Homemade Deck Cleaner: The Best Inexpensive Non Toxic DIY Deck Cleaner
Looking for an easy and inexpensive way to wash your deck? This oxygen bleach homemade deck cleaner works great well and is non-toxic…it won’t harm your plants, pets or kids.
It’s the beginning of summer…time to start inviting some friends over to hang out on the deck! The only problem? The deck is covered in dirt and algae (and this winter was particularly cool and damp around here…perfect algae growing conditions!)
It definitely needs to be cleaned!
Over the years, I have tried lots of different store-bought cleaning products. Some work better than others, but almost all of them are really hard on the plants around my deck (and as you can see, I have a lot of plants around my deck!)…not to mention toxic for my pets and the stream flowing behind my house.
I’m also not a big fan of using pressure washers on the deck…if you don’t get the spray strength adjusted to the right level, it will take the surface off the deck boards…which makes the deck rough (and seems to make the grime come back even faster).
I finally stumbled across a homemade deck cleaner that is safe for plants, animals, and kids, doesn’t cost very much, and actually works really well! Oxi-Clean (otherwise known as oxygen bleach)!
Oxygen bleach uses oxygen ions to break apart the dirt which means no harmful chemicals are involved at all…and it’s inexpensive. I have a fairly large deck, and it takes about 2 cups of Oxi-Clean to do the whole thing.
Read on to see how to make your own inexpensive and non-toxic homemade deck cleaner (and how to apply it).
Ingredients & Supplies
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- Oxygen Bleach – I used Oxi-Clean*
- Deck scrub brush*
- Garden hose with a spray nozzle
How To Make Oxygen Bleach Homemade Deck Cleaner
Not only is this homemade deck wash effective, it is also really easy to make…the only two ingredients you need are Oxygen Bleach (eg. Oxi-Clean*) and water.
Mix about ½ cup of oxygen bleach with 2 gallons of warm water in the bucket until it dissolves.
Depending on the size of your deck, you may need more than one batch to finish the job.
How To Clean Decking
Washing the deck with your homemade deck cleaning solution works best on a not-too-hot, not-too-sunny day so that the water doesn’t dry up before you have a chance to finish.
If you have a large deck, you may want to clean sections of it at a time to make sure the oxygen bleach solution doesn’t dry on the boards (it’s not the end of the world if it does…it’ll just mean more work for you to get it off).
1. Before applying your DIY deck cleaner, soak the deck with the hose. This will open up the wood pores and make it easier to get rid of the dirt. I also use it to clean out any debris that may have gathered in the cracks between the boards.
2. Use the deck brush to spread the oxygen bleach cleaning solution over the deck. If your deck has a pretty thick layer of dirt and algae like mine did, you’ll need to scrub a little to get it into the grooves.
3. Leave the solution on the deck for about 10 minutes.
4. Then wash it off with the hose. You can see the green coming off with the water!
If you have some really dirty spots, you may need to give them a second treatment. I usually use the slip test…if the boards are still slippery when wet, there’s still algae left on the surface…
After it dries, your deck will look as good as new.
Enjoy Your Clean Deck
After the deck has been washed with your DIY deck cleaner, you can bring out the furniture and the umbrellas.
In my case, those usually need cleaning, too…that algae grows everywhere! Fortunately, this oxygen bleach deck cleaner also works really well on patio furniture, siding, wood or poly-vinyl fences and pretty much any other outdoor surface that needs to be washed.
Then sit down with a cold iced tea (or whatever your beverage of choice is) and relax on your clean deck!
It’s hard to believe this is the same wood that was so green before! And the plants are completely unharmed.
Other Deck And Patio Ideas You Might Like
- Small Patio Decorating Ideas
- Palm Beach Chic Deck Design Ideas
- How To Keep Spiders Out Of Deck Boxes (Without Pesticides)
Have comments or questions on the best inexpensive, non toxic homemade deck cleaner? Tell us in the section below.
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This post was originally published on June 8, 2016 but was updated with new content on December 9, 2021.
