Parking Lot Cleaning

Most building owners know that the parking lot is a large part of their property. It is also the most frequently neglected. Asphalt or concrete surfaces that are not maintained over time can lead to costly replacements, vehicle damage, and injury risks to visitors.

Property owners should make sure parking lot cleaning and maintenance are conducted regularly to attract customers and avoid costly repairs and lawsuits.

Why it’s important to keep your parking lot clean

The appearance of your building’s exterior has a significant impact on potential clients. Maintaining an attractive building is a priority for property owners. Buildings with curb appeal draw in new tenants and customers and keep existing occupants happy. An attractive building shows that the office building, warehouse, or retail center is a professional, premier location.

Surveys have documented that consumers judge the quality of a shopping or commercial facility by the cleanliness of its exterior areas, including parking lots. When people come to your business, you want them to see pristine conditions. How you treat your facilities reflects how you treat other jobs.

A poorly maintained parking lot can become a danger to vehicles and pedestrians.

Keeping a parking lot safe for visitors should be your number one priority. Regular sweeping and parking lot cleaning reduces the chances of slip and fall accidents caused by small objects. 

Falling leaves or hard-packed snow can be slippery, which can cause your visitors severe injury and make you susceptible to liability. If injuries occur in your lot, your business could be held responsible, potentially costing you hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Removal of sand and loose pebbles improves braking time for vehicles trying to stop quickly.

A clean asphalt parking lot with proper striping parking guides.

Regular cleaning helps protect your investment in your parking lot.

Parking lot cleaning reduces how often you need to repave and restripe. Concrete and asphalt wear down eventually. Excess dirt, rain, water, and garbage speed up that process.

The weight of a vehicle driving across the sand, dirt, and debris left in your parking lot acts as an abrasive. Abrasives shorten the pavement’s life and increase the frequency of seal coating and striping. When dirt is allowed to collect on the pavement, weeds can also grow, and their roots can cause cracking of the cement and asphalt. 

Removal of sand, dirt, and other trash saves property owners time and money in the long run.

An asphalt parking lot can last 25-30 years if it is cleaned regularly and well maintained. Concrete parking surfaces are extremely durable and can last up to 30 years with regular sweeping and yearly power washing. 

A clean parking lot minimizes pollution in our local waterways.

Keeping your lot clean discourages littering, keeps rodents and pests away, and prevents erosion. Sweeping can prevent the larger debris from going down a storm drain. Whenever there is rain, anything left on the parking lot will be picked up by the storm water runoff and flow into local waterways.

Dust on the lot can contain several different contaminants and toxins like vehicle lubricants, coolants and brake dust, petroleum products used in pavements, and other pollutants that fall on the parking area surface.

Parking lot cleaning and sweeping is a best lot management practice for eliminating storm water runoff and controlling dust. A regularly scheduled professional sweeping program will keep your commercial or retail property in compliance with all government environment regulations and requirements. Minimizing pollutants that could otherwise end up in the air we breathe and the water we drink is just good business. 

A clean parking lot repels Rodents and other pests.

Rodents and other pests are attracted to garbage and debris, where they can hide and search for food.

When rodents and pests move in, it is a sign of unsanitary conditions. Most people stay away from areas that have unsanitary conditions that can cause disease.

Most business and establishment owners want to make an excellent first impression on their customers and visitors. While they may not tell you about a clean, well-maintained parking lot, you can bet they will tell you about a dirty, poorly maintained lot.

An asphalt parking lot in a restaurant with lots of dry leaves on it.

Property Owners have a responsibility to keep their exterior surfaces safe.

Each year, more than 9,000 pedestrians are injured or killed in parking lots and garages. While many injuries and deaths are due to driver negligence, poor lighting, or improper signage, a good portion are due to slip and falls on pavement surfaces.

Slip and falls in parking lots result from cracked or uneven pavement, potholes, debris and slippery substances on the pavement surfaces, and weather conditions. 

Premises liability law holds the owner of a parking lot responsible for watching over their property and making sure it is safe at all times. Failure to maintain your property is considered negligence in the eyes of the law.

Mary Butler, an older woman attending a funeral at an East St. Louis Church, slipped on loose gravel and fell into a pothole in the parking lot, twisting and fracturing one of her ankles. Within two weeks of the incident, she passed away due to complications associated with the fracture. A premises liability lawsuit was filed on behalf of the woman’s estate against the McCasland Church of God, alleging that the church’s failure to maintain and conduct regular parking lot cleaning created a hazardous situation, which resulted in the woman’s wrongful death.

A car parked on newly asphalt parking lot.

Two primary methods of parking lot cleaning

Commercial sweeping

Regular, scheduled sweeping of your parking lot will get rid of dirt and debris. Sweeping is a form of asset preservation. Sweeping makes your asphalt look better for customers and other visitors. A clean surface allows you to more easily notice any cracks or damage in the pavement that needs to be repaired.

Getting the debris off the lot with regular parking lot cleaning helps prevent garbage, large sticks, or rocks from clogging drains, which can cause standing water that quickly erodes asphalt. 

Commercial sweeping equipment is designed to pick up small trash such as cigarette butt, or paper. They are not built to pick up large pieces of garbage or liquids. Commercial sweepers do not remove stains from parking lots. 

