If you're lucky enough to have a deck, you know how amazing it can be to host gatherings in an outdoor space (or even just sit and lounge when the weather is nice). Like an extension of your kitchen or living room, decks add square footage to your space where you can enjoy your yard. But, also like your kitchen or living room, they need the occasional deep-clean to stay in great condition.
Wondering how to clean your deck thoroughly without spending all day on it? Don't worry too much—with the right tools and a bit of time, you can clear dirt and debris from your deck and, hopefully, keep it functional (and beautiful) for years to come.
Meet the Expert
Ahead, how to clean a deck according to professionals.
How Often Should You Wash Your Deck?
How often you clean your deck depends on your location, weather, and the surrounding environment. To ensure your deck's longevity, incorporate lighter, but more frequent cleaning into your routine. Fallen leaves, for example, can accumulate algae, mold, and mildew on your deck, while snow can trap moisture and warp the wood.
In general, Ben Nguyen, owner of Full Color Cleaners, suggests washing your deck with a pressure washer once a year (you can also use a garden hose if that's all you have, or hire a pro if the mess is too big for you). "Keeping your deck clean is crucial for its longevity," says Pol Bishop, a gardening and landscaping expert at Fantastic Gardeners in the United Kingdom. "Spring is the perfect time to power wash because you will be able to use it in summer."
How to Clean a Deck
Things You'll Need
- Rake (optional)
- Scraper (optional)
- Pressure washer or garden hose
- Warm water and dish soap
- Oxygen bleach
- Deck cleaner (optional)
- Stiff-bristled brush
Step 1: Clear the Deck
Before you clean the deck, clear off any patio furniture, plants, your grill, and any decor that could get in the way of a thorough cleaning process.
Step 2: Sweep and Rake
If your deck is full of leaves, use a rake to clear it. Then, sweep any excess leaves, dirt, or other debris with a sturdy broom. You can also use a paint scraper to remove any loose paint or finish before washing, says Alicia Sokolowski, co-CEO of Aspen Clean.
Step 3: Loosen Dirt and Grime
Next, use your garden hose or a pressure washer to loosen and rinse away any dirt or grime on your deck. (Just make sure to follow the instructions with your pressure washer to avoid damaging your wood.) Bishop suggests directing the water at heavily soiled spots, keeping a few feet between the nozzle and the wood surface. "Once you've addressed the most problematic areas, spray between the boards of the deck to rinse away any remaining debris," he says.
Wood is easily affected by the weather. To maintain a wood deck, Bishop suggests applying deck sealant to the surface on a yearly basis (ideally, after you clean it).
Step 4: Wash the Deck
In a bucket, create your own deck-washing solution. Sokolowski suggests mixing a gallon of warm water with 3/4 cup of natural oxygen bleach and a cup of ammonia-free dish soap. Consider making it more concentrated and add more dish soap and oxygen bleach if your deck is extremely dirty. Then, work it into the wood with a stiff bristle brush.
You can also use a designated deck cleaner for the material of your deck; simply follow the instructions on the product. Just keep in mind if your deck is near bushes or other greenery, it may not be a good idea to use strong chemicals for cleaning.
Step 5: Rinse
With your pressure washer or garden hose, wash away any excess soap or dirt from your deck, then allow the surface to dry. Your deck should be good as new.
How to Keep Your Deck Cleaner, Longer
Regularly removing leaves and snow from your deck is important for protecting the wood. Sokolowski also suggests trimming nearby bushes and trees to discourage moss and mold growth, which are harder to clean and can potentially damage your deck.