Fun fact: I’ve been making extra money pressure washing things since I was a high school nerd. When I was about 16, my Dad and I struck a deal; if he bought a pressure washer and I agreed to use it to clean our back deck once every summer, the machine was basically mine to use the rest of the year. After I cleaned our deck, the next-door neighbor hired me to clean their deck. Then a friend of the family hired me to do their deck. Then another neighbor hired me to do their driveway. Before I knew it, I was raking in (what seemed like at the time) piles of money for standing around getting a little bit wet and listening to music on my rad Discman.
Oh, how the times have changed (sigh), and although I’m not making side cash to hang out with friends, there’s always something that could use a good high-pressure cleaning!
When we painted and organized our garage a few years ago, we made a few attempts to clean the grease and oil left behind from the previous owner’s old project car. Nothing really worked, life got in the way, and the garage filled up with stuff. As a result, we never really followed through with getting the floor truly clean. We’ve been utilizing the garage as a workshop and a place to keep all the garage-y things – like our car, bikes, tools and excess lumber – and as things began to pile up, we got a wild hair to make big changes once and for all! The time has come to reorganize and get that concrete cleaned (after which we’ll turn it into an organizational dream; mark my words). Let’s cut to the chase and check out the incredibly satisfying results in action:
Psst: You can also view this video on YouTube right here.
Getting the Garage Floor Next Level Clean
After our initial failed attempts to clean the heavily soiled floor with the pressure washer alone, we knew we needed to step our game up and clean with science! So we teamed up with our friends at Zep to utilize their Driveway & Concrete Pressure Wash formula to tackle these oil stains once and for all. Their formulas feature the most effective chemistry for each type of soil and helped us get the job done right!
Most gas-powered pressure washers have a chemical injection feature and ours is no exception. Spraying the proper chemical to water concentration was a simple matter of dropping the hose into the canister and letting the pressure washer do the work:
We followed the simple instructions on the jug and used the pressure washer’s low pressure tip to lay down a thick foam of water and chemical. We could literally see oil and grease bubbling up out of the concrete before we even hit it with the high pressure spray!
Tip: This is serious stuff, so please wear gloves and goggles, and always follow manufacturer’s instructions for chemical use with your pressure washer.
After allowing the recommended 10 minutes of chemical dwell time, we switched between the medium and high pressure tips included with our pressure washer to remove all of the built up grease, oil and soil. We did discover through this portion of the process, however, that a sealer had been applied to the concrete at some point. Unfortunately, the surface wasn’t properly cleaned before it was sealed, so some of the stains were trapped under the sealer and rendered almost impossible to remove. This discovery was a bit of a bummer, but we cleaned the sealed surfaces as well as possible. The good news is that the areas that weren’t sealed cleaned up fantastically!
Once we wrapped up the garage, we gave it some time to dry and moved out to the sidewalk in our gangway. With the ridiculously wet spring we had here in Chicago, the algae buildup on this mostly shaded area of our backyard was intense! We used the Driveway & Concrete Pressure Wash formula here as well. The combination of the chemical with the medium pressure tip made very short work of our little algae problem!
Once we were done in the backyard, we moved on to our front sidewalk which had also felt the wrath of the wet spring. It’s funny how you think it’s not so bad – until you realize, wow, it so is.
Tip: Saturate plants, shrubs and grass with water before and after pressure cleaning to avoid negative reactions with vegetation.
Refreshing our Front Porch
While we were at it (and I knew we’d have the pressure washer all hooked up anyway), Zep also suggested that we try their House & Siding Pressure Wash formula to remove the dinginess from the siding around our front porch. We used the same application method as in the garage and let the chemical injector draw directly from the jug of concentrate.
This formula also foamed up nicely and even ‘clung’ to the vertical siding surfaces. Once again, we allowed for 10 minutes of dwell time before using high pressure.
The Difference Zep Makes
Utilizing the right product for each surface and soil type made all the difference in the world. All of these surfaces have been pressure washed in the past, but they’ve never looked this bright and clean!
Our siding is a very light grey color to begin with, but we didn’t realize just how dingy it was until it was cleaned and given time to dry. Stains that we had always assumed were permanent were easily lifted with the right combination of chemicals and pressure. Like we said – cleaning with science!
Our Sidewalk Before + After
Our Garage Floor Before + After
This project demanded the right combination of cleaning chemicals and tools. Beyond the unfortunate concrete sealer discovery, loads of oil spots that had likely been on our garage floor for over a decade vanished before our eyes! Stains that we thought had permanently penetrated our front siding washed away with almost no effort. Now that it’s had time to completely dry, our garage even smells better! It’s almost hard to believe the difference these Zep products made. We’ve started from the ground up and this is only the first step in a massive garage reorganizing project that we can’t wait to share with you! In the meantime, you can find us in the garage admiring our results!