A flat with a patio or loggia offers an inviting outdoor space to relax, entertain and, if you’re fortunate enough, maybe even enjoy a beautiful view. Yet clutter and dirt can put a damper on the fun. If you’ve ever wondered how to clean your apartment patio like a pro, this article is for you.
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My own condo has a large rooftop patio, so I’ve been through a lot of trial and error over the years. How do you clean an apartment balcony without a water spout? What do you need for floor cleaning? What’s the best detergent for concrete patio pavers? Do you really need to rinse with clean water, and should you just get a pressure washer?
I’ve used the wrong products in the past, gotten soaked in the process, irritated at least one neighbour 😬 and learnt what those funky green stains on the patio are. Here’s the routine I eventually honed for keeping the outdoor living space clean and tidy.
Table of Contents Show
- The What’s What of Outdoor Areas
- What You Need to Clean Your Apartment Patio
- Prepare Your Patio for Cleaning
- How to Clean Your Balcony Floor
- What’s the Best Way to Clean Apartment Balcony Railings?
- What About Balcony Doors or Patio Windows?
- Putting Everything Back in Place
- Keep Your Balcony Clean with Regular Maintenance
- One Last Tip to Clean Your Apartment Patio
The What’s What of Outdoor Areas
Do you have a deck, patio, loggia, or what? Here’s how to tell the difference.
- Veranda: This is a roofed platform that often wraps around two or more sides of a house. It’s typically furnished and used for relaxing or entertaining outdoors. The veranda is enclosed by railings and usually has a hard floor made of wood or concrete.
- Balcony: A platform that projects from the exterior wall of an apartment unit, typically enclosed by railings or balustrades. It’s usually accessible through a door on an upper floor and offers an elevated view of the surroundings. Balconies can be found on most any kind of multi-storey building, whether it’s a house or apartment.
- Loggia: A covered exterior gallery or corridor, usually on an upper level. The space is defined by a series of columns or arches that open to the elements, providing protection from the sun or rain.
- Patio: A paved outdoor area adjoining a house, typically at ground level, but also common on rooftops in the case of penthouses. The flooring is usually concrete paver, stone, tiles or bricks.
- Terrace: Often paved, a terrace can be surrounded by a railing for safety, and may be covered or uncovered. They offer a seamless transition from the indoors to the outdoors and are usually found in larger homes or apartments, or those built on a hill or slope. Unlike a patio that might be detached from the main building, a terrace is always attached and often somewhat elevated.
- Deck: A flat, usually roofless platform adjoining a house. Decks are typically made of wood or a composite material. They can be built at ground level, but are also often constructed off the ground and can include multiple levels.
- Porch: A covered, typically enclosed space attached to the entrance of a house. It provides a sheltered area for relaxing and socialising. Porches are usually built at the same level as the ground floor of a house.
This article focuses on outdoor areas in condos and apartment buildings, but you’ll find the cleaning routines and products described here equally applicable to single-family dwellings.
What You Need to Clean Your Apartment Patio
As with any task, having the right tools at your disposal will simplify the process. Here are the essentials you’ll need to get the job done.
- A broom or outdoor vacuum. Before you mop your balcony, you’ll want to sweep or vacuum the floor to remove loose dirt and debris.
- Water hose. If your unit has an outdoor water spout, definitely get a hose. It’s not only great for watering your container plants, but you can use it for rinsing the floor, railings, and outdoor furniture after cleaning. I like the compact spiral hoses because they take up so little room.
- Bucket and scrubber/mop. To clean a balcony without a water hose, you’re going to need a large bucket. Either way, a sturdy scrubber or outdoor mop should also be in your arsenal. Be sure to choose a mop that’s robust enough to handle the texture of your floor, whether it’s a concrete balcony, a tiled loggia, or a paved patio.
- Eco-friendly cleaner. Choose a detergent that won’t harm your patio’s material and is safe for the environment. Look for a biodegradable, pH-neutral cleaner for the best results. If you see green or black stains, welcome to the algae club. You can get a sludge destroyer aka muck remover, but I don’t think they’re harmless so I just spray a vinegar solution on my mossy areas before I scrub them.
- Sponge or scrub brush. For stubborn spots and stains (like the moss or algae mentioned above), a scrub brush and sponge come in handy. Brushes with long handles can also help clean hard-to-reach spots without straining your back. You’ll also need these to clean any outdoor furniture.
- Microfibre cloths. These are perfect for cleaning patio railings, doors, or polishing windows. Microfibre cloths are excellent for picking up dirt and grime without scratching surfaces.
- Gloves. Protect your hands from harsh cleaning agents by wearing a pair of durable gloves.
- Optional: a pressure washer. If you have a very large balcony space to clean like I do, you might want to either purchase a power washer or rent one. In particular, if things haven’t been washed down in a while or if you see signs of a green coating or smog residue on your pavers, a pressure washer can really make the job easier. I’ve had a K3 from Kärcher for nine years now. I’m quite happy with it and it’s held up well. Keep in mind though that if you want to use a power washer, you will need to use a hose, too.
Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
Using eco-friendly detergents is not only good for the environment, but it can also be good for your health. Here are some eco-friendly options you can use to clean your apartment patio:
- White vinegar is an excellent natural cleaner that can help you remove green grime from your patio surface.
- Baking soda can be used to remove tough stains from your balcony floor.
- Lemon juice is good for removing rust stains from e.g. metal planters.
- Castile soap is a natural detergent that can be used to clean your patio surface without harming the environment.
Prepare Your Patio for Cleaning
Take a few minutes to prep around the balcony before cleaning. Clutter will only slow you down and make it more difficult to clean your apartment patio. Follow these steps to prepare your loggia or patio for a thorough cleaning:
- Remove balcony furniture and other items. Start by removing all furniture, plants, BBQ grills, toys, decorations, and any other items you may have outside. This gives you a clean slate to work with.
- Sort and declutter. Whilst you have everything cleared off, take the opportunity to declutter any items that are broken. Consider whether you use each item enough to justify the space it occupies on your patio. This is also a great time to decide if any of your furniture could benefit from a fresh coat of oil, paint or stain.
- Check with your neighbours. If you’re concerned about water, cleaner, or debris falling onto your neighbor’s balcony below, or if you’re going to be cleaning your outdoor furniture in the stairwell or another common area, give your neighbours a heads up about your cleaning plans.
- Clean your furniture. If your patio floor is particularly dirty, it’s likely your furnishings are, too. Clean the furniture before putting it back on the freshly cleaned patio. A damp cloth will often suffice for this task, but for heavier grime, you may need to use a cleaning solution. You could also do this step after you are done cleaning outside, but I like to do it before I clean the actual patio.
Check the Condition of Your Patio
Once you’ve cleared off your patio, it’s the perfect time to inspect its condition. I try to do this once annually so that I can let my HOA know if anything looks odd. You’ll want to look for any signs of wear and tear or damage that may need to be addressed.
- Balcony railings: Check for any loose or wobbly sections that could pose a safety risk. Look for signs of rust on metal railings, and in the case of wood, check for rot or splintering.
- Balcony windows and doors: Ensure that your patio doors and windows are functioning correctly. Look for any cracks in the glass or issues with the seals around the windows and doors.
- Floor surface: Look for cracks or uneven surfaces in cement, paved or tiled flooring. If you spot any, you might need to get them fixed to prevent tripping hazards or further damage. If you have wood flooring, you’ll want to check for rot and splinters here as well. For a new balcony in particular, notify your superintendent or HOA of any cracks you spot so the developer can fix them under guarantee!
By taking the time to inspect your patio’s condition, you’re not only ensuring your safety but also preventing small issues from turning into larger, more expensive problems down the line.
With your space now prepared and inspected, it’s time to get cleaning!
How to Clean Your Balcony Floor
The cleanliness of your patio floor can greatly impact the overall aesthetic of your outdoor area. If the surface of the balcony is clean, the whole space will even appear larger. So give it a thorough clean to remove any accumulated dirt, stains, or grime. Here’s a simple step-by-step process to clean a patio or balcony floor that works for me.
- Remove weeds. If you have tiles, lucky you. For the rest of us though, you’re probably going to have to scrape out the weeds in between your concrete pavers or wood floorboards. I use a Gardena weed scraper for this task while I curse my head off and consider moving to a place where it snows all year round.
- Sweep or hoover. The next step to cleaning your patio floor is to sweep or hoover it to remove any loose leaves and debris. This gives you a cleaner surface to scrub or mop, and prevents all too much dirt from mixing with your soapy solution.
- Prepare cleaning solution: If you’re without a hose, fill your bucket with warm water and add your chosen cleaner. This could be a store-bought patio cleaner or simply warm water and mild dish soap.
- Pre-Treat Stains: If there are any stubborn stains on any part of the balcony, it might be helpful to pre-treat them with vinegar or baking soda. Let it sit for a few minutes to break down the stain before you begin scrubbing.
- Scrub (concrete/wood) or mop (tiles): Whatever material your floor is, the key here is to work in small sections and regularly rinse your mop to avoid spreading dirt around.
- Final rinse: If you used a detergent that needs rinsing, well, you’ll need to give your balcony floor one last rinse. If you have a hose, gently wash it all down with water, manoeuvring your soap suds towards the drain. If you’re cleaning the balcony without a hose, re-fill your bucket with clean water to mop-rinse the balcony.
- Dry: Allow your floor and balcony or patio floor to air dry before putting back your furniture, outdoor mats or other items.
- Optional treatments: Once the entire surface is weed-free and clean, now’s also a great time to treat it. There are paver sealers available for concrete balconies and patios, as well as wood protectants, stains, and oil sealants. This is a task that you likely only need to consider every few years and if you rent, you should check with your landlord first.
By following these steps, you can maintain a clean, attractive patio floor that complements your outdoor living space. Regular cleaning will also extend the life of your flooring and make your patio a more welcoming place to relax and entertain.
What’s the Best Way to Clean Apartment Balcony Railings?
Railings can accumulate a tonne of dust, dirt and bird droppings. They’re pretty easy to clean though:
- Remove any loose dirt or cobwebs with a dry brush and use a cloth to clean the balcony railing of any heavy dust.
