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6 Homemade Deck Cleaner Recipes

You can make your own homemade deck cleaner with ingredients you already have around the house. These cleaners work very well and can be easier on the environment than commercial solutions.

Seagull standing on recently cleaned deck

At the start of summer, you’ll probably notice your deck looking dull and dirty. It may show dirt, grime, or even mold or algae growing on the surface. This is a common problem for homeowners, but it’s easy to fix.

In fact, with just a few ingredients that you probably already have in your home, you can make your own DIY deck cleaner that will leave your deck looking like new again.

In this article, we’ll share six different recipes for homemade deck cleaners that are safe and effective for decks. We’ll also provide tips on how to prepare your deck for cleaning and how to stay safe while doing so.

Do You Have a Wood, PVC or Composite Deck?

Before you start cleaning your deck, you need to know what it’s made of. Decks come in different types and sizes, from traditional wood decks to composite and PVC decks.

Composite and PVC can take some cleaning agents that wood might not react to well. So you need to identify the type of deck you have before selecting the appropriate cleaner for it.

The age of your deck can also affect how you clean it. An older deck may be more porous than a newer one, making it more prone to mold and mildew growth.

The condition of your deck’s finish also matters. Is it stained? Painted? Sealed? If the finish is peeling, it need to be cleaned more gently.

If you have them, read the manufacturer’s instructions for how to clean the deck.

The Benefits of Homemade Deck Cleaners

Opting for homemade deck cleaners can be a more environmentally friendly choice. They’re made from safe ingredients you probably already have on hand.

And you can save a lot of money by making your own cleaning solution as opposed to buying expensive commercial products. 

Preparing Your Deck for Cleaning

Before you begin cleaning your deck, you need to prepare it. Start by removing all furniture, planters, and other decorative items from the deck. Sweep the deck thoroughly to remove any loose dirt, leaves, or debris that may have accumulated over time.

If your deck has any stains or mildew growth, cleaning will be easier if you address those areas first. Use a stiff-bristled brush and the appropriate recipe below to scrub away any visible stains or discoloration. 

After addressing any stains or mildew on your deck, take a closer look at the condition of the wood itself. Check for any loose boards or nails that may need to be replaced or tightened before cleaning begins.

Safety Tips When Cleaning Your Deck

Before you start cleaning your deck, it’s important to take some safety precautions. First, your deck may get slippery when it’s wet. Wear sneakers or other shoes with a good tread.

You shouldn’t really need a mask or goggles for this job, especially if you invest in a very affordable deck brush. It’s just a normal scrub brush that’s on an extension pole. It saves you from having to bend or kneel to scrub the deck.

It also saves you from breathing in any fumes from the cleaners or having anything splash into your eyes. While these ingredients are all non-toxic, that doesn’t mean they can’t set off allergies or respiratory discomfort – just like household cleaners.

Rubber gloves are recommended, just as they are with house cleaning. Chances are you’ll use your hands at some point in the process, so protect them.

Last but not least, take care not to over-saturate the wood with water as this could cause damage. Use a garden hose set at low pressure or a power washer set at low speed and high flow rate when rinsing off your deck after using any of these homemade cleaners.

Don’t Use Deck Cleaning Solutions with Pressure Washers

If you like using a pressure washer, don’t put any solution in it that has a powdered ingredient. It could clog the nozzle or even break the pressure washer.

These solutions are designed to work with a simple garden hose.

Recipe #1: All Purpose Deck Wash (Oxygen Bleach)

An oxygen bleach solution like OxiClean is a powerful and eco-friendly deck cleaner that can remove tough stains and restore your deck’s natural beauty. Unlike chlorine bleach, oxygen bleach does not harm the environment or damage the wood fibers of your deck.

Oxygen bleach contains sodium percarbonate, which reacts with water to release hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate. This reaction creates a powerful cleaning agent that can penetrate deep into the wood pores and eliminate mildew, algae, dirt, and grime.

This solution is perfect for cleaning off dirt, grime, and other buildup that accumulates on your deck over time. This can also take off moderate amounts of mildew.

