing up liquid does the trick, and B&M sell Elbow Grease’s Washing Up Liquid for 89p.
With plenty of soap suds, start cleaning from the patio corners, and the dirt should lift away.
Ideally, scrub diagonally as it is gentler on the jointing compound between the slabs.
Repeat until the whole patio is cleaned, then clear the dirty water away with a bucket of clean water so that it flows into a drainage point. Leave to dry and reset any patio furniture.
White vinegar also works as a natural cleaning solution for patio slabs and can be bought from B&M for as little as 79p.
With a 1:1 ratio of vinegar to water in a bucket, (dirtier patios with more stubborn stains may need slightly more vinegar in the solution), simply pour the vinegar and water solution over your patio (you may need several buckets) and leave the vinegar to work its way into the paving slabs for 30 minutes to an hour.
Then, clear the dirty water away with a bucket of clean water so that it flows into a drainage point. Leave to dry and reset any patio furniture.
Once the patio is cleaned, Nick had some final words of advice to keep the area protected during the winter months.
He said: “Maintaining a patio during the winter months is essential to keep it in good condition and prevent damage caused by cold temperatures, snow, ice, and moisture.
“Over the winter months debris such as leaves, snow and dirt can build up, so it is important to keep up with regular cleaning all throughout winter to remove these materials before they start decomposing and staining the patio surface.
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“I would also suggest inspecting the patio regularly, if you’ve left debris to build up the patio will be more susceptible to damage such as cracks and loose tiles.”
While you're in the garden, you can also check on your tomato plants and see if you have any unripened fruit. If you do, an expert has shared the best way to turn green tomatoes red as the season ends.
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