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?
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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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.