Garden Structures

How To Clean Garden Decking After Winter

Man cleaning garden decking
Written by Dean Wilson

Harsh winter weather deteriorates wooden structures and can turn your garden decking from an inviting garden hallmark into an ugly eyesore.

For this reason, cleaning your deck first thing after the ice and snow melt is essential if you want to maintain its structural integrity.

A sparkling clean deck will also give a new lease of life to your property; a fresh look for the spring months.

That being said, we know that the thorough cleaning of garden decking is often far from straight-forward. That’s why we’ve asked some experts to share their best tips for cleaning garden decking after winter. See more on their methods below.

Step 1 – Gather Your Cleaning Materials

What seems like the hardest part is actually the simplest. Most products and tools needed to clean decking after winter are readily available in DIY stores or supermarkets. You’ll probably already own most of the materials:

  • Liquid bleach
  • Laundry detergent or dishwasher
  • Commercial deck cleaner
  • Decking stain
  • Broom
  • Dustpan
  • Scrubbing brush
  • Pressure washer
  • Paintbrush or roller

Step 2 – Prepare the Surface for Cleaning

Besides snow and ice, dead leaves and debris may also pile up on your deck over winter. Plant pots and garden furniture left outdoors may also hinder your cleaning project.

First, remove any large items that might get in your way. This includes garden furniture, pots and larger branches that might have ended up on your deck during the colder months. Then, get a large rubbish bag and remove larger debris, such as dead leaves and other forms of vegetation.

Step 3 – Sweep the Deck

Now that any obstacles and large debris are gone, continue with a more thorough clearing of the surface. Pick up a stiffed broom and sweep away all dust and dirt away. Use a dustpan to gather the dust and throw it away.

Garden debris on decking
A wide range of debris can build up on your deck

Step 4 – Pressure Wash your Decking

Dead vegetation which may have built up on your deck during winter has given mould, lichens, algae and moss the perfect environment on which to thrive. Any substances used to melt snow and ice have also ended up on your wooden surface. The former may make your deck slippery; the latter could degrade the timber.

Pressure washing will not only remove all organic matter and chemicals, but it also revives worn-out wood, giving it a new lease of life.

Pressure washer being used to clean decking
You’ll be surprised how well it comes up

You can use either a traditional pressure washer or a patio cleaner. We highly recommend the latter. Not only does it prevent splashes, but the weaker pressure is less likely to damage the wood.

If you already own a standard pressure washer, mount a fan nozzle on the wand and set the washer on the lowest pressure setting. Keep the wand a few feet away from the deck and turn the unit on.

Start from a test area, which could either be a hidden corner or a step. Direct the jet towards the surface and slowly lower the wand until it starts removing any mould or moss build-up. Work over sections at a time and thoroughly remove all debris from one area before moving on to the next one, slowly covering the entire surface.

Step 5 – Thorough Washing

Leave the surface to dry; in the meantime, prepare a soapy solution of water and laundry detergent or dishwasher. Alternatively, you can opt to use a commercial deck cleaner and dilute it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Pick a stiff scrubbing brush and pour some soapy water on the surface, starting from one end of the deck. Scrub the surface with the brush then rinse with clean water. Work on small sections at a time and make sure each section is thoroughly cleaned before moving on to the next one.

Step 6 – Bleaching

If there are areas affected by mould or moss, it is essential to treat the affected surface with a biocide. Bleach is perhaps the most cost-effective solution. Alternatively, there are many biocide agents for decking and patios you could use. These are not difficult to find online.

With bleach, mix one part bleach with four parts water and pour this solution into a garden sprayer. Spray the solution over any affected areas and let it sit for five to fifteen minutes. Scrub with a stiff scrubbing brush and rinse with clean water.

If you still notice stains, let the area dry completely and repeat the process until the wood is sparkling clean.

When you are satisfied with the state of your deck, rinse once more and allow the surface to dry completely before sealing it.

Tip: During the cleaning process, pay attention so as to only apply the bleach or biocide solution on the desired area – preventing it from ending up on nearby plants or flowerbeds.

Step 7 – Seal and Treat your Decking

After such thorough treatment, chances are last year’s sealant is long gone. So, invest in a good decking stain and use it to re-seal the surface.

You can apply the product either with a paintbrush or a roller; start from one end of the deck and test the colour in a hidden area. If you’re satisfied, proceed by applying the first coat on the entire surface.

Paintbrush applying decking treatment
Brushing along the grain will produce better results

Let it dry as instructed and apply a second coat. If you’re happy with the result, let it dry and avoid excessive use on the first few days after applying the treatment.

A fresh coat of stain will not only protect your decking, making it last longer. You can also use this opportunity to try a new colour or to apply an anti-slip product if necessary.

Once the sealant is fully dry, place any furniture back into their rightful place, along with other decorative items. That’s it. You can now sit back, relax and enjoy your garden!

About the author

Dean Wilson

I'm an avid gardener and home DIY enthusiast from Yorkshire in the North of England. I'm passionate about helping our readers get out into their gardens - by making the most of the outdoors and ensuring they get the best possible deals on their gardening equipment. I also believe strongly in the preservation of our beautiful garden wildlife.

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