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How to Clean a Wood Deck Without a Pressure Washer: 7 Easy Tips

a house deck

Pressure washers can be nice to have, but they’re expensive to buy and a hassle to rent. They’re also not much help if you’ve already planted your garden nearby, since the spray from the bleach can kill them. Scrubbing the deck yourself is certainly the cheapest, most environmentally friendly option that’ll save you a little money, too. Here are a few ways you can scrub your deck without breaking the bank or your back.

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How to Clean a Wood Deck Without a Pressure Washer

1. Wait for a Dry Spell So You Can Sweep Well

If possible, wait at least three days after the last rain. Remove your grill, furniture, pots, and other items temporarily so that you can clean the hard-to-reach areas.

top view of a deck
Image Credit: Cameron Smith, Unsplash

2. Find a DIY Deck Cleaner Recipe

Some people like to use equal parts water, vinegar, and baking soda. The vinegar disinfects while the baking soda deodorizes. A bucket full of laundry detergent and water, or dish soap and water, does the trick, too. Bleach is a popular choice for cleaning in general, but it’s not recommended for treated wood since it can strip the color.

3. Use a Commercial Deck Cleaner for Extra-Stubborn Stains

If a DIY solution simply isn’t cutting it, you can buy a chemical deck cleaner from a hardware store. Just be sure to make sure it’s safe to use on treated wood. You’ll also probably need to wear gloves and eye protection to guard against caustic chemicals.

Household detergent
Image Credit By: Michael-T, Pixabay

4. Mop the Deck

Once you’ve prepared your solution, pour it into a bucket and mop. Let the solution rest on the deck boards for at least fifteen minutes before rinsing.

5. Scrub the Hard-to-Reach Areas with a Stiff Brush or a Sponge

Although you can do most of the cleaning upright, you might have to stoop down to scrub away the pesky stains in between the grooves of the boards where the mop can’t quite reach. Remember to always scrub with the grain of the wood to minimize your risk of scratching your beautiful boards.

Cleaning brush on wood
Image Credit: PhotoStockPhoto, Shutterstock

6. Rinse

A water hose on deck is the best option. If you don’t have a hose nearby, dump out your old mop solution and mop again with plain water to rinse. If you have a hose attachment with a high-powered water spray setting, you can also use that to blast away any leftover grime or residue.

7. Allow the Deck to Dry

Wait until the deck is completely dry before returning your patio paraphernalia to their home. As you’re setting up your deck again, elevate the furniture as much as possible on blocks or spacers to curtail the growth of mildew and mold underneath.

Ipe wood deck
Image Credit: Radoslav Cajkovic, Shutterstock

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It isn’t too challenging or time-consuming to scrub the deck without a pressure washer. In many cases, manually cleaning the deck is actually a better choice overall, especially if the wood isn’t in the best shape. Indeed, composite boards should never be power washed, so mopping the deck may be your only option unless it’s made out of real wood. Cleaning with household items such as vinegar and baking soda are the safest bet. If you decide to use a store-bought deck cleaner, make sure it’s safe to use on wood first before you try to mop.

While you should still wash your deck at least once or twice a year to extend its life, waiting until the boards are dry to return things to the deck and then raising furniture and grills off the ground can reduce the risk of mold and mildew. These pesky fungi are unsightly, harder to clean than plain dirt, and bad for the health of you and your deck.

Featured Image Credit: Fab_ Fotos, Unsplash


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