How to Clean a Deck: Wood, Composite & Painted

How to clean a deck

Knowing how to clean a deck effectively is crucial for maintaining its appearance and longevity. The basic steps include pre-rinsing and removing loose dirt. Then, apply a cleaner and scrub thoroughly. Let the cleaner sit as recommended and rinse off completely. However, the method may vary by material—whether it’s wood, composite, or painted. To help you manage these different types, we’ve compiled all the necessary information for each type of deck.

Cleaning a Wood Deck

How to clean a wood deck

Cleaning a wood deck might seem hard and time consuming, but it’s actually quite manageable with some straightforward steps. To keep your deck looking its best, regular maintenance is key.

Follow these step-by-step guides to help with the perfect deck cleaning solution and clean your wooden deck effectively.

Wood deck cleaning solutions

Maintaining your wood deck’s beauty involves using the right cleaning solutions that effectively remove dirt and protect the material. Whether you prefer natural, environmentally friendly options or more powerful commercial cleaners, there’s a method to suit every need.

Natural Cleaners:

  • Mild soap and water: This is ideal for regular cleaning and light dirt. Use a simple mixture of dish soap or castile soap with water.
  • Vinegar and water: A versatile cleaner that can tackle mildew, mold, and algae. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water for this natural solution.
  • Baking soda and water: For tougher stains, create a paste with baking soda and water to scrub away stains and grime.
  • Oxygen bleach: This is a safer alternative to chlorine bleach and effective for removing persistent mildew and stains without harming the environment.

Commercial Cleaners:

  • Deck cleaner: Many commercial cleaners are specifically designed for wood decks. Choose one that suits your wood type and cleaning needs. Look for cleaners that are biodegradable and safe for plants.
  • Mildew remover: If your deck has mildew, a specific mildew remover can be helpful.

Wood Deck Cleaning Process


  • Clear the deck: Remove all furniture, planters, grills, and other objects.
  • Sweep thoroughly: Use a broom to remove leaves, debris, and dirt. Pay attention to corners and gaps between boards.

Choose a Cleaner:

  • For light dirt: Use a mild soap (dish soap or castile soap) mixed with water.
  • For heavier dirt or mildew: Use a commercial deck cleaner specifically designed for wood. Choose one that suits your wood type and is safe for plants.
  • For stains: Use a wood-safe stain remover.
  • Natural option: Mix equal parts white vinegar and water for a general cleaner. You can also try a paste of baking soda and water for scrubbing.

Apply the Cleaner:

  • Test first: Before applying the cleaner to the entire deck, test it on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure it doesn’t damage or discolor the wood.
  • Apply evenly: Once you have tested the cleaner, use a sprayer, watering can, or pump sprayer to saturate the deck. Let the cleaner sit for some time. If you use a commercial cleaning solution, let it sit for the time recommended on the product label (usually 10-15 minutes).


  • Use a stiff-bristled brush: Scrub the deck thoroughly, paying extra attention to areas with heavy dirt or mildew. For stubborn stains, you may need a scrub brush with stiffer bristles.


  • Thoroughly rinse: Use a garden hose or pressure washer to remove all the cleaner and debris. If using a pressure washer, use a wide fan tip and avoid getting too close to the wood to prevent damage.


  • Allow the deck to dry completely: This is essential before applying any sealant or stain.


  • Seal or stain: Apply a sealant or stain to protect the wood and enhance its appearance. Ensure the deck is completely dry before doing so.

Need Help with deck cleaning? McCoy’s Pressure Washing is here for You!

We proudly serve Nashville, Murfreesboro, Franklin, and Brentwood with top-rated deck cleaning services. Our skilled professionals utilize safe and effective methods to revitalize your decks, ensuring it’s spotless and safe for your family and guests to enjoy.

How to Clean a Composite Deck

How to clean a composite deck

Composite decks are a popular choice for homeowners due to their durability and low maintenance compared to traditional wood decks. However, even with their resilience, regular cleaning is necessary to keep them looking their best. Fortunately, cleaning a composite deck is a relatively simple process that requires minimal tools and supplies.

What you’ll need to clean a composite deck?

To clean a composite deck, you will need the following:

Cleaning Supplies:

  • Water: A garden hose or bucket filled with water.
  • Mild soap: Dish soap, castile soap, or a specialized composite deck cleaner.
  • Soft-bristled brush: A non-abrasive brush or broom with soft bristles to avoid scratching the surface. A long-handled brush can help reach larger areas more easily.
    Bucket: To mix the cleaning solution.


  • Pressure washer: Use a pressure washer on a low setting with a wide fan tip to help remove stubborn dirt and grime. Be careful not to use too much pressure, which can damage the composite material.
  • Deck cleaner: If your deck has tougher stains, a specialized composite deck cleaner can be helpful.

Protective Gear:

  • Gloves: To protect your hands from the cleaning solution.
  • Eye protection: To shield your eyes from splashes.

Cleaning Process for a Composite Deck


  • Clear the deck: Remove all furniture, grills, plants, and other items from the deck.
  • Sweep: Use a broom to remove leaves, debris, and loose dirt. Pay attention to corners and gaps between boards.