  • 1 gallon warm water
  • 1 cup powdered oxygen bleach
  • 1/8 cup Dawn dish liquid (optional)

Pour everything into a bucket and stir until it’s reasonably well-mixed. You can double or triple the size of the batch if you have a big deck.

You don’t have to use Dawn brand. You don’t even have to include the dish liquid. But Dawn is good if you have any dity that’s greasy, oily or caked on.

Using a stiff-bristled brush or mop dipped in this cleaning solution, scrub your deck in small sections using circular motions. Finally, rinse off the solution with a hose or pressure washer.

Recipe #2: Light Cleaning (Vinegar)

Vinegar is an effective and natural cleaner that can be used for a variety of cleaning tasks, including cleaning your deck. The acidity in vinegar helps to break down dirt and grime, while also killing mold and mildew. 

  • 1 gallon warm water
  • 2 cups white vinegar

This one is good for light cleaning. If you have only a few difficult spots, you can add some dish soap to the mixture and scrub those. 

Spray the solution onto your deck and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before mopping and then hosing off.

Recipe #3: Mildew Remover (Stronger Oxygen Bleach)

When Recipe #1 can’t get off all the mildew, you need a stronger oxygen bleach solution.

  • 1 1/2 cup of powdered oxygen bleach
  • 1 gallon of warm water

Mix them together in a bucket until the powder is fully dissolved. Then apply the solution to your deck surface. Let it sit for about 15 minutes to allow it to penetrate into the wood fibers.

After that, scrub the areas of mildew with a brush. They should come off easily. After you’re done doing that, rinse the solution off the deck with a garden hose.

Recipe #4: Mold, Mildew and Algae Remover (Borax + Dish Soap)

Decks can also grow algae and mold, especially if you live in an area with a lot of moisture in the air. Or if your deck is in the shaded area.

Algae is gross and can make your deck slippery. Mold can be bad for you to breathe. This solution will get rid of both.

  • 1 gallon warm water
  • 1 1/2 cups borax
  • 1 cup of oxygen bleach (optional, but helps if you’ve also got mold)
  • 1/4 cup Dawn (or another dish liquid)

Mix everything together in a bucket. Wash down your deck with a hose first. Then use a scrub brush dipped in the solution to scour the deck. Hose it all off when you’re done. Repeat if necessary.

Recipe #5: Deep Cleaning (Baking Soda & Borax)

This deck cleaner recipe is perfect for deep cleaning. It’s especially great for decks that haven’t been cleaned in a long time.

Borax is a natural mineral powder that can effectively remove dirt, grime, and stains from your deck. And baking soda acts as a gently abrasive agent to scrub away stubborn stains and also works as an odor eliminator.

  • 1 cup of borax
  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 1 bucket of hot water

Combine the borax and baking soda in the bucket. Add hot water gradually until it forms a paste. Use your deck brush to apply it to the deck and scrub vigorously.

After that, let it sit for about 30 minutes. Then hose it off with clean water.

Recipe #6: DIY Deck Cleaner Recipe (Baking Soda and Vinegar)

This one will clean about as well as Recipe #1, and it has the advantage of only needing two ingredients that almost anyone will have on hand: baking soda and vinegar.

Some of you will prefer this recipe just because you love using baking soda and vinegar to clean around the house.

  • 1 parts Baking soda
  • 1 part white Vinegar

Mix the two ingredients together to make a paste. Apply the paste all over the patio surface. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then scrub it with a brush. You can probably start applying at one end of the deck and by the time you’ve applied it to the other, it will have sat long enough on the first end to start scrubbing.

Hose it all off when you’re done.

Enjoy Your Clean Deck

Cleaning your deck can be a daunting task, but with these six homemade cleaner recipes, it can be a breeze. Each recipe is easy to make and uses natural ingredients that are gentle on your deck and the environment.

With just a little elbow grease, you’ll have a beautifully clean deck that’s ready for all your outdoor activities. So why not try out one of these recipes today and see the difference for yourself? Your deck will thank you!