If you are a paving contractor then you have probably heard the following question more than once: how do I keep my asphalt surfaces clean? You’ve probably been asked this by friends, neighbors, family members, and of course your customers. And as a contractor, you also know that there is no singular answer to this question. Asphalt stains are not universal. They come in all types and degrees of absorption. So there is no one answer that you can give to someone that will do the trick.
But here at Contractor’s Society of America, we pooled information from our members to compile a list of asphalt cleaning tips that you can utilize in your work and that you can share with people who ask you. There are lots of ways to deal with asphalt stains and some will work better in some instances than others. Check out our list of asphalt cleaning tips for 2020.
1 – Stop the Stain Before it Sets
If you have the opportunity, be proactive. As soon as you notice a spill on your asphalt surface try to soak it up before it absorbs into the asphalt. You can do this with a few different types of materials such as sawdust, shredded paper, baking soda, or kitty litter. For most contractors in the field, sawdust is probably the most plentiful and readily available absorbent you can find for free. Keep a supply of it in your truck just in case a spill occurs. If and when one does, spread the absorbent over the stain and let it sit for at least a few hours. This will give the absorbent time to soak up the stain before it can set into the asphalt. Then, sweep the absorbent material away. This method will not likely totally prevent a stain, but it will definitely make one less prominent.
2 – Pressure Washers
This tip is a bit controversial. You may get people who ask you “should I pressure wash my asphalt driveway?” and the answer seems to vary from contractor to contractor. Some contractors will say yes you should while others would say no you shouldn’t. So we want to clear this one up once and for all. Pressure washers can be a helpful tool for cleaning asphalt but only when used in the right circumstances and in the right sequence. That’s because in some cases, using a power washer at the outset of the cleaning can actually drive stains deeper. You should use pressure washers, but only before you have treated the stain with some sort of solvent, detergent or cleanser. Speaking of which…
3 – Use Cleaning Agents
One of the most effective ways to deal with asphalt blemishes in 2020 is still good old-fashioned elbow grease. A stiff-bristled broom or brush will be your best ally in the fight against asphalt stains. But you still need to pair it with a cleaning agent. One of the most effective methods we heard from our contractors is powdered laundry detergent. Sprinkle a liberal amount of powdered laundry detergent on the affected area and let it sit for 10-20 minutes. Then you can go to work with your stiff-bristled brush or broom, scrubbing at the stain. Another effective cleaning agent we heard about was a mixture of 1 part laundry detergent, 3 parts water, and one part bleach. Mix this concoction well and be very careful not to overdo the bleach. Create this mixture outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Then, work the mixture into the asphalt surface with your broom or brush.
4 – Commercial Degreasers
Tip number 4 is a great response to the question “how do you clean oil off asphalt?” Commercial degreasers are very effective for getting rid of oil stains in particular. That’s because there is a science behind them. The molecules in commercial degreasers essentially work to dislodge the oil from the water, making it easier to simply rinse away. One end of the molecule binds to the oil while the other end bonds to the water, effectively separating them. Commercial degreasers only need to be applied to the oil stain, allowed to sit for a while, and then simply rinsed away.
5 – Pressure Washers
We’ve come full circle. The last of our asphalt cleaning tips for 2020 is to use pressure washers. Again, you should only use a pressure washer after you have pre-treated the stain and scrubbed it by hand with a stiff-bristled brush or broom. Once the stain has been unsettled or lifted a bit, then there is no risk that the pressure washer will blast it pack into the porous asphalt. A pressure washer will get all the broken up stain components out of the pores of the asphalt and wash them away. Our contractors recommended using an angled, slow sweeping motion when pressure washing. This will ensure that most of the stain is lifted out of the pores rather than just pounding it into them with a directly overhead angle. Basically, you don’t want to spray at a perpendicular angle with the surface but rather with more of a 45-degree angle with the surface.
And of course, before any asphalt cleaning job, whether you are a contractor or a weekend warrior, you should completely clear the surface of the asphalt of loose debris. This should be done with a broom or a garden hose. Again, you may be tempted to just blast the debris away with a power washer and be done with it but this is not advisable. If you are going to use any water to clean the area, make sure it comes from a low powered garden hose.
We hope you have found our updated asphalt cleaning tips useful and insightful. It is always best to have a professional maintain your paved surfaces so get in touch with us here at Contractor’s Society of America to get professional help!