You love spending time out on your deck, but it can fade and look worn out with sunlight exposure and heavy traffic. Even if you make a point to routinely maintain it, you’ll need a high-quality deck cleaner on hand and ready to use to bring the rich hues out in the wood and make it look like new again. A deck cleaner can safely get rid of layers of grime without stripping the deck paint or wood of oils or making it look dull and faded, and there are several excellent brands to choose from when you start shopping.
However, it can be overwhelming if you’re new to owning a deck, and it’s difficult to decide which deck cleaner is best for your needs. This is where my product roundup comes in. I’ve picked out several high-quality deck cleaners for you and reviewed them. Also, the short buyer’s guide highlights everything that you want to look for in your new deck cleaner to ensure that it can help you tackle the job in record time.
A good cleaner will help remove any stubborn stains and kill any mold, mildew, or algae growing on your deck in a single application. You can choose from a few forms and strengths, so it’s a good idea to shop around. This way, you won’t get a product that strips your deck back too far.
1. Scotts Outdoor Cleaner Plus OxiClean
When you choose this deck cleaner from Scotts, you’ll get to pick from a concentrate, ready to spray, small concentrate, trigger, or wipes. All you have to do is hook it up to your expandable hose, switch it on, and spray your deck. Once you let it sit for a little while, you can get out your scrub brush and use it to lift dirt, algae, mildew, mold, and moss away. There are no phosphates or chlorine bleach in this formula, and this makes it safe to use around your pets, kids, or other family members without worrying about them accidentally ingesting it or it burning their skin.
This deck cleaner works very well on patio furniture, brick, vinyl, wood composite, wood, stone, cement, the inside of boats, and much more. A single bottle will cover up to 500 square feet, and this makes it an excellent choice for large decks or repeat applications. It has OxiClean in the formula that works to gently lift off contaminants and help you get a sparkling clean deck that will stay nice for the whole spring and summer. For the best results, let it sit for 20 to 25 minutes before scrubbing it.
- Very easy to apply
- Safe to use around kids and pets
- Has OxiClean in the formula
- May need more than one application to work
- Have to scrub a lot to get stains out
- Does not go the full 500 feet
2. Star Brite Non-Skid Deck Cleaner
This deck cleaner doubles as an all-surface cleaner that works well on plastic, vinyl, fiberglass, painted surfaces, rubber, and metal. It comes packed with a host of special cleaning agents that lift spills, dirt, and grim without the need for heavy scrubbing actions. It goes to work straight away as soon as you apply it, and you should leave it sitting on the surface of your deck for an hour or two to maximize the cleaning capabilities. It works well on non-textured areas, and it won’t remove any polish or wax you already have on your deck’s surface to help seal out moisture.
When you use this deck cleaner, it has protective polymers in it. These polymers provide your deck with a light barrier against any future stains or grime buildup. In turn, this makes any future cleanup very fast and easy. This product has been around since 1973, and it has a long history of manufacturing good products. You can choose from a gallon size, 22-ounce spray, or a 32-ounce bottle when you order. The screw-top lid ensures that it doesn’t accidentally spill when you use it.
- Works on a variety of surfaces
- Available in three sizes
- Has protective polymers in the formula
- Have to scrub hard for it to work
- Expensive for the amount you get
- May not break through set-in stains
3. 30 SECONDS Outdoor Cleaner
This deck cleaner is very versatile, and it works well on patios of all sizes if you’re trying to clean them up for a nice space to entertain and relax. This cleaner will start to deep clean any mold, algae, and mildew right away to give you very fast-acting results that you’ll be able to see within minutes of applying it. All you have to do for this cleaner to work is spray it on, let it lift the stains, and use your hose to rinse it off without any hard scrubbing required. You can use this cleaner on wooden decks, asphalt driveways, concrete sidewalks, brick walls, stucco, lanais, canvas awnings, outdoor furniture, vinyl siding, and plastic furniture.
This deck cleaner comes in a gallon, 2.5 gallon, 5 gallon, or 64-ounce size that allows you to customize your pick to suit your needs. Once you rinse it away into the soil, the cleaner will safely break down and disappear without harming your plants or presenting a problem for pets and kids. It’ll take care of routine grime, mold, mildew, and algae without a problem, and it can run right into your plants without burning them because they are no harsh chemicals.
- Has no harsh chemicals
- Don’t have to scrub for it to work
- Useful on a broad range of surfaces
- Takes a lot to rinse in away
- Have to use a lot on really stained areas
- Concerns about recent price fluctuations
4. Simple Green Oxy Solve Cleaner
This gallon of deck cleaner allows you to easily take on cleaning your carport, gazebo, pergola, or other outdoor structures like patios and decks. It doesn’t have any harsh chemicals in the makeup that could hurt your lawn, plants, pets, or family, and it uses the power of peroxide to get rid of tough stains and lift them away from the surface of your deck. It’ll easily take a variety of stains away from mud, moss, algae, mold, mildew, and clay from your deck, and this will leave you with a clean surface to refinish or show off when you use this spot to entertain or have gatherings.
