In many ways, your deck is the pride and joy of your back garden. It is where you host some of the best parties and get-togethers in the summer, as well as a tranquil place to stop and think in the winter months.
Your deck is an inviting place, just waiting to be occupied by friends and family. However, there is nothing more uninviting than a dirty, unmaintained deck.
Neglected wood is unappealing to look at, as well as stand on. You have to take care of your decking, and while you can get away with a good sweep most of the time, you should be following these expert cleaning tips at least once a year.
What You Will Need
Here’s a quick checklist of the things you will need to get started:
- Broom and dustpan
- Gardening gloves
- Stiff bristled scrubbing brush
- Slender stick/tool
- Bin bags
- A sturdy bucket
- Commercial deck cleaner
- Laundry detergent
- Deck preservative
- Pressure washer
- Hose and sprayer
The Steps by Step for Cleaning Your Decking
Step One: Clearing the Deck
The first thing you need to do is ensure that you have a completely clear space so that you can clean effectively. Anything that could get in your way needs to be removed, whether it is furniture or a potted plant.
You can store it in the shed or on your lawn while you clean. If you have plants in the soil around your deck, make sure you cover them with a light material so that they are not disturbed or damaged at any point.
Step Two: Sweeping
Now you need to further prepare the deck for a thorough clean.
Remove large chunks of debris by hand (wear the gardening gloves if you don’t want to get your hands mucky) and place them in a large bin bag.
Following this, you can grab the broom and start sweeping the smaller debris into piles on the deck. Then, grab the dustpan and sweep the piles into it before emptying it into the bin bag.
Take the slender tool and use it to dislodge any dirt or debris that has become stuck between the wooden grooves in your decking. Place this in the bin bag as well. Repeat this step until your deck is as free from debris as possible.
Step Three: Applying Pressure
In this step, you will need both the garden hose and the pressure washer. Use the garden hose with the spray attachment to rinse the deck and give it a general wash.
This should remove any dirt and grime that has been loosened by the previous step. Use the spray attachment on the highest setting to loosen the more stubborn areas so you can remove as much dirt as possible.
When you have loosened this spots, you can bring out the pressure washer. This has a much more powerful stream that no dirt will be able to resist.
Before using your pressure washer, make sure you have read the instruction manual carefully and understand how to use it, for your own safety.
Use the pressure washer to remove the really stubborn stains and mud patches. You can also use it on the grooves and gaps. Once this has been done, it is often handy to give it a final rinse with the garden hose.
Step Four: A Deeper Clean
Next, grab the bucket and fill it with a solution of laundry detergent and warm water. Then add the commercial deck cleaner to the mix. Take the firm bristle brush (preferably one with a long handle to make things easier for you) and dip it into the solution.
Starting at one end of the deck, use the brush to scrub the solution into the decking, moving your way across to the other end. Take your time with this step, as it is helping to cleanse the wood and leave it looking incredibly clean.
Once you have scrubbed the whole deck, take the garden hose and gently wash the remaining solution off. Do not use the pressure washer at this stage.
Step Five: Bleach
If your deck is a complete mess, it may have algae or mildew growth, which can only really be treated with a bleach solution. To make this, take the bucket once again and mix one part bleach with four parts water.
When this is done, pour the solution over the affected area. Make sure you are wearing gloves so that you avoid bleach coming into contact with your skin.
If the growth is a fresh one, allow the solution to soak into it for around five minutes. If it looks as though it has been there for a while, however, make sure you give it 15. Once it has been left to soak, you can move on to the next step.
Now, grab the stiff bristle brush again and really scrub the affected area. Once this has been done, rinse it and then leave it to dry.
If the growth remains on the deck after the first clean, then you need to repeat the process. Make sure you leave the area to dry completely before you decide to try again, however.
Step Six: Resealing Your Deck
Once you are pleased with the condition of your deck, give it a rinse and allow it to dry completely.
Once that has been done, you can apply a sealant to keep your deck safe and more resistant to its environment. When you go to purchase your wood sealer, make sure you look at all of the options available to you.
Some sealants contain waterproof properties, and others have ones that mildewcide to offer your deck the best possible protection throughout the year. Some sealants are also made for specific types of wood, so bear that in mind as well.
When you go to apply the sealant, make sure you sweep away any debris that may have gathered while you were waiting for it to dry. Then you can follow the instruction on the sealant label and give your decking some extra protection.
Step Seven: Putting it All Back
Now all you need to do is wait for the sealant to dry, and you can put all your furniture back on the deck. Once this has been done, your deck is completely ready for you to use and enjoy for the rest of the year.
Make sure you keep on top of its maintenance so that the big clean next year isn’t as much hassle. A simple sweep every week can make a huge difference in the long run.
Cleaning your deck can be a pretty laborious task, and when it is left neglected it can be even more so. By putting this guide together, we have created a simple seven-step solution to giving your deck a deep clean, as well as a few tips on maintaining it throughout the year.
The deck in your back garden is like your own little haven, and it should be filled with good memories, not left neglected and unused. So take some time out, give the deck a scrub, and start up the BBQ to welcome the spring and summer months.
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.