Pressure washing

Pressure wash the parking lot a few times per year to get rid of oil or any other chemicals on the pavement. In fact, pressure washing with high-pressure water deep cleans dirt and spots. 

Pressure cleaning is effective in deep parking lot cleaning debris from your property’s exterior. To get the best results, use hot steamed water because it will soften all the stains and dirt from the ground. 

Any pressure washing contractor you hire should comply with both EPA and OSHA standards of practice. The EPA’s Clean Water Act is a federal law that stipulates that nothing but rainwater can go down a storm sewer. The UAMCC staff has heard stories of businesses being fined more than $10,000 for a first occurrence. Talk to your contractor. He or she should be educated in your local requirements and meet the minimum standards for capturing wash water runoff.

A red car is leaking oil in the parking lot where it is parked.

The most common parking lot blemishes and how to clean them

Many materials build up on the surface of parking lots, such as dirt, sand, trash, grease, oil, algae, leaves, mud, etc. Parking lot material build-up is more than just an eyesore; it is an accident waiting to happen. 

Grease & Oil Stains

When you park your car or bike in a parking lot, sometimes oil can leak and get on the pavement. Oil leaks can cause permanent or harsh stains on the ground, which can be challenging to remove. If you leave the stains for an extended period, the leakage will become permanent. Wondering how to remove grease and oil stains from an asphalt lot.?

Start by blotting excess grease or oil with an absorbing agent like cat litter, baking soda, or sawdust left on overnight. Be sure to cover the absorbing agent pile with a tarp or towel, so it does not blow off or attract animals. Sweep up the absorbing agent and dispose of, so you are ready for parking lot cleaning. Clean the stain with dishwashing liquid or vinegar diluted with warm water in a 1:1 ratio and a wire brush.

Special products are used for parking lot cleaning of tough grease or oil stains. 

Asphalt: Trisodium phosphate bleach, and baking soda are effective at cleaning grease from asphalt. Apply the mixed compound to the stain and then scrub it away using a firm bristled broom. Be careful of using too much solvent or scrubbing too hard, as it will remove the stain and part of the asphalt. Once the stain is removed, thoroughly rinse off the asphalt until all solvent residue is gone.

Concrete: Cola and dishwashing liquid are useful for combatting grease spots on concrete. Start by pouring some cola on the stain until it saturates the whole area. Let the cola soak in overnight, and then scrub the area the next day using a 1 to 1 mixture of liquid dish detergent and warm water. Use a flexible but firm nylon brush to create a soapy lather, and the stain will lift away. Rinse until the water runs clear.

Mulch & Leaf Stains

Leaf and mulch stains can cause damage to asphalt or concrete pavements. You can clean the stains away by using soap and vinegar, two products easily found in every home. Spread a mixture of one to one vinegar and soap on the stained pavement surface and rub in a circular motion using a wire brush. Thoroughly remove the soap or vinegar after brushing with low-pressure water. 

If stains do not fade away, try to remove them with bleach and warm water. Allow bleach and water mixture to sit on the pavement surface for 30 minutes before rinsing with warm water at low pressure.  Bleach includes fading agents that should remove tough stains. 

An asphalt parking lot is being sealed by a worker

Related Articles:

Other parking lot cleaning and maintenance tips

Caring about your parking lot cleaning and regular maintenance increases the overall life of asphalt and concrete.

Perform a monthly visual lot inspection. Visual inspection is essential after you experience extreme weather such as high heat, hard rain, snow, or ice that can leave debris throughout the parking lot. Make note of areas of concern such as:

  • Cracks or wear holes
  • Leaves, oil or grease, or icy conditions.

Apply a Sealcoat after pressure washing an asphalt parking lot. 

To keep your asphalt parking lot in top shape and looking good for customers, it’s recommended that the lot’s surface be thoroughly cleaned at least twice a year. The asphalt should also be seal-coated every 3-5 years.   

Seal coating restores your asphalt parking lot’s surface to keep cracks at bay and slow natural erosion caused by weather conditions and changing seasonal temperatures.

A seal coat product covers the asphalt, adding a second layer atop  that acts as a protectant. Seal coats can ward off water damage as well as fading from UV rays and even fluids from passing vehicles.

Concrete roads require very little maintenance. Regularly scheduled parking lot cleaning and sweeping eliminates trash and debris build-up and reduces contaminants. 

Repair parking lot damage immediately after parking lot cleaning.

After your parking lot has been cleaned,you should be able to see any areas that need repair. If your parking lot is in good condition but has cracks, potholes, or minor flaws, spot filling should be done to prevent them from spreading. 

Suppose you notice many cracks, crumbling, large potholes, or other more considerable flaws. You might want to consider contacting your paving contractor to come out and evaluate your parking lot’s condition and determine the best type of repair. A paving contractor can talk to you about your needs and budget and advise you whether an overlay, reconstruction, or repaving would be your best option.  

Regularly scheduled parking lot cleaning via sweeping, periodic pressure washing, and treatment of stubborn stains will help to maintain the “curb appeal of your property”, eliminate safety risks, protect and extend the life of your investment.