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Question DetailsAsked on 2/23/2018

How to clean a painted deck!

We have an old 1900s house with a wooden deck that is painted red. We do not want to strip it or finish it just clean it. I do not have a pressure washer and wouldn’t want to use one for fear of pealing of the paint. What kind of cleaner either commercial or homemade should I use!

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Normally one would use deckwash, but like you say that might tend to lift the paint. Also for that reason, pressure washer or rotary hard surface floor cleaning machine is not a good idea.

I would use normal laundry detergent in very warm but not "hot" water - or for even gentler approach use Dawn liquid dish soap in water (a little goes a long ways). While you could use a normal floor sponge or mop, the gaps, slivers and ends of boards in the deck will tear it up fast. Best to use a normal indoor type pushbroom with a lot of finer bristles - not the widely spaced very stiff ones on contractor type outdoor push brooms, which can leave streaks on the boards due to incomplete coverage. Could also use one of the extension-type car washing brushes - the type the hose connects to and water goes through the center to the soft brush, but they are not as durable.

If it has been awhile since it was cleaned, I would first wet the surface well with the soapy water and let sit for maybe 10 minutes, then scrub, rewetting the broom with the soapy water frequently so there is enough free water to keep it all wet. Do only a section at a time, and rinse off with a garden hose with a spray (not jet) nozzle - rinse as you go so the dirty water does not sit or worse, dry on the boards and redirty and stain them.

Remember the dirty water will be going down under the deck, so clear out stuff under there first.

Also - remember to wash AWAY from the house and wet the siding with the hose (and keep it wet) BEFORE rinsing the deck then again immediately afterwards to avoid siding staining - dirty water running down ddry siding makesnasty streaks. Actually,m if siding is so dirty it will leave dirt stains, you may need to start on the siding first and clean it up, then do the deck, rerinsing the siding as you go. If water will run down the siding from the deck, keep the siding under the deck wet throughout the process so the dirty water does not stick kto it, then rinse that again last.

Also, avoid pooling water against the side of the house and ledger board, or against the foundation - will not take a lot of soapy water (maybe 5 gallons or so for a good sized deck) - and thjen keep the hose rinsing brief and aimed away from the house, using a stiff spray but not a narrow confined jet, to avoid peeling the paint.

If real dirty, likely to take 2 cycles of washing and rinsing to do a fair job - rinse and let dry between wash cycles so you can see where you need to scrub more. Also - letting it dry afer first complete cleaning pass keep the paint and wood from getting so saturated, which is what makes paint peel. For serious hand scrubbing at tough spots, a medium stiff bristle horse brush with the back strap works very well.

If there are plantings, cover real sensitive ones - most plants will not be hurt by the small amount of soap you are putting on them if you wet them with hoses before you start (to promote soapy water running off and diluting), then rinse the soap fully off as you rinse the deck to get it off the plants (though actually good for getting critters liek aphids off the plants) and dilute it.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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