This blog will ask the question, is bleach the driveway cleaning hack we’ve been looking for?

The paper is written for homeowners who take pride in the appearance of the exterior to there home.

The paper will cover, what is bleach, what it does, when to use bleach, when not to use bleach, finally, how to use bleach to clean your driveway or patio, finally the health hazards with bleach.

The bleach we are referring to is the common household bleach. Whom the active ingredient is chlorine, whereby sodium hypochlorite is the key active ingredient which decomposes the chlorine. It is usually a 3-6% solution in water. Often used to whiten laundry, disinfect hard surfaces, and to treat water.

What is bleach?

Bleach is a chemical product that is used to clean or remove stains. The dilute is known as sodium hypochlorite. Many of the professionals in jet washing/pressure washing industry swear by it is a product to remove stains from driveways, patios, and other hard surfaces.

Bleaches come in a wide range of bactericidal properties, which is useful as bleach is used a varieties of different use cases. The household bleaches found in our homes contain chlorine, which Is a powerful oxidizer, therefore, our household bleaches contain hypochlorite which ensures the chlorine is only released when needed.

As aforementioned there is a variety of different variations of bleach, although, we will be focused on household bleaches for cleaning our driveways, patios etc. The next paragraph outlines why bleach is an effective tool for cleaning organics such as moss, lichen, algae etc. that are often found on our driveways and patios.

What bleach does

The mechanism of action for bleach is two-fold, it is whitening and the antimicrobial efficacy.

The colours found in organic material, such as lichen occur due to their pigments, namely beta carotene. As aforementioned, house bleach is also an oxidizing bleach as it contains chlorine. This oxidizing properties breaks the chemical bonds that make the chromophore, which is a chemical responsible for colour. The product changes the molecule into a totally different substance, which does not contain chromophore or a chromophore that doesn’t absorb light.

Bleaches are also useful due to the chemical reaction they have with organic materials. The destroy or irreversible denature many proteins. The hypochlorite bleaches we are referring to also attack bacteria by interfering with the heat shock proteins on their walls.

When to use bleach

Bleach is especially useful at removing organic material from hard stone such as your driveways and patios.

Your driveways and patios become a magnet for organics because they are surrounded by trees, bushes, flowers, and other plants; these greenery creates spores which fall onto your hard surface. These spores grow into lichen, algae and other organic material, which over time become harder and harder to remove. As they attach themselves stubbornly to the stone, and become unsightly, unkempt and risk further issues.

As mentioned previously bleach become very useful in attacking these organic materials due to the whitening effects and they break down protein. Therefor very useful in cleaning most, but not all hard surfaces. Therefore, bleach should be used only for organic stains and is not useful for oil or metallic stains.

When not to use bleach

Although, bleach is very useful in removing organic material. There are circumstances when it is not the most suitable product to clean your hard surface. If there are plants close to your patio or driveway, use bleach with caution which will be outlined further into the blog post.

Do not use bleach when cleaning natural limestone. Limestone is a popular choice for driveways and patios, as it is strong and durable, with each slab containing its unique set of colours and qualities and even some fossils. Although, they are also a porous material and as such need a different cleaning regiment. There is debate as to whether to use bleach when cleaning natural limestone, with some suggesting a weak solution is fine whilst others arguing that bleach should never be used. We therefore, veer on the side of caution and do not recommend using bleach for limestone floors as they can cause discolouration and require a different approach to cleaning them. Therefore, bleach is not the driveway cleaning hack for limestone surfaces.

How to use bleach to clean your driveway, patio, or pathway

Once you have decided that bleach is the best option to clean your hard surface. Prepare the area for cleaning, that include brushing off any debris. Jet wash the driveway thoroughly to remove any surface dirt. See if the organics can be removed without the use of bleach, as bleach should only be used if necessary. Thoroughly water any nearby plants, flowers, bushes or any other greenery you would like protected, water until fully saturated.

Following the removal of debris, jet washing and watering of greenery. Put on your P.P.E, this should include gloves, mask, goggles and waterproof full body suit. As bleach is a harmful product, you would not want it on your skin, mouth or your eyes. Wash thoroughly if you do come into direct contact with the bleach. Always read the label and contact your local doctor if there is any issues. We will found out is bleach the driveway cleaning hack we’ve been search for.

Mix your bleach with a suitable bleach friendly surfactant, as recommended by the instructions. We recommend start off with a weak mix before, increasing concentration if needed. Pour your bleach and surfactant mix into a watering can, and apply the bleach mix to the patio or driveway. Concentrating on areas where there is more unwanted organics. Once applied, use a stiff bristle brush and brush the mix into the surface. Wait 30 minutes for the mix to penetrate the hard surface. It will turn to water and salts over time. Therefore, after 30 minutes there are diminishing returns. Water the surface liberally if the driveway or patio starts to dry up within those 30 minutes.

Cleaned Patio with Bleach

You can then use your jet wash again to clean the driveway and patio. With all those unsightly algae and lichen removed. Repeat the process above with a high concentration of bleach if required.

Health Hazards

Health and safety should be the top priority for anything you do. Bleach is no exception. We outline the major risks here:

  • Ingestion – can cause damage to the oesophagus and stomach, possibly death.
  • Contact with skin or eyes – causes irritations, drying and potentially burns.
  • Inhalation – Can cause lung damage.
  • Mixing – Never mix bleach with vinegar or other acids as it creates chlorine as, which causes severe internal and external burns.

Summary

We’ve asked the question, is bleach the driveway cleaning hack you’ve been looking for? We’ve found it produces beautiful cleaning results for your driveway, patio, pathway and a number of other hard surfaces; but not all surfaces.

Bleach is a product which removes stains, and produces amazing cleaning results as it breaks down the proteins and whitens the organic material often found on your driveway. Although, please do not use on limestone. Clear and clean your driveway before applying and brushing in your bleach to the driveway, this will help remove the organics. Use your PPE, read the instructions and consult your doctor if there is any issues.

If you have any questions please get in contact, and always contact your local jet washing firm for help with cleaning your driveway, patio or pathway.