Best Deck Cleaners 2020 4.6/5 (219)

by Deck Stain Help

Updated February 3rd, 2020

Update 2020 on Best Deck Cleaners

Please read this article and post any questions you have in the comment area below our article. Our newly enhanced website now offers the ability to upload and post pictures of your exterior wood or deck so we are able to answer any questions you may have on prepping your deck and using a deck cleaner that will work well and without damaging your wood.


In this article, we are going to review the Best Deck Cleaners and cover what actually is “Wood Deck Cleaner”. We will compare the different types of deck cleaning options available and what are the positives and negatives of each.

Bleach is Bad for Wood DecksWood and Deck Cleaners in 2020

Exterior wood and deck cleaners are designed to clean and prep your exterior wood prior to an application of a wood stain. These cleaners come in many different concentrates with different ingredients. The main purpose of deck cleaners is to remove contaminants such as dirt, oxidation (graying), mold, algae, and in some cases, a very deteriorated stain that has failed. Deck cleaners are typically made up of caustics soaps that will aid in the scrubbing or pressure washing of your wood during the prepping process. Most deck cleaners will raise the pH balance of the wood resulting in a neutralizing acid (deck brightener) application to cancel the caustic of the cleaner, leaving the wood in a neutral state.

Note: Deck cleaners are not designed to remove old stains. You would need a deck stain stripper for this.

The Top-Rated Wood Deck Cleaners

1. Restore-A-Deck Cleaner Rating

Restore-A-Deck Cleaner Kit Review

Restore-A-Deck Cleaner Kit Review

Restore-A-Deck is the first product on the market that offers both a Step 1 Deck Cleaner and a Step 2 Deck Brightener in the same kit. Restore-A-Deck comes in a powdered concentrated formula. Each 2 lb container makes 5 liquid gallons. Simply pour each into a five-gallon container and add water to dissolve the powder concentrate.

Manufacturer: Restore A Deck
Product Type: Powdered Concentrate. Kit contains Step 1 Deck Cleaner and Step 2 Deck Brightener
Available Sizes: 2 Pound Container Makes 5 Liquid Gallons
Consumer Star Ratings: Not Rated by Consumers Yet
DeckStainHelp.com Review (On a Scale of 1-10): 9.0

See Review Article Here: Restore-A-Deck Cleaner Kit Review

2. Gemini’s Restore Cleaner Rating

Gemini Restore-A-Deck Kit

Gemini Restore-A-Deck Kit Review

Gemini’s Restore Cleaner and Brightener system is a powerful “eco-friendly” two-part restoration system. 100% Biodegradable Concentrated powder formula. Prep wood surfaces for re-coating with a wood or deck stain and restores weathered gray wood to natural color.

Important Note: Restore-A-Deck privates labels this for Gemini

Where to Buy: Gemini Restore Cleaner Kit
Product Type: Powdered Concentrate. Kit contains Step 1 Deck Cleaner and Step 2 Deck Brightener
Available Sizes: 2 Pound Container Makes 5 Liquid Gallons
Consumer Star Ratings: 4.7/5 (9)
DeckStainHelp.com Review (On a Scale of 1-10): 9.0

See Review Article Here: Gemini Restore Cleaner Kit Review

3. Defy Wood Cleaner Rating

Defy Wood Deck Cleaner Review

Defy Wood Deck Cleaner Review

Defy Wood Deck Cleaner is a safe alternative to chlorine bleach-based cleaners. Defy Wood Cleaner is highly effective at removing general dirt, grime, and UV graying while restoring the wood’s natural color tones. Environmentally safe, powdered, oxygen-based concentrate that makes 5 liquid gallons per container.

Where To Buy: Defy Wood Cleaner
Product Type: Powdered Concentrate
Available Sizes: 2 Pound Container Makes 5 Liquid Gallons
Consumer Star Ratings: 4.3/5 (6)
DeckStainHelp.com Review (On a Scale of 1-10): 8.5

See Review Article Here: Defy Wood Cleaner Review

4. EFC-38 Wood Cleaner Rating

EFC38 ReviewEFC-38 was designed to clean and prep all exterior wood.  EFC-38 is safe to use and makes an excellent tool for wood preparation prior to applying a wood coating.

