Decks require regular cleaning to preserve their life and beauty. Though there are many commercial products available for this purpose, you can make your own deck cleaner at home.
A deck, which is constantly exposed to natural elements like sunlight, frost and rain, requires regular maintenance. Regular cleaning can prevent buildup of mold, algae and dirt. Maintenance is more vital in case of wooden decks, which are more prone to rot and other problems. As compared to wood, other materials like steel and vinyl, require less maintenance.
Cleaning is an important part of its maintenance irrespective of the material used to build the deck. Deck cleaners are considered an integral part of deck protection and their use is aimed at removing dirt, grime, germs, stains, algae, and mildew. Though a wide range of deck cleaning products are available in the market, homemade ones are preferred by many, as most of the commercial products contain harsh chemicals. Homemade ones are also cheaper, when compared to their commercial counterparts.
How to Make a Deck Cleaning Solution
You need TSP or trisodium phosphate (which can be bought from any hardware store), warm water, and a little amount of bleach. Bleach is necessary to remove microorganisms like algae and mildew, but make sure that you are using the household bleach and not the commercial one, which is very strong. TSP, which is in the form of a white-colored powder, has to be mixed with warm water and bleach to make the deck cleaning solution.
Take two gallons of warm water and mix one to 1½ cup of TSP in it. Once the TSP has dissolved, add ½ cup of household bleach to this solution. This solution is good enough for heavy-duty cleaning. Make sure to protect yourself by wearing goggle, mask, gloves and protective clothing as well as footwear, while mixing and using chemicals. You can reduce the amount of bleach, if there is less algae growth.
You can even start with a mild solution of one cup TSP, two gallons of warm water, and a small amount of bleach. You can make it stronger (not more than what is mentioned in the recipe) if this solution is not found to be effective. If you are not in favor of using TSP or bleach, then try other homemade deck cleaner recipes that will be discussed later.
Deck Cleaning Tips
Start the cleaning process by watering the deck. This helps in opening up the pores of the wood, which in turn facilitates easier cleaning. Attach a scrub brush to a pole and apply the cleaning solution over the surface of the deck with the brush. Scrub the surface to remove the dirt and algae. If the deck is looking clean, you can remove the cleaning solution with water.
Hose down enough water to remove the cleaning solution entirely. If you are not satisfied with the results, you can repeat the process. Never try to add more TSP or bleach to make the solution more effective. You must wash and remove the cleaner completely, before it dries on the deck surfaces.
If the deck is made of cedar wood, bleach can cause harm to it. So, in case of this type of deck, you can go for a pressure wash, with cold water. If the deck is made of any other material, make sure that the ingredients of the cleaning solution do not cause damage to it. If you want to be more eco-friendly, refrain from using bleach or opt for oxygen bleach instead.
It will be better to keep your kids and pets away, while you prepare and use deck cleaning solutions with chemicals. It is also advisable to cover the plants nearby with some sort of barrier, so that they do not get affected with these chemicals. Make sure that the cleaning solution does not reach the plants or the soil in which they are growing.
Homemade Deck Cleaner Recipes
✦ Baking soda is one of the best materials you can use, as far as deck cleaning is concerned. Spread some baking soda on the deck surface and spray white vinegar over it. Scrub with a brush, before rinsing off with water.
✦ Vinegar is one of the commonly found household materials that can be used for cleaning the deck. For making an effective deck cleaning solution at home, all you have to do is mix three cups white vinegar with a gallon of water. This solution can be used for regular light cleaning. Allow it to remain on the deck surfaces for at least ten minutes, before light scrubbing and cleaning.
✦ If you want a stronger cleaning solution for occasional use, then go for this recipe. For making this recipe, you need a cup of oxygen bleach that has to be combined with three quarts water. Add ¾ cup of liquid dish detergent to this solution and mix well. Apply it on the deck and scrub with a brush. Wash the deck surface with water.
✦ You may also use a mixture of water and oxygen bleach for light cleaning. Take around three-fourth cup of oxygen bleach for a gallon of water. You can replace oxygen bleach with a cup of laundry detergent powder for the same amount of water.
✦ If there are grease stains on the deck surface, you may use laundry detergent powder on them. Spread it over the stains and scrub, before rinsing with water. Some people use oxalic acid crystals for removing stains on the deck. It (one tablespoon for a gallon of water) has to be mixed with water, before application on stains.
The above said are some of the commonly used homemade deck cleaners. These deck cleaners are easy to make and are just as effective as commercial deck cleaners. Moreover, they are cost-effective and will not cause harm to your deck, if made and used in the proper manner. You may also go for a patch test to check the effectiveness of the homemade cleaner in cleaning deck surfaces. This will also help you to find out whether the cleaner will harm the deck surface. It will be better to seek the opinion of an expert, before using a particular cleaning solution on deck surfaces, especially the expensive ones.