How to Remove Deck Stains

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The instructions below should help you to thoroughly and evenly clean your deck and remove any stains. Try these solutions in the order shown and only move on to more serious measures if needed.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic Drop Cloths
  • Bleach Or Commercial Deck Cleaner
  • Garden Hose Or Pressure Washer
  • Household Cleaner
  • Scrub Brush
  • Stiff Broom Or Deckcleaning Broom
  • Stiff-bristle Broom
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Plastic Bucket
  • Putty Knife
  • Safety Goggles
  • Sweep the deck with a stiff broom. Dislodge old dirt, leaves and debris from cracks and corners with a putty knife. Make sure there is some space between the decking boards and the corners so that water can run through.

  • Wash down the deck thoroughly with a garden hose.

  • If there are no visible stains on your deck, clean it with a stiff broom and a mixture of household cleaner and warm water.

  • For a thorough cleaning job, rent a pressure washer. Wear goggles while using it, as it provides a very powerful stream. Start in the middle of the deck and work outward, keeping the sprayer's head about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) from the deck's surface.

  • If you need to use a bleach solution or a strong commercial deck cleaner to remove stains, cover any nearby plants or shrubs with plastic drop cloths to avoid discoloration or unwanted chemicals.

  • Make a solution of 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) bleach per gallon (4 l) of warm water in a plastic bucket, or use a commercial deck cleaner and follow the directions for application. Whatever you use, wear rubber gloves. Also wear safety goggles if you are using bleach or if you are bending down to clean parts of the deck by hand. Use a stiff broom (you may want to purchase a smaller broom that is made just for decks) to scrub the cleaner into the deck.

  • For any stubborn stains that remain visible, clean thoroughly by hand with a scrub brush and the cleaning solution.

  • Hose off the cleaning solution and any remaining dirt thoroughly with plain water.

  • If stains remain, reapply deck cleaner by hand.

  • To treat mildew, apply a solution of 1 part water to 2 parts bleach. Be sure to rinse it off thoroughly after a few minutes.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you want to clean a stain from only one spot, be sure not to use too strong a chemical or bleach solution --you may end up replacing a small, somewhat noticeable dark spot with a large, really noticeable lighter area.
  • You can discourage stains and lodged-in debris by hosing down your deck with a strong spray every few weeks.

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