Every year tons of toxins are absorbed into the ground as a result of outdoor cleaning, such as deck, car and pet washing. The average American uses about 40 pounds of toxic cleaning products per year. These products make their way into our environment via various routes. Using "green" or environmentally friendly products to clean your deck is a fine way to do your part to help the environment. There are several products readily available to help you help Earth.
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Dr. Bronners Castile Soap is a great product to use for outdoor cleaning. It is vegetable-based and is completely biodegradable. This soap also contains fair trade and organic oils that help moisturize wood. Simply apply a solution of 1 cup of Dr. Bronners Castile Soap to 2 gallons of warm water to your deck and scrub it with a brush. Rinse with cold water and allow the deck to dry. Use Dr. Bronners Tea Tree or Eucalyptus Soap if insects are a problem. The tea tree or eucalyptus oil will discourage insects from burrowing into the wood of your deck. This soap can also be used to bathe your pets and is a fabulous soap to take camping or hiking, as it does not damage the environment. It does not dry out the skin, and it leaves you feeling squeaky-clean.
Using an oxygen bleach, such as OxyClean, is also a good method of green-cleaning your deck. Mix oxygen bleach according to package instructions and apply it to the deck using a mop or scrub brush. Rinse with cool water using a hose and allow the deck to dry. Oxygen bleach and water solution can also be applied with a power washer. Take care when using a power washer on a wood deck, as the pressure can damage the wood fibers. Use the lowest setting possible to effectively clean the wood without damaging it.
Simple Green Deck and Fence cleaner is another product specially formulated for outdoor green-cleaning. Like oxygen bleach, Simple Green can also be used when washing decks by hand or in a power washer. It is nontoxic, biodegradable and available in an economical concentrate. A little goes a long way. Mix this product according to package instructions. Simple Green is available in hardware, building supply and department stores.
Homemade Herbal Cleaner
An herbal cleaning solution can be made by mixing 5 cups of grated castile soap (or 2 cups liquid castile soap), 1/2 cup baking soda, 1 teaspoon of borax, 1 teaspoon of eucalyptus oil and 1 gallon of strong, hot peppermint tea. Dilute this mixture in 2 gallons of warm water. Apply this solution to your deck and scrub the wood using a stiff brush. Rinse with cool water and allow the deck to dry. This cleaner can be used indoors and out, for cleaning floors, furniture and tile.