If you have oil, grease, or stains from tree sap cluttering up your deck, this deck cleaner can effectively cut right through them. If you use it with a pressure washer, a single gallon of this deck cleaner can handle up to 6,400 square feet. This cleaner meets the EPA Safer Product Standards, and this should give you excellent peace of mind when you use it. It has a direct release formula that is safe for use in the environment, and you won’t have to worry about it washing off and hurting your plants or lawn.
- Cleans up to 6,400 square feet
- Uses peroxide to lift tough stains
- Meets the EPA Safer Product Standards
- Have to use a power washer with it
- Have to wash areas twice to see a large improvement
- Has a very sweet and lingering scent
5. Wet and Forget Stain Remover
This concentrated deck cleaner by Wet & Forget comes as a spray and leave formula. There is no pressure washing, no rinsing, and no scrubbing required when you use it, and this can help ease the strain on your body while giving you more time to play yard games with your kids and friends. It has a concentrated formula that is safe to use on virtually any outdoor surface without damaging it, and it won’t strip any polish or sealant off of your deck when you use it. This cleaner is slightly different in the fact that it works over time instead of right away, and it can keep your deck clean for over a year.
This deck cleaner works alongside the wind and rain to lift set-in stains and form a protective barrier to prevent further staining. One gallon of the powerful concentrate can make up to six gallons of cleaner, and it has a non-acidic formula with no bleach included. It can cover between 750 to 2,250 square feet, and this gives you more than enough concentrate for at least one or two applications each time you purchase it. It works well on small and large decks.
- Spray and leave formula
- Cleans without damaging the surface
- No bleach in the formula
- Can take weeks to work
- Doesn’t work well on mold or mildew
- Needs several heavy-handed applications
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6. OLYMPIC/PPG ARCHITECTURAL FIN Cleaner
This deck cleaner comes ready to use straight out of the bottle, and it’s a premium-quality deck cleaner formula that can easily strip away mildew and dirt stains from your deck. To use it, all you have to do is apply a thin layer and let it work for 5 to 10 minutes. It’ll start lifting the stains as it sits on the deck, and then you’ll get your hose and lightly rinse it off. That’s it, and you should notice a difference in the levels of discoloration and staining on your deck. You can safely use it on almost every type of wood and wood composite without it being too harsh, and it comes from companies in the United States.
This deck cleaner uses a mix of strong bleach and water, so you do want to use it away from your kids and pets. Also, be careful where you drain this mixture off because it can wreak havoc on your grass or flowers if it splashes on it. There is very little smell with this cleaner, and the light smell goes away very quickly after you apply it to your deck or patio. You get a full gallon in each order, and it has an ergonomic handle that makes it easy to pour and carry.
- Works in 5 to 10 minutes
- Easy to use and wash away
- Useful on any type of wood
- More expensive online
- Pre-diluted formula
- Smell is strong when you first open it
7. Rust-Oleum Deckbrite Wood Cleaner
You can choose from a one or six pound batch of deck cleaner when you use this product, and it works well for use around your climbing garden, patio, and deck. This cleaner has a formula that contains oxygen-activated concentrate powder that is an ultra oxidizer that will work to get underneath stains and lift them up so you can easily spray your deck and wash them away. This cleaner will help restore any weathered wood you have in your patio or deck, and it can be an easy way to get it ready to refinish it to prevent future stains or scuffs and seal out moisture.
This deck cleaner works best on pressure-treated wood, redwood, weathered cedar, and a host of composites. In turn, you can use it without worrying about it damaging your deck. Once you spray the powder with water, it’ll start to foam. You should leave the foam sitting on your deck for at least 10 minutes before you wash it away. This gives it plenty of time to go to work and help get rid of even stubborn stains. When you finish, you can reseal the bag to use it again if you don’t use it all in one go.
- Available in one and six-pound sizes
- Forms into a stain-fighting foam
- Easy to rinse away
- Only works on certain types of wood
- Have to scrub hard for it to work
- May leave patchy results
8. Woodrich Brand Complete Wood Cleaner
This is a deck cleaner that also doubles as a brightener to bring out the natural hue and shine of your wooden deck or patio. It works very well on redwood, pine, maple, tigerwood, cedar, oak, purple heart, ipe, jatoba, brazillian mahogany, and douglas fir. Once you apply it and let it sink it, it’ll help lift up icky stains while leaving a soft gleaming surface that looks fantastic when the sun hits it. This cleaner has a goal of making your deck look like fresh-cut wood without applying any harsh chemicals or bleaching, and this is nice for people who have more weathered decks.
