How to Clean Your Wooden Deck [Step-By-Step Guide]

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes.

There’s nothing that ruins the aesthetic of a brand new deck like dirt, grime, and stains.

Left untreated, these blemishes can turn into serious problems.

If you want to protect your deck (and your wallet), giving it a regular clean is your best bet.

This article will teach you how to clean a wooden deck, what you’ll need, and why it’s so important.

In this guide to wooden deck cleaning, we’ll look at:

  • The importance of maintaining a clean deck
  • Before you clean: What you need to know
    • How often you should clean your deck
    • Different cleaning methods for wooden decks
    • Equipment you’ll need to clean your deck
  • How to clean your wooden deck, step by step

Alrighty, let’s begin!

Why It’s Essential To Clean Your Wooden Deck

Timber is a porous substance, making it especially vulnerable to infiltration by unwanted substances such as dirt or grime.

When the sun’s hot, your wooden deck can warp, opening those pores up to whatever may come their way.

That’s why a regular deck clean, done correctly, is your best defense against permanent damage.

5 big reasons to regularly clean your wooden deck

  • A dirty deck can lead to permanent stains, mould, mildew, splinters, and eventually, rot.
  • Reparation or replacement can be costly – especially with global timber prices rising and an NZ-wide shortage on our hands.
  • By eliminating hazards such as loose leaves and grime, you’re keeping your family safe from nasty falls.
  • Regular cleaning will help you identify loose floorboards, missing screws, and rot before they endanger somebody.
  • And lastly, because a clean and shiny deck makes your home look fantastic!

First, let’s look at some of the ‘must-know stuff’ around deck cleaning to make sure you’re ready.

Here’s What You Need To Know Before You Start

Preparation is the key to success for any DIY home-cleaning job.

The information in this section will make sure you’re 100% ready to take on the task of cleaning your deck before you get started.

How often should I clean my wooden deck?

This is a common question for deck owners, and the answer depends on the weather and the location of your deck.

You’ll want to give your wooden deck a thorough cleaning seasonally, or whenever the weather changes from cold and wet to hot and humid.

If your deck is in a place where organic materials such as leaves and flowers end up on it, you should also give it a regular sweep (once per week in autumn).

And even if it’s in a relatively sheltered location, a fortnightly or monthly sweep will help to prevent a build-up of any unwanted materials that do find their way onto your deck.

Different cleaning methods for wooden decks

There are a few common tactics for cleaning and maintaining a wooden deck.

Here are some of the main ones:

The Sweep

The best way to clean your deck without a pressure washer is to prevent built-up residue with frequent sweeping.

For regular cleaning – weekly, fortnightly, or monthly – a simple sweep with a hard-bristled broom will suffice. It may also pay to use a putty knife to clear out the cracks between your timber boards.

The Sand

If a deck has been left untreated for a long time and some stains simply won’t come out, one option is to sand the top layer of the timber and start from scratch.

Be careful when using an electric sander on dry wood, as it can get very hot very fast. You should also give the new layer of wood a fresh seal to protect it from the weather.

The Big Clean

This is your seasonal, all-important, total wash.

Even with regular sweeping, your deck is going to need a more thorough clean from time to time. The big clean is the best way to clean a wood deck and boost its longevity.

Check out our step-by-step guide below for all you need to know about this method.

The Seal

Sealing and staining your wooden deck is crucial to prevent damage from the sun, wind, and rain.

Depending on the product you use, it’s good practice to reseal and restain your deck every 3–5 years.

What you’ll need to clean your wooden deck

Before you start cleaning, make sure you have all the right equipment ready to get the job done.

Here’s a list of everything you will need to clean your wooden deck:

  • A long-handled, stiff-bristled broom.
  • Gloves.
  • Safety glasses.
  • A mat or tarpaulin (to protect the area around the deck).
  • A mask.
  • A pressure washer.
  • A bucket.
  • A putty knife.
  • A stiff scrubbing brush.
  • Oxygenated bleach (or an alternative wood-cleaning solution).

Once you’ve got everything assembled and ready to go, it’s time to get cleaning!

A Step-By-Step Guide To Cleaning A Wooden Deck

The best time to clean your wooden deck is on a clear, sunny day. This will ensure you do not miss any spots while doing your cleaning and speed up the drying process.

Here’s how to clean your deck step by step:

Step 1) Prepare and sweep

The first step is to remove everything that’s currently on your deck, including any tables or chairs that are not bolted to the wood.

Next, using your long-handled brush, methodically sweep outwards and away from your house, until the entire deck is clear of dust, cobwebs, and loose debris or detritus.

Before you go any further, inspect the deck for loose screws, rot, and other dangers. Replace any loose screws you may find, and contact a licensed professional to replace the timber if there is rot.

Step 2) Clear the cracks

It’s easy for bits of dirt to end up in the cracks between your timber.

Using a putty knife or similar object, scrape out any unwanted materials that have worked their way into the gaps between the wood.

Step 3) Apply pressure

Before you get the pressure washer out, make sure you cover any surrounding objects/areas with a tarpaulin (unless you don’t mind them getting dirty).

Put on your gloves, safety glasses, and mask.

Be sure to use low pressure when cleaning timber with a water blaster. If you use too much pressure, you may damage your deck.

Use the pressure washer to remove any remaining dirt with overlapping strokes. Move away from the house to prevent loose dirt from sticking onto your walls and windows.

Step 4) Scrub the smaller areas

If particular parts of the deck are clotted with stubborn organic materials or dark stains, then it can pay to give them a solid scrub with a stiff scrubbing brush.

Cleaning a wood deck with bleach will help to break down and destroy organic matter and stains that a normal wash might miss.

First, create a 50/50 mixture of oxygenated bleach and warm water (or use one of the other wood-cleaning solutions available on the market).

Next, spread the mixture over the areas you wish to scrub.

Allow 20 minutes for the solution to soak in and get to work. Then give the applied areas a thorough scrub with your brush until the residue has been removed.

Step 5) Rinse and dry

If you followed Step 4 and used a solution on your wooden deck, rinse it off using a hose or water blaster.

Grab your broom again and sweep away any large puddles of water; this will help the deck to dry faster. Allow your deck to completely dry before restoring any furniture or other objects to their original locations.

That’s it – you’re all done. Nice work.

Happy Cleaning!

We hope this guide has helped you with your deck-cleaning endeavours!
Remember, safety always comes first. If you’d prefer our expert team of outdoor cleaning professionals to look after it for you, click here to book in your next clean or get an instant quote here.