Where To Buy: Only Online
Product Type: Powdered Deck Cleaner Concentrate
Available Sizes: 2 lb. Container Makes 5 Liquid Gallons, 10 lb. Container Makes 20 Liquid Gallons
Consumer Star Ratings: 3.8/5 (3)
DeckStainHelp.com Review (On a Scale of 1-10): 7.0

See Review Article Here: EFC-38 Deck Cleaner Review


The Different Types of Wood Deck Cleaners

Oxygenated Deck Cleaners

Oxygenated based deck cleaners have really taken hold in the last 10 years. These cleaners contain the active ingredient Sodium Percarbonate. This is a registered ingredient by the EPA for mold and mildew removal. Deck cleaners that contain this ingredient will also contain additional surfactants that will “boost” the overall effectiveness when cleaning exterior wood. These cleaners come in powdered concentrates that are mixed with water then applied to the wood’s surface. Best applied with a garden pump sprayer then scrubbed or lightly pressure washed off.

Pros: Environmentally safe and effective cleaner. Registered mold removal by the EPA. Very cost-effective. Excellent at the removal of contaminants.

Cons: Must be mixed with water to the desired concentration. Only active for 30 minutes. Some need warm water for the best results.

Examples: Restore-A-Deck Kits, Defy Wood Deck Cleaner, Gemini Restore Kit, EFC-38

Bleach Based Deck Cleaners

Many of the older deck cleaners contained the active ingredient called Sodium Hypochlorite or what is commonly known as “bleach”. These deck cleaners will contain bleach that “whiten” the wood and some additional soapy surfactants that will aid in the cleaning of dirt and grime. Bleach-based cleaners have recently been found to damage the wood’s lignin that will help bind the cellular structure of the wood.

Pros: Premixed in liquid form. Excellent mold and algae remover.

Cons: May cause damage to the wood cells. Average cleaner.

Examples: Olympic Deck Cleaner, Clorox Deck Cleaners, Cabot

DeckStainHelp.com Best Deck Cleaner Suggestions:

We really like the “Oxygenated” Deck Cleaners. Since they come in a powdered form they are much less expensive. When you have the combination of Sodium Percarbonate and the proper surfactants, your cleaning will be easier and the end result will be hard to beat.

*Remember, the better the wood is prepped the longer the life of your stain and the overall appearance will be improved.

5 178
4 23
3 4
2 1
1 11
0 0

Please Rate This. You may also post comments or ask questions below.

Related Deck Stain Help Articles & Reviews

446
Ask a Question or Post a Review

avatar
 
smilegrinwinkneutralshockunamusedcooloopsrollcryeeklolmadsadexclamationquestionhmmbeg
Photo and Image Files
 
 
 
 
Audio and Video Files
 
 
 
 
newest oldest
Scott
Scott

Does valspar all in one wood prep remove old stain and urathane ? Does it strip wood

Stephen
Stephen

Hi, I just had an Ipe deck installed. Unfortunately, a painting crew showed up early, and i had to pause before applying oil. The painters covered the deck with brown butcher paper to protect it. Even more unfortunate, it rained that night. When i removed the brown paper the next morning, there are clear “lines” where the water had pooled on the paper. How do I remove the lines so that I can apply my first coat of oil?

Walter
Walter

Hello. I am planning to use an oxygenated-based (Sodium Percarbonate) deck cleaner, followed with an acidic (Oxalic Acid) brightener. Is it okay if these two products are of different brands?

Ashley
Ashley

Hi I’m looking for a good 5Ltr light oak fence stain / paint that covers really well any suggestions on brand and where to buy ?? . Thanks

Ashley
Ashley

Hello, I applied oxyclean with sprayer, let it sit for 10 minutes, then pressure washed to clean pine fence. Is it still necessary to use a wood brighter and what brand would you recommend?

