Wood deck cleaners are used to clean and prepare exterior wood prior to staining or sealing. Wood cleaners can contain different ingredients and come in different concentrations. The goal of a deck cleaner is to remove natural pollutants like dirt, grime, graying, fungal growth, and sometimes an old failing stain. Most deck cleaners contain caustic detergents that help break up contaminants making it easier to clean by scrubbing or pressure washing. This caustic nature will cause the wood to be alkaline, which is not ideal for accepting stain. Using a deck brightener after cleaning will neutralize the high pH and prepare the deck for stain.
Oxygenated Deck Cleaners
Oxygenated deck cleaners have become increasingly popular in the past decade. These types of deck cleaners contain Sodium Percarbonate an active ingredient that is EPA registered for removing mold and mildew. Oxygenated deck cleaners also include additional surfactants that help boost the total cleaning effectiveness. These powdered concentrated cleaners are mixed with water and applied to the wood with a pump sprayer then scrubbed or pressure washed off. Oxygenated deck cleaners are eco-friendly, easy to use, and extremely effective.
Bleach Deck Cleaners
Bleach deck cleaners contain an active ingredient called Sodium Hypochlorite also known as common bleach. Bleach cleaners also contain surfactants that aid in wood cleaning. Bleach is an excellent mold and mildew remover. However, recently bleach deck cleaners have been found to harm the wood’s lignin. Lignin is the organic substance that binds the cells, fibers, and vessels of the wood. Bleach can dry out and possibly damage the wood cells and is only an average cleaner of dirt and grime.
When it comes to bleach vs. oxygenated deck cleaners most professionals like the safe and effective job that the oxygenated cleaners are capable of. Oxygenated deck cleaners like Restore-A-Deck, Defy Wood Cleaner, and EFC 38 have all been proven to properly clean and prepare wood decks prior to a stain application.