Using Bleach to Clean Decks 4.5/5 (36)

This post was updated on January 19, 2022

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 cleaners we rated contain 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.

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Carol C.
Carol C.
1 month ago

Wood deck was cleaned of algae/ mildew by pressure washing with plain water only. Does it need to be cleaned with a “deck cleaner” or a home-made mix of oxygen cleaner (for clothes laundering) or something else, before treating with clear waterproofing?

Carol C.
Carol C.
1 month ago

Thanks for your advice but please clarify: despite deck appearing clean and bright with pressure cleaning with just water 2 days ago, you recommend ADDITIONAL cleaning with a deck cleaner prior to drying and waterproofing with a clear product? Thanks

David Salmon
David Salmon
3 months ago

I pressure washed my 25 year old deck made out of treated 2 x 4s instead of deck boards. A friend said I should bleach it before resealing it. What do you recommend?

Barb
Barb
7 months ago

I used 30 second outdoor cleaner on my deck, which left a white residue. How do I remove that white residue on my deck?

Cathy
Cathy
11 months ago

Hi there!
I have an old deck that the old solid stain has been peeling off like crazy.
Currently i am in the process of stripping and scraping the whole deck, but the solid stain left in the cracks seems really hard to remove… Any suggestions? Would bleach + power wash remove almost all of the solid stain in the crevices?

Thanks in advance!

Janice
Janice
1 year ago

The preference is sodium percarbonate over sodium hypochlorate (“bleach”?) That’s helpful.

Except I am looking at Lowes and Home Depot online and can not find a single product using sodium percarbonate. Not helpful.

You may not want to name a particular brand, but it would appear to be a bit of a unicorn product. Helpful advice (though I am running out of time)?

Thanks for the explanation of the difference. . . .

Jean
Jean
1 year ago

How can I remove stains from a deck? Some of it won’t come off.its oil based stain

James
James
1 year ago

Have some bleach “stains” on wood deck from pressure washing house. Deck is new and has not been sealed or stained yet. Is there a way to remove bleached spots prior to stain (plan on using semi transparent stain sealer). I imagine the spots will show after application. Thoughts?

Lucille Ettore
Lucille Ettore
2 years ago

But Ready Seal still recommendation for a bleach solution. What to do?🤷🏽‍♀️

Jerry
Jerry
2 years ago

What is the recommended product for cleaning pressure treated deck

Matt Lynch
Matt Lynch
2 years ago

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
2 years ago

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
2 years ago

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
3 years ago

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.

Lew Wilson
Lew Wilson
3 years ago

I thought you weren’t supposed to sand new wood?

Marla Williams
Marla Williams
3 years ago

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

Ryn
Ryn
3 years ago

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
3 years ago

I’m looking for deck cleaner that is pet friendly

Rosemary
Rosemary
4 years ago

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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Rosemary
Rosemary
4 years ago

Thanks but that would basically mean cleaning entire deck with Clorox bleach (diluted 1 part bleach to 1 part water). Won’t that be really bad for my deck (according to everything I’ve read). If instead I just continue doing rest of deck with RAD cleaner and the brightener, and spots still show, would semi-solid stain cover up enough so that it all looks uniform. I was planning to use a semitransparent but I don’t think it would cover the problem. Don’t want to use a semi solid but may be only choice now. Would semi solid cover this? I was thinking of the Armstrong brand since it got better ratings than other semi solids.

Rosemary
Rosemary
4 years ago

Ok thanks. Can you advise what ratio of beach to water. For the deck stamps I used even parts. But I’m afraid to use it that strong as your site says using beach is very bad.

Rosemary
Rosemary
4 years ago

Sorry one more follow up question. If I do use the bleach/water on the whole deck should I use the RAD brightener after that?

Tim Brosnan
Tim Brosnan
4 years ago

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

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