How to Keep Your Deck Looking Beautiful and Protecting Your Deck From Damage

Regular cleaning will keep a natural wood deck looking beautiful and prevent the need for expensive repairs. Start with sweeping daily, if possible remove dirt and leaves.

Next, hose down the deck using a pressure washer or garden hose with a spray nozzle. Be sure to use a low setting and hold the nozzle about two feet from the decking. Learn more by clicking here.

Debris Removal

When debris builds up on or between deck boards, the space between them becomes compacted and restricts airflow. This can cause fungus that can lead to wood rot.

A light sweeping on a regular basis, ideally should help keep dirt and leaves off the deck. Sweeping can also prevent the buildup of spores and mildew that can stain the deck.

If your deck is particularly dirty, especially if there is a lot of mold and mildew growth, you may need to apply a cleaner or scrub the deck. Make sure that you wear gloves and eye protection. You should also cover any plants around the deck and remove furniture or grills to create a work zone.

If you’re using a chemical deck cleaning solution, test it in a small area first to ensure that it doesn’t damage the surface or bleed into nearby plants. You can find commercial deck cleaners at hardware stores or make your own (using natural ingredients like white vinegar). The best deck cleaners kill mildew and leave the wood surface shiny, soft, and safe for plants and pets.


Many stain products require a thorough cleaning and rinsing to ensure that they penetrate deep into the wood and adhere properly. If you simply power wash or broom your deck, the deeper dirt and grime that is often trapped will remain and cause your new coat of stain to peel, crack, or flake.

Clean your deck with a high-quality all-in-one wood cleaner and follow the product instructions for dilution. You may need to let it sit for 10-15 minutes or longer depending on the product.

Avoid cleaners containing chlorine bleach because they lighten the natural color of treated wood and leave it with an unnatural whitewashed look. They also corrode metal fasteners, nails, and screws and can raise the wood fibers allowing mildew or mold to grow.

If you see any signs of mold on your composite deck, try cleaning it with vinegar instead of a chemical solution. This is more natural and safer for your plants if they are close by.

Power Washing or Pressure Washing

Before beginning your deck washing, examine the area and remove any items that may be damaged by the high-pressure water. Also, make sure that the hose or pressure washer is set to a low setting and pointed away from people and glass windows. Finally, wear eye protection and rubber gloves to protect yourself from the spray of a power washer.

Start by sweeping to remove any dust, dirt, or debris that was missed in the nooks and crannies. This step will prevent the cleaning solution from picking up extra grime.

Next, mix your store-bought or homemade cleaning solution with water. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label. If you use a commercial cleaner, test the product in an inconspicuous area to ensure it will not damage your deck. If you have mildew stains, consider adding powdered oxygen bleach (available as Oxiclean, Oxy-Boost, or Clorox Oxy Magic) to your cleaner. This natural disinfectant will brighten your stained wood and eliminate the spores from which mold and mildew grow.


If you want to make your deck last and protect it from damage, apply a quality wood sealant after the cleaning process. There are sealants that just protect and others that also stain the wood, but it’s best to get a combination product. These products are usually referred to as “stain and sealant” or “penetrating stain” on the can.

Choose a color that blends in with the natural look of your deck, such as beige or taupe, to avoid overwhelming it. You can find a transparent stain that allows some of the wood figure to show through or a pigmented stain that hides the wood grain more completely.

Remember to stay off the deck while it’s being sealed to allow the sealant to dry. If anyone in your family wants to walk on the deck during this time, put up yellow caution tape to keep them from accidentally disrupting the process. A good sealant can take one to three days to dry properly, so be patient. Check out this interesting post!