Techniques for faster surface cleaning

Hey guys just wanted to share my current technique and see if anyone could help me get jobs done faster.

Set up: 4 gpm / gx390 using 18" gp hammerhead.

Im just getting started and this is my first setup. I do want to get a nice 8gpm hot rig and WW classic which I know will give me a chance to move a lot faster but until then this is what I’m working with.

So on to the technique…

I usually do large driveways in sections and start by doing the edges first by allowing my SC to ride the edge/grass line. Then I work up and down the driveway with a 75% overlap so I am essentially going over the same area 3 times so that I avoid any striping. Once I’m done with the section I’ll half crack my ball valve and rinse the section before moving to the next.

I usually have my helper pulling / feeding the hose while I work unless I just finished rinsing where he’ll start the post treat application with a pump sprayer while I start the next section.

Any advice?? What am I doing right and more importantly what am I doing wrong?

Seems really inefficient. Are you pretreating? Also, at 4 gpm 18" is probably too large. You may be able to cut your time in half pretreating and actually going down to 16".

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I don’t currently pretreat and the 18 hasn’t given me any striping issues so far but I’ll see about getting a smaller SC

Should I pretrest with the same mix I use for post treat? 3% per the soft wash calculator Excel file

If It’s not bad you could use regular old house wash mix around 1%, but SH is cheap. If anything, I’d pretreat at 3% pay attention to the tannin stains and post treat with 1%.

I rarely post treat unless its to spot treat for tannin, but pretreating makes a big difference IMO. If you’re not having issues with the 18" then disregard my earlier comment. Pretreating may allow you to go to 50% overlap though.


If you are not having any striping issues, try doing a 25% overlap instead of a 75% overlap.


75% overlap seems really unnecessary. I think i am generally at 10-20%.

Personally, i’m not opposed to going pretty strong on concrete pre/post. Whether that’s straight 12.5 xjetted, or like 50/50 direct… or even straight direct on something bad. That’s me.

Again, personally, i think a 18" will be pretty much ok with a 4GPM. I’ve never done a side by side comparison, though. I used a 19" with a 4 and didnt notice any issues, but that doesn’t mean that was the best way to do it.

You certainly dont need someone to move the hose for you while you are SC’ing, if that’s what you are doing – that’s a waste of labor IMO. Pull your hose before you start, and orient it so that it FOLLOWS you throughout the cleaning… like in a snake pattern or whatever.

No real reason to do the edges first, IMO. Dont know that stopping that will make a huge difference overall in time, since it all has to get done… but just pointing it out.

I also dont think you need to be stopping to rinse, unless stuff is drying particularly fast. Even then, it’s not super critical all the time, in my experience.

I would cut back on some of this stuff, and see if you have problems. If you dont, then you will save time by eliminating these extra steps.

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Same. I usually x-jet it. Might go through a gallon and a half of it on an average driveway. <$5, but will save you $40 worth of time.


I pretreat with water or just DS housewash mix. I post treat with roof mix from my 12v. I think you’re overlapping a little too much. Instead of straight lines try this (now bear with me)

When cleaning use straight lines around the edges but don’t do that the whole time. Move the cleaner forward and side to side. Pretend like your buffing a car with an orbital buffer. It takes a little getting used to but you’ll end up moving faster and you should notice fewer stripes (if any). You still need to post treat. I feel like post treating is more important than a heavy pretreat. But to each their own.


This is a good point. Simple is best. You may find you can knock out an average driveway in half an hour, by going from the high point to the low point, pretreating, and rinsing it all at the end.


Yeah, I’ve seen a pattern like you are describing recommended for preventing stripes. I wasn’t aware that it could be faster than a typical snake pattern, though. I’d like to see an example of your technique, if you ever find yourself around a surface cleaner and a video camera. Maybe a sketch could do it. Are you making like a half circle motion? Or are you doing like short diagonal back and forth movements, like when vacuuming?

I’ve seen most industry vets imply the same, with their recommendations.

I was thinking about this the other day, and it makes logical sense to me… at least following this reasoning:

If you pre-treat with a hot mix, you stand less chance of it getting all the way down into the pores, because of how dirty/clogged the surface might be. After you blast it out with a surface cleaner, then the solution has a better chance of getting down in the concrete to the tough stuff.

