man pressure washing timber deckNo matter how diligent you are about cleaning your composite or wood deck, it’ll accumulate debris and eventually show signs of weathering. However, using an organic deck cleaner, you can significantly prolong the lifespan of your deck by giving it an annual scrub and applying a sealer. Harsher stains and mildew might necessitate the use of chlorine bleach, but we’ll provide organic alternatives for those looking for a fully natural deck cleaning solution.

Composite decking is a stunning addition to your property and offers a great ROI, but allowing it to collect grime and dirt will leave it looking tired and dull. Cleaning and sealing act as brighteners in addition to ensuring the entire deck surface is safe and free from materials that could damage it.

Composite Deck Cleaning Products

You’ll need the following materials to give your decking a thorough cleaning in preparation for its annual seal:

  • Scrub brush and garden hose (for smaller decks)
  • Power washer (for larger decks)
  • Plastic sheet to cover plants
  • Putty knife
  • Cleaning solution
  • Warm water
  • Bucket
  • Oxygen bleach (OxiClean)

DIY Organic Deck Cleaner Recipes

All-Purpose Cleaner

1 gallon of warm water
3/4 cup of oxygen bleach
1 cup of powdered laundry detergent

Combine the above ingredients thoroughly and pour the solution over the deck’s surface. Leave for 10 to 15 minutes and then either scrub with a deck brush or rinse with a hose. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions if you decide to use a power washer.

Heavy-Duty Mildew Remover

1 gallon of water
2 cups of rubbing alcohol
1 quart of household bleach
1 cup of ammonia-free soap

Ensure the ingredients are mixed well and then pour evenly over the deck’s surface. Use plenty of elbow grease and a scrubbing brush to remove stubborn mildew and algae stains. 

100% Organic Homemade Deck Cleaner

1 gallon of water
1 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of baking soda

The baking soda and vinegar will react, so make sure you’re in an area where the mixture can safely overflow. After combining all ingredients, spread over the deck and use a power washer or scrubbing brush to remove stubborn dirt and grime.

man cleaning wood deck with a power washerHow to Clean Your Deck

It’s important that you sweep your deck regularly throughout the year to prevent leaves, twigs, mud, and other organic matter from building up and staining the deck. You shouldn’t need to perform a deep clean more than once or twice a year, depending on the weather in your locale. 

The first step is always to use a brush with firm bristles to sweep away any debris that’s sitting on the deck surface. Use a knife to get to the material that gets stuck in the cracks — if you leave this vital area, there’s a risk it’ll spread to the rest of the deck. 

Next, cover your plants with a plastic sheet to ensure they don’t get damaged by the cleaning solution. We’d recommend doing this with the organic solution as well, just in case the acidity from the vinegar or lemon harms the plants. 

Follow the specific guidance for each recipe, then check for signs of mildew and algae. Repeat the process if necessary. If stains still remain, use the heavy-duty mildew remover and scrub. Once the deck is fully dry, apply a sealer to ensure it looks fresh for the year ahead.   

Using a Pressure Washer

Pressure washing isn’t essential, but it’ll be a major benefit for anyone with a larger deck. It’s possible to rent this type of equipment if you don’t want to invest in one for your home. 

When using the power washer, use the tip at an angle and leave at least two feet between the nozzle and the deck. If you hold it too close to the deck, you could cause damage — especially if the tool you use is particularly powerful. Always be sure to carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid misuse.

Deck Wash Tips

Here are some additional tips to help you get the most out of the deck cleaning experience:

  • Cover all of your favorite plants, hedges, and flower beds before embarking on the cleaning.
  • Make sure you remember to clean the rails and steps.
  • Use a test area to make sure the solution you use won’t damage or discolor the decking. Different types of wood and cleaning materials might react adversely.
  • If you don’t have a power washer, a garden hose can do the job just as well — it just requires additional elbow grease and takes a little longer.
  • Oxygen bleach is less harsh than traditional chlorine bleach, but it’s still highly effective for removing mildew and stubborn stains.
  • You can use the cleaning process to inspect the deck for splintered edges, loose nails, damage, and rough spots.
  • Move furniture around every now and then to prevent sun spots and discoloration.
  • Never let natural debris build-up. It’s the main cause of mildew or long-term staining.
  • Mats and furniture made of natural fibers are more likely to attract mildew than synthetic fibers.
  • Be sure to apply a sealer on an annual basis to protect wood against the sun’s rays, weathering, and changes in temperature. A penetrative sealer can add years to the lifespan of your deck. 

Get the Deck of Your Dreams Today

Deck cleaning is possibly the least exciting aspect of installing decking — but staying on top of maintenance guarantees you get maximum enjoyment from it. If you don’t have custom decking yet but you’re ready to get one, call Prince William Home Improvement today at 703-492-1294.