How to Clean Your Deck Safely and Easily

Deck Cleaning Summerville SC may not be at the top of your to-do list, but it is an important part of caring for your home. A dirty deck can lower your property value, making it worth the effort.

Prepare a cleaning solution using traditional soft soap or Oxygen bleach (see the recipe below). Pour your cleaner onto your deck and let it sit for 15 minutes.

pressure washing

Pressure washing may be the best choice if you have a large deck with thick mildew and dirt that is stubborn to remove by hand. If you need a power washer or aren’t familiar with one:

  1. Test the water pressure in an inconspicuous area to ensure it isn’t damaging your wood.
  2. Connect the hose to the pressure washer and turn it on.
  3. Start with a low-pressure setting and slowly increase it until you are at the maximum power for your nozzle, which should be around 500 to 600 psi.

Add a deck cleaner to the soap dispenser on your pressure washer and begin spraying. Start on a side of the deck closest to the house and move down carefully to take advantage of every spot. If you can’t reach all areas of your deck with the hose, use a long-handled scrub brush with stiff synthetic bristles (most cleaners deteriorate naturally) to loosen any remaining grime. Especially in corners and crevices, try to work the brush with the grain of the wood.

Once you’ve rinsed the deck, let it dry completely before applying any protective coating or stain. Many stains require several days to dry, and you can easily damage your wood if you use paint too soon.

Before staining, re-sand the surface with 60 to 80 grit sandpaper or an orbital sander. Then, sweep away any remaining sand and dirt and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your stain. Re-staining your deck every couple of years should keep it looking new and protect it from rot and insect infestations.

Always wear appropriate safety gear when using a power washer, such as goggles, gloves, ear protection, and closed-toed shoes. Also, avoid pointing the sprayer at people or animals, which could cause injuries. Don’t point the nozzle directly at plants as well because it could damage them. Lastly, never hold the trigger while you aren’t moving the nozzle. Also, don’t zigzag the nozzle over the wood, creating patchy marks that must be sanded out.

Oxygen bleach is a safe, natural alternative to chlorine bleach. It brightens whites, removes stains, deodorizes laundry and textiles, and softens water. It also works great as a mildew, mold, and algae remover for outdoor surfaces such as patio decks, driveways, and sidewalks. When mixed with hot water, oxygen bleach kills bacteria and germs, dissolves stains, and leaves your outdoor space sparkling clean!

Chlorine bleach is toxic to the environment and can damage composite decking. 

However, oxygen bleach can safely be used on wood-based composite decking. It effectively kills algae, mildew, and mold and removes dirt, moss, and lichen. It is easy to use and can be found in powder or liquid form at your local hardware store or home center.

Mix two cups of powdered oxygen bleach (such as OxiClean, sold in the laundry detergent aisle at the grocery store) with two gallons of warm water when using a homemade oxygen bleach solution to clean your deck. Stir the mixture until all of the powdered bleach has completely dissolved. Add 1/4 cup of liquid dish soap and stir until the mixture becomes suds.

Dip your deck brush into the cleaning solution and work it over your deck’s surface. Scrub the entire deck surface until a thick lather has formed. If there are areas with stubborn stains, try adding borax to your homemade cleaning solution.

You can apply the oxygen bleach solution with a mop or put it into a sprayer and apply it to your deck. The cleaner will begin to bubble and lift the stains as it works, so you may need to scrub again after using the cleaning solution. Allow the cleaner to sit for a few minutes to allow it to do its job before you rinse the deck.

When using a homemade cleaning solution, it is best to do the cleaning on a day that is not too hot or sunny so that the cleaning solution does not dry before you are done. Wear rubber gloves, goggles, and a mask when mixing the cleaner so you do not inhale bleach.

If you don’t have a pressure washer or want a simple cleaning solution for a lightly soiled deck, you can make your homemade cleaner from a few common household ingredients. This safe and easy-to-find combination will eliminate dirt stains, mildew, mold, moss, and algae without damaging your wood or composite deck. This uncomplicated mixture combines the gentle cleansing properties of liquid dish soap with the purifying power of warm water to create an effective and affordable deck cleaner that won’t harm surrounding plants.

This homemade cleaner is also an excellent deodorizer that will keep your deck smelling fresh and clean. Combine a cup of white or apple cider vinegar with two tablespoons of ammonia-free dish soap in warm water. Scrub the mixture onto your stained deck with a brush or scrub pad, and let it sit on the surface for 15 minutes before rinsing.

You can also use powdered laundry detergent to create a nontoxic deck cleaner that will remove dirt and grime while boosting the brightness of your stained wood deck. The granular detergent is a natural bleaching agent that effectively tackles oil-based stains while being gentle enough for use on a composite deck. Toss a handful of borax into the powdered cleaner to enhance its stain-lifting capabilities.

The powdered cleaner is also an effective alternative to bleach and trisodium phosphate (TSP). It’s especially useful for removing mildew, mold, and fungus from treated wood decks, per Log Home Living. Mix 1 cup of TSP with 2 cups of oxygen bleach and 4 gallons of water to create a heavy-duty cleanser for your deck that’s gentle on the wood and stain.

Always wear protective gear when using any homemade or commercial deck cleaner. This will include eyewear, a mask, coveralls, and gloves. Avoid mixing ammonia-based products with a bleach solution, as they create toxic chloramine gas irritating your lungs and nose. Before applying any cleaning product, test it on an inconspicuous part of your deck to ensure the results are safe. If you need help using the product, consult a professional.

A natural and inexpensive alternative to bleach, baking soda can help tackle various common deck issues. It’s particularly effective when dealing with water, general grime, and food and beverage stains. Additionally, it’s generally safe for use on wood, composite, concrete, brick, and stone decking materials. However, it’s ineffective when tackling mold or mildew.

It’s also safe for your yard and landscaping plants when used as directed, making it an environmentally friendly choice for your deck cleaning needs. Additionally, it’s biodegradable, meaning any dissolved residue won’t linger in the soil.

Before applying a homemade deck cleaner, sweeping the surface and covering any greenery surrounding the area is important. This will prevent accidental damage from the cleaning solution while it’s in action. Additionally, it’s a good idea to lay down a tarp beneath the deck in case any chemical spills occur while you’re working.

If you want to take it a step further with your DIY deck cleaning, consider using a mix of cornstarch and bicarbonate of soda. This easy-to-make solution is an effective way to remove moss and other green deposits from wooden decking. Add three tablespoons of cornstarch to 500ml of warm water and stir until the lumps disappear. Then, pour 100g of soda crystals and boil until the solution thickens. Once the solution is ready, allow it to cool and apply it with a brush or sponge to your decking.

Once the moss and other green deposits have been removed, clean your decking with a pressure washer or garden hose with a sprayer attachment. When using a pressure washer, it’s best to work in small sections at a time and avoid over-spraying the surface. Additionally, you’ll need to rinse the decking with a hose afterward to ensure no chemical remains on the wood.

Alternatively, you can use powdered oxygen bleach products like OxiClean to clean your decking. These products combine soda ash or natural borax with hydrogen peroxide to release oxygen that can dissolve tough stains and lift ground dirt. You’ll then need to scrub with a brush, sponge, or toothbrush before rinsing thoroughly with a bucket of water or garden hose.