We believe the deck is a second living room. Here on Cape Cod, we try to maximize our deck time with as much grilling, lounging and entertaining as possible for 2 reasons.
1) We’re obviously huge fans of the deck and...
2) Our winters can feel absolutely arctic some years!
Our four seasons, salty air and humidity can also take a temporary toll on this outdoor space and we’ve learned -through years of experience- how to maintain the life of a deck properly with eco-safe ingredients and techniques that won’t harm the surrounding landscape. Luckily for us all— advancements in deck building (thanks to our friends at Trex Decking) have made affording, installing and maintaining a deck easier than ever before! Today, we’re going to share how we use Wash Safe’s Eco-Friendly Composite Deck Cleaner, Spray & Clean, to clean, restore and brighten Trex composite decks without harmful concentrations of harsh chemicals or bleach.
Meet Our Eco-Friendly Composite Deck Cleaner
We try not to play favorites with our products but there’s no denying that Spray & Clean is one of our stars. With over 200 five star reviews, this is the product that solves homeowner composite deck cleaning problems by effectively cleaning the spots and stains caused by mold spores that are deep set within the pores of the composite decking. We’re going to start with this product which you can buy at WashSafe.com.
*Many of you ask if you can buy the Trex Composite Deck recommended cleaner at Home Depot and while they have carried our Rust Off in the past, they don’t have this item so you’ll have to call your local store and ask them to start carrying it! :)
With all cleaning projects there are 3 components needed to be successful:
Tools You’ll Need:
- Gallon of Wash Safe Spray and Clean (see coverage chart)
- Garden style pump sprayer
- Scrub Brush (optional)
- Pressure Washer (optional)
To figure out how much Spray & Clean you will need, figure that each gallon of diluted product will clean 250 sq ft. Product may be diluted in different ratios depending on the condition, age, time of last cleaning and brand of your decking. In extreme cases Spray & Clean should be used straight without dilution. For routine (maintenance type) cleaning Spray & Clean should be diluted 4:1(4 parts water to 1-part Spray & Clean. In that ratio, 1 gallon would make 5 gallons of solution. Dilution Ratio: Chart is based on visibility of mold stains
Extremely Visible = Straight Very Visible = 1: 1 (1-part water to 1-part solution)
Just became Visible = 3:1(3 parts water to 1-part solution)
Routine Cleaning = 4:1(4 parts water to 1-part solution)
Composite Deck Cleaning Instructions:
- After deciding on the dilution ratio, mix Spray & Clean with water (warm/hot if possible) and put in a garden style pump sprayer.
- Saturate the stained decking allowing the product to be absorbed by the decking. Stains will start to disappear on contact.
- When completed, rinse the deck off with water, a pressure washer and/or a scrub brush will assist in the cleaning process.
Voila, you’ve got an amazingly clean Trex composite deck and you didn’t harm surrounding vegetation in the process!
*For stubborn stains only: reapply, soaking deck and leave for 2 hours or overnight if needed and rinse as directed.
Maintaining a Clean Composite Deck:
If this is the first time you have cleaned your deck it’s possible that there are deep set mold stains that the solution didn’t reach. They may rise to the surface at some point and need cleaning again. This may happen once or twice after the initial cleaning. Once that phase is over, keep your composite decking looking good with a necessary routine cleaning. This can be done by diluting 4 parts water with 1-part Spray & Clean and spraying your deck every 60 days or so during the season. You can also spray an hour or two before an oncoming rain storm which is a perfect way to rinse your deck naturally.
Cleaning Composite Decking with Bleach: Why It’s a Major No-No!
Can you use bleach alone to clean your composite deck? If it’s a topical stain that lies only on the surface — then yes, you could. However, bleach alone wreaks havoc on your landscaping and the ecosystem around your home so we don’t recommend it More on that in a moment…
If your stains are more than just a few on the surface, you’re going to need something more effective that treats the entire problem. Bleach alone doesn’t have the surfactants Spray and Clean does to go down and kill the mold that is deep set in.Think of it this way: when it comes to cleaning, chemicals are a team sport and our Spray and Clean has 14 different surfactants alone to go below the surface. Mold can start below and rise up through the decking. Spray & Clean breaks through all the air barriers and breaks through all the air pockets like no other product, including bleach. In order to get this deep, you’d have to pressure wash so hard - you would remove the color from the deck.
Over-spray from bleach cleaning happens and it can kill plants and trees. Not only is bleach corrosive and damaging to the plants it directly comes in contact with, it will most likely kill plants altogether. Concentrated chlorine such as bleach will destroy plants and the network of life they depend on to obtain nutrients and thrive.
Our Professional Opinion on Cleaning Composite Decking with Vinegar
We’re not knocking the DIY movement. Hey, anything to save a homeowner money and spare their health these days is something we can get behind. However, after professionally cleaning decks for over 11 years, we know a homemade Trex deck cleaner made with Vinegar is just not a sufficient cleaning solution for these key reasons:
- People are always going to want to find the cheapest solution and Vinegar can clean a Trex deck but that doesn’t mean it’s the very best or most effective solution.
- If it’s a topical stain on a first or second generation Trex deck - you can pretty much wipe it off with anything but that’s not going to work on deep set mold. You would have to scrub until your knuckles go bloody and even then - it still wouldn’t be able to get below the surface.
Can you pressure wash a Trex Composite Deck?
Yes you can but you don’t need to. It really depends on the results your Composite Deck Cleaner can deliver. You don’t have to pressure wash a Trex Deck with Spray and Clean Deck Cleaner. This product was made to clean decks with a simple garden pump sprayer which can save you the cost of renting a pressure washer. If you do decide to pressure wash (maybe you have an extremely dirty/moldy deck) then you’ll want to make sure you wash the deck across the boards with the pressure washer - not down the length of the board to avoid cut marks.
Can you restore a Trex Composite Deck?
Trex Decks can last a lifetime and will maintain their quality but sometimes they show their age. If your Trex Deck is beyond the point of looking cleaner and brighter after a standard or maintenance cleaning, this may be due to environmental factors so restoration and care is going to look different for everyone. One of the best ways to care for your deck is to clean it regularly - don’t let it get past the point of no return. Another way of maintaining a clean composite deck is after the cleaning is complete to apply a water sealer made specifically for composite decking. We hope to have one available in the future.
When is the best time to clean your Trex Composite Deck?
Our rule of thumb is avoid the “heat of the day” and direct overhead sunlight when working on your deck with any cleaning chemicals or coatings. Do your cleaning when the deck is cooler in the morning for best results! This makes Spring and early Fall one of the best times to clean your composite deck so check the weather forecast and wait for a cool, non-humid morning to start this project. Pour yourself a tall cup of coffee, put on some tunes and get started.