Missy
Missy

Planning on refinishing our deck but don’t really need to redo much of the upright portion. In the past we have sanded the deck down and restained which is the plan. Had a lot of algae and mold growth this year and scrubbed much of it off. Was thinking of treating the flat boards with borate before restaining. The deck is several years old. Is this recommended and will the borate damage the stain on the uprights? Also, what’s the best grit of sandpaper to use so the wood will take the stain well? Starting to wonder if too fine of a sand is part of the problem casing us to have to refinish often.

Nate
Nate

Hey seen some great questions/answers. Just thinking of doing something with a 2 year old PT wood deck that is about 14 * 18 with metal railings.

What are the best products and procedures? I have heard not to pressure wash. I’ve heard use cleaner and brightened. I’ve also heard just apply sealer.

What are your recommendations and what are the best products? I must state I live in Ontario Canada.

Erick
Erick

I have a 2 yr old treated pine deck that hasn’t been finished since completed. How should I prepare it for finish?

M. Frank
M. Frank

I live in New England where decks are subject to extreme cold and snow in winter, lots of rain in the spring and hot, humid summer days. I had a new, low level deck out of pressure treated wood (first bad decision) built 7 years ago, 15 x 24. Sealed it myself after letting it sit for one season. It grayed and looked dingy at year 2, so I cleaned it. But I didn’t like the the inconsistency of color, some spots brighter than others, some spots very dark – so I stained it in year 3 with a product from Lowes. Big mistake. The stain began peeling the following season. I lived with it. At year 5 it needed a good cleaning and re-staining. I decided to hire a professional to clean and re-stain with Benjamin Moore Accolade, which is what he recommended. Another big mistake. The finish was a magnet for mildew and pollen and also peeled slightly. So this year, to save $, I decided clean my deck myself. Used Olympic Deck Cleaner to clean the stained deck – based on advice from Home Depot customer service rep. Another bad decision on my part. It took off the mildew and pollen along with removing the stain in several places. It also left a white, powdery film that I cannot get off no matter how much I brush. The professional’s advice is to completely strip the deck, clean, and re-stain. The cost to do so is 50% of what replacing the deck boards will cost me and I am still faced with seasonal cleaning & sealing. I could be a commercial for composite decking or stone patios. Am weighing my options at present.

M. Frank
M. Frank

Have tried to post, however not sure it uploaded

Syracuse, NY
Syracuse, NY

I have a two level deck on North side with towering pine trees nearby and a serious discoloration issue. I’d like to try to just clean it and see if I can get by another season before having to resurface again. (I spend more time working on this deck than enjoying it.) Can you provide recommendation?

Railing.jpg
Lower Deck.jpg
Upper Deck.jpg
Steve
Steve

Just wondering if you have used Timber Pro UV Clean & Brite deck cleaner or can recommend this product?

Joan
Joan

What to clean my white painted railings with yellow pollen stains on them and not ruin the white paint

Deb
Deb

The natural wood stain is under a covered porch and the lighter wood is exposed to the outside. What should I use to clean and prepare for a new coat of Cabot’t ATO?

06D74F5A-3AF8-48D5-9710-CFFF895A6830.jpeg
Kevin O'Leary
Kevin O'Leary

Here’s a picture

image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg
Kevin O'Leary
Kevin O'Leary

Installed pressure treated deck prior to last winter (7 months ago). Live here in Ontario Canada. Looking to seal / stain deck. How long do I wait and what is best product – we’re looking at Penofin transparent penetrating oil finish stain and sealer? Also, deck goes around outdoor pool

Cheryl Barth
Cheryl Barth

I have a Brazilian hard wood deck ( it has never been stained or treated) it is cleaned when needed with power washer.

I am contemplating an oil treatment. Which product?

I also have significant algea on the under carriage of the deck support beams. Which I assume is some kind of treated wood. What do I do to clean and treat this area?

John Boyd
John Boyd

What do you recommend I do to our deck. It is a older treated deck that has been stained. I want to clean it up and if needed restain. In past i used bleach and water to get rid of mildew and mold thha pressure washed if needed or just pressure washed.

