by Allison

When we bought our place at the lake we had a lot of work to do.


A lot.

One of the projects was tearing out the old deck (which was easy as it pretty much fell apart on its own) and build a new one that made the best use of our very small and sloping lot.

Once the deck was completed, we were thrilled. It was beautiful and it functioned exactly as we had imagined. And with a new deck (and knowing exactly how much it cost) came the desire to keep it looking nice and to protect the investment we made in it.

As Chief Groundskeeper, it’s been my responsibility to do my best to keep the deck as nice as it was the day it was built. So, when it came time for its first big cleaning, wanting to do it right, before I did anything, I researched how to best clean a deck. From my research I came to two conclusions:

  1. For the long-term preservation of the wood I would not use a pressure washer. First I don’t own one, nor did I want to go buy or rent one, and more importantly, incorrect use of a pressure washer can actually damage soft wood. So instead, I decided the deck would be cleaned with a $15 deck brush. More labor yes, but worth it because it’s better for the deck in the long run.
  2. For a cleaner I decided on OxiClean. I learned the runoff from regular household bleach is dangerous for plants and OxiClean is an environmentally friendly cleaning/brightening agent. I liked that. I also liked that it is inexpensive, about $12 for a 5 1/2 pound container and can be purchased at the grocery store. (It takes two containers to clean our 760 square foot deck.) And, if there is any cleaner left it can be used for laundry. Absolutely no waste. I like that too.





garden hose

deck brush – 1 long-handled and 1 hand-held

Here is a before photo of the deck off our master bedroom. I always start here because it’s the highest deck and then I work my way down to the lowest deck. It never ceases to amaze me just how dirty the deck gets each year.



1. After you have your supplies gathered, in your bucket mix one scoop of OxiClean in one gallon of water then hose down the area where you are going to clean. I try to work in one 6’x6′ area at a time.

2. Once you get the boards wet use your long-handled deck brush to slop on the diluted OxiClean. For this step you don’t need to scrub. Simply get a good coating of the sudsy OxiClean water on all the boards and then let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then you go sit, seriously, you will need the rest.


3. After you have given the diluted OxiClean time to sit, you get to scrub. But don’t scrub too hard and tear up the wood fibers. Scrub just enough to loosen the dirt. I work board by board, going with the grain of the wood and as you work, you will need to rewet the boards by dipping the deck brush into the now dirty diluted OxiClean. It’s okay that it’s dirty because you just need it to keep the boards wet. As you scrub the dirt and OxiClean you will make what can only be described as black sludge. Rest assured, this black sludge will splatter all over you so make sure you are wearing something you don’t mind getting dirty.


4. Keep wetting the area with the OxiClean water and with some gentle scrubbing, the dirt will come off. Use the hand-held brush to get into hard to reach places, like under the railing.

5. Once you have throughly scrubbed the boards, spray the area with your hose. As the fresh water rinses the black sludge away you will instantly see how much cleaner the boards are.


6. Throw out the now black OxiClean water and repeat the first five steps until you have completed the entire deck.

That’s it.

The work isn’t particularly hard, it just takes time and patience. It’s tiring but it’s transformative. When the deck is all dry, oh my, what a difference. Here is the master bedroom deck the day after it was cleaned.


Here’s another photo taken as we were cleaning our main deck. You can see the clear line that has formed between the part of the deck that has been cleaned and the part still to be cleaned.


And here’s that same part of the deck after we were done.


It takes two days to clean all three levels of our deck but when the work is done, tired as I am, I am happy. I am happy to see our efforts pay off and to know that we are doing what we can to maintain our deck. And when I finally do sit down I so enjoy the entire view, both the lake and the deck.


I hope this post helped to answer any questions you had about how to clean a wood deck.

If you live in the Montgomery area and would be interested in BBM cleaning your deck please send us a message.



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