How to Clean Composite Decking – Everything You Should Know

Composite decks have become popular for their nice look and easy maintenance. When compared to wood decks, a composite deck does not need the extensive care that the alternatives do. It looks great and requires little upkeep or cleaning. Learn how to clean composite decking – everything you should know.

However, when it does need a bit of sprucing up, it does not take a lot of effort.

Tips for How to Clean Composite Decking

Photo of wood deck

Composite decking materials are engineered to not only be durable but also to require truly little maintenance. They can easily be cleaned with basic household items. Cleaning can be done quickly and without having to haul out pressure washers and store-bought deck cleaners. You just need a broom, hose, bottle of mild dish soap such as Dawn, a brush with medium stiffness, and a bucket filled with warm water.  Here are the simple steps for the best way to do a basic clean as part of your composite decking maintenance:

  1. Clear the entire deck of furniture and decor.
  2. Sweep the deck surface to get rid of loose debris.
  3. Rinse with a hose before wash.
  4. Prepare a mix of warm water and dish detergent. It should be similar to the amounts used when washing dishes.
  5. Use your brush and liquid dish soap-water solution to begin cleaning.
  6. Rinse the deck boards so the dirt and soap are gone.
  7. Once everything has dried off, then replace the furniture and decor.

Cleaning Composite Decking of Common Stains and Problems

Basic cleaning is easy, but there are times when there is a stain or mold on the deck, and you may need stronger cleaners. If this is the case, then make sure the cleaner you choose is approved by the deck manufacturer. Businesses such as TimberTech and Trex Decking both have cleaning product suggestions so as not to void the warranty on the product. Once you have that cleaner, then you can take steps to tackle problems such as mold growth, grease stains, rust, food, and beverage stains.

Mold and Mildew Stains

Wood deck stains

Mold and mildew will not hurt a composite deck but will certainly look bad. Dealing with these issues can be done with a good brush and the soap and water method mentioned earlier.

Debris

Do not let leaves, grass, or other outdoor bits of nature sit on the decking surface and accumulate. While it will not hurt the composite deck boards, it will become a breeding area for