You can use this deck cleaner for a host of projects like your fencing, decks, wood floors, siding, and cabins. The cleaner will sink beneath the top layer of your deck and strip away most oil-based stains, grime, drit, and dead grey wood fibers that can make it look unattractive. You get two containers that are two pounds each, and a single order will cover up to 750 square feet. You will have to use a lot of water to rinse the product away once you apply it to your deck.
- Strips away the grey look
- Adds a light gleam to the wood
- Covers up to 750 square feet
- Can irritate the skin or eyes
- Has a very strong smell associated with it
- May strip too much wood away
9. DeckMAX Wood Deck Cleaner Kit
This deck cleaner comes formulated to be powerful without the harsh chemicals that so many of these products contain. It has a really concentrated formula that can clean up to 1,500 square feet, and you’ll end up with two gallons of cleaner that you can use on railings, decking, trim, walkway edging, and composite. There are step-by-step dilution instructions on the package to ensure you get a good mix each time you use it. This is a very fast-working formula that doesn’t contain any solvents or volatile organic compounds. This means you can use it freely around your flowers, plants, pets, and kids without worrying about it causing problems or being too strong.
This is an entire kit included with this deck cleaner that comes with a scrub brush to help you strip the grime and algae growth right off your deck to expose the boards underneath. You should leave it sit for at least an hour before you start scrubbing it because this will give it plenty of time to work so you won’t have to scrub so hard at the set-in stains on your deck. When you finish, you can rinse the brush out and wash the rest of the cleaner off your deck before letting it air dry.
- Covers up to 1,500 square feet
- No solvents or VOCs in the formula
- Comes with a scrub brush
- Takes over an hour to lift stains
- May have to scrub certain spots very hard
- Takes a lot of water to rinse it away
Deck Cleaner Buyer’s Guide
If you need a deck cleaner, you most likely want to prep your deck to stain or refinish it or clean it to get rid of any stains or set-in debris. If you want it to clean, it’ll remove any dirt, grime, mold, or mildew while leaving the deck with the stain and varnish intact. If you want to prep it, you’d apply it before you apply sealer, varnish, or stain to give yourself a clean work surface.
You can apply it by hand with a scrub brush or a pressure washer. This will help the deck cleaner remove unwanted blemishes and dirt from your deck’s surface. It can effectively cut through fine moss, lichen, algae, weathered stain, oxidation patches, dirt, oil, grease, and grime. Once you clean it, you can sand it to remove any remaining patches of stain.
A well-maintained deck will look nice, resist stains, and have a protective barrier to prevent weather damage. Using a high-quality cleaner is one way to extend the life of your deck and make it look presentable all year round.
If you were to use your deck cleaner before you refinish your hardwood floor or deck, the concentration would be very important. This is a measure of how potent the product is, and it can range from a very diluted formula to a very concentrated one. Usually, when you buy a concentrated formula, you’ll use the instructions to dilute it down before you use it to make it last longer. If you don’t, it could strip the wood down much further than you originally wanted it to.
A lot of deck cleaners made the switch to using biodegradable formulas without any harsh chemicals that could harm the surrounding environment. Since you will usually wash the cleaner off your deck or patio and onto your lawn or flowers, you want something that won’t burn them. This is especially important if you plant to clean your deck on a regular basis. Double-check that the formula is environmentally-friendly, biodegradable, and that it won’t cause issues for your plants or lawn. It’ll usually say right on the package whether or not it is.
The most popular type of deck cleaner comes in liquid form, but you can also get granular form. With the liquid form, you either pour it straight onto your deck, put it in a pressure washer and spray your deck, or dilute down the concentrate before applying it. Granular or powder form requires you to sprinkle it on the deck and apply a layer of water so it foams and starts to lift the stains. Both work, but the liquid usually has a much stronger formula to help it lift stains.
Decks develop stains over time, and the varnish can peel away. It’s important that you remove any grime before you refinish your deck to give yourself a clean work surface for the stain to stick too.
Oxygenated bleach has really grown in popularity over the past several years because it can tackle a broad range of stains without being too harsh on your skin or eyes. These cleaners contain Sodium Percarbonate, and this makes it slightly more environmentally friendly than traditional bleach. Check and see which ingredient your product uses before you apply it to your deck. This will give you a good idea whether or not it’ll damage the surrounding area.
How large is your deck? You’ll have to find the square footage to make sure you’re buying enough product to cover it. Some deck cleaners can effectively clean up to 2,500 square feet, and other cleaners may only go as far as 750 square feet. You may want to buy enough so you have enough product to cover your deck twice to get it very clean.
Deck cleaners can effectively lift a lot of stubborn stains and ground-in grime and dirt from your deck to make it look new again. I’ve rounded up several quality options that are both environmentally-friendly and not, and the short buyer’s guide can help you narrow down your choices to find the product that suits your needs the best.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.