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Article by Michael A / January 25th, 2023

How to Clean a Wooden Deck Naturally

The deck could easily be the highlight of your home, but only if you keep it squeaky clean. However, given the frequent wet summers and the foot traffic on your deck, doing so is easier said than done. Mold and algae grow on wooden decks exposed to moisture. These fungi hurt your deck’s aesthetics and compromise its structural integrity.

You might be tempted to use harsh chemicals when your deck gets dirty. But doing so isn’t necessary and could do more harm than good. Wood is susceptible to some chemicals, and the same chemicals could drip down your garden and also hurt your garden plants.

A more natural approach to deck cleaning helps conserve the wood on your deck and is also better for the environment. And while natural ingredients might not be as effective as chemical cleaners, they still get the job done. Today’s post is a detailed guide on cleaning your wooden deck using natural ingredients.

Use Baking Soda

Baking soda is a naturally occurring substance obtained from soda ash. It’s excellent for cleaning all kinds of surfaces, including wood. It also helps breathe new life into the wood and can give your deck a refreshed look.

All you have to do is sprinkle a bit of baking powder on your deck. Using a stiff brush, scrub the deck thoroughly until you get rid of all the mold and stains. Rinse it off with a garden hose; just like that, you have a spotless wooden deck.

Use Water, Soap, and Vinegar Solution

Water, soap, and vinegar are the triple threat combo to lift stubborn stains off your deck. This solution is especially useful for mildew-ridden decks, given the antifungal and antibacterial properties of vinegar.

In a bucket, mix ½ a cup of vinegar for every gallon of water in a bucket. Pour the solution onto the deck and let it soak for about 10 minutes. Soaking allows the vinegar and soap to work their  magic. Next, scrub with a brush, and finally, rinse everything off with a garden hose.

For very dirty decks, you might have to repeat this process several times. But if your deck is too dirty, consider using a pressure washer instead of a brush. This cuts down the cleaning time by almost half and also ensures a thorough job.

Use Powdered Oxygen Bleach

Bleach can make a huge difference when cleaning your deck. Not only does it remove stubborn stains, but it also gets rid of mold and fungi. However, harsh chemicals might harm your health and the environment. Moreover, using too much bleach could leave ugly whitish marks on your deck.

Liquid chlorine bleach is the most common type of bleach in Houston homes. Unfortunately, it contains potent ingredients that are harsh on wood. A better alternative would be powdered oxygen bleach, which works just as well but without harmful effects. This bleach uses oxygen ions to break down dirt so you can easily wash it away.

To use oxygen bleach on your porch, first wet the entire deck with a garden hose to open up the wooden pores so they can readily absorb the cleaning solution. Next, mix ½ a cup of bleach with every gallon of water you pour into a bucket. Pour and spread the solution over your deck, let it soak for about 10 minutes, then scrub thoroughly until the deck is clean. Lastly, rinse the deck with clean water and watch the dirt trickle.

Will Using Natural Ingredients to Clean My Deck Hurt My Garden? 

The biggest benefit of cleaning your deck with natural ingredients is that it’s better for the wooden surface and the environment. They’re certainly a better choice than the harsh chemical cleaners that could ruin your deck and garden. However, this doesn’t mean that these natural cleaning ingredients are perfect.

Baking soda, soap, and vinegar are still chemicals. So while they’re not as harmful as the big boy cleaners, you should still tread softly. Natural ingredients are only less potent and concentrated, meaning they’ll only do negligible damage to your garden and deck. They also won’t linger too long in the soil or become harmful if they leach into the groundwater.

That said, it’s still important to use the right amount of these natural cleaning agents to avoid wreaking havoc. It’s also not a good idea to clean your deck too often. Instead, spread your cleaning sessions over a couple of months to minimize the chemical impact.

