"Ask This Old House" had an episode in which Tommy helped a guy clean
his deck before sealing it. Tommy said NOT to use a pressure washer as
it damages the wood fibers. We have to clean our front porch, which is
made with pressure treated deck lumber. What was the chemical Tommy used?
If you use a washer carefully, with distance and dont Blast wood you
wont hurt it and its the only way to clean it after you use chemicals,
Sherwin williams deck cleaner is one of the best, but it depends on
what wrong, If its in shade it could be just mold so try some laundry
bleach, most deck cleaners have an acid and bleaching agent [ sodium
hypochlorate] its the active ingrediant of Laundry Bleach and often
Oxalic acid that loosens the dirt. Bleach is cheap, add some acid and
soap and you pay 20x more for the mix of cheap chemicals.
You can buy real TSP, or TriSodiumPhosphate, but since it is bad for
lakes, streams, etc., it isn't on the supermarkets shelves for every
"yahoo" to buy. Hardware stores or paint stores typically carry TSP.
However, I find there are plenty of substitutes that are safer and
work as well. For example, Jasco's liquid TSP substitute works well
for cleaning walls prior to painting, and needs no rinsing.
Chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) is very damaging to wood and
should never be used to clean or bleach wood. Something like "Oxy
Clean" or a generic brand oxygen cleaner is the cleaner to use. It
doesn't destroy the wood fibers like sodium hypochlorite does. It's
also safer to use and it won't hurt surrounding plants.
Don't take my word for it, search google "sodium hypochlorite to clean
wood" and see that most all links tell you chlorine bleach is the wrong
product to use.
Ive been using it for 30 years on the same deck, my deck, Ive used it
for 20 years professionaly before painting, Sodium Hypochlorate is the
active ingrediant in alot of deck cleaners, its the same dam stuff you
put in your laundry that everybody has been using since before you
were born, of course Oxt Clean will say its 'the wrong thing to do"
Wake up it isnt going to hurt your deck, or your yellow shorts.
Not sure what Tommy used.
1 gallon warm water
1/2 cup TSP
3/4 cup household bleach
Dissolve the TSP in the warm water until completely dissolved. Add to
a garden sprayer then add the bleach. You can use the product "JoMax"
instead of the TSP. If the deck is really dirty, you may need to
clean it twice and/or light scrubbing. Allow it to dry for 2-3 weeks
Add 1/2 cup oxalic acid to that mix, Label it, and sell it for 26.99$
a gallon, and it only cost you 1$, thats all deck cleaners are, 1$ of
product, .50c for the Jug, and markup. [but more bleach helps alot]
How toxic is this mixture?
My deck is 6' off the ground and we store stuff underneath.
I can empty out what's under there and let the run off soak into the
ground, but there are plants and pets to consider also.
Any of the "cleaners" using Chlorine Beach or Oxalic Acid are going to
damage anything they touch, such as plants, metals, etc.
Unfortunately, as previous posters mentioned, they are also VERY VERY
effective at cleaning the deck. And, especially for Chlorine Bleach
("Clorox") the cost is low.
But my deck is 10 feet off the ground and spans across landscape
plantings, a patio, etc. So, I know and have dealt with your problem
of not wanting to damage things underneath.
I use Oxygen Bleach, which is about the most effective, safest thing
you can use that does the LEAST damage to plants, etc.
The active ingredients are sodium percarbonate and sodium carbonate
(soda ash). Notice I said the least damage -- anything will do some
damage in my opinion. Do a web search for "deck cleaning" "oxygen
bleach" and you will find plenty of information, as well as plenty of
sites wanting to sell you their "special blend" of oxy bleach.
I have a very large wrap-around, deck -- about 60 feet by 10 feet --
of Western Red Cedar. It costs me about $125 in Oxygen Bleach every
three years to clean it. I buy the stuff in 20-pound tubs via mail-
order and it costs me around $70 bucks for the tub, I think.
I could buy it at the local Wal-Mart, and a couple of the supermarket
brands are very, very good, but by the time I buy a basket-full of 2.5
pound containers, the price is way above what I pay for home
delivery. And, while several of the supermarket brands are very good,
a few are not so good, with not a lot of active ingredient.
The big downside to this is the scrubbing it takes to do this. The
stuff works, but you have to scrub with a stiff bristle brush and work
only a smallish area at a time. Takes me about 15 hours to do my deck,
but most of that is because I have to do the railings on a ladder and
some of the area is a bit "unsafe" because the ground is partly
sloping on a hill.
On Sun, 28 Feb 2010 09:56:18 -0800 (PST), DerbyDad03
I use oxygenated bleach cleaner (oxi-clean or similar) mixed at the
"tough job" strength. Apply with garden sprayer, let soak (don't let
it dry) scrub really bad areas with a stiff bristle broom,, and then
hose off. Hose it off plants and it won't hurt them. Once it dries,
the area is safe for Pets.
With any of these cleaners, use eye protection, rubber gloves and
A lot of the heavy duty commercial deck cleaners and especially the
deck strippers are more dangerous and toxic. I've found the
oxygenated bleach cleaners to be effective at removing grime and
mildew while being (relatively) safe to use. And they are supposed to
be more gentle to the wood than chlorine bleach.
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