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Cleaning your deck in the spring

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All winter long your deck has been covered in mounds of snow. Come spring, you want nothing more than to sit out in the warm, sunny weather. But, once the snow melts, you realize the deck is looking a bit worse for wear. A proper cleaning is needed before you can relax.

The right stuff

Cleaning the deck requires more than a bit of elbow grease. There are some tools and cleaners you will need for this task. Of course, you will need a broom and a hose, but also a bucket full of cleaner, protective glasses and gloves, a scrub brush and/or power washer. The cleaner you use will help get rid of the hardier dirt and grime that won’t come away from sweeping.

Most deck cleaners can be purchased at any home improvement store. Though there are some homemade mixes you can whip up yourself. Use a gallon of water and two cups of an oxygen-based bleach. It’s important to use this specific kind of bleach because it won’t harm the plant life near your deck. Using this kind of cleaner will also help remove mildew. If mildew isn’t a problem, a simpler solution vinegar and water will do the trick.

Other deck cleaners may have harsher chemicals for issues of mold and rust. For this reason, you will definitely want to wear protective goggles and gloves. Applying such cleaners can be done using a simple scrub brush or a power washer. Scrubbing by hand will be more work, but will cost less than renting a power washer. Otherwise, you can add the cleaning mix to the tank of the power washer to apply it to the deck. Make sure you get a power washer that has less than 1500 PSI because anything higher can damage your deck.

The steps

With tools at hand, you can now begin the process of cleaning your deck. Remove debris, patio furniture, plants and the barbecue. For the items that are bolted down, such as flower boxes, be sure to cover them with plastic. This will protect them from any harmful cleaners you may use. Sweep any organic material into the yard and everything else into the trash. Remove anything that is stuck between the slats, as well. Now that things have been removed or covered, you can prepare your cleaning solution and get to work. Cover every surface of the deck, including any stairs and railings. If you’re using a power washer, make sure you keep it moving at all times. Don’t leave it in one spot for too long or it can strip down some of the wood. Sweep it from side to side like a pendulum. Once you’re finished applying the cleaner, leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes. After that time has passed you can rinse it off and let your deck dry.

Tips

There are a few things to keep in mind when cleaning your deck. If you choose to scrub by hand, don’t use a wire brush because it can damage the wood. For those using a power washer, make sure you use the “fan” tip. That will spray the cleaner evenly across the surface of your deck without damaging it.

Remember to go with the grain. Also, when it comes to choosing your cleaner, they are not all made equally. Certain types of wood will require a different cleaning solution. If the cleaner is drying too quickly during the 10 minutes, you can lightly mist it with some water to reactivate it. Fortunately, cleaning your deck is a task normally done only once a year, so when you’re done, you can sit back and relax until next year.

By Meagan Dieroff 

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