MLW
MLW

How well do these products work to prepare wood for stain? Better than others which leave residue and/or clog pores interfering with bonding? Any pre-mixed versions??? Thanks.

Candy Ludwig
Candy Ludwig

What is the best product to clean a rolled bamboo fence? What is the best product to restore the color?

C.c
C.c

Where does oxalic acid cleaner fall here? Such as the behr cleaner/brightener

SDeck
SDeck

What should I use to clean a scraped and sanded deck, prior to re-staining with Flood Solid stain, that is over a metal-roofed porch?

Janet Terry
Janet Terry

I just stained my redwood deck with twp 102 Redwood semI transparent. what is the best way to maintain it for next few years

Calvin Duggin
Calvin Duggin

Have y’all tested superdeck revive? Thoughts opinions on it? Any other brand that is local box store? Thanks

Mary Orn
Mary Orn

what deck cleaner will not harm metal?

Mary Orn
Mary Orn

Looking for a deck cleaner that is safe if splashed on metal.

Karen Bracken
Karen Bracken

Is Valspar all in one wood prep a good product??

Chris
Chris

Would you recommend using Sodium Metasilicate for cleaning a deck. Is it as good as the Sodium Percarbonate Cleaner?

Wendy
Wendy

What psi power washer is best for deck cleaning?

Brian
Brian

Last year I applied RAD cleaner and brightener to a new cedar deck and then stained with AC cedar semi transparent stain. It has worn a little and I’m going to restain it. Do I need to clean AND brighten again with RAD before staining or just clean and stain?

Kim Dubendorfer
Kim Dubendorfer

My dock needs cleaning. It is already in, sitting on aluminum posts and crossbars. Will I damage the aluminum with the deck cleaner?

Albert Currier
Albert Currier

We have a 20’x20′ 19-year old pressure treated deck that has never been stained. Pictures attached. We receive full south facing sun most of the day. What do you recommend in terms of treatment and stain? Sand and then wash?
Thanks in advance for any advice and help.

15538968680002044611710532486901.jpg
15538968454416456191195166245303.jpg
15538968002461825816452072233821.jpg
Kevin Jones
Kevin Jones

What is the best stain for composite decking? The decking is old and we do not like the color? How would we prep it, I power wash it and it looks clean enough to apply a product.

Todd
Todd

I had a guy pressure wash my 1 year old deck today so I can stain it. He used a soap and bleach mixture and said deck wash is just bleach anyway. Now my deck looks more white than natural wood color. Half my deck is covered so it still looks new. He’s willing to do whatever he needs to do to fix it. Can you make a recommendation to correct this. It’s white and sticky and has many wood fibers and fuzz on it also. How transparent of a stain should I use also so it matches where its covered and uncovered also. You can see the difference in the pics if they uploaded correctly.

C4A846F1-0743-4048-AA51-B4D3524C7E39.jpeg
5E2002C0-90E4-479B-93AD-4A932FA0FD8C.jpeg
7FB477A6-1327-4EE7-B3F5-F07514486876.jpeg
Jon
Jon

Behr Deck cleaner does NOT contain bleach(sodium hypochlorite)
It is an oxalic acid dihydrate/enzymes based cleaner. Safe for wood and most exterior surfaces.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

Had our 1 year old cedar deck cleaned and stained this spring. By summer it is filthy and looks like we poured dirt on it and let it sit there. Obviously needs a thorough cleaning again but wondering if we used the wrong stain. Used Sherwin SuperDeck oil based sem transparent Deck stain.

Katie K.
Katie K.

Our deck was built over a year ago and we let it weather. Yesterday we cleaned it with Olympic brand deck cleaner. One of the sprayers we used had a faulty valve and it sprayed unevenly and now we have bleached out spots in those areas. The rest of the deck looks fine, but those areas are very mottled. What should we do? Do we need to sand it? Reclean it?

Carole
Carole

How well does the water based Restore a Deck stain work on Ipe decks? It has been untreated for 14 years. I plan to use a power washer with a Deck Cleaner and Wood Brightener first. Assume for best results I should also sand it? Thanks!

