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Best Deck Cleaners 4.7/5 (74)

In this article, we are going to 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.

Wood and Deck Cleaners

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.

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 removal of contaminants.

Cons: Must be mixed with water to desired concentration. Only active for 30 minutes. Some need warm water for 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: Behr 2 in 1 Deck Prep, Clorox Deck Cleaners, Cabot 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.

We suggest in order:

1. Restore-A-Deck

2. Defy Wood Cleaner

3. EFC-38 Wood Cleaner

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

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237 responses to “Best Deck Cleaners”

  1. PLEASE HELP! says:

    I spilled coffee on the deck and i need to know how to remove the stain… The deck isnt wood…

  2. Pat F says:

    what cleaner is best to use for a wood balcony with pavers under. I do not want to change the color of the pavers.
    thank you

  3. Harriet says:

    we have a cedar deck st the cottage that needs help!
    It has been stained in previous years.
    What should I do?
    I am thinking of using Wood Sheild Best cedar semi on it
    What should I use first to prep it

  4. Lynn Mucci says:

    I have a post and beam BC Cedar covered porch. Posts and railings are cedar with pressure treated deck boards. There is stone on the wall. When built we were told to seal with Varathane, which we did. Last couple of years it has been graying and peeling, so we took on the project to restore this year. We sanded for nearly a week, but there is still some of the varathane sticking, so I went to paint store and they recommended a stripper. I tried it in one part (just painting it on, and it was a horrible mess, darking the wood where the stain had been removed by sanding and forming a goopy mess on the rest of it. I tried to wash it off, with limited success. Let it dry and tried to resand, but wood still remained blotchy dark spots. So, we thought maybe if we used the same product the bit of stain left would just blend with the new….we didn't get very far when we discovered that wouldn't work. I have no idea what to do now. It is complicated by the stone wall, making it difficult to spray on any treatments. Any advice would be appreciated.

  5. Shelly says:

    We used Olympic Premium deck cleaner on our 3 month old cedar deck to prepare it for staining and now it lighter in color, has dark spots it didn't before and a thin film on the surface after we rinsed it. What happened and how do we fix it?

  6. Gloria says:

    Can I apply Twp stain ov a deck treated with one time natural? Should I just clean and brighten or is it necessary to use a stripper? Or reapply one time after cleaning? OT has been on for. 4 years.

  7. kentcoee says:

    I have new,freshly stained deck (Sherwin Williams semi-transparent stain) that is covered in Alabama red clay dust. What is your recommendation for removing the clay dust film without harming the finish? Pressurized hose pipe is not enough pressure. Thank you.

  8. Sandra says:

    We have a brand new 800sq ft cedar deck that is covered in mold after just a few weeks. We tried cleaning with 4 parts water to 1 part bleach. Not sure if we managed to kill all the mold or not, but regardless, the black stains remain all over the deck. We are planning to finish with TWP 1500, but need to wait until spring per the manufacturers instructions. What is the best way to both clean the mold stains and ensure all the mold is dead? Also, how can we prevent this from happening again??

    • Clean and brighten for the prep in the Spring with the Restore A Deck Kits and pressure washing. Unfortunately, there is no way to stop mold from coming back. It can grow on top of any stain brand. The TWP does help prevent mold from growing \”in\” the stain.

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*This is first and foremost a help site from our experience as wood restoration contractors. All stain and prepping manufacturer directions were followed with our reviews and ratings. We offer no guarantee of similar results. Take in consideration that wood and deck stain results may differ due to prepping procedures, different wood types, exposure to UV radiation, natural weathering, etc.