Deck Cleaning Tips  5/5 (6)

This post was updated on May 13, 2024

I am Scott Paul, a leading exterior restoration contractor and business owner with over 30 years of experience in exterior wood. My reviews and help tips are based on my history as a wood restoration contractor and actual hands-on testing, all designed to present you with the top product choices. See here for more info about me.

My Pro Deck Cleaning Tips for 2024

Thanks for stopping by Deckstainhelp.com! Below, I will discuss Deck Cleaning Tips. Feel free to leave me a comment below with any pictures you may have.

Wood restoration can be one of the most misunderstood services and one of the toughest for do-it-yourself homeowners. One thing to keep in mind is that the main reason a new deck sealer will fail prematurely is that the wood was not appropriately cleaned beforehand.

We always Prep Before Staining

When wood becomes weathered, it needs to be cleaned before sealing. Cleaning a wooden deck can be difficult for a homeowner who is uneducated about the process.

Pressure Washing a Deck Tips

Deck Clean at a Low Pressure Wash

Using a pressure washer can be an effective method. However, you must also use the proper cleaners to get the dirt and grime out deep in the wood. Most people make the mistake of using too much water pressure when using a pressure washer. Wood is actually pretty soft and can be damaged easily from excessive water pressure.

Turning the pressure down on the washing unit or switching to a spray nozzle with a bigger orifice will successfully provide a lower pressure suitable for cleaning. Lower pressure will still give you a deep clean if you use a quality wood cleaner. Wood cleaners break up dirt and debris, allowing less pressure to be adequate for cleaning the wood without risking damage.

Deck Cleaners Save Time

Some wood cleaners are caustic and raise the wood’s pH. Once the wood is clean, it is best to use a brightening or neutralizing product to lower the pH. Most quality wood sealers will be more effective and last longer when applied to a more acidic surface. It is highly recommended not to skip the brightening process after washing.

After the wood has been cleaned correctly and rinsed thoroughly, it must dry for a few days. You can check the wood with a moisture meter, but it isn’t necessary. You don’t want to apply a wood sealer to the deck until the moisture level is below 10%. If you don’t have a moisture meter, waiting a few days is usually adequate before sealing.

My Best Deck Cleaners Video – DeckStainHelp.com

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Scott Paul ~ Restoring Wood & Decks Since 1993 Owner
As an article and comment contributor to the site, Scott has been around the pressure washing industry since attending college. In 1993 he started his first company called Oakland Pressure Wash specializing in exterior pressure washing and deck staining. That company evolved into OPW L.L.C. shortly thereafter concentrating more on exterior wood and deck restoration. Scott and his Deck Cleaning Michigan company have restored over 10,000 decks in the Metro Detroit area since the early years. He has become an authority in the deck restoration industry and has contributed to numerous wood restoration forums and informative sites. All the products he suggests through this site are sold through online sites and in retail stores, allowing the consumer to choose their own means of purchase. Scott’s eCommerce sites do sell many top brands he endorses and if you appreciate any of the help he has offered then feel free to purchase from one of them.

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Stephanie Dunckel
Stephanie Dunckel
1 year ago

Two years ago I used TWP 100 stain on my cedar deck. It still looks decent (some fading here and there). I plan on reapplying TWP stain in spring 2023. Is there anything I should do this year to clean/maintain the deck/stain?

Joe Bethel
Joe Bethel
4 years ago

My current stain is peeling so fast you can almost see it happen.
1. State: Wisconsin
2. Full sun in the afternoon
3.cedar decking
4. no mold or mildew
5. stain peeling
6. Behr clear deck stain

Rhonda Medrek
Rhonda Medrek
4 years ago

I recently stripped the stain off my porch with citrus strip , it only worked partially so I sanded the whole porch , it calls for a paint stripper wash followed by mineral spirits. Is there a safer way to do this I’m very scared of how flammable these are . I live in town and people smoke near my house .

marisar
marisar
5 years ago

My deck is pressure treated wood that had a solid deck stain on it. It has been powerwashed and will be sanded with a drum sander due to damage. I have ordered the Flood Pro Series solid deck stain. Flood told me after sanding the deck, I should also use a deck cleaner, but I do not have time (guy is coming to sand this weekend) to wait for their cleaner to arrive.
Which deck cleaner would you suggest for this scenario?
Is a brightener also necessary if the deck is going to get a solid stain?
thank you!!

