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While scuffed baseboards, dust bunnies, and smudged windows might get the most attention during spring cleaning, don’t forget about your deck. With proper care, it can last for decades.
For mild stains and dirt, Deck Builders Charleston SC suggest using a liquid detergent diluted with warm water. For stubborn stains, use powdered oxygen bleach (not chlorine bleach) to treat the stain.
This vinegar-based cleaner works well for most wood surfaces and is safe around plants and landscaping. It’s also a better choice than some other cleaning products because it doesn’t contain any harmful acids that could damage the surface or leave behind an unpleasant smell. It’s a good idea to test the product in an inconspicuous area before using it on your entire deck.
This multifaceted cleaner can remove mold, mildew, and stains from many outdoor surfaces, including vinyl, fabric, concrete, brick, and stone. It’s nontoxic and doesn’t contain fillers or dyes, and it’s six times more powerful than standard vinegar. It’s also effective at lowering the pH of soil, cleaning patios and driveways, and eliminating odors from laundry.
One of the benefits of this product is that it’s ready to use, so you won’t have to mix up any ingredients. It’s also a good choice if you’re worried about the runoff from other cleaners polluting your lawn, plants, or waterways. It’s also a great option for cleaning other outdoor surfaces that require gentler cleaners, such as wicker or metal furniture, patios, and windows.
Before applying this cleaner, wet your deck so that it absorbs the solution rather than letting it evaporate into the air. Then, apply the cleaner according to the product label instructions. You can spray the cleaner directly onto stains, or you can use a deck brush to work it into the surface of your deck. It takes a few minutes for the cleaner to start working, and it should last anywhere from a few hours to overnight.
If your deck is heavily stained, it may take more time to clean it thoroughly. It’s also a good idea to remove any plants, grass, or other landscaping that can be damaged by the cleaner before you begin. Once the cleaner has soaked into your deck, rinse it with water from a hose.
Biodegradable Concrete Deck Cleaner
This cleaner is ideal for those looking for a non-toxic alternative to bleach. It is safe for the environment, free from chlorine and phosphates, and works well on wood, vinyl, plastic, metal, and composite decks. It can also be used on other outdoor surfaces like awnings, patio furniture, and decorative items. It can be applied with a mop, a soft brush, or a firm-bristled deck brush, and is even suitable for use with a pressure washer with a detergent injection system. The product comes in a one-gallon container that is concentrated, so a little goes a long way, and it can be used with different ratios of cleaner to water depending on how heavily soiled your deck is.
Unlike many other cleaners that require significant scrubbing to see results, this product works with minimal effort and is designed for those with weak or limited physical ability. It is formulated with a powerful chelating agent to lift dirt and grime, leaving your deck clean and ready to be stained. It is also safe for the environment and will not damage your plants or lawns when rinsed off.
A ready-to-use gallon of this product will treat up to 1,250 square feet of decking. It is a spray-on formula that can be applied with a pressure washer or a deck brush, and it is simple to rinse away with your garden hose. It can be used on both composite and traditional wood decks, but it is recommended to focus on those areas most in need of cleaning. It will leave a slight waterproof coating on the deck, so it is best to apply a stain right afterward to help protect it. Some deck cleaners can damage nearby grass or plants when they are rinsed off, so it is important to wet the surrounding area before applying this product. Some products also contain ingredients that may harm the surface of new or recently restained decks, so it is advisable to avoid spraying on these areas. If this is a concern, consider using a no-rinse option that will not damage the deck after it has been rinsed.
Oxygen Bleach Stain Remover
Oxygen bleach (sodium percarbonate) is non-toxic and the greenest of all the chemical cleaners. It works well on wood decks to clean mildew, mold, dirt, and the weathered gray layer that dulls wood. It’s also safe for use around plants and pets when used as directed. It’s the active ingredient in products like RMC Exterior Wood Cleaner, Wash Safe Canada Deck Wash, and OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover. When added to water, it forms hydrogen peroxide that breaks down and dissolves dirt and grime, killing mold and mildew and brightening wood. It’s safe for cleaning bare, painted, and stained decks and doesn’t react with any other treatment products like sealers.
When mixed with a bit of liquid dish soap, oxygen bleach is a great choice for a simple home-made cleaner to clean your wooden deck and remove mildew, mold, and other organic debris. Simply mix a gallon of warm water with a quarter cup of liquid dish soap, scrub the deck with a stiff brush, and rinse well.
If your deck is heavily soiled with grime and mildew, you may need to use a stronger deck cleaner. There are several different products available, including oxygenated bleach cleaners, oxalic acid deck brighteners, and even chlorine bleach. The best option for your deck will depend on the age of the deck and its condition, as well as whether it is stained or unstained, painted or sealed.
Before using any cleaner on your deck, test it on a small area to make sure the product won’t react with the stain or damage the surface of the deck boards. If it does, wait until the deck is dry before treating it with additional treatments.
Store aisles are full of different cleaners for your deck, but many homeowners choose to go the DIY route and make their own cleaning solution with household ingredients. Homemade cleaners are often cheaper and less toxic than commercial products. They’re made from ingredients that are safe for plants, pets, and humans, and they won’t react with other chemicals, including most sealers and paints.
Ammonia-Free Dish Soap
A deck is a pleasant addition to any home, but summer wear and tear from cookouts and backyard games can do a number on natural wood. Cleaning it regularly can help preserve it. Using the right cleaners can also keep it looking fresh and clean. Avoid any detergents with bleach or ammonia, which can damage the deck and strip away its sealer, exposing it to the environmental effects you sealed it to protect against.
Fortunately, you can make a cleaner from household items to effectively clean a wooden deck. A gentle cleaner that simply uses dishwashing liquid and water is suitable for most wood or composite decks. It is ideal for use between yearly deep cleanings to remove surface dirt and grime.
You can also mix your own more powerful solution to tackle tough stains and dirt. Some recipes call for rubbing alcohol to remove oily marks and other debris. Others include oxygen bleach to eliminate mildew, which won’t degrade the lignin binder in the wood like chlorine bleach does. According to Texas Capital, you can even combine soda ash with hydrogen peroxide for an effective stain-lifter.
Before you begin your deck cleaning, a light sweeping—ideally daily—will clear away most loose debris. A lightweight cordless blower, such as the Black & Decker 20V Max Lithium Cordless Sweeper, is a great choice for quickly clearing leaves and other organic matter before it can get ground into your deck.
After a light sweeping, apply your cleaning solution to the deck. Some recipes suggest rinsing the deck afterward to wash off the soapy residue, while others require scrubbing with a long-handled scrub brush in the direction of the wood grain. Always test a small area of your homemade cleaner for compatibility with your decking material and any nearby plants or landscaping, as some ingredients may damage them.
Whether you buy or make your own deck cleaning solution, always wear protection when applying it. A face mask, goggles, and gloves are a must to protect your eyes, skin, and respiratory system. A face mask will also help minimize the inhalation of vapors from strong chemicals and prevent irritation from the cleaners themselves.