how to clean decking without a pressure washer

How to Clean Decking Without a Pressure Washer

Usually, when people think of deck cleaning, the most obvious choice of tool would be a power washer. However, sometimes a pressure or power washer is overkill for your deck. Using too much water and power can easily ruin fragile wood.

Wondering how to clean decking without using a pressure washer? UK customers have access to a wide range of tools to help them keep their home looking great and we’re here to show you how.

We’re going to explain some of the best ways that you can clean decking without a pressure washer. These tips and insights will ensure you can tackle any stain in no time.

Why Clean Your Deck Without a Pressure Washer?

moss build-upIn the UK, it’s all too easy for our outdoor products to end up looking grimy or just past their best. Exposure to cold weather and rain, as well as various other sources of dirt, can really ruin your deck’s surface. Sometimes, even mould and mildew begin to appear.

Not only does cleaning your deck ensures that it looks great for longer, but it’s a good way to keep yourself and your family safe, too. A neglected deck can end up with structural damage to the point that the wood could potentially break, while a build-up of moss can make it dangerously slippery.

Cleaning your patio is essential but using a pressure washer might not be. A good pressure washing tool can give you more options when you’re cleaning outdoor furniture and products. However, it’s easy to cause additional damage to the wood if you’re not careful. With the right tips, you can still clean your deck well without machinery.

Learning how to wash your deck without a power washer, to apply varnish, and even use detergents outdoors can be an excellent way to preserve your deck.

Before You Begin Cleaning

Decking plants and furnishings must be removed first before you start the washing process. If there’s something that you can’t take out, then you might want to cover it with a sheet to avoid being sprayed with too much detergent. It may be best to wait until it’s dry outdoors before you begin, too, to ensure your deck dries.

The process of preparing your deck and the substances you apply will vary depending on what you want to do. For instance, if you’re staining your deck, then you’ll need to prep and sand the surface to remove any grease, mildew, and other unwanted residues.

Even if you’re not going to apply a stain, knowing how to wash your deck regularly is crucial. The minutes you spend now could translate to years of additional time with your deck in the future.

How to Clean a Deck for Staining

If you’re planning on staining a wood deck, you want to clean it in a way that prepares the wood, without damaging the potential stain and guaranteeing the best results.

  • Use your broom to get rid of any dirt that has set on the top of the wood.
  • After sweeping the deck, use your garden hose to spray down the wood.
  • You can use detergent intended for a power washer even if you’re not using one of those machines.
  • The deck cleaner you use should sit for around 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Mist the entire deck with your garden hose to keep the wood moist.
  • Clean grease stains with a rough sponge if you have one, or follow the tips we’ve included for tough stains.
  • You can also use stiff-bristled brushes to scrub the planks where stains are more evident.
  • The wood needs to dry for several days after you’ve finished working on the stains.
  • Once the surface is fully dry, you can use a sander to ensure that it’s set for staining.
  • Once you’re done sanding, use a brush or air compressor to remove any remaining sawdust from your deck.
  • Now, you can start applying your stains. Look online for tips on which stains might set best for your wood.

How Do I Naturally Clean My Wood Deck?


If you decide to clean a deck without a pressure washer, it may be because you want to protect the wood. If that’s the case, utilising gentle products that you can create at home may be an ideal alternative to buying deck cleaner. Baking soda and vinegar is often a good combination for a composite deck.

When making this cleaning solution, you can either use white vinegar or apple cider. For the purpose of these tips, both vinegar options set just as well.

  • Mix half a cup of vinegar and a quarter cup of baking soda in a gallon of water.
  • Rinse off the wood deck with a hose and a light spray nozzle, as this will soften the wooden deck fibres to help absorb your deck cleaner.
  • Evenly cover the decking with your cleaning mixture.
  • Sprinkle additional baking soda on the areas you wish to clean, covering the entire surface evenly.
  • You’ll need to wait at least 15 minutes for the mixture to soak in.
  • Scrub brushes can help you to get rid of any stubborn stains.
  • Rinse the deck thoroughly with water so the mixture doesn’t lead to additional stains.

Cleaning Stubborn Stains

When you begin to clean your deck without a pressure washer, you may notice that some stains are tougher than others. Grime and dirt that has set for several months can cling to your wooden deck. If you’re struggling with these smudges, start by brushing the entire garden deck to remove dust and debris.

While some people experiment with soap solutions like warm water, laundry detergent, and other similar home products, oxygen bleach is often the best option to get unwanted stains out of the surface. Before you use these tips, check if the surface underneath your deck is protected if it’s not set with concrete.

  • You’ll need 2 gallons of warm water, 1 cup of oxygen bleach, a bucket, and a scrubbing brush.
  • Mix your oxygen bleach solution in a bucket and always use gloves if you can.
  • Dip your brush into the deck cleaning substance and apply it directly to the stained area.
  • The stain may seem as if it’s bubbling at first, but don’t panic.
  • When the bubbling stops, wash the detergent away with your brush and garden hose.

