Since wood is so porous, it is not the easiest surface to wash without a pressure washer. However, if you are not ready to invest in an expensive pressure washer, there are other ways you can clean your deck.

Some people use a spray bottle filled with warm water and dish soap. Others use the old-fashioned bucket method, but that takes longer.

For those looking for a faster option, here is how to clean a wooden deck without a pressure washer:

How to Clean a Wood Deck Without a Pressure Washer Using a Specialised Solution?

For best results, your deck should be dry to start off with before you attempt cleaning it. If the deck is still wet, it will not have enough time to absorb the solution so do not apply more than once.

Pressure washers and hose-end attachments that can over-dilute the solution may reduce performance, so try to avoid them if at all possible.

Related: Deck Replacement: When It’s Needed & What You Need to Do

Method #1 – The Detergent and bleach mix

Step 1 – Cleaning solution

Mix two cups of liquid chlorine bleach with one gallon of hot water. Pour the mixture into a garden sprayer or pump-up sprayer.

Spray the entire deck (make sure it is soaked) to allow time for the mixture to penetrate any mold spores on your deck’s surface.

For heavy stains or growth, an additional coating may be required.

If you find that the cleaner is evaporating too fast, feel free to add a light mist from the hose and let the cleaner sit and do its work.

Related: Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning your Composite Deck

Step 2 – Scrubbing the deck

Allow about 10-15 minutes of contact time before lightly brushing the deck. Using a stiff bristle brush, scrub down the entire deck thoroughly going towards the grain. This will force out grime and dirt that has been softened by the cleaning solution. Rinse off all of this excess grime using your garden hose with a high-pressure nozzle attached.

Make certain to spray away from plants or anything inflammable to avoid accidental contact. You may also want to cover up any windows on the house facing the deck while you are cleaning it for this same reason. Once all of the excess dirt has been washed off, direct your attention back towards washing the deck’s surface with plain water until you are satisfied that it is clean enough for your specific needs.

If you find this article interesting you may want to read this – How To Clean Your Concrete Patio (Without A Pressure Washer).

Method #2 – Potassium salts of fatty acids.

Often referred to as “soap salts” or “liquid soap,” these potassium-based cleaners offer a variety of benefits, from penetrating grime to killing mold and mildew.

Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. In order to clean the deck with this solution, you need 4-5 gallons of water and about 1 cup of potassium salt (read the instructions on the box and adhere to them if they are different).
  2. The first thing you have to do is put on a pair of gloves, mix it in a pail or any container that can hold at least four gallons. To make sure that you have mixed everything thoroughly, stir nonstop for 2 minutes straight.
  3. To start cleaning your deck wipe away loose dirt using a cloth dipped into the mixture, scrubbing all over the deck’s surface as you go along without missing any spots.
  4. Then rinse off with plain water and allow space for evaporation before proceeding to the next step.
  5. Once the deck has dried up, inspect it and see whether or not it is clean enough for your needs. If you want to, repeat the process one more time just to be sure that your deck really shines.
  6. If it is to your satisfaction, coat it in a protective solution using a hose-end sprayer. This will prevent mold from growing on the deck’s surface for up to 6 months.

Related: How To Get Rid Of Black Spots On Patio Slabs (FAST!) 

Method #3 – Vinegar and baking soda (naturally clean)

Baking soda and vinegar make an excellent pair when it comes to natural cleaners. The great thing is, you will likely have most of the ingredients required in your household already.

Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Remove all furnishings, plants, and décor from the deck. Removing everything allows you to visually inspect your entire decking for warping, discoloration, and spongy boards. Replace any rotten wood, tap in any popped screws, and tighten any loose fasteners that you find.
  2. Next, you have to mix 3 tablespoons of baking soda and 3 tablespoons vinegar with one gallon of water and apply it to the deck’s surface with a garden-type sprayer.
  3. Allow it to sit for about 15 minutes before scrubbing with a stiff bristle brush (which you can buy at any hardware store) in order to remove grime, mildew, and dirt.
  4. Then rinse thoroughly using your hose until there are no more suds left on your decking’s surface.
  5. Let everything dry off naturally before putting back any furnishings or plants you removed prior to cleaning.

Related: How To Clean A Patio (Without Chemicals)

Removing Algae from Your Deck

Using white distilled vinegar is your best bet when it comes to removing algae from your deck.

Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Mix one part vinegar with three parts of water, apply using a garden-type sprayer, leave it on for 10 minutes, and scrub all over the surface of your deck with a clean brush.
  2. Rinse again until no suds are left on the surface of your decking. Allow everything to dry before putting back any furniture or plants.
  3. Dry out any wet areas by means of a fan or heat if necessary.

Related: Cheap, Quick, And Easy Alternatives To Decking

Maintaining Your Clean Deck

Now that you have cleaned your deck thoroughly and allowed it adequate time to dry off, make sure that you take some preventive measures in order to maintain its cleanliness over time.

The thing you need to do is seal your wooden decking with a high-quality walnut-based sealer, which you can purchase at any hardware store.

Apply it using a garden sprayer after thoroughly rinsing out the surface of your deck not only once, but twice so that there are no traces of dirt leftover on its surface.

Allow everything to dry naturally for about 12 hours before replacing your furnishings and plants.

If there is one thing you should learn how to do in order to maintain the cleanliness of your wooden deck, it applies an outdoor sealant every season (spring, summer, winter).

That way you will keep mold and mildew from growing on the surface of your deck over time. Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter, and you should be fine.

Related: Why is water pooling on my decking?


Can you clean decking with washing-up liquid?

Yes, you can. When combined with a small quantity of warm water, liquid dish soap (ammonia-free) is harmless for use on your deck. Blend your ingredients and swab it over your deck before rinsing it clean with water. Wood decks may be cleaned with oxygen bleach or powdered oxygen laundry detergent, which are both safe for use on wood decks and useful in removing mold or spores.

Best way to clean composite decking

The easiest method to clean composite decking is to soap it first, then gently brush each deck board. Spray/rinse each individual deck board using a fan nozzle no closer than 8 inches (203 mm) from the decking surface. RINSE THOROUGHLY.

Is it OK to pressure wash composite deck?

Composite decking does not require pressure washing if done incorrectly. Pressure washing too close or using too much pressure can harm your decking. The softer material of composite decking makes it easier to “etch” than natural wood.


Now you know how to clean a wooden deck without using a pressure washer. Just follow the steps outlined above to get that great look back into your deck.

We recommend using vinegar and baking soda over harsh chemicals when you want to clean up your deck this summer!

For more tips on how to clean your deck without using a pressure washer, don’t forget to check out the rest of our posts (if interested) by clicking here.

wooden dek against a sunny garden back drop.
How To Clean Your Wooden Deck (No Pressure Washer Required)

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