How to Wash your Deck

Whether your entire deck has turned gray due to sun and weather exposure or you just have a tough stain to tackle, we can help you restore it to like-new condition.

Washing Your Deck

Manually washing your deck is a lot of work, but the results are well worth the effort.

You Will Need:

  • 80-grit sandpaper
  • Push broom
  • Deck cleaner, such as Woodwash
  • Safety glasses
  • Water hose

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Begin by removing all furniture and other items from the deck surface.
  2. Use 80-grit sandpaper to smooth out rough edges.
  3. Sweep deck surface.
  4. Wet down plants nearby. Check the label of your deck cleaner to see if you need to cover plants with plastic sheeting to protect them.
  5. Apply deck cleaner according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Wear safety goggles to project your eyes.
  6. Use the broom to scrub the deck with cleaner. Do not allow the cleaner to dry on the deck.
  7. Use the hose to rinse the deck thoroughly.
  8. Allow to dry.


For a fast, deep clean, consider using a pressure washer for the job.

You Will Need:

  • 80-grit sandpaper
  • Push broom
  • Pressure washer (no more than 1500 psi)
  • Deck cleaner, such as Woodwash
  • Safety glasses
  • Water hose

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Begin by following steps 1-6 for washing your deck. The pressure washer comes in when you are ready to rinse the deck.
  2. Rinse the deck cleaner with a pressure washer, following equipment directions. Generally speaking, you should start in one corner of the deck and work your way toward the stairs, washing in the direction of the grain to avoid gouging the wood. Use caution in corners and near railings, as the water spray may deflect back into your face.
  3. Allow the deck to dry.

Removing Stains, Paint, and Rust

Rust, paint, and other stains can be very hard to remove from wood, especially if it was not properly sealed. Some stains may not come up at all, but if you follow these steps, you may have some success at removing or reducing the stain.

You Will Need:

  • Stain remover, such as STRIPEX (for stains, sealers, or damaged wood fiber) or Organic Strip (for paint)
  • Water
  • Safety goggles
  • Push broom or synthetic bristle brush
  • Putty knife

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Always wear safety goggles when working with chemicals.
  2. Following manufacturer’s directions, apply product directly to stain. SPOT TEST FIRST.
  3. Allow it to sit as recommended.
  4. For STRIPEX, leave for 15-30 minutes before rinsing. Tough stains may need to be scrubbed with a brush.
  5. When removing paint with Organic_Strip, allow it to sit for 15-75 minutes before scraping paint stain with a putty knife. Scrub as needed.
  6. Allow to dry.

Keeping Your Deck Clean

To protect your deck from the elements and make it easier to clean in the future, you may want to apply a wood stain or sealer. Spot test the stain or sealer in a hidden spot, as even clear stains will change the color of your deck.

You Will Need:

  • A clean, dry deck
  • Paint brush or roller brush
  • Roller brush pan
  • Deck sealer or stain such as Super Natural Wood Stain
  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Rags

  1. Begin by reviewing the manufacture’s directions and specifications.
  2. Spot test the product.
  3. Using gloves and safety glasses, apply the stain or sealer in even amounts across the surface of the deck with a brush or roller.
  4. Use the rag to rub out excess stain.
  5. Allow to dry according to manufacturer’s directions.

Additional Tips and Advice:

  • Spot test chemicals, stains, or sealers before applying them to the deck surface.
  • Wear safety glasses and rubber gloves when using chemicals.
  • Using bleach on a deck may result in uneven spotting. Bleach also weakens wood fibers.
  • Certain wood or composite decks may need special care. Make sure that the products you choose are compatible with your deck surface.


  1. Help – we just purchase a home where the previous owner splashed some concrete onto the exterior hardboard.

    Is there any way of removing this without sanding down the area and having to repaint (he doesn’t know the paint chip number)?

  2. Nothing is mentioned about that green algae that grows in spots on my deck. Is there an alternative to bleach?

  3. Mr. Opinion says:

    I’ve had some issues in the psst with stained decks from BBQ grease and algae spots. Use the deck wash as normal, but before you rinse, get down on your hands and knees with a green Scotch-Brite pad and scrub. Rinse and repeat as needed. If you’ve got a big deck or big stain, you’ll be tired when you’re done but it will be well worth it.

  4. The absolute best way to clean weather beaten wood is with pool chlorine. Spray it on with a garden sprayer, let it soak in for 5 minutes and rinse it off. You will be amazed. Do not let the chlorine sit too long or it will start to lift the grain.

    This procedure only works with uncoated wood.

  5. A pressure washer works great at taking the algae off the deck, treated or untreated. I spent about $300 on mine, which seems like a big investment, but I use it for the deck, the house, sidewalks, you would be surprised what you can find to clean once you have one. I don’t use any chemicals or scrubbing myself, just the power of the water will take most of the greenish gray buildup. For stains from the BBQ, etc., you may need to use a little cleaner. I use a little household degreaser on the BBQ stains for a few minutes before I pressure wash and it works fairly well. I will also mention, I do wash my deck with this method every spring, but it looks great.

  6. Unfortunately, if you have spilled concrete on a painted surface, anything you do that will take the concrete off the deck is going to take the paint off with it. The paint will adhere to the concrete better then the wood, so unfortunately, you have no choice but to repaint. Most paint shops can do color matching these days, so if you can get them a larger chip of paint color, they can usually do a pretty good job at matching the color. Honestly, if the paint job is older, even paint from the exact can that was originally used probably won’t give you an exact match because the finish of the paint will look a shade off due to weathering, etc. If you really want to make it look sharp, you should probably consider repainting the whole deck. It will look better, plus you can choose the color and finish that best suits your style.

  7. My annual spring cleaning of my sidewalks, vinyl siding, teak bench and wood deck requires only two things…a gas powered pressure washer, the best investment ever for outdoor cleaning and something cheap you can get at Lowes; it’s called TSP. It is a boxed powder found with paint supplies. You can even mix this stuff with bleach. I fill my pressure sprayer with hot water and s 1/2 cup TSP powder, a little bleach, wet the surface, let it sit a bit and fire up my pressure washer and presto! Say goodbye to algae, stains, and grime. After my teak bench is clean, air dry and reapply a coat of linseed oil and my 20-year-old teak bench looks brand new. Make sure you rinse out the power sprayer! If not, the TSP will crystalize and clog the sprayer hose. TSP and a pressure washer are pure cleaning magic!!!

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