4 Homemade Deck Cleaners That Actually Work

Updated February 1, 2022
Brush, plastic canister with mortar and soapy water on wooden terrace

Formulating a homemade deck cleaner is not only simple, but it's often more economically and ecologically friendly than what you find in the aisle of your grocery store. Next time it's time to clean your deck, try a homespun concoction that will effectively get the job done on the first try.

DIY Deck Cleaner Recipes

The following are only a few recipes to try. Ask around at your favorite neighbors or stay-at-home moms if you are looking for even more great ways to clean your deck thoroughly and efficiently.

Mildew and Algae Eliminator

If you live in a region with a high level of moisture in the weather, you may encounter issues with mildew and/or algae on your deck. This is especially true if the deck is regularly in a shaded area, and this development of bacteria can be unhealthy and unsightly.

You will need:

  • Trisodium phosphate (also known as TSP)
  • Powdered oxygen bleach (found in your grocery store's laundry aisle)
  • Warm water

Directions:

  1. Mix one and a half cups of TSP with a gallon of water.
  2. Throw in one cup of oxygen bleach if there is an excessive amount of mold.(If you are concerned about too strong of a mixture, start with only one cup of TSP and be sure to always use powdered oxygen bleach because liquid chlorine bleach can damage the wood.)
  3. Wash down your deck with the hose, which opens up the wood and makes it much simpler to clean.
  4. Use a scrub brush attached to a long pole or handle so you are not down on your hands and knees breathing in the TSP and bleach.
  5. Hose off the mixture and repeat if necessary.

Once a Year Cleaning

While too harsh for regular cleaning, this recipe gives your deck a good scrub down once or twice a year.

You will need:

  • Water
  • Powdered oxygen bleach
  • Liquid dish detergent

Directions:

  1. Add two cups of oxygen bleach to two gallons of water.
  2. Pour in 1/4 cup of dish detergent and mix until it suds.
  3. Use a broom or another large brush and cover the entire deck.
  4. Scrub where there is stubborn dirt and grime and then rinse off.
Man cleans a wooden terrace

Yearly Mildew Cleaner

If you find that your once-a-year cleaner doesn't have enough juice to get rid of the mildew, you can add a bit of Borax.

You need:

  • Borax
  • Oxygen bleach
  • Dish soap
  • Water

Directions:

  1. Mix two gallons of water, two cups of oxygen bleach, and one cup of borax.
  2. Stir the recipe until everything dissolves.
  3. Add 1/4 cup of dish soap and stir.
  4. Apply the cleaning solution and scrub with a brush.
  5. Hose off the solution.
    Cleaning terrace with a power washer

Kile's Magic Mildew Wash

Named after the man who invented it, this cheap and extremely simple recipe has proven to work as effectively as store-bought brands. However, it does call for liquid bleach which, as mentioned previously, can potentially damage the structure of the deck's wooden surface, so be forewarned. (Note that the original recipe called for the addition of rubbing alcohol, which is extremely dangerous when mixed with bleach. This cleaner will work just fine without the alcohol.)

You will need:

  • Water
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Murphy's oil soap

Directions:

  1. Mix together one gallon of water, four cups of chlorine bleach (ensure it is inexpensive laundry bleach), and two tablespoons of Murphy's (or another ammonia-free detergent).
  2. After the ingredients are mixed, simply brush it onto your deck and rinse very thoroughly with hose water.

Important Tips

Creating deck recipes can be very effective and cheap. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when it comes to creating your own cleaners.

Pouring detergent into bucket
  • Remember to always mix your solution outside, or in a very well-ventilated room.
  • Check the warning on any bottled chemicals you use, to ensure they will not adversely mix with another ingredient in your recipe. Failure to do so can result in a chemical reaction that can be very dangerous.
  • Keep all deck cleaner away from small children. This can be trickier if you don't have a contained, factory-made container, so designate a bottle or bucket for your cleanser that will remain out of reach at all times.
  • Be sure to wear protective gear like gloves and goggles when working with chemicals to avoid burns.
  • Do not mix products with ammonia with bleach. This can create a toxic chemical.
  • Dispose of unused cleaner when you are done.
  • Make a fresh batch of cleaner every time to clean your deck.
  • Be sure to keep your cleaners with chlorinated bleach away from grass or plants, it can kill them.

Homemade Deck Cleaner for a Sparkling Patio

Store aisles are full of different cleaners for your deck. However, you don't have to waste your money to get it clean. You can clean your deck easily with a few chemicals you have at home. Just remember to be safe when using these chemicals and mix them outside with protective gear.

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4 Homemade Deck Cleaners That Actually Work