How to Clean Your Deck to Get Ready for Summer
With summer just around the corner, now is the perfect time to get your deck ready! If you haven’t used your deck much in the past few months, you’ll want to clean it up, so it looks attractive. Here is our guide to getting your deck in tip-top shape for the summer.
What is the Easiest Way to Clean a Deck?
The best way to clean your entire deck is by first clearing off all the items on the surface: furniture, decor, plants, etc. These things can trap moisture and small debris, and if you leave them in the way, you’ll have to move everything to one side of the deck while you clean the other and then back again. It’ll also be easier to inspect the physical state of your deck when it’s bare, and if you have things blocking the exterior wall of your home that connects to your deck, you’ll want them gone so you can inspect that area, too. Finally, when checking the flashing and ledger, replace any screws that have come loose, and take note of any signs of rot.
Clear off and Inspect Items that Go on Your Deck
If you have soiled outdoor items that are still salvageable, give them new life by cleaning them. Cushions that fit into the washing machine can be washed and dried. In addition, you can power wash outdoor rugs, hand wash the outside of the planters, and scrub the deck furniture.
Replace all Furniture and Add Pops of Color
After cleaning your deck, it’s safe to put your furniture and decor back in place. Add some pops of color with some new pillows or potted plants for a quick and inexpensive makeover.
Best Homemade Deck Cleaner for Wood and Composite Decks?
Once you clear the deck surface, it’s time to get cleaning! Please be advised that instead of using store-bought, harsh deck detergents, use a homemade, eco-friendly remedy. A homemade remedy will tackle all those stains caused by pollen, algae, mud, food spills, etc.
First, you’ll want to rinse off the deck’s surface with a hose and loosen stains and grime before applying a cleaning solution. Next, prepare the solution.
- Pour two gallons of warm water into a large plastic bucket. You can use a regular broom, but a stiff bristle brush is better because it reaches in between the deck boards, making things a little easier.
- Add two cups of powdered oxygen bleach (like OxiClean), a milder substance than liquid chlorine bleach. OxiClean is great because it won’t harm nearby plants or grass or pollute the environment.
- Stir until bleach dissolves.
- Add 1/4 cup of liquid dish soap and stir until combined.
It is always recommended that you wear goggles and gloves when working with chemicals. While these ingredients are relatively safe and won’t harm your greenery, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Your new DIY homemade cleaner is also a great way to polish up any handrails, balusters, or even wooden furniture.
How to Clean a Wood Deck?
Start by applying generously; dip the brush into your cleaning solution and slosh the cleaning agent across the decking boards. Then, working from one side to the other, use the scrub brush to create a light lather, reapplying the solution as needed. Let the solution sit for about 15 minutes to let the bleach work.
Spray off the deck cleaner with the garden hose once more. Let the surface thoroughly dry in the sun’s rays before putting back any furniture or redecorating the space.
How to Clean a Composite Deck?
Earlier generations of Trex decking did not advise power washing. However, today Trex Transcend, Trex Enhance, and Trex Select can be power washed with a fan tip on your power washer, using up to 3100 psi. Always keep the spray nozzle no closer than 8 inches from the deck when cleaning, as this can damage the material. Some wooden decks can also be power washed, using between 500 and 600 psi. Power washing at too high of a setting or too close to the surface can cause the wood to splinter. You can also always hire a professional to come clean if you’re not comfortable using a power washer yourself.
It’s strongly recommended that you not use any chemicals to clean composite decking. Harsh cleaning substances tend to eat away at the composite material, and bleach will cause discoloration. However, it requires significantly less upkeep than lumber, and using warm, soapy water will get the job done.
Check with the manufacturer if you’re unsure if a specific cleaning solution will work on your deck. You can generally find instructions for care on the manufacturer’s website or in materials you received with your purchase.
How do I Clean My Deck Without a Pressure Washer?
Cleaning without pressure washing is just like the method used earlier with the homemade cleaner. You will need:
- A broom
- A bucket of warm water
- A bucket of soapy water (using dish soap or composite deck cleaner)
- A deck brush (bristles on the softer side)
- A garden hose
And follow these six basic steps:
- Remove all furniture and objects from the deck’s surface.
- Sweep away any dirt and debris from the surface.
- Wet the surface with your bucket of warm water. Worry less about covering every square inch of the boards and more about spreading it across the area for the soap.
- Mix the soap and warm water at a ratio of about 1:1.
- Dip your brush into the soapy water and start scrubbing the boards. Do not be afraid to apply some pressure, as you’ll want to get all the dirt out of the crevices, and the composite material can take it.
- Once you’ve scrubbed the entire deck, rinse it all off thoroughly with the hose. You do not want to leave any soap on the surface, as this will leave a film after it dries. It’s also essential you wash the deck on a sunny day so you can let it air dry after you rinse it.
How Do I Clean My Deck Naturally?
If you’re hesitant about using a deck cleaning solution purchased at a hardware store, you might already have the tools in your home for cleaning the deck. White vinegar, for example, has latent properties which make it a great eco-friendly deck cleaner. It’s a natural degreaser and also works to fight mold and mildew. You can load a hand sprayer or pump spray with equal parts of vinegar and water to make for a solution that can quickly cover the surface of your deck. Adding a teaspoon of mild liquid dish soap to your solution will give it a little extra sparkle.
Baking soda is another great alternative if you don’t have vinegar. Combine one gallon of water with one cup of baking soda and stir until dissolved. Brush onto your deck and scrub, and rinse off with your hose.
Maintenance, Sealing and Painting to Get it Summer Ready
Keeping up with deck maintenance is key to avoiding major problems down the road. Be sure to sweep it clean throughout the year of leaves, dirt, and debris because otherwise, the deck can trap moisture and turn into mold. In addition, if you live in a snowy region, always shovel the snow off the deck. Allowing snow to accumulate will add extra weight to the deck, and when it melts, it tends to warp the wood.
Once you’ve cleaned your deck and you’d like to apply a deck stain or sealant, first allow it to dry for at least a week before applying anything. To see whether your clean deck is ready for the sealant, sprinkle about a 1/4 cup of water on the surface. If the deck absorbs the water within 5 to 10 minutes, it’s good to go. If it takes longer, it’s still too wet.
Apply your sealer or stain with a foam roller or pad. An annual stain or seal is perfect for most decks. However, don’t go longer than three years without reapplying sealant, or the wood may warp and split.