danielle
danielle
7 years ago

Location is Chicago
We have a 20 year old deck. We power washed it 2 years ago and applied sealer. 2 years later, it looks gray and old again and some mold on the wood that doesn't get direct sun near the house. Here is my question…We are thinking of sanding the deck. If we do this, in what order should we prep the deck:
step 1 : sand
Step 2: deck cleaners and brightener
step 3: let dry for 48 hours and seal it within 14 days of cleaning it.
Is this the proper order? Also, if it rains day or two before the 14 days mark, will this ruin the wood or will we have to start all over? thanks.

Kathy
Kathy
8 years ago

Nice post.

Ian
Ian
8 years ago

I have just finished using Restoradeck kit twice on my 5 month old large cedar deck. I bought the kit and AC stain from you. My deck now has areas of white possible chemical stains especially around knots.. I followed the instructions to the letter used lots of water to rinse. Deck looks great when wet but really light when dry. I sure don't want to sand and redo at this point because I'm running out of time to stain. What do you suggest?
Best regards

Sarah
Sarah
8 years ago

I have a trex deck with a wood-framed cable railing. The railing frame has begun to turn gray and acquire algae. I don't mind the gray, but I assume I need to clean and brighten the frame, then stain it in order to protect it from the weather. Because the wire railing is fragile, I don't want to use a pressure washer on the frame. Would you recommend using a simple brush to apply a product like Restore-A-Deck, and a hose to wash it off, or is a pressure washer necessary? Also, are you aware of any damage to trex if the product comes into contact with it?

Thank you in advance!

Mike Babbitt
Mike Babbitt
8 years ago

How long after. Staining with a solid color stain can I put a sealer on it?

Brenda
Brenda
9 years ago

We recently finished cleaning, sanding, and applying Thompson water seal to our 12 yr. old deck. It turned out great. This week we had a new patio and natural stone steps installed. Every thing is now covered in a thick layer of stone and paver dust. We have swept and hosed it off several times but soon as it dries, the film of dust reappears. Do you have any suggestions?

John
John
10 years ago

I live in Vernon British Columbia Canada. It's in the interior of BC. We get hot summers and cold winters. I have a new 10 month old deck, that has blue clay footprints on it. When this clay is dry it's like cement dust, when it's wet it's like a greasy clay. The deck is a hard wood deck, the wood is called Kaya. I was told to useTSP and water with a brush, then carefully pressure wash it. It did manage to get most of the dirt out, however the areas that had the most footprints still have the clay in the grain. I just managed to spread it around so you don't see the foot prints but the board still has the clay in it.
Do you have any suggestions for me?
Thanks

Matt
Matt
10 years ago

What is the best method for cleaning railings/balusters/posts? Using the pump sprayer for the vertical balusters/posts is especially frustrating. Any other ideas?

BarbannT
BarbannT
11 years ago

Hi. We cleaned our treated wood deck with Restora Deck but it did not get out cherry stains that occurred before we could stain the deck for the first time. We did not put on the brightener thinking that we should try something else to get the stains out. Any ideas what to try? Oxalic acid wood bleach? Stain stripper? Should I try the brightener next?

BarbannT
BarbannT
11 years ago

Hi. We cleaned our treated wood deck with Restora Deck but it did not get out cherry stains that occurred before we could stain the deck for the first time. We did not put on the brightener thinking that we should try something else to get the stains out. Any ideas what to try? Oxalic acid wood bleach? Stain stripper? Should I try the brightener next?
Thanks.

Chris King
Chris King
11 years ago

I have cleaned my deck in Northern Virginia and frequent rain showers and our vacation have prevented me from staining it for nearly four weeks. Should I clean it again before staining, once I see a five day forecast that looks favorable for cleaning, drying, staining and stain drying (about five days of dry weather)?

Larry Payte
Larry Payte
11 years ago

I keep reading conflicting information about the use of bleach as a cleaner to prep a deck. A guy I know who has being doing this type of work for about 10 years mixes 4 parts clorine bleach with 1 part Spic and Span to clean the wood before staining. He tells me he has never had a problerm with the stain peeling etc. What are your thoughts on this?

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