Using Bleach to Clean Decks 4.5/5 (21)

by Deck Stain Help

Update for 2019: Using Bleach to Clean Decks

Here at DeckStainHelp.com, we take pride in the fact that we have become the Internet’s go-to source for all things exterior wood and deck restoration related. Since we’ve published this article, we have received some input on the best deck cleaner to use on wood decks. Like before, we do not recommend cleaners with bleach. Instead, opt for a high-quality cleaner without bleach. We always appreciate your input, so feel free to leave a comment below with pictures of your deck stain projects.


Bleach and Wood Decks. Is it a good idea?

Bleach Is Bad For Wood

Bleach Is Bad For Wood

There is a lot of debate as to whether or not bleach or bleach-based products can be used to clean a wood deck. After all, bleach is cheap and readily available and has always been known as a household cleaner. To better understand this dilemma, let’s take a look at what bleach is.

There are several types of bleach but we will stick to the most common. Chlorine bleach like found in swimming pools and household bleach contains sodium hypochlorite. Oxygen bleach like found in many bleach based wood cleaners contains hydrogen peroxide or sodium percarbonate. All of the top 3 deck cleaner we rate contains a blend of sodium percarbonate and special buffers that are designed to work on exterior wood.

Typically for cleaning wood, the sodium percarbonate cleaners fair much better than sodium hypochlorite bleach. The bleach that most are referring to when asking if it is safe on wood, is generally regular household bleach or chlorine. This type of bleach has been proven to whiten the wood and damage the wood’s lignin that helps bind the cellular structure of the wood. In other words, bleach (sodium hypochlorite) can damage the wood cells.

In addition, although bleach does an excellent job of removing mold and mildew, it is only an average cleaner at best. Bleach will not remove some of the dirt and grime that may be present in the wood. Removing old existing deck stains or sealers from the wood prior to refinishing is another crucial step in restoring a deck. Bleach will also not remove these contaminants resulting in a poor finish.

There are much better wood deck cleaning alternatives out there other than bleach or bleach-based cleaners. Bleach is not a great wood cleaner, it can damage the wood fibers, and can be unsafe to handle. Stick with cleaners that are designed for wood cleaning and prepping wood decks for stain.

Have A Question on Deck Cleaning? Ask Below


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Matt Lynch
Matt Lynch

Used a bleach cleanser on my cedar deck and it left a white residue on surface of the cedar deck.How can I get rid of the white residue on the surface. I hope u have a good way to remove the white residue from bleach. I need to stain and seal really need a solution. Thanks so much.

Chris
Chris

What is the dangers of mixing Sodium Hypochlorite with Sodium Percarbonate to clean? Will it produce a harmful gas or will the Oxygenated bubbles cause a harmful burst of chlorine/bleach fumes?

Jackie Roux
Jackie Roux

I’ve used destripping cleaner twice to remove acrylic
Paint on deck. Still have big area where it is still on
Looking for other ideas?

Lew Wilson
Lew Wilson

my new deck has weathered for 7 months. I used chlorine bleach on my new deck to clean off mold and mildew. It shows some of the wood fibers on many parts of the deck. Should I sand them off, or use RAD deck brightner before I use RAD semi-transparent stain? Or, what is the best solution to utilize in this case. it is pressure treated wood.

Marla Williams
Marla Williams

I used Behr Deckover on my deck a couple years ago, what household cleaner is safe to clean it?

Ryn
Ryn

Unfortunately, I used bleach on my deck this week before I read your column. How can I neutralize damage before I apply TWP?

paul
paul

I’m looking for deck cleaner that is pet friendly

Rosemary
Rosemary

I used chlorine beach mixed with water to scrub lumber stamps on pressure treated deck (about 1 yr old). It partially worked but bleached out the areas badly. I want to clean/stain deck. Got RAD cleaner and brightener. Put cleaner on part of deck. After scrubbing, it was not lightened like the spots I bleached (didn’t put on brightener). Planning on using translucent or semi-transparent stains but these white spots will show thru! See pics. What can i do get the deck uniform in color? Would pressure washer do it?

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Tim Brosnan
Tim Brosnan

How should I treat a mahogany deck if I had begun using bleach to clean it? Someone suggested spraying it w white vinegar.