Mix Cleaning Solution:

  • Mild soap and water: Fill a bucket with warm water and add a few squirts of dish soap or a specialized composite deck cleaner.
  • Optional: For tougher stains or mildew, consider using a composite deck cleaner designed specifically for those issues.

Apply and Scrub:

  • Apply the solution: Use a soft-bristled brush or sponge to apply the cleaning solution to the entire deck. Work in sections to prevent the solution from drying out before rinsing.
  • Scrub gently: Scrub the deck surface gently, following the grain of the composite boards. For stubborn stains, let the cleaner sit for a few minutes before scrubbing.


  • Rinse thoroughly: Use a garden hose to rinse the deck thoroughly, removing all soap residue and dirt.


  • Pressure washing: Use caution: If you have a pressure washer, use it on a low setting with a wide fan tip to rinse the deck. Avoid using high pressure or holding the nozzle too close to the surface, as this can damage the composite material.


  • Air dry: Allow the deck to air dry completely before replacing furniture or other items.

How to Clean a Painted Deck

How to clean a painted deck

Painted decks provide a splash of color and personality to your outdoor living space. However, maintaining their vibrant appearance requires regular cleaning.

Unlike wood decks, painted surfaces require gentler cleaning solutions and techniques to avoid damaging the paint.

Cleaning solutions for painted decks

Cleaning solutions for painted decks should be gentle to avoid damaging the paint.

Here are some safe and effective options:

  • Mild detergent and water: This is the safest and most recommended option for regular cleaning. Dish soap or laundry detergent mixed with warm water is usually sufficient.
  • Oxygen bleach: For tougher stains or mildew, oxygen bleach is a safe and effective alternative to chlorine bleach, which can damage the paint.
  • Commercial deck cleaners: Some commercial deck cleaners are specifically designed for painted surfaces. Check the label to ensure it’s safe for painted wood.
  • Avoid Harsh chemicals, vinegar, or ammonia-based cleaners, as these can strip or damage the paint.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Painted Deck

Here’s a step-by-step guide to cleaning your painted deck:


  • Clear the deck: Remove all furniture, planters, grills, and other objects.
  • Sweep: Use a broom to sweep away loose debris like leaves, dirt, and cobwebs.


Choose your Cleaner:

  • Mild detergent: Mix a few squirts of dish soap or laundry detergent with a bucket of warm water. This is usually sufficient for regular cleaning.
  • Oxygen bleach: If your deck has mildew or tougher stains, mix oxygen bleach with water according to the package instructions.
  • Commercial deck cleaner: If you prefer a pre-mixed solution, choose a deck cleaner specifically labeled as safe for painted surfaces.

Apply the Cleaner:

  • Wet the deck: Use a hose to wet the deck thoroughly. This helps loosen dirt and grime.
    Apply the solution: Pour or spray the cleaning solution evenly over the entire deck surface.
  • Let it sit: Allow the cleaner to sit for 5-10 minutes to penetrate the dirt and mildew.


  • Use a soft-bristled brush: Gently scrub the deck in the direction of the wood grain. Apply a bit more pressure for stubborn stains, but avoid using harsh scrubbing tools that can scratch the paint.
  • Focus on problem areas: Pay extra attention to areas with heavy dirt, mildew, or stains.


  • Use a hose to rinse the deck thoroughly, removing all soap residue and dirt. Ensure the water flows freely and doesn’t pool on the surface.


  • Allow the deck to air dry completely: Do not place any objects back on it until fully dry.

Don’t let dirt and grime overshadow the beauty of your deck. Our professional deck cleaning service will restore your deck’s original charm, ensuring a safe and inviting space for you and your loved ones to enjoy.

Contact us for a free estimate today.

FAQs on How To Clean a Deck:

The best way to clean a wooden deck is to use a combination of a deck cleaner particularly formulated for wood and a stiff-bristled brush. This method effectively removes dirt, grime, mildew, and algae.

Popular deck cleaners include those from brands like BEHR, Olympic, and Restore-A-Deck.

Hiring pressure washing professionals is not always necessary. If your deck is not soiled or stained, you can often clean it using a deck cleaner, brush, and garden hose.

However, hiring professionals is a good option if your deck is large, has extensive mildew or mold, or if you’re uncomfortable using a pressure washer. They have the experience and equipment to clean your deck quickly and safely.

There are several ways to clean your wood deck naturally. They are:

  • Baking soda and water: This mixture can be used to scrub away light dirt and grime.

  • Vinegar and water: This solution is effective at removing mildew and mold.

  • Oxygen bleach: This type of bleach is gentler than chlorine bleach and can be used to remove stains and brighten the wood.

  • Homemade cleaners: You can make your own deck cleaner by combining ingredients like vinegar, dish soap, and borax.

Pressure washing can effectively clean a deck, but it’s important to use caution. Too much pressure can damage the wood fibers, so it’s best to use a wide fan tip to keep the nozzle moving.

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