How to Clean Your Wood Deck How to Clean Your Wood Deck

What You'll Need
Broom
Dustpan
Trash bags
long handled scrubbing brush with stiff bristles
Hose with sprayer
Pressure washer
Bucket
Slender stick or tool
Commercial deck cleaner
Laundry detergent
Liquid bleach
Deck preservative

Even though a clean wooden deck can be the rich, inviting hallmark of your yard, it can just as easily be an ugly eyesore if the wood isn't maintained. Anyone who owns a deck knows that it is much more inviting when it is sparkling clean. Cleaning your deck will not only provide it with a fresh look, but also help maintain the integrity of the wood, making your deck last longer.

One easy maintenance step is to simply sweep and remove debris regularly. Even sweeping just once every couple of weeks can make a difference.

However, it is important that at least once a year you give your deck a thorough cleaning, following some version of the steps presented below. Additionally, you should treat your deck or reseal the wood at least once a year.

Step 1 - Prepare to Clean the Deck

Clear the surface of your deck of anything that could get in your way. Everything from small items to potted plants to patio furniture should be removed.

Lightly cover any delicate or fragile plants in the ground near the deck to protect them from potential disturbance.

Step 2 - Sweep and Clear the Deck

The first task at hand doesn't even require tools. Simply pick up any large debris and place it in a trash bag. Next, grab a broom and sweep the debris on the deck into piles. Seep up the piles and place them into the trash bag. Remove any debris that is trapped in between the deck boards using the slender tool and place that in the garbage bag as well.

Step 3 - Hose or Pressure Wash

Use a garden hose with a spray attachment to wash the surface of the deck and rinse it clean. Use the highest or most powerful setting on the sprayer and aim it directly at muddied or heavily soiled spots to remove as much of the dirt as possible.

Once you've addressed trouble spots, make sure to rinse the entire space, beginning at one end of the deck and continuing until you've rinsed the entire area. Use the garden hose to spray in between the decking boards to clean away any remaining debris.

DISCLAIMER: If you choose to use a pressure washer, it is important that you understand how to do so properly, as incorrect technique can actually damage your wood. If you hold the nozzle too closely to the deck, you will gouge the wood. Leave a few feet in between the spray nozzle and the deck. Use a sprayer fan for the best effect.

Step 4 - Cleanse

Prepare a solution of sudsy water using the laundry detergent or read the instructions on the commercial cleaner. Apply whatever you are using for a cleaner to the deck. Use a long handled brush with stiff bristles or a push broom to scrub. Begin at one end of the deck and work your way across the entire surface. Rinse the entire deck with the garden hose to remove the cleaning solution. (It is not necessary to use a pressure washer at this stage.)

Step 5 - Bleach (As Needed)

Areas that have algae or mildew growth need to be treated with a solution of 1 part bleach to 4 parts water.

Pour the solution onto the area with the growth. If the growth appears fresh, allow the solution to sit for about five minutes. If the growth appears to have been there for a while, allow the bleach solution to sit for about 15 minutes.

Use a long handled brush with stiff bristles or a push broom to scrub the area. Rinse the area clean, and allow it to dry.

If a stain or growth remains on the deck after the first cleaning, you will need to repeat the process. It is best to allow the area to dry completely before treating it again and to scrub the area for the entire time the solution is applied to the area.

Once you are satisfied with the state of your deck, thoroughly rinse it and allow it to dry completely before applying a sealant. This may take as long as two or three full days.

DISCLAIMER: Be careful not to spill the bleach onto your clothing or onto any plants. Use gloves to protect your hands, especially if you have delicate skin. Concentrated bleach can sometimes discolor the wood, so you can use an oxygen bleach cleaner to make the cleaning solution if you prefer.

Step 6 - Reseal

Water droplets on the surface of a wooden deck planks

Purchase a wood sealer for the deck. Be sure to look at all of your options. Some sealers may include a waterproofing agent or mildewcide that offer your deck year-round protection. Clear the deck of any debris that may have gathered while it was drying. Apply the wood sealer to the deck according to the instructions on the label.

Step 7 - Re-decorate

Once you have allowed the wood sealer to dry according to the directions on the label, replace the furniture along with any other items that you wish to keep there.

All that's left to do now is to kick back and relax on your deck.

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