So a light pretreat can help soften up the surface grime, and then after you blast it out with a SC, a stronger mix can soak down into the concrete better, instead of possibly being wasted, by sitting on top of thick grime.

Not sure if that is what’s really going on, but it makes sense if it is.


I just know that when I would wash without pretreating I was a lot more likely to get striping.

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Pretreating definitely helps, and most of the time it will probably suffice. I would rather pretreat and clean, and have no stripes, than clean and post-treat and have no stripes.

The pre/post nuclear combo probably isn’t needed unless it’s really dirty, in general.


I’m using the same 4 GPM/ 3500 PSI Honda but I’m using a 16 inch surface cleaner.
I break the driveways down to sections as well.
I pre treat one section, hit it with surface cleaner. Half way through I rinse and pre treat the next section. Continue this until completed, I probably overlap 10-20%. Once completed I post treat for about 10 minutes while I load the truck, call next job, etc. then rinse and get paid!
I pre/post treat with my normal house wash.

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In my experience, the post treat helps more than the pre-treat, with removing the stripes…but a lot depends on the concrete…I have seen a lot of concrete that nothing helps, my home driveway is one of them. It will have stripes regardless of what you do.

I have a little over 10,000 feet of concrete to do this week…NASTY concrete…I will pre and post treat it and hope for the best.

For the record, I am using 8gpm and a Ground Force surface cleaner…it does a great job…but on average, about 1500sq ft per hour is all that I can get if the concrete is pretty dirty. I have actually found that just prewetting with straight water works about as well for me as pretreating.

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I just pretreat with my HW mix unless a lot of oil stains then I’ll use my commercial mix. I don’t like pretreating with a real strong mix since a lot of the homes I do have sodded yards you run a greater chance of burning the grass. Once you’ve saturated with surface cleaner runoff and rinsed, you can get away with a lot stronger post treatment.
If you’re going to be post treating you don’t need to overlap any. Don’t post treat right away, let some of the water dry off or you’ll dilute your mix too much.


Thanks to everyone who shared their 2 cents here!
I appreciate it!

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I had problems with striping today, while the previous several driveways have cleaned up like dreams with no stripes and not much overlapping. Heck, after Friday when I’d had two WONDERFUL SC expereinces, I thoought I’d reached an elevated plane like I was some kind of SC swami ready to dish out SC advice like you pros. THEN I run into a driveway like today’s. YES, it WAS dirty, and in hindsight I failed to wet it before I cleaned it. HOWEVER, I haven’t really seen a difference when I pretreat dirty concrete with SH and I worry about what @Racer mentioned about burning grass especially where drainage problems exist. I feel it’s safest to conserve SH, and maybe pretreat with H2O to saturate the surface. I hypothesize that the stripes arise where the dirty water is slung on the outer edges of the SC and left to reseat into the concrete.Maybe when the moisture content of the freshly cleaned surface fails to suspend that slung dirt it simply reseats itself into the concrete. Maybe a surfactant like Elemonator will help.

I watched a video of a guy going around an area like you would with a lawn mower, starting on the outer edge and working inward in a circular motion, and I thought he had the solution to my striping blues, and it worked really well until today, when I was reminded of my olwn mortality. NO, I was no SC superhero. I just got lucky on a few driveways, and unlucky on today’s driveway.

SO, tomorrow I have a job to clean about 6000 sq ft. I’ll try different patterns, pretreatments, and postreatments. Will take pics, and report back. Til then, peace out!


What commercial mix do you use to remove the oil stains?

EBC - 6oz to a gal DS for moderately dirty. Spray the real bad spots with 50/50, may scrub in a tad if really bad, let dwell


Just don’t use a lot of SH on pretreatment and use some soap. Need something if it’s dirty. Some of you guys need to start doing dishes. Your wife will love you more and you’ll learn a ton about cleaning.

You just don’t wash your dishes by lightly wetting with cold water. Smear some yogurt in a couple of bowls and let sit overnite. then the next morning fill one with cold water and the other with hot and a little soap. See which one rinses cleaner after 5 min.