Can you use a stain on the deck after cleaning it with this product?
Hi Drema…yes, just make sure to rinse it thoroughly and let it dry before putting the stain on.
Works amazing. However, 2 gallons, with borax added, spread, wetted, scrubbed, rinsed, covered about 200 sq ft. and took about 45 minutes. Our deck is about 800sqft. It dissolved mold, mildew, moss and stains rapidly, but I soon discovered, as with previously attempted Bib Villa ideas, they’re great when somebody else is using their elbow grease. I would suggest using this mix thru the soap pickup in a pressure washer for large areas. Hand scrubbing with a deck brush is too much for a large area.
Thanks for the suggestion! You’re right that it does take some scrubbing if you have a lot of dirt on the deck 🙂
Our mildew is coming from boards Trex deck was made on. I’m assuming I can use this formula but do you have a suggestion for treating that wood to seal so that won’t happen again. The green spills down on beautiful flagstone patio below.
I hope you might help.
Hi Maryann…the only thing I can recommend is to treat the wood part of the deck with water-repellent preservative. Since it keeps the water from soaking into the wood, the algae & mildew won’t have the damp environment they need to grow. However, I think it needs to be re-applied every year, and it might be difficult to get it to cover all of the wood since the Trex is on top of it. But it might be worth a shot.
I pressure washed first and had a few spots left that needed some extra scrubbing so I didn’t tear up my deck. So I tried this method, sadly, it hasn’t improved anything. Bummer! Glad others had success!
Sorry it didn’t work for your deck, Jamie.
Although, after I commented on here, I should mention, I tried it on the exterior of our shed. It’s so shiny and looks brand new!
I tried it too and it works! To Jamie, you can try to use white distilled vinegar and water to create an all natural cleaning solution for the deck. Vinegar is a good option as it will remove mildew, mold, and dirt on the wood.
Thanks for the vinegar suggestion for cleaning mildew! I’ll have to try it 🙂
Will this harm the family of rabbits and chipmunks that live under my deck? Thanks.
Hi Eileen…it’s generally safe for animals, but if they get a lot of the mixture landing directly on them, I’m not sure what would happen.
Is Oxi-Clean safe to use on an Azek composite deck?
Hi Linda…I haven’t tried it, but Oxi-Clean is pretty safe so it’s probably ok. I would try it on a small piece first to make sure.
Yes, it works great on composite decking and will not harm it.
Thanks for your reply. I think I’ll stick with water and a mild soap. If that doesn’t work I’ll still have my bunnies and chipmunks.
Thanks for this advice which worked brilliantly on my hardwood deck. I am in the UK so used Sodasan which is the equivalent product to Oxiclean here.
Thanks for letting us know the UK version 🙂
Can you use Oxi clean on outside gutters and down spouts if so what ratio do I use water with Oxi clean
Hi Michele…yes, I use it for gutters and downspouts, too. Basically the same recipe as I do for the deck.
Will this remove paint?
Hi Cynthia…I don’t think it would, but I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure. You could test it out on an out-of-the-way corner to see what happens.
Was this used on a deck that wasn’t stained already? We stained our deck 2 years ago, had a lot of snow cover and in the spring it was black (not the natural nice color we stained). I washed with a deck wash and restrained. This spring it was turned black again. This time all I did wash washed with water and a soft brush as to not damage the wood and stain. All the upright boards are still a nice color but the deck floor isn’t as pretty. Will this mixture hurt the stain I have applied twice?
Hi Carol…I haven’t tried it on a stained deck so I’m not sure what it will do in that case. I think you would have to test it on an out-of-the-way corner to see what happens.
I used this method on a large deck that had not been cleaned in twelve years. It was like a miracle. It took me 12 hours over three days, and a lot of elbow grease, but all of the black and green algae came off. It looks like brand new. It was worth it, even though I had aches in very odd places.
Hi Monica…this deck cleaner has always worked really well for me, too. It amazes me how much better the deck looks afterward 🙂