While experimenting with different cleaning recipes, never mix vinegar with ammonia. This could lead to the release of noxious gases that are incredibly detrimental to your health. These gases may cause itchiness, difficulty breathing, burning eyes, and passing out in cases of excessive exposure.

What Is the Best Natural Cleaner for Your Deck?

A simple Google search will expose you to a plethora of recipes for natural, homemade cleaners. But with so many options, picking a single one for your deck can be quite a challenge. So what is the best natural cleaner for your deck?

Wooden decks – A mixture of water, oxygen bleach, rubbing alcohol, and liquid soap works best for your wooden deck. Just wet your deck, pour the solution, let it soak, scrub with a brush, and finish by rinsing the deck. Avoid using chlorine bleach for the reasons mentioned above.

Composite decks – Composite decks combine polyethylene or polypropylene with wooden fibers. This creates a sturdy material that’s more resilient to the elements. For composite decks, use a mixture of white vinegar, baking soda, and water. Pour the mixture on the deck, scrub thoroughly, and rinse with clean water.

Should I pressure Wash My Wooden Deck?

Pressure washing is a fast and effective method for cleaning all wooden decks. But since wood consists of resin fibers, pressure washing your wooden deck might do some harm. Power washing could lead to splinters in your wooden deck or worsen existing splinters. But this only happens if you use the wrong technique for your deck.

Avoid using too much pressure with your power washer since wood is susceptible to pressure washing. Set the pressure to about 1500 psi or less to avoid damaging your deck. Also, consider using a wide fan nozzle to disperse the pressure. Also, position the nozzle a reasonable distance away from the surface.

All in all, pressure washers are great for cleaning the deck because they help remove dirt and gunk stuck in inaccessible gaps and crevices. However, only power wash your deck with low pressure and use a fan that spreads out the water jet. Also, avoid using calcium hypochlorite with your pressure washer. It will damage your washer and likely leave a white residue that you’ll have to clean up later on.

A pressure washer is not necessary for slightly dirty decks. A brush and cleaning solution will suffice for such purposes.

Go Natural or Go Home!

Natural cleaning ingredients are just what the doctor ordered for your wooden deck. Think along the lines of baking soda, vinegar, borax, and lemon juice, among others. They might not boast the potency and flashy labels of their non-natural counterparts, but they still get the job done. Provided you use the right equipment and cleaning techniques, you should have a squeaky-clean wooden deck despite going all natural.

If you’re not up to the task, you can always get help from the pros. Here at Advantage Pro Cleaners, we pride ourselves on delivering top-notch cleaning services to homes and businesses across Houston. Give us a call today, and we’ll help make your deck look brand new in no time.

FAQs

How do I make a wood deck look new again?

Restoring your deck to its former glory is a grueling but worthwhile task. Start by covering the surrounding greenery, then scrape off the old finish and stubborn stains from the deck with a paint scraper. Next, use a brush or a paint applicator to apply a deck stripper to the deck. Do this on a cool day since the deck stripper evaporates rapidly. After 15 minutes, scrape off the old finish with a stiff brush and blast off all the gunk with a pressure washer. 

Next, wet the deck and apply deck cleaner to it, then scrub the surface with a brush to clean it. After a couple of days, apply a high-quality finish using a paint brush. Finish by rolling the deck sealer on the deck with a roller, and just like that, you have a brand-new deck.

What is the best way to clean my wooden deck?

The best way to clean a deck is by pressure washing it. By power washing your deck, you can get rid of all the dirt, and grime stuck between the boards. However, this method is only effective if you use the right type of cleaner. A solution of 1% to 3% sodium hypochlorite works best for presoaking your deck. After 10 minutes, soft wash with 1% Clean Green or any other cleaner in its class. Finish by rinsing with clean water.

It’s worth noting that you should pressure wash your deck with low pressure to avoid damaging it. Also, use a fan-type nozzle to spread the pressure, and don’t spray too close to the deck. Follow these steps to the letter, and you’ll have a spotless deck.

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