How to Clean Artificial Grass for Best Results

Published August 28, 2020
Hand holding an artificial grass roll

Learning how to clean artificial grass can help keep your lawn attractive all year long. Artificial grass is a popular alternative to a live grass lawn because it's easy to maintain and you don't have to worry about unsightly dry or dead spots or mowing in the midst of a hot summer. However, it does require some maintenance, especially if you have dogs who use the lawn to go out potty each day.

How to Clean Artificial Grass

Cleaning artificial grass depends on whether it's lightly stained or has more significant grime issues. Using the appropriate procedures for each can keep your lawn looking and smelling fresh for years.

Supplies for Cleaning Light Stains on Artificial Turf

Light stains might be food or beverages that you drop on the artificial turf or a small amount of pet waste. You will need the following supplies:

  • Two buckets, or one bucket and either a watering can or your garden hose

  • Warm water

  • Cool water or a garden hose as an alternate

  • Mild dishwashing soap or household laundry detergent

  • Paper towels or cotton rags

  • Plastic dog waste bags or gloves (optional)

  • Stiff brush (do not use one with steel bristles)

Removing Light Stains on Artificial Grass

The best thing to do in this instance is to clean up the debris or liquid right away so it doesn't get a chance to harden or soak in.

  1. If it's liquid, take a paper towel or clean dry cloth and soak up the excess liquid. You can also use a shop vacuum to suck all of it up.

  2. If it's solid waste, remove the excess bits using gloves to protect your hands or plastic dog waste bags.

  3. Mix together a solution of warm water and some mild dishwashing liquid or detergent at a ratio of one teaspoon per pint of water.

  4. Using a stiff brush, gently work the soapy water into the grass, working in an upward motion to keep the blades of the grass remaining upright.

  5. Take either a bucket or watering can of cold water or your garden hose, and rinse out the area.

Cleaning Difficult Stains on Artificial Turf

If you find that the first method doesn't work for you, perhaps because the stain sat for too long, you can follow the above instructions but instead of using mild dishwashing liquid, use a 3% solution of ammonia instead. For stains from items like oil, grease, or ink, you can try the ammonia or purchase mineral spirits from your local hardware store. Do not pour the mineral spirits onto the grass but instead soak a cloth or sponge in the chemicals and then use it to daub at the stains on the grass. Follow up by rinsing with cool water from your hose, bucket, or watering can. Make sure you use gloves and a mask as the chemicals in mineral spirits produce toxic fumes.

Supplies for Cleaning Difficult Stains and Dog Urine on Artificial Turf

Depending on the type of stain you want to clean, you can use this chart to determine what supplies you need to gather prior to cleaning difficult stains and dog urine.

Type of Difficult Stain Supplies
Dog Urine
  • Commercial cleaning solution (i.e. Simple Green, Turf Renu, Nature's Miracle)
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Water
  • Bucket or hand spray bottle (small areas)
  • Lawn spray bottle with hose attachment (large areas)
Food, dog feces
  • Ammonia
  • Water
  • Cloth or brush
  • Bucket, watering can or hose for rinsing
Oil, grease, ink, paint
  • Ammonia
  • Water
  • Cloth or brush
  • Bucket, watering can or hose for rinsing
  • Mineral spirits
  • Gloves
  • Face Mask
  • Cloth
  • Bucket, watering can or hose for rinsing
Sticky substances (gum, glue, sap)
  • Dry ice
  • Gloves
  • Putty knife or scraping tool
  • Adhesive remover (i.e. Goof Off)
  • Putty knife or scraping tool

Cleaning Gum or Sap From Artificial Grass

These substances may seem harder to clean because they're sticky. You can remove them easily by placing regular or dry ice on them, which causes the sticky substances to harden, at which point you can take a putty knife, regular knife, or scraping tool and remove them from the grass. Always move your tool upwards along the grass as moving side to side can accidentally cut the grass. Avoid using sharp instruments to clean the grass as well. You can also use a cleaner like Goof Off which will break down the materials, making it easy to remove them with a brush or cloth.

