What is the greenest way to clean wooden decks? Is a diluted solution of bleach the best method?

Question

What is the greenest way to clean wooden decks? Is a diluted solution of bleach the best method?

Asked by Maria Michalczyk

I used to clean my wooden garden furniture with a 10% solution of bleach water, and it seemed to do a good job removing the mildew buildup. Is this a green method of cleaning yard furniture and can the same solution be used to clean wooden decks?

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Answers

Doug Cameron, LEED GA's picture

Rather than using a chlorine bleach. I recommend using a non-chlorine washing powder made of sodium percarbonate and sodium carbonate.

  • "Oxygen powder" or "washing powder" is very similar to baking soda, and can be purchased in the laundry aisle of your local grocery store for around $1 per pound.
  • A 100 square foot deck would require less than 2 pounds of washing powder.

How I do it

I like to first wet the entire deck with a 9 to 1 water to washing powder solution.

  • Immediately after, while the deck is still wet, I lightly apply washing powder by itself (using a salt shaker method), attempting to cover the entire deck with a very thin layer.
  • Don't worry if you don't get total coverage.
  • Let the this solution sit for at least 30 minutes, preferably during the day.
  • Follow up with a thorough scrubbing. I like to use a hose/scrubber attachment.

With a little elbow grease, your old deck should look as good as new.

Preserve the cleaned wood

After the wood has had a chance to dry, you can apply natural wood stabilizers and/or stains to further the level of protection from the elements.

For more information:

Read "Can I use boiled linseed oil on wood during the rainy season?" a Q&A answered by Florian Speier.