Last Updated on March 25, 2021 by Gemma Tyler
So you’ve decided to take matters into your own hands and clean your wood deck without a pressure washer. But how to do it exactly and how can you prepare for this?
Step 1 - Declutter the Deck
Clear out your outdoor furniture, children and pet toys, flower pots, rotary washing lines and any other items away from the deck. If you have upholstery, make sure to vacuum properly.
If you have any plants close to the base of the deck, consider covering them with a sheet of plastic or whatever you have to protect them during the cleaning.
Step 2 - Rinse Heavy Dirt
- Sweep or vacuum the deck to remove the accumulated dirt. A cordless vacuum cleaner will do just fine;
- After that, rinse it as much as possible with your garden hose;
- Make sure that nothing is left in the gaps between the floorboards because some types of debris might rot in those spaces and damage the whole area;
- Repeat until you are satisfied with the results.
Step 3 - Clean with your Weapon of Choice
Now, we will list the most effective homemade cleaning solutions for your deck.
Choose the one that is best for you and continue with the rest of the steps;
Remember to do a damage test on a small inconspicuous area before going all in with the solution of your choice.
The many various types of wood and paint react differently to a cleaning treatment, so it’s always good to keep plans one step ahead.
Method #1 – A Mix of Oxygen Bleach and Detergent
This solution is recommended if you have any mould or mildew spots on your deck that need to be taken care of. Here is how you make it.
Fill a bucket with warm water;
Mix equal parts of detergent and bleach with the water;
Apply the mixture to the most affected areas of the wood deck;
Let it sit for around 10 to 15 minutes, but not any longer;
Rub the spots with an outdoor broom or a long-handled brush;
Quickly rinse the whole area before the wood is damaged by the bleach.
Put on protective wear whenever you are dealing with cleaning detergents, especially with bleach. That includes gloves and a mask;
If you are using bleach, you need to be very quick and never leave the solution for too long. Chlorine does have the power to kill moss, mildew and algae on hard surfaces, but it will also tear down the polymers, also known as lignin, which keeps the wood particles together. Naturally, it affects the colour of the deck, as well, even if it’s sealed. If you are not careful enough, you will do more damage than actually cleaning your deck;
Bleach can also harm the metal parts of the deck, such as the nails, trims and screws that hold the whole construction together.
Method #2 - The General Wood Deck Cleaner
This solution can be used for removing general dirt accumulation on your wood deck. Here what you will need and how to make it.
Pour 1 cup of powder laundry detergent into 4 litres of lukewarm water;
You can add ¾ cup of oxygen bleach, as well, if there is any mildew spots that need to be removed;
Stir the liquid well;
Pour it over the deck and scrub it gently with a brush or a broom. Exercising this way is as good as when vacuuming;
Let the detergent do its magic for a maximum of 10 minutes and scrub the surface again;
Rinse with your garden hose until all of the cleaning solution is gone.
Method #3 - A Vinegar-based Spray for General Maintenance
You can make this simple spray, in order to keep your deck fresh and remove the light-surface dirt. It will not help if there are any serious stains that need to be handled.
Pour 2 cups of the magical white vinegar in a bucket of lukewarm water;
Apply the cleaning mixture to the deck surface;
Let it sit for around 15 minutes;
The acid in the vinegar will remove all the bad odours from the deck and will also remove the surface residue;
Rub the solution in the deck with a stiff brush or a broom;
Rinse with cold water to remove the homemade detergent.
Method #4 - A Cleaning Mixture with Insecticidal Soap
You’ve probably heard about people using this soap to remove all sorts of fungi, algae, and even get rid of insects from plants.
Truth is that it’s actually very effective for all of the above-mentioned issues and if you have any problems with mould and mildew on your wooden deck, insecticidal soap will help you deal with those.
Here is what you need to do:
Put on gloves and a mask;
Apply the soap to the surface, section by section. In order for the product to work, the wood needs to be wet, so you can’t pour the whole mixture at once;
When you’ve spread the soap to a section, rub it in well with a hard brush so that in the end, all the dirt is gone;
Repeat this for all the sections until you are satisfied with the results;
Rinse with cold water to remove the soap and dirt entirely.
Method #6 - Use a Commercial Wood Cleaner
There are a couple of good store-bought cleaners that are made specially for wood surfaces. The products also contain some sort of protective substances. The method of application is similar to those you’d use with the other cleaning products, we’ve mentioned here.
Just apply the detergent to the wood deck and leave it for around 10 to 15 minutes;
Scrub it in good with a brush or a broom;
Rinse with your garden hose to remove the product.
Method #7 Use Trisodium Phosphate as a DIY Cleaning Product
A cleaning solution, containing TSP, is considered a very heavy-duty product. It’s used mostly to wash exterior surfaces prior to a painting job.
You need to be very careful when working with this product because it’s known to damage most painted surfaces and any metal parts. If you leave it for too long on the wood, it will leave stains. If you have metal decoration, try out the right cleaning hack.
Add a ½ cup of TSP to 7 litres of lukewarm water;
If there is any mildew that needs to be taken care of, you can add half a cup of bleach;
Stir the mixture well;
Apply it to the deck by scrubbing with a stiff brush;
Leave it for a maximum of 10 minutes;
Rinse with cold water a couple of times until all of the product is cleaned away.
Step 4 - Make Sure Again that the Product is Gone
Doesn’t hurt to repeat the process a couple of times.
A stiff broom will help you in this quest and then just leave the surface to properly dry.
Step 5 - Apply a Protective Solution
In order to avoid any heavy cleaning in the future and make sure that your deck is beautiful and healthy for many years to come.
Apply a protective sealant in the end;
If the wood has been already sealed, check if the top surface layer is still intact;
If there is any damage, consider re-sealing your deck.
Step 6 - Put Things Back
Finally, the cleaning is done, the deck is sealed and dried out. The only thing left to do is to place everything that you’ve removed from your wood deck back in position. This is a good opportunity to check if there are any items you don’t actually need and have been there forever.
Get rid of any old and broken items;
Put back the ones you still want to use;
Sit back and enjoy your clean wood deck!
To clean your wooden deck without using a jet-powered pressure washer can be difficult, time-consuming but still possible. Depending on the age and condition of wood, sometimes, this is the only viable solution one might take.
Last Updated on March 25, 2021 by Gemma Tyler
Gemma Tyler is a freelance journalist with 15 years of experience writing for consumer publications. She has tested and reviewed a wide range of household items from vacuum cleaners to washing machines and dehumidifiers to steam irons. Her attention to detail and exhaustive testing certainly makes her an expert in her field.