It’s best to tackle just one stain at a time when you’re using this mix because this ensures the substance won’t sit for too long.

After all the mildew, dirt, and stains are gone, rinse the full wooden deck thoroughly with your garden hose. Don’t allow the detergent substance to sit on the area for extended periods of time, or it could cause long-term damage or discolouration.

How to Clean Mould

The oxygen bleach mixture mentioned above is one of the top ways to get your deck looking great after it’s exposed to mould and mildew. However, you may have to apply other strategies if you’re struggling with things like black mould. The good news is that you can make your own deck cleaning solution at home by simply using soap and water.

Don’t rely on chlorine bleach, as this isn’t enough to kill the roots of the mould and may allow it to regrow. Everyone has laundry detergent in their home and is a sure way to kill any black mould living on your decking.

  • Mix a third of a cup of laundry detergent for every gallon of warm water.
  • Start by brushing your wooden deck, as usual, to remove any outdoor debris.
  • Before you get to work, ensure that you have plenty of cleaner in your bucket.
  • Use your scrub brush to carefully rub the area that’s inhabited by black mould. Scrub well to get the best results.
  • You’ll have to apply the mixture into difficult-to-reach spaces before you rinse it off.

If the mould has caused stains on the wooden parts of the deck, this may require additional work. You might need to use oxygen bleach after the detergent to get rid of the extra stains. If you plan on using bleach to remove stains after these mould removal tips, let the decking dry first. You can also follow up with a deck brightener on the area to make it look more natural.

What Is the Best Homemade Deck Cleaner?

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If you regularly clean a deck without a power washer, then it might help to make some home-made cleaning solution. Creating your own deck cleaner can save you some money. You should only need to use this cleaning solution once every year or when the wood of your deck looks like it’s starting to suffer. Look out for your garden year-round to know when it is needed.

  • To make the cleaning mixture, you will need 2 gallons of water, 2 cups of oxygen bleach, and around a quarter cup of dish cleaning soap.
  • Mix the oxygen bleach and water together first before adding the dishwashing soap to bring suds to the solution.
  • Take the cleaner into your garden and use a broom to sweep it over the whole deck.
  • Wait at least 10 minutes before you start scrubbing, and then work in sections to get rid of any tough stains by brushing the area with a little more force.
  • Once you’re ready, rinse off the surface of your decking with the garden hose and normal water.
  • You can apply other stain removal techniques if necessary.

This home-made cleaner is great for cleaning garden furniture and other outdoor items made of wood. Just remember that it contains bleach, so it may cause your garden furniture to look a little lighter in places. If you don’t like the finished look, you may need to follow the tips above to apply stain to the area.

How Often Should You Clean a Deck?

applying a wood varnishWhen you clean a deck without a power washer, it should still look fairly good for a reasonable amount of time. However, it’s important to keep on top of the maintenance. A clean deck will stay strong for longer and make your garden look better, too. Ideally, you’ll want to clean all the wood in your garden with the correct solution at least once or twice a year. However, if it starts to look bad or becomes dangerously slippery, you may wish to consider doing it more frequently.

If you feel that you need to clean more often because your garden decking seems to get dirty faster, you may want to consider a protective coating. Once you’ve cleaned your deck well with vinegar, bleach, or any of the other tips above, look into protective coatings for the area. You can apply a protective solution with a broom or a mop.

Make sure you give the cleaning solution time to dissipate after you rinse your deck, and check if the wood is well dried before you start staining. You don’t want leftover cleaning detergent to mix with your protective coating. If you’re not sure what kind of protection you need for your deck surface, talk to an expert. A garden store professional will tell you how to stain, set and protect your garden with some handy maintenance tips.

Once you apply the protective product, give it plenty of time to dry out again before you replace the furniture and other garden items on your decking, like outdoor plants.

Learning How to Clean a Deck Without a Pressure Washer

Making sure that your garden furniture and deck are clean is a great way to invest in your home and its curb appeal. Although you might have to commit to a little work with a brush and a cleaner, it doesn’t take a lot of expertise. You’ll discover what works best for your furniture set and deck surface over time, and soon there won’t be any concern when cleaning your deck without a power washer.

Do your best to clean the wood well, and replace the broom or brush you’re using when it starts to get worn. As we mention in all of our tips above, it’s crucial to rinse your deck surface and furniture after you set to work with the cleaning product. A leftover cleaner can further damage the wood if it’s allowed to set or it can even affect the colour. Although you might need to spend a while on the cleaning procedure at first, it’s easy to stay on top of the process if you do your cleaning regularly.

Keep an eye on your garden furniture, and make sure you don’t allow dirt and grime to sit there for too long. As soon as you notice stains, use our easy tips to start cleaning. This should ensure that you have an easy job of cleaning your patio for most of the year.

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