How to Clean a Wood Deck


MY FRIEND LULA is extremely capable and extremely determined. Unlike myself, she’s not afraid of power tools, and no home-improvement project seems to daunt her (she’s been shingling her house herself, below, over a period of two years).


So when she offered to clean my front deck in exchange for a few days lodging at my cottage in Springs, N.Y. (hers is rented out), I said, “Hell, yeah.” This little deck has been black and grimy since I moved in two years ago, and gets slick when it rains. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had never been cleaned at all, or at least not in decades.


I had made one fairly ineffective pass over it a few weeks ago, as seen in the foreground, above; so the photo doesn’t even show it at its worst. Lula got down on hands and knees with a stiff scrub brush and a mixture of TSP heavy-duty cleaner and Clorox in hot water; let it sit for a good few minutes to kill mildew, and then rinsed with hot water. You can see the difference between her job and mine.

The cedar shingles on the house, too, could benefit by the same treatment, but that’s trickier, as they’re vertical and grooved. I’ve been resisting power-washing for fear that forceful treatment could have unintended consequences: lifting the shingles off, causing leaks, damaging the plantings around the house.

Meanwhile, the front deck is getting clean. One small step for woman…

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
This entry was posted in COTTAGE LIVING, HAMPTONS, LONG ISLAND and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How to Clean a Wood Deck

  1. Elke says:



  2. Karen Kee says:

    Power washing if used gently will help clean the botten few runs of shingles. You have it right on clorox. Power washing alone doesn’t kill the mildew hiding between the boards and on the under side. Some power washers have an attachment and you can spray clorox along with water. But there is noting like a Navy mop – almost as good as knees. Let sit then power wash.
    Good show for you.
    I’m shingling too, but without the proper tools, I can’t keep them perfectly straight.
    Karen Kee

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