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How to Clean Artificial Grass

How to clean and care for artificial grass

When we moved into our current house, we inherited fruit trees, an incredible giant raised garden bed, and… plastic grass. We had years of experience living with and maintaining sod lawns, but we had NO clue how to clean artificial grass.

With two small boys (one still crawling) who love playing outside, it was important to me that our artificial grass stay clean and clear of debris / choking hazards (the crawling one puts everything in his mouth…). The previous owners also had dogs, so finding solutions to refresh and remove bacteria was another must. 

After hours of research and testing, I am sharing the best methods for how to clean artificial grass.

What is Artificial Grass, Anyway?

Artificial grass is essentially a heavy mat of synthetic fibers (primarily plastic) made to look like grass. Most artificial grass installations use infill which adds weight to prevent ripples, movement, and excess matting of the grass blades. Silica sand is a common option for infill, but in older installations granulated rubber was also used. 

How to Remove Dust, Dirt and Debris

Once a week or so, it’s a good idea to remove surface level dirt and debris. Depending on the severity of the buildup, you have a few options for this task.

Leaf Blower

BLACK+DECKER Electric Leaf Blower, 7-Amp (LB700)
  • 7 Amp motor provides a powerful and efficient blowing performance
  • Moves up to 180Mph/180CFM for fast and easy cleanup of leaves and debris. Uses: Ideal for clearing debris from lawns, driveways, sidewalks, and decks
  • Built in cord retention prevents frustrating interruptions during cleanup

Blow dirt, leaves, and other outdoor debris by using a powerful leaf blower. We have two – a cordless and a plug-in leaf blower (a gas leaf blower felt excessive but it is arguably another powerful option). Cordless is fine for midweek touch ups, but I always grab our plug-in leaf blower and an extension cord to really get the job done.

Turf Rake or Brush

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If you don’t own a leaf blower or if it doesn’t fully clear the debris (we have ficus tree berries that get really stuck in ours!), it might be worth investing in a turf rake. Think of it as a gentle rake that will not only remove debris, but it will also help shape the artificial grass blades and help to prevent matting.

This is not to be confused with a traditional metal rake – those could easily damage the blades of your artificial grass. A turf rake has a nylon brush head. The flexible rake bristles are strong enough to rake away debris while still being gentle and maintaining the quality of your artificial grass.

Hose

Gilmour 874501-1001 Flexogen Super Duty Garden Hose Gray 5/8 inch x 50 feet, Gray,Green
  • Patented 8-layer construction with reinforced core maximizes both durability and kink resistance
  • Crush-resistant and corrosion-resistant brass connections
  • Stainless steel spring prevents kinks at the spigot

I reserved this option for last because where I live, the popularity of artificial grass installations stems from the fact that it is marketed as a drought tolerant alternative to sod. We are currently living in a drought, so hosing a plastic lawn regularly feels a bit counterproductive (and dare I say, irresponsible?) to me.

With that said, there may occasionally be a mess that simply cannot be cleaned without water. In this case, I recommend investing in a hose nozzle with a powerful spray option that will get the job done quickly and effectively.

Magnetic Sweeper

Grip 17" Magnetic Pickup Floor Sweeper
  • Ideal for use for cleanup of nails, screws, and other ferrous materials.
  • Telescopic handle extends from 23” to 40” H.
  • 17” sweeper cuts cleanup time significantly.

If you have any concerns about metallic debris hiding under the blades of your artificial grass (rogue nails, screws, metal shavings, etc.) then it is worth also investing in a magnetic sweeper. These can not only be used to clear metal from artificial grass, they can also be used in a garage, on a driveway or anywhere else where home improvement projects involving metal are handled.

How to Remove Pet Waste from Artificial Grass

Removing pet waste from artificial grass generally consists of two steps:

  1. Pick it up
  2. Hose it off

If you can work it out, training your pups to go to the bathroom in a dedicated area that isn’t your artificial grass would be ideal. No matter how artificial turf companies market the pet-friendliness of their product, cleaning poop off of hot plastic is gross. 

With that said, if no alternative option is available (or if your pups simply won’t comply) then get yourself a hose nozzle with a powerful spray option. Follow up with a spray mixture of 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water to help disinfect after messier moments.

Pet-Friendly Infill

There are a number of sources warning that the type of infill used can impact the smell of artificial grass, especially for pet owners. Silica sand (a popular, affordable infill option) is known to absorb the ammonia from pet urine and can start to develop permanent odors over time.

If you have a pet, antimicrobial acrylic coated infill is what you’re going to want. Commonly recommended pet-friendly infill brands include:

  • Durafill
  • Envirofill
  • Zeofill

Remove Bacteria

Antimicrobial acrylic coated infill artificial grass is supposed to mitigate issues with bacteria buildup. With that said, if you need to deep clean your artificial grass look no further than your gallon jug of white vinegar.

Create a solution of 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water. Apply it with a spray bottle or if you need to treat your entire lawn you can use a garden hose attachment.

Specific Spills and Stains

Chewing Gum

The method for removing chewing gum from artificial grass is the same method you would use to remove it from clothes, hair, and other surfaces… ice! Use an ice cube to freeze the gum, then grab a plastic putty knife to gently scrape it off of the grass.

Sticky Substances

If someone spills their soda or lemonade or ice cream melts on your artificial grass, start by spraying the sticky mess down with water. If the stickiness persists, use a little dish soap and a sponge or gentle brush to scrub away more stubborn sticky residue.

Preventing Damage to Artificial Grass

Oil

Oil-based paint, motor oil, battery acid, and other similar substances can discolor or damage your artificial grass. If you’re working on home improvement projects on your turf, lay a canvas drop cloth down first to protect the grass.

Heat

Artificial grass is plastic. Plastic melts when under extreme/concentrated heat, so hot backyard materials that can burn or melt artificial grass should be used at a distance. Some common examples include: 

  • Cigarettes
  • Charcoal spilled from a grill
  • Sparks from a fire pit

Vacuum

This one might only apply to me and my husband, but when we first moved into this house we had NO idea how to clean our grass. We had ficus berries, bird feathers, leaves, and old pet hair to remove so what did we do? We grabbed our shop vac.

While vacuuming artificial grass with a shop vac is certainly an effective way to remove debris, it is also an effective way to remove the infill sand (oops)! So grab a turf rake instead and leave the shop vac in the garage.

How to Treat Snow Covered Artificial Grass

If there is a light dusting of snow, simply brush or sweep it away. But if that snow turns into ice, your best bet is to leave it alone.

Scraping ice from artificial grass will almost surely cause damage. Additionally do not use salt to melt snow off of artificial turf. Doing so will leave a salty residue that can damage the backing and make it difficult for your grass to drain properly.

Professional Grooming

If you inherit artificial grass that is matted or smelly beyond repair, it might be worth investing in a professional turf grooming and cleaning. During an artificial grass grooming, a professional will remove debris, decompact blades and redistribute infill, remove weeds, renail seams, and more.

But if you take care to regularly brush / blow / and occasionally wash your artificial grass it should stay in great condition for years to come for little to no cost!

Learn how to clean your artificial grass

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