How to Clean Dog Urine From Artificial Grass

Cleaning small amounts of dog urine and waste from artificial grass isn't hard, but if you have dogs that go on the grass every day, or large dogs, you may want to employ stronger methods to keep your artificial turf clean. No matter how good a job you do of clearing the biological waste away, the artificial lawn is still susceptible to growing bacteria unseen to the eye from pet urine and feces.

  1. You can do a weekly spray to help reduce bacterial buildup using either a 50/50 mix of white distilled vinegar and water or a 50/50 mix of water and a cleaner appropriate for artificial turf.

  2. With a small lawn, you can mix the solution up in a bucket and spot treat areas where your dogs go often.

  3. With a larger lawn, an easier way to do a bacterial treatment is to purchase a lawn spray bottle that is designed for treating lawns with pesticides or fertilizers. These attach to your garden hose and make cleaning larger areas easier because you won't have to keep refilling your bucket with water.

  4. When you have finished spraying the vinegar and water mixture, rinse the lawn with either your hose or water in a bucket or water can.

    Pressure sprayer bottle in hand

Commercial Pet Cleaners for Artificial Grass

If the vinegar and water solution doesn't eliminate the odors, you can try a cleaner that is commercially made and designed specifically for pet urine and waste.

  • Simple Green makes an Outdoor Odor Eliminator that is non-toxic and biodegradable and is designed for both synthetic and natural grass.
  • Turf Renu, an enzymatic cleaner, is another option that is designed to break down pet urine and is safe for synthetic grass. It also comes with a handy hose attachment on the spray bottle.

Routine Cleaning and Maintenance of Artificial Grass

Keeping your artificial grass looking good for years does require regular maintenance cleanings, even if you don't have dogs or spills on the grass. It's best to do a cleaning session at least once or twice a month, or weekly if you have pets or heavy use of the lawn. You should also pick up debris on the lawn daily, such as scooping up dog poop.

Supplies for Regular Artificial Grass Cleaning and Maintenance

For regular maintenance, it's wise to consider investing in some tools that can make the process go smoother. This is especially true for larger lawns that will need more work. You will need the following supplies:

  • A garden hose is best, but if not you'll need a bucket and water

  • A leaf blower or a shop vacuum can make cleaning much easier

  • A plastic rake for large lawns - avoid rakes made of metal

  • A lawn brush for small lawns - a traditional broom with mixed fiber bristles can work as well

    Watering hose on a green artificial grass

Steps for Regular Cleaning of Artificial Lawns

Regular cleanings of your lawn shouldn't take much time if you keep at it regularly. This keeps the lawn in better shape and doesn't allow stains to harden over time. It also prevents dust from accumulating which is important in dryer, dustier climates such as in the southwest.

  1. Start out by picking up any debris, such as trash or dog poop.

  2. If your lawn has a lot of leaves, you can use a leaf blower or a shop vacuum to clear the grass off. Make sure you use the lowest setting possible to avoid damaging the lawn.

  3. If you choose to use a shop vacuum, test it out first in a small section, as you do not want to damage the infill of the lawn. Some vacuums can be too strong and will pull the infill mix out of the lawn.

  4. Another option is to use a lawn rake or brush, which is gentler on the lawn. It also helps to spread the grass upright, allowing dirt and debris to loosen up and provides more air flow to the grass to reduce bad odors.

  5. Once your artificial lawn surface is clear of debris and leaves, take your garden hose and spray the lawn using a medium to low pressure setting. Make sure you reach every inch of the lawn and allow to dry on its own.

  6. Once the lawn has dried, look for any spots where the grass appears flattened or matted. Take your rake or broom and gently loosen the grass and move it back into an natural position by pushing against it in the other direction.

Using a Power Broom

If you have a large yard, another option for regular cleanings is to buy or rent a power broom. This is a motorized broom that can move through your artificial grass and dislodge dirt, dust and debris. It also can make your grass look like new by breaking up matted, pressed down areas developed by excessive wear. Using a motorized broom can be done about once a year.

Worker uses electric brush to clean pile of fake grass

Learn How to Clean Artificial Turf the Right Way

Keeping artificial grass clean isn't difficult if you use the right tools and follow a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule. This will keep your grass looking fresh and natural for several years, even with frequent heavy use of your lawn by children and dogs.

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How to Clean Artificial Grass for Best Results