Deck Services

How To Properly Clean Your Deck

Keep your deck in tip-top condition by cleaning it regularly. Follow the directions on the cleaning product to mix it and prepare it for use.

Some cleaners require scrubbing, others are premixed formulas that you can spray onto the deck and wash away with the garden hose. Some products are available in value packs for added savings. If you need assistance, call the experts at Pro Deck Builders Charleston.   

deck cleaningUse OxyClean

Oxygen bleach solutions are safe to use and effective for removing mildew, mold, and algae. They are also a good choice for preparing wood decks for staining. Unlike chlorine bleach cleaners, which can damage wood, these eco-friendly products rely on hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate to release oxygen atoms that penetrate deep into the wood pores, eliminating stains and leaving the deck clean.

Before using any cleaning solution, sweep the deck to remove loose debris and dirt. Protect surrounding plants and shrubs with a plastic drop cloth. Hose down the deck surface to dilute any cleaner overspray and allow it to dry completely before you begin.

Then, mix the deck cleaner according to the manufacturer’s instructions and apply it liberally to any areas with a heavy concentration of mildew or mold. If you spot a particularly stubborn area of mildew, pour some of the cleaners into a spray bottle and saturate the area. This will make it easier to scrub away the dark stains with your brush or deck brush.

Let the cleaner sit for the amount of time specified by the manufacturer (usually 10 to 20 minutes). Rinse thoroughly with a hose, working to dilute any remaining cleaner in the wood fibers. If a deck is covered with moss or other organic growth, use a hard bristled push broom to gently scrape the surface, being careful not to damage the wood.

For best results, use an oxygen bleach deck cleaner that is formulated for your deck material. Also, keep in mind that although it’s easy to get your deck looking great with white vinegar, this method is not a long-term solution for keeping it looking great. If you want a long-term way to keep your deck looking great, consider hiring a professional to handle this chore for you. They’ll use the best environmentally friendly cleaners formulated for your deck and will leave it clean and refreshed.


Vinegar is a great all-purpose cleaner. It can be used to clean most surfaces and is especially effective on mildew, mold, and grime. It’s also a natural solution that doesn’t contain the toxic chemicals found in many commercial products. It’s safe for wood and composite decking, but it is best diluted before applying.

Start by sweeping the deck to get rid of any large debris, and then hosing it down. This will help to loosen up any caked-on dirt and will make it easier for you to scrub. Once the deck is clean, mix your homemade cleaner and apply it with a brush or broom. Be sure to do a test patch in an inconspicuous area first, as some vinegar may discolor your deck.

For a timber deck, mix 29 ml of ammonia-free liquid dish soap, 3.8 liters of water, 473 ml of rubbing alcohol, and 1.1 liters of oxygen bleach (not chlorine bleach). Scrub the deck with this mixture, rinse it well, and then hose it down. For a composite deck, you can use the same mixture but with one tablespoon of baking soda added.

This is a great way to remove any remaining mildew, mold, or grease stains from your deck, but it’s not ideal for composites, so you should always rinse thoroughly afterward. If you still can’t get rid of all the stains, you can try adding some laundry detergent to the solution.

As you’re cleaning your deck, remember to wear rubber gloves and goggles to protect yourself from any harsh chemicals or bacteria that might be present on the surface of the decking boards. You should also consider using a long-handled scrub brush to avoid having to bend or kneel on the ground.

Baking Soda

After a long, snowy winter and rainy spring, your outdoor deck needs a thorough cleaning to get it ready for guests and summer fun. Many homeowners use chemical-based deck cleaners, but these can be harmful to the environment and damaging to your wood or composite deck surface. If you prefer to clean your deck naturally, try one of these homemade cleaners.

Baking soda, also known as bicarbonate of soda, is an inexpensive and effective household cleaning product that works wonders on a variety of surfaces. It can help to remove mildew stains from your deck and is safe for use on most types of materials. It is best to apply this solution before the stains become too prominent.

Sprinkle the baking soda evenly across your deck, especially on any areas with mildew stains. Allow the solution to sit for about 20 minutes and then scrub the area using a soft brush or broom. Once the stains have been removed, you can rinse the deck with a hose or pressure washer on a low setting.

If you want to keep your deck looking good all year round, sweep it regularly throughout the year to prevent leaves, twigs, and other organic material from accumulating on the surface. It is also a good idea to wash your deck with one of the above recipes at least once each year to remove dirt, dust, and mildew stains.

Several online guides call for either baking soda or bicarbonate of soda in their cleaning recipes. Both are the same thing, but recipes originating in America will often call for baking soda, while those from the UK will often refer to bicarbonate of soda as being a more accurate term.


Unlike chlorine bleach, borax doesn’t generate harmful gases. It’s also nontoxic and safe to use around plants. It’s a great choice for wood decks since it has degreasing and mildew-fighting properties, says Simple Green. However, because it’s bleach-based, you should wear eyewear, gloves, and a mask to avoid getting it in your eyes, nose, mouth, or throat. It’s also a good idea to sweep and spray your deck with a garden hose before applying this cleaner, and it may be best to cover nearby plants with tarps.

Borax boosts cleaning power by removing hard water stains. Hard water contains mineral deposits, including calcium and magnesium, that prevent soap or detergent from dissolving. Borax binds with these toxins to remove them, and it also helps soften water. To use borax as a deck cleaner, dilute a half-cup in 12 ounces of warm water. Stir until no clumps remain, then pour the solution into a clean spray bottle for use.

Add a cup of powdered borax to the oxygen bleach for extra cleaning strength. This solution is especially helpful if your deck has noticeable mildew stains. It can be sprayed on the stain and allowed to sit for about 15 minutes, then scrubbed and rinsed with your garden hose.

To use TSP as a deck cleaner, mix 1 cup of trisodium phosphate with 1 cup of oxygen bleach and 2 gallons of warm water. After scrubbing the deck, soak it for about 15 minutes before rinsing. The mixture is powerful enough to clean concrete, but it’s safe for a treated deck. It’s best to use this cleaner when you don’t need to wash your deck with a power washer, as intense water pressure can damage the surface and cause it to flake or peel.

Laundry Detergent

It’s not uncommon to use laundry detergent in combination with vinegar or other cleaners for cleaning decks. Laundry detergent is an effective degreaser that works well on mildew and dirt build-up but won’t harm or stain wood. It can also restore some of the color to weathered, graying wood. It may not work as well as bleach on deep-seated mold or algae growth, but it does help prevent mildew spores from taking hold. You can find powdered oxygen laundry cleaner at your local store or online, look for one that is free of fragrance and has simple ingredients.

Aside from removing any furniture or debris, the first step in cleaning a deck is to clear the area of dirt and grime. You can do this by sweeping the deck thoroughly and then using a brush with a stiff handle to get into corners and between railings. For a deeper clean, you can use a power washer. Before doing so, make sure that the nozzle on the power washer is set to “low pressure,” which will avoid damaging the surface of the deck or the wood.

If you decide to use a power washer, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for operating it. Be sure to keep the nozzle no closer than six inches from the deck’s surface, and spray in wide sweeping motions. After washing, rinse the deck with a garden hose. It’s important to allow the deck to dry completely before you put anything back on it, especially if you are planning to apply a protective coating. Consumer Reports recommends that you choose a solid or semi-transparent wood stain to protect the deck from moisture and UV light damage.