Nan
Nan

We have a cedar deck that we would like to prep for staining. We just installed a powder coated aluminum railing. What deck cleaning product would be safe to use that will not damage the new rail?

Sande
Sande

My deck is not wood and has a few big stains from sun screen. What can i use to remove then? The regular solution we used with the power washer didn’t work. I appreciate any suggestions. Thank you.

Fran
Fran

Hi, first time home owner. do I need to clean and power wash my deck? Please see attached photos. Any suggestions will be highly appreciated. Thank you.

image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg
Bee
Bee

I used restore a deck cleaner and brightener today on my one year old unstained cedar deck. I plan on staining it next week with Armstrong Clark oil based stain. I vigorously scrubbed the deck with a stiff brush then went over it with a pressure washer as recommended then scrubbed again and rinsed. After applying brightener, my deck is still blotchy with white spots, particularly around area with knots, but also in other areas too. Do I need to repeat the cleaner scrubbing and brightener process, or can I stain it as is?

IMG_20180803_162928633.jpg
IMG_20180803_162849966.jpg
IMG_20180803_162906140_HDR.jpg
Scott Guy
Scott Guy

Our friend has a cabin that has some black mold and moss on it. What would be the best product to clean it and prep it for staining.

15329723035521525763057.jpg
Ralph Winters
Ralph Winters

I need to clean my deck which has no stain, has green mold in some spots and gray in color. I also have shrubs and flowers at the end of the deck. My question is will this hurt my plants? Is it okay to do now or should I wait till fall?

Martin Dowd
Martin Dowd

my deck has been stained with TWP cedar and now it has to be cleaned. What an I use that will not ruin the cedaar that it has on it.

Susan Eastwood
Susan Eastwood

I had new pressure treated deck boards put on last summer but did not get around to staining them.
I had it power washed this spring, but had a outdoor rug under a table at the time.
Now, after I sold the table and rug, I have a big rug mark where the rug was.
I also still have some pot marks left after the power washing.
What do I need to do to the stains to remove them.

Jim
Jim

Before I found your site I used a mix of tsp, Clorox and water and then pressure washed my old pressure treated pine deck. It came out looking very good. Is it now ready to stain after letting it dry out several days?

M. Vance
M. Vance

We have a 1 year old cedar deck that has never been treated. My husband wants to apply Thomson’s water seal in cedar and therefore started to clean the deck to prep (he just wanted to brush it off but I insisted it be cleaner). We bought CIL Scrub-Free cleaner from HomeDepot . Didn’t realize it was bleach-based until he started using it. It seems to have cleaned in some places and not others so the deck is now very mottled looking. Package says you can apply again if needed and that you may have to scrub for a very weathered deck. But after the initial results, am worried about doing a 2nd application. Suggestions?

William DuCharme
William DuCharme

I have cedar deck that l have used oil base stain on then put a coat of linseed oil on has lasted 3 years but need to be cleaned and stained again what should be done to make the deck new again.

Brenda Mendoza
Brenda Mendoza

We put a cedar deck on last summer and then put a sealer on it. It did an awful job and the deck looks awful. I don’t think the sealer soaked into the wood much. My question is can we use an oxygenated cleaner on it lightly sand it, again, and reseal it? If so what kind of sealer do you suggest? Thank you.

Zach_21
Zach_21

Hello,

I am looking to prep a pine pressure treated fence for stain that is about 6 months old with no previous stain and I am curious if a cleaner will remove these white/almost green tinted spots on the wood. Is it a natural part of the wood or is it something that should be cleaned off prior to staining? It doesn’t appear to be mill glaze. Wasn’t sure if that was also part of letting the wood season longer and that it would fade away. I have been advised oxalic acid will remove the green tinting so not sure if that type of cleaner would remove it.

Also, is it recommended to do any light sanding on the fence prior to staining? Or mostly just cleaner/brightener/pressure wash is all you need to do for prep for the best stain outcome.

Thanks I appreciate the help.

pine fence.jpg