Sustainability made simple

Homemade Deck Cleaner: The Eco-Friendly Method

homemade deck cleaner
Foto: CC0 / Unsplash / Im3rd Media

Summer beckons and with the warm weather you will want to spend more time on your outdoor deck. Here we outline how to keep your deck clean and protected throughout the year with a homemade deck cleaner.

You outdoor deck will get dirty and dusty no matter how vigilant your cleaning routine is. The good news is you really don’t need to resort to using commercial cleaners which often contain ingredients like ammonia, hydrofluoric acid, ethanol, dyes, and fragrances. By using an eco-friendly homemade deck cleaner you can actually prolong the lifespan of your deck, when combined with a sealer to protect its surface from sunlight and moisture.

How to Make a Homemade Deck Cleaner

Sweep your deck regularly, year round.
Sweep your deck regularly, year round.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / ljlabarthe)

Here’s what you’ll need to make your homemade deck cleaner:

Note: Baking or washing soda and vinegar will react together, creating a foam, so prepare your mix some place where any overflow won’t create a mess.

How to Clean Your Deck

  1. Cover your outdoor plants and nearby garden beds with a plastic sheet to ensure they don’t get damaged by the cleaning solution, just in case the acidity from the vinegar or lemon harms them.
  2. Use a test area to make sure the cleaning solution won’t damage or discolor the decking. Different types of wood and cleaning materials might react adversely.
  3. After combining all your ingredients, spread the mix evenly over the deck surface and use a scrubbing brush with firm bristles to remove any stubborn debris that might have accumulated.
  4. Rinse down your deck with a nearby garden hose or pressure washer if you own one already. Failing that, splashing a few bucketfuls of water across your deck, then brushing off the excess will suffice. In any case you need to rinse of the cleaning solution (and dirt) thoroughly.
  5. Repeat the process if needed.
  6. Once the deck is fully dry, apply an eco-friendly sealer to ensure it looks fresh and will be protected for the year ahead. 

Using A Pressure Washer

Pressure washing isn’t essential, but it will be a big bonus for anyone with a larger deck. Alternatively, you can always hire a pressure washer for the day if you don’t want to purchase your own. 

If opting for a pressure washer, always remember to maintain at least two feet between the nozzle and the deck itself. If held too close to the deck, you could cause damage, stripping protective oils or sealants from the deck surface, and perhaps even the wood in the process. Stick with the manufacturer’s instructions in any event and things should go smoothly.

Deck Maintenance Tips

Try to avoid the build-up of natural debris to keep your deck in good condition.
Try to avoid the build-up of natural debris to keep your deck in good condition.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / naobim)

Here are some additional tips which will assist you in keeping your deck in good condition all year-round.

  • Remember to clean the rails and steps with your homemade deck cleaner, and not just the deck surface.
  • If you don’t have a power washer, a garden hose can do the job just as well — it just requires additional elbow grease and takes a little longer.
  • As a last resort you may need to use oxygen bleach for stubborn mildew and stains. It is less harsh than traditional chlorine bleach, but still use with caution so as to not damage the deck.
  • Move outdoor furniture and potted plants around every now and then to prevent sun bleaching and discoloration.
  • Never let natural debris build-up so that means regular sweeping. Rotting organic debris is the main cause of mildew growth and permanent staining.
  • Mats and furniture made of natural fibers are more likely to attract mildew than synthetic fibers, so keep these clean and dry at all times.
  • Be sure to apply a sealer on an annual basis to protect wood against the sun, wind, rain and seasonal changes in temperature – penetrative sealer for wood surfaces will likely add years to the lifespan of your deck when applied correctly. 

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