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Deck Cleaning

We all know that cleaning a deck is a bit of a hassle. But it is a necessary one since the value of your house is directly affected by the state of your deck.

Getting Started
Cleaning a deck can be a very easy job when using the right techniques. Not all techniques involve backbreaking work. Decks can be cleaned using a variety of different chemicals specific to your needs. Decks can be washed with water and a scrub brush, and hosed down with a garden hose. For the more adventurous, decks can be washed with a pressure washer, which uses water under pressure to remove unsightly stains. It is up to you which method you choose.

Chemical Deck Cleaners

Chlorine Bleach
Bleach is the most widely used chemical for cleaning decks. Almost fifty percent of professional cleaners use bleach to brighten decks. However, this cleaner is very controversial due to hazards associated with it.

Bleach functions as an excellent mildew killer as it stops mildew growth at its source. Bleach performs even better if it is mixed with a quality detergent. To use, try adding one part bleach to three parts water, or add 25% bleach to your household detergent.

Phosphoric Acid
Dangerous name, great cleaner. Unfinished decks often have a gray appearance due to aged tannins in the wood. Phosphoric Acid works to remove this discolouration. Phosphoric Acid is often used after cleaning a deck with Sodium Hydroxide Cleaner (SHC). This neutralizes the surface of the wood.

Oxalic Acid
Oxalic Acid is generally used with redwood products and helps to remove tannin and rust stains. It is also used to neutralize wood after it is cleaned with a SHC. However, this chemical is a poor mildew and dirt remover. To use, start with one gallon of water and add 2 to 8 ounces of oxalic acid.

Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)
This chemical is a commonly used product for deck cleaning and stain removal. It is available in any hardware store for home use. To use, add one cup of TSP to 1 gallon of water.

Citric Acid
This acid is milder than Oxalic Acid, so it is appropriate for use on hardwood decks with fine details. It is also good for neutralizing the surface of your deck after using a SHC. Add 2 to 8 ounces of this cleaner to 1 gallon of water for optimum use.

Sodium Hydroxide (high caustic cleaners)
Sodium Hydroxide products are mainly used by professional cleaners. These cleaners can be used with low pressure washers (300 to 1,000) but the chemicals are responsible for most of the resulting cleaning.

Disodium Peroxydicarbonate Oxygen Based Bleach
This cleaner is an environmentally friendly powder and is an excellent brightener for wood decks. However, this product is not suitable for new wood and must be used within 6 hours of mixing with water.