If your decking is looking dull, it’s time you showed it some love! A thorough cleaning will not only improve its appearance but also let you enjoy the view whenever you step out and impress your family and friends with its fresh new look. Plus, who wants to deal with rot, moss, algae, or pesky bugs when you can have a stunning deck that constantly inspires you?

Remember, keeping your deck clean isn’t just about looks – it’s about keeping it sturdy. Neglecting it can lead to surface damage and turn it into a potential slip-and-trip hazard. So, here are some steps to help you successfully spruce up your deck.

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Why should you clean decking?

Cleaning a deck improves the length of life for your deck and reduces the appearance of algae, moss, mould and more pesky dirt that could make its way onto the surface.

A clean deck is also easier to customise as the surface will be free from lumps and bumps caused by a build-up of dirt. So, you can stain the deck, paint the deck or apply oil to the deck without the hassle.

When should you clean decking?

Aim to clean your deck at least twice a year because it can increase the lifespan of your deck and help maintain its appearance.

Karcher K3 Premium Power Control Home Cold Water Pressure Washer 2

How to clean decking

We’ve prepared some easy steps for you to follow when you decide to clean your decking. With some practice and careful planning, you’ll be able to clean your deck easily in no time. First, see what we need for the job:

  • Decking cleaner
  • Screwdriver
  • Stiff broom
  • Pressure washer/watering can/garden hose
  • Scrubbing brush

Now onto the cleaning!

Step one: Clear the deck!

Before you start, clear the deck of any items like furniture or storage units. Then, grab a sturdy broom and sweep away stuff like grass and dirt. If there’s old paint or coating that needs to go, you can use sandpaper to smooth it out.

Step two: Secure loose boards and loose/raised screws

Make sure there are no wobbly, loose or raised boards. There shouldn’t be any pesky screws sticking out, either. If you spot any, grab a screwdriver and secure them in place before giving your deck a good cleaning.

Step three: Grab your pressure washer (use a low setting)

If you’re concerned about dirt or debris stuck in the decking grooves, you can use a pressure washer to clear it away. Be sure to set it on a low setting to avoid any wood damage. Maintain some distance between the washer nozzle and the deck to safely wash away grease and grime from the grooves, without causing any harm.

Step four: Apply decking cleaner

When cleaning your deck, using a decking cleaner is the way to go for the most effective results. However, if you prefer a DIY approach, you can make your deck cleaner by mixing some washing-up liquid with warm water.

Please note: If you opt for a decking cleaner, be sure to gear up with some PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) since some of those chemicals can be a bit harsh. Always double-check the manufacturer’s instructions for guidance.

Karcher K4 Power Control Home Cold Water Pressure Washer cleaning decking

Step five: Brush or sweep away the dirt

After applying the cleaner to your decking, give it a good scrub with a scrubbing brush or broom to remove the dirt. If your decking has grooves, make sure to pay extra attention to those to get into the small spaces. Once everything is nice and clean, let the solution sit for at least 15 minutes.

Tip: If any dirt or grass bits end up on the edge of the deck, just rinse them away with warm water, and if necessary, give it another scrub.

Step six: Rinse off the decking with water

You’ve got a few options to clean your decking:

  • A watering can;
  • A garden hose; or
  • (for the best results) a pressure washer.

Afterwards, give your decking at least 24 hours to dry, though the exact time might vary depending on the weather. Once it’s dry, you can go ahead with oiling, staining, or painting if desired.

Karcher K4 Power Control Home Cold Water Pressure Washer cleaning decking

Cleaning composite decking with vinegar – is it worth it?

Vinegar is a hero amongst many cleaning ingredients because of its acidity; it can dissolve grime and dirt in many cases, remove stains and even kill bacteria in some cases.

Having said that, vinegar should not be the primary alternative for cleaning a deck and here’s why:

  • It can remove the colour from your deck.
  • It’s not suitable for all decking materials (generally safer on composite decking).

If you do decide to use vinegar when cleaning your decking, make sure to:

  • Research whether the material is suitable for vinegar cleansing.
  • Clean the deck with disinfectant and official cleaning products occasionally to ensure proper cleaning.
  • Do NOT put this in a pressure washer as it is highly likely to damage it.

Below is the guidance for composite and timber decking cleaning using vinegar.

How to clean a composite deck with vinegar

For a composite deck, common ingredients for a homemade cleaning product are 120ml (1/2 cup) of white vinegar combined with 60ml (1/4 cup) of baking soda and about 3 to 4 litres of water.

Once that’s mixed, you can use it to clean the deck with a soft bristle brush. Rinse it well using clean water when finished.

How to clean a timber deck with vinegar

For a timber deck, common ingredients for a homemade cleaning product are 250ml (1 cup) of vinegar with about 3 to 4 litres of warm water.

Once that’s put together, sprinkle baking soda on the timber with mildew or mould. Then use the mixture to clean the deck with a soft bristle brush and rinse it well using clean water when finished.

Now you know how to clean a deck, want to know more about decking in general? We’ve got plenty of help and advice guides to support you, including a decking buyer’s guide to ensure you have the right decking for your needs.

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