March 9, 2012
Oxygen Bleach and Your Deck
Before an outdoor deck is sealed, it's best to clean it. This makes common sense because you want the sealer to adhere well and penetrate deeply into the wood fibers.
Oxygen bleach does a fantastic job of cleaning a deck. Unfortunately many websites, manufacturers and deck sealer companies recommend cleaning methods that are not always in your best interests or those of the wood. For decades, I've seen the same advice in magazines, newspapers, radio shows and websites:
"Mix liquid bleach 1:1 with water for your deck."
Liquid bleach, or chlorine bleach, is the absolute WORST thing you can use on your deck, and you'll see why just below.
Decks can be made from different materials like:
- composite materials including wood and plastic
All of these materials can be cleaned easily with powdered oxygen bleach that's dissolved in water. Don't fall into the trap of using chlorine bleach or a pressure washer when cleaning a wood deck.
Chlorine bleach almost always removes the natural color from the wood. You know it turns garments white, so it absolutely can turn wood white. Chlorine bleach also will accelerate corrosion of nails, screws, and metal framing connectors. This can lead to future premature failure of the deck structure. Finally, chlorine bleach is toxic to all plants and trees around the deck.
Pressure washers remove the soft light-colored spring wood between the darker bands of summer wood that make up wood grain. Aggressive cleaning with these powerful machines can make a wood deck look like an old fishing pier in no time.
It's best to clean your wood deck when it's dry. If the wood is wet, when you apply the oxygen bleach solution, it can't soak into the wood to deep clean it. The rain water, dew or water you applied with your garden hose gets in the way. It's like trying to get on a crowded bus that's packed with people - you just can't squeeze onto the bus.
To clean a deck with oxygen bleach, all you need is the powder, some hot water, a bucket and a scrub brush on a pole. You mix the powdered oxygen bleach with water, stir until dissolved, and apply it to the deck surface with a mop or a hand-pump sprayer.
If you want the world's most authoritative guide to cleaning and sealing your deck, you may want to get my Cleaning and Sealing Your Deck ebook on the topic. I go into great detail about the process and why oxygen bleach is the premiere cleaner for any type of decking material.
As soon as you apply an oxygen-bleach solution to a dirty deck, within seconds you'll see the solution start to foam. This is a good thing. The longer you allow the solution to soak and work on its own, the less you have to scrub. Allow the solution to soak at least 10 minutes.
If the deck is old and dry, the solution may soak into the wood quickly leaving the surface looking damp. You always want a film of solution on the surface of the wood as if you have just spilled a glass of water. Working on hot, sunny and windy days is not the best thing to do as the solution will dry too rapidly. Work when it's overcast, cool and not too windy for the best results.
After the soaking period, just scrub the surface of the wood with a scrub brush on a pole and then rinse with clear water. Watch the video below.
The Best Oxygen Bleach for Your Deck
There are many oxygen bleach products to choose from out in the marketplace. The trouble is that they are not all equal. Many contain ingredients made in China that might be of questionable purity. Others contain more filler than active ingredient.
Stain Solver is an oxygen bleach that contains ingredients made entirely in the USA and has the most active ingredient as allowed by law. You simply can't get a better oxygen bleach.
Stain Solver is non-toxic, it has no odor, it has no dyes or perfumes, it has no color crystals - it's just pure and totally organic. Many other oxygen bleaches can't say that. The active ingredient in Stain Solver is so pure, it's made from food-grade ingredients registered by the FDA.
Don't be fooled by the heavily advertised oxygen bleach you see on TV. If you test it against Stain Solver you'll quickly discover it's not as powerful. I believe that's because they have inferior ingredients made in China and they put in the minimum amount of active ingredient they can get away with.
Remember, you get what you pay for.
Watch this video to see how easy it is to use oxygen bleach when cleaning a deck:
This article was written by Tim Carter, the founder of StainSolver.com. He's been an advocate for safe cleaning since 1995. Once you try oxygen bleach, you'll never switch back to using any other cleaner. Why? Because it's green, it's a multi-purpose cleaner, and it's non-toxic.