Give your patio a good clean this autumn. Geoff Hodge gives a round-up of the gear you’ll need
Brighten up the patio with a pressure washer... here’s our pick of the cleaning kit
Asparkling clean patio can brighten up the whole garden. Spotless pavers and gleaming decking boards create a light and well-cared for appearance, transforming a shabby eyesore into a sunny seating area. Conversely, moss and weeds between paving gaps, stains, algae, lichens and liverworts will all detract from the overall look. And poor maintenance can make all hard surfaces incredibly slippery – turning them into a hazard for young and old. If your patio looks a mess there’s nothing for it – it’s time to get out the cleaning kit to restore it to its former glory. But does it need to be hard work? The simple answer is: not at all! In fact it can be fun.
As long as there’s a source of water and electrical power close by, using a pressure washer will get any cleaning tasks finished in no time, with zero fuss. Most household models are powered by electricity, are relatively light and quiet, need little upkeep, and don’t produce any emissions. They start and stop quickly and easily, and are simple to control and maintain. Good quality pressure washers have induction motors, whereas cheaper models may have a plastic pump and brush motor, which are less robust over time. How powerful? If you only need a pressure washer for cleaning bikes, cars and outdoor furniture, you won’t need a top-of-the-range model. Unless you want adjustable water pressure output and other advanced features, a compact, entrylevel model with low-wattage motor (around 1200W) and water pressure output of 90–100 bars will suffice. More expensive, mid-range models (1600–2000W motor and water pressure around 110–120 bars) are a much better choice for patios – as well as a wide range of other cleaning tasks. Larger models (with powerful 1800– 2500W motors and water pressure outputs up to 150 bars) will tackle large areas of paving and very ingrained dirt. How much water will I use? Water output is measured in litres per hour (L/h); a larger output gives quicker cleaning, but your household water pressure determines the actual output. If you don’t have an outdoor tap handy, most pressure washers will work from an alternative water source, such as a water butt, but check first. What size should I go for? Size and weight are key factors if you have to move the machine around a lot and if you’re short on storage space. Also check the water hose and electricity cord are long enough for your needs, and consider how comfortable the nozzles and trigger are to hold. This will be a factor over long periods. Do I need a turbo lance? A rotary jet lance that spins the water jet as it leaves the nozzle is more effective at removing stubborn dirt. Some lances also offer variable-pressure. However, use these with care as very high pressure, and oscillating, rotating or ‘turbo’ spray lances could damage polished or fine surfaces. What happens to all the muck? When blasting dirt and debris from your patio, there’s nothing worse than looking around and realising all you’ve done is spread it over the rest of the garden! A specialist patio cleaning head to ‘contain’ the debris is very handy. These have a plastic cover over the nozzle that helps to stop dirty water spraying everywhere. This makes patio cleaning much quicker and easier. They’re particularly useful for cleaning block paving and sometimes are included in the washer kit, or sold as a separate accessory.
GOOD CLEAN FUN The Spear & Jackson Power Tools PW1800, £119.99 with 1800W motor and 130 bar pressure (see over)
The Stihl RE 109 Pressure washer, £240 with 1700W motor and 110 bar pressure