- Soak a cloth or sponge in a bucket with hot water and a mild, eco-friendly cleaning agent. Begin at the top of the railings and work your way down, wiping both the inside and outside of the railing, including any ornate elements or hard-to-reach crevices.
- For stubborn stains, use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the area. Don’t use anything too abrasive, as this could scratch or damage the railing’s finish.
- Use clean water to rinse everything, then let the balcony either air dry or wipe the railings down with a clean, dry cloth.
What About Balcony Doors or Patio Windows?
Dirty glass can obstruct your view, reduce the amount of natural light that enters your flat, and take away from the overall aesthetic of your living space. Grime and dirt can also degrade the insular materials of your doors and windows over time.
Regularly cleaning the glass surfaces to your outdoor area is easy. Grab a bucket of hot water and add some dishwashing detergent to wipe them down, use a window cleaner like Windex, or make your own solution by mixing equal parts of white vinegar and warm water.
Getting the Best Results
Use a sponge or a natural chamois rag to clean the windows. A squeegee is great for really big glass surfaces – just work your way over the pane in an S movement for best results.
Do this inside and out. It’s best to clean glass in indirect sunlight because direct light will dry everything up too quickly, which can leave you with streaks. Side note: window cleaning is not a job you want to be doing during a heat wave! It can be genuinely strenuous.
If you like, you can also give the glass a wipe-over with a microfibre cloth when you’re done, to give the glass surface a final polish.
Don’t forget to also wipe your door and window handles as well while you’re at it.
If you find the process of window cleaning a drag like I do, there are some nifty gadgets on the market that can help, and they’re getting better all the time. I have terrible shoulder problems and use a WV 6 from Kärcher on my humongous sliding patio doors. It’s not perfect, but it does the heavy lifting so to speak, and then I just use a large microfibre squeegee to polish out any leftover streaks.
If it ever breaks one day, I plan on upgrading to one of the newfangled window-washing robots!
Putting Everything Back in Place
Once you’re done cleaning your balcony thoroughly, you want to make sure everything is dry before you start arranging everything back in its place.
Excess water can lead to the formation of new green scale, mildew and water stains on the balcony surfaces. Use a mop or cloth to soak up any excess water, and allow ample time for your patio to dry naturally before you haul all your furnishings back in place.
Whether it’s the cushions on your outdoor sofa or the rug on your patio floor, make sure everything is totally dry before placing them back to prevent mould.
A dry patio is also a safe patio. Water obviously makes surfaces slippery. Ensuring your patio floor and railings are dry helps prevent slips and falls.
Keep Your Balcony Clean with Regular Maintenance
Having a clean, tidy patio adds to the aesthetics of a condo, and a bit of regular maintenance ultimately keeps things looking good all year round. A few of the things I do on my own patio include:
- Regular sweeping and wiping. It’s far easier to prevent dirt and clutter build-up than to tackle a major cleaning session after months of neglect. It can be as simple as allocating ten minutes a week to sweep or vacuum the patio floor and wipe down the railings and furniture. And if you have a small balcony, sweeping probably takes less than five minutes, if that.
- Instant clean-ups. Whether it’s a food spill, bird poo or a plant that’s fallen over in a storm, I like to immediately clean things up to prevent permanent stains and avoid attracting ants. Keeping a dustpan and brush or a handheld vacuum on hand can make these clean-ups quick and easy.
- Properly storing furniture. If possible, invest in outdoor furniture covers, or store cushions and other soft furnishings inside or in a weatherproof storage box when not in use. This protects them from dust, rain, and sun damage, thus prolonging their lifespan and reducing the need for frequent deep cleaning.
- Weeding. Weeds love to sprout up in between my patio pavers from March to October, and I’ll be honest with you: it’s a real chore. But if I don’t keep up with it, it just gets worse – both in terms of the time it takes to do, and the backaches it causes. So I like to do my round of weeding at least once every two weeks. I also check my plants and pots for dead leaves, weeds, and overgrowth, which can contribute to a cluttered and unkempt appearance. If you have a lot of container plants on the edge of the balcony, it’s also a good idea to use saucers under pots to catch any dirty water run-off and help keep the floor clean.
Regular keep-up on the balcony means you always have a clean, inviting outdoor space, perfect for your morning coffee, an evening book read, or spontaneously entertaining guests. Plus, a well-maintained patio can boost the overall curb appeal of your condo, which is a bonus if you’re thinking about selling or renting out your property in the future.
One Last Tip to Clean Your Apartment Patio
A big part of living in an apartment or condo is having a community of neighbours. When you’re using water or a hose to wash down your patio, be mindful of them. Particularly those living directly below and next to you. Try not to splash excess water that could potentially drip onto their balconies or cause any inconvenience. If you’re concerned about water dripping, just let them know when you’ll be cleaning.
A clean apartment patio is not just about aesthetics; it’s also about safety, comfort, and being a good neighbour. With these simple tips and a bit of regular upkeep, you can enjoy a clean and welcoming patio that enhances your living space, and keep your balcony looking great all year long. Enjoy!