How to Clean Your Deck With Oxygen Bleach

Say goodbye to the grime with this how-to guide

Bry'Ana Arvie
Written by Bry'Ana Arvie
Updated July 26, 2022
Large wood deck
Photo: © EricVega / E+ / Getty Images
Difficulty

Easy

No experience? No problem.

Time to complete

2 hours

Cost

$25–$50

Just a short shopping trip (or online order).

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What you'll need:

TOOLS

  • Garden hose
  • Plastic bucket
  • Gloves
  • Saftey goggles
  • Deck brush
  • Broom
  • Boots

SUPPLIES

  • Oxygen bleach
  • Water
  • Ammonia-free liquid dish soap
  • Borax (optional)
  • Paint stick

There’s nothing like enjoying a sunny day by relaxing on your deck. But if you haven’t spent much time on it lately, you might be surprised to see your outdoor hangout spot looking a little grimier than usual. The good news is you can clean your deck using an oxygen bleach solution. Here’s our step-by-step guide on how to take your deck from drab to fab in just an hour or two.

Things to Know Before You Start

We know you’re ready to jump right into this project, but before you get started, we need to discuss some key points. 

Don’t Use Chlorine Bleach

Never mix chlorine bleach with the cleaning products listed above, as it can create harmful gases. Be sure to double check that you’re using oxygen bleach instead of chlorine bleach when mixing with dish soap. Also, using chlorine bleach by itself isn’t an effective cleaning product for decks. Chlorine bleach is a miracle worker for clothes, countertops, tubs, and sinks, but you won’t get the same cleaning results on your deck boards. 

Chlorine bleach contains sodium hypochlorite, which can whiten your deck boards and destroy the lignins, which are cells that hold the wood fiber together. But oxygen bleach has many of the same benefits as chlorine bleach, just without the drawbacks. Oxygen bleach contains hydrogen peroxide, allowing it to kill off fungi and bacteria instead of, well, just about everything (like its chlorine counterpart). 

Opt-Out of Using a Pressure Washer

Pressure washers are the bread and butter of quick outdoor clean-ups. But their high water pressures can damage your deck by raising the wood fibers, causing it to look fuzzy. So, you’ll need a little elbow grease and a deck scrub brush to restore your deck to its former glory. 

  1. Remove Furniture

    Remove everything off your deck, from your furniture to your plants. While it might be tempting to leave your patio table on your deck and work around it, you can clean it much better if you take everything off.

  2. Check Your Deck For Damages

    Look over your deck and see if you have any loose, rotten, or splintered boards or raised nails, and make any necessary repairs. If you’re handy, you can repair your deck yourself. Otherwise, you can call a local handyperson to tackle it for you. In general, it’s wise to inspect your deck once a year even if you’re not giving it a good cleaning.

  3. Sweep Your Deck

    Use a broom to sweep your deck to remove dirt, debris, and leaves. Once you’ve finished sweeping it, spray it with a garden hose to loosen dirt and make it easier for the solution to spread. 

  4. Protect Yourself and Your Plants

    Since oxygen bleach is still bleach, you’d want to wear gloves, goggles, and boots to protect your skin and eyes. Also, this solution can affect your plants too. You should water any plants near your deck then cover them with a tarp to protect them.

  5. Create the Solution

    Now that you and your deck are set and ready to go, in a well-ventilated area, put 2 gallons of warm water in a bucket and add 2 cups of oxygen bleach; stir until dissolved with your paint stick. Then add one-fourth of a cup of ammonia-free liquid dish soap and stir again. If you have mildew stains you want to remove, you can also add 1 cup of borax to your bleach deck cleaning solution—but it’s optional.

  6. Apply Solution to Deck Boards

    Pour your mixture onto your deck and scrub it with your deck brush until it starts lathering. Use a little extra elbow grease in areas where you notice stubborn dirt, stains, and mildew. Once you’ve covered your entire deck with the solution, let it sit for five minutes so it can work its magic. 

  7. Rinse Your Deck

    Use your garden hose to thoroughly rinse the bleach deck cleaning solution off your deck, then let it dry. You can use a garden hose with a high-pressure nozzle (just not a pressure washer). Be sure to give it a few passes with the hose, to ensure you remove all of the cleaning solution.

  8. Apply Deck Treatment (Optional)

    After letting it dry for at least 48 hours; you can finish off the job by resealing, staining, or painting your deck. It’s ideal to stain or seal your deck every two to three years. But if you’re deck isn’t due for a treatment, it’s fine to just let your cleaning job dry, put your decor back in place, and enjoy your fresh deck.

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