Jet washing looks simple but care is needed to ensure your paving remains in good condition. Follow our tips to clean your patio or driveway without damage.

Jet wash in action, held at correct angle and right distance from sandstone paving.
A textbook example of the right way to jet wash sandstone paving.

How misusing a jet wash can damage a patio or driveway

Here's why it's important to know how to jet wash a patio. Using excessive water pressure on natural stone paving or porcelain outdoor tiles can result in the following damage.

  • Surface erosion and etching, particularly of natural stone. This makes paving prone to further damage, as well as increases the speed at which it accumulates dirt. Softer types of sandstone, such as Fossil Mint (which we don’t supply) are particularly vulnerable to jet-wash damage.
  • Loss of jointing material between the slabs or tiles. If this is dislodged, it compromises the stability of the patio and creates an uneven surface.
  • Chipping and cracking. This can occur at the edges of slabs, particularly if there are pre-existing weaknesses in the material.
  • Fading and discolouration. This results in a patchy appearance.
  • Removal of sealant protection, which can happen if the surface of the stone is damaged, leaving it more vulnerable to staining.
Demo of porcelain paving, half clean, half dirty, after jet wash, at Middlesex showroom.
A demonstration at our Middlesex showroom of how a jet wash can be all you need to bring up dirty paving like these porcelain outdoor tiles.

How to clean a patio or driveway with a jet wash

Choose the right pressure washer

Select a pressure washer with an adjustable pressure setting, to ensure you can control the power output. Look for a jet wash with a fan or adjustable nozzle. This will help you control the angle of the spray.

Clear the area

Remove any furniture, plants, or obstacles that could be damaged during the jet washing process. Sweep the area thoroughly with a stiff-bristled broom to remove any loose debris.

Wear appropriate safety gear

Before starting the jet washing process, don safety goggles, gloves, and non-slip shoes to protect yourself from any debris or water spray.

Very dirty Beige sawn sandstone patio
This Beige sawn sandstone patio shows plenty of leaf marks and is in dire need of cleaning.

How to use a jet wash

If you haven’t used the jet wash before, practise the following technique in a discreet area. The whole idea is NOT to blast the stone directly at point-blank range. That way lies damage.

  • The jet should be set at medium pressure.
  • Hold the wand 50cm above from the paving and at a 45 degree angle to the surface of the stone.
  • Work across the patio or driveway at a diagonal to the lie of the slabs. This ensures you don’t run the jet along the joints.
  • Pass slowly over the slabs or tiles. Move the nozzle in a consistent sweeping motion, overlapping each pass slightly to ensure thorough cleaning.
  • Maintain sweeping pattern to reduce the risk of over-exposing some areas to the water jet.

Remember, you'll do a better job, and reduce the risk of damage, by washing over a patio several times with a lighter spray than using a heavy blast of water just once.

Leaf marks visible on Beige sawn sandstone patio after jet washing.
The same Beige sawn sandstone patio is much cleaner after a jet wash, but now needs a deep clean with a proprietary solution such as Lithofin Outdoor Cleaner.

When you need more than a jet wash

When cleaning a patio laid with porcelain tiles, a jet wash may be all you need to bring it up like new. This is also the case when washing down natural stone paving. In either case, though, stubborn stains are likely to require a targeted solution, such as the leaf marks in the picture above. Find out more about choosing the correct patio cleaner.