Staining a deck gives it a facelift and brightens your outdoor living space, making it look warm and inviting. The coating also protects your deck against damage from pests, water, mold, rot, and other elements.
But while a stained deck is great, it also needs regular cleaning and maintenance. After all, this is one of the busiest spots in your home, hosting all sorts of activities, from alfresco cooking to summer soirees.
All these activities can leave your surface covered in grill grease, spills, and soot from fire pits. Not forgetting the tree sap, leaves, and other debris your deck collects.
But how do you clean a stained deck without removing the stain? This article will explain the dos and don’ts of cleaning your deck without damaging the stain.
Use the Right Deck Cleaners
You should use a cleaner that is specifically designed for exterior wood surfaces. This cleaner will be gentler on the wood and stain while effectively removing dirt and grime. The wrong deck cleaner will lead to bleaching or discoloration of the stain and can even damage the wood.
Here are some gentle cleaners for a stained deck:
Liquid Dish Soap
It sounds odd, but liquid dish soap is great for cleaning your lightly soiled decks. Just like it’s safe to use on your delicate dishes, the dish soap will be safe on your stained deck. It’s gentle on the stain and doesn’t leave any residue after rinsing.
Since it doesn’t have harsh chemicals, it won’t harm the surrounding plants. You can create a solution to clean your deck by mixing one gallon of water with a quarter cup of liquid dish soap. Use a soft brush to scrub your deck and rinse it well afterward.
Vinegar is a great option if you are looking for a natural way to clean your stained deck. It’s eco-friendly and will disinfect the surface without harming the stain and wood.
Vinegar can remove grease and dirt from your stained deck, kill mold and mildew, and remove stubborn odors. Besides being gentle on your deck, white vinegar will be safe to use around pets, plants, and children.
To use vinegar to clean your deck, mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a bucket. Then use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the surface gently and rinse well with clean water.
Oxygen bleach is safe to use on wood surfaces. The bleach is a natural and safe alternative to regular chlorine bleach. It will remove dirt stains and brighten your stained deck without causing damage.
Oxygen bleach is also a natural disinfectant that can eliminate mold, mildew, and other bacteria living on the surface. The bleach is available in powder form, so you have to mix it with water according to the instructions.
Baking soda is a tried-and-tested cleaner for all surfaces, including your stained deck. The cleaning agent is gentle on the wood and stain and helps remove tough stains from fossilized dirt, bird droppings, tree sap, and more.
Baking soda can deodorize your deck as well. To use baking soda in cleaning your stained deck, mix one cup of baking soda with a gallon of warm water and use the mixture to scrub your surface.
Pressure Wash With Care
Pressure washing is an excellent way of removing tough stains and dirt from your deck. But it can be dangerous to the wood and stain if used incorrectly. If you have to use a pressure washer on your stained deck, follow these best practices to minimize the risk of damage:
Use the Right Pressure and Tip Settings
Pressure washers come with adjustable pressure settings and different tips that you can use to change the spray pattern. It’s advisable to start with the lowest pressure, especially if your deck is made of soft wood like pine or cedar.
A PSI of between 500 and 600 will be enough to blast away the tough dirt without removing the deck stain. However, if the deck is made of hardwoods like Garapa and Ipe, you can use a higher pressure of about 1200 PSI.
Besides the pressure, you should use the right pressure washer tip to protect your deck. Avoid a narrow tip, as it will produce a concentrated stream of water that could damage the wood.
Instead, opt for a wider fan tip to spread out the pressure. You can use a fan tip with a spread of between 40 and 60 degrees. A rotating tip can also work well, but you should use it carefully.
Clean From a Distance
Holding the pressure washer too close to the deck will strip away the stain and damage the wood. When pressure washing, professional cleaners recommend keeping a distance of at least 18 inches from the surface.
Failure to keep the right distance may do more damage than stripping away the stain from your deck. It may also ruin the wood, making it more prone to warping and decay.
Get the Cleaning Technique Right
You should also be careful with the cleaning technique when pressure washing your stained deck. The simplest tip to remember when pressure washing is to keep it moving.
Rather than lingering on one spot, keep your pressure washer constantly in motion when cleaning your stained deck. Dwelling on one area can cause too much force and likely lead to chipping and splintering of the wood.
Another tip is to start with low pressure and keep increasing it a little until you reach the recommended limit. For the best results, move the pressure washer in a sweeping motion and pivot the wand using your arms to ensure even cleaning.
Concentrate on edges or hotspots first and then proceed with the grain of the wood when washing. This cleaning technique will prevent gouging caused by going against the grain. You can start by testing the pressure washer on a hidden area of your deck to get used to the machine and find the right settings.
Involve Pressure Washing Professionals
If you don’t feel confident enough to handle pressure washing on your own, then it’s best to contact a cleaning company that offers pressure washing services. Professional cleaners have the right tools and expertise to do the job without damaging your stained deck.
They will also use safe cleaning products designed specifically for wood decks, ensuring that your surface is clean and properly maintained. Hiring professional pressure washers ensures your deck is handled with the utmost care and will look as good as new in no time.
Avoid Using Regular Bleach to Clean Your Stained Deck
We’ve talked a lot about all the things you should do when pressure washing your stained deck, so now is a good time to also focus on what not to do. And one of those things is to avoid using chlorine bleach to clean your deck.
Although you may think using bleach is the best way to get rid of tough stains, it’s a surefire way to damage your deck. Chlorine bleach can strip away the color and damage the protective coating of your stained deck. The damage will leave your deck vulnerable to rot, decay, and warping.
Plus, it’s a harsh chemical that can damage nearby plants and harm pets or children playing on the deck. If you use bleach on your pressure washer, it may corrode and damage some parts, such as the gasket, leading to leakages. So, stick to oxygen bleach and mild detergents when cleaning your deck.
If you have to use regular bleach due to issues such as mold, you should ensure it’s well-diluted by using the right mix of bleach and water, depending on the latter’s concentration. You should also not let the breach sit on a surface for too long as it can damage it.
Generally, knowing how to use regular bleach on a delicate surface like a stained deck is a skill that’s best left to professionals. So, if your deck needs to be cleaned with bleach, it would be better to contact a pressure-washing company and let them handle the task for you.
Hire a Professional Cleaning Company to Take Care of Your Deck
Cleaning a stained deck, with or without a pressure washer, requires caution. It’s a complex process requiring you to understand the right cleaning products, equipment, and techniques. Get one thing wrong, and you may damage your deck, leaving you with a heavy burden of repair and replacement costs.
If you are not confident in cleaning your stained deck without removing the stain, it’s best to hire a professional cleaning company. In Houston, your first choice should be Advantage Pro Services. We are a window and pressure-washing company that has kept Houstonians’ homes and businesses clean for over 20 years.When you hire us for deck washing, you can rest assured that your stained deck will look cleaner and brighter without damaging the original colors or coating. Contact us today, and let us start working on bringing back that “like-new” look to your deck!