Bleach vs. Oxygenated Deck Cleaners 4.6/5 (19)

This post was updated on January 16, 2024

Bleach or Oxygenated Deck Cleaners

Welcome to, where deck staining experts come to share their knowledge and insights. Water-based stains have come a long way as far as quality and longevity go in the last 10+ years. In this article, we highlight the difference between bleach wood cleaners and oxygenated wood cleaners. As always, comments are encouraged.

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.

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6 years ago

We just used oxyclean w/ a brush and scrubbed down (after sanding). Love the way the color of our cedar looks when wet. What should I use to keep that color and to protect the wood? I really don’t want to use an oil based product. Colorado, 6200 feet (eastern plains, partial sun (faces northwest). Thank you

6 years ago

We live in central Minnesota – Hot, humid summers; harsh cold winters. We used a Behr acrylic deck stain on our new pressure-treated 800 sq. ft. deck two years ago. Significant peeling now on all horizontal surfaces. Planning to pressure-wash and re-coat. How aggressive do we need to get with our cleaning and prep? Is sanding really necessary?

Chuck Millstein
Chuck Millstein
6 years ago

Have a concrete patio that was “painted” many years ago and now has areas where planters stood that are bubbling and peeling. Also, a small addition was added to extend the patio when a sunroom was built over the majority of the existing patio. We now have some painted patio with areas of peeling and some unpainted patio joined to it. Suggestions on resurfacing/”painting” the entire remaining patio are requested.

6 years ago

Try this!

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