How to Wash Your Deck

It may seem obvious, but keeping your wood or composite deck is essential if you want to keep it looking great and long-lasting. Greg Reveles of Renorr Dynamics is here to provide a lesson in deck-washing.
Preparing the deck

What you want to do is make sure that you’re not going to break anything that’s on the deck—and you do that by taking it all off! If you have toys, furniture, big plants, anything that either sits there on purpose or accumulates by accident, now’s the time to get it out of the way. If you have any bushes that might get hurt in the process, cover them with something protective. Once it’s emptied of all objects, give your deck a good sweeping.

Getting started

You can use an ordinary garden hose to clean your deck, though Reveles is partial to a little more power. If you use the garden hose, then set the sprayer as high as it will go and be sure to aim it directly at places that need an extra amount of work.
Reveles prefers a pressure washer, and that’s what he’s using in this demonstration video. There’s nothing wrong with using a pressure washer, but too many people take it for granted that they know precisely how it works. That’s a great way to damage your deck! So make sure that even if you think you know how to use it, you take another read through the directions to be sure.

Cleaning the deck

Start by turning off the water and pulling the cord to start the pressure washer, then turn the water back on again.

If you want to use soap (not everybody does), then you can use your own laundry detergent. If you’re renting the pressure washer, a solution may have come with it, or the rental agency might have a solution that they recommend. It’s not even
necessary to use soap, but if your desk hasn’t been cleaned recently, or if you’ve had a particularly hard winter that you’re cleaning up after, you may want to try it. Mix the detergent with water in a bucket, and apply it to your deck. You’ll want a brush with stiff bristles if you need to do any scrubbing, but again, remember that you can damage the deck if you’re not careful. Don’t work haphazardly: start at one end and work across, and then rinse with your garden hose or pressure cleaner.

Washing the deck

Reveles recommends that you use your pressure cleaner to wash the deck in long, sweeping motions. Stand with your feet planted firmly apart (so that you don’t slip or lose your balance!) and use the cleaning wand keeping the sweeping smooth, with the nozzle staying the same distance off the deck as you go back and forth.

Using this smooth left-to-right motion followed by a right-to-left motion will make sure that you don’t miss any of the deck, and that you won’t stay on any one spot too long, which can cause problems. He says to do it a little like a pendulum! Remember that the power washer is strong, and so if you stop or pause at any one point you can make a cut mark on the deck; make sure you protect it by not doing that. Always follow the direction of the wood grain. You don’t want to clean against the grain.

Next move to the handrails and the spindles on the deck, so that you clean any wood that’s upright. The same idea applies here: the motions should be smooth and sweeping, regularly going up and down, up and down. Clean all sides of the wood in the same sweeping motion. You can reach over the handrail if you need to; just be sure to keep a smooth motion going.

The stairs are usually more cramped and difficult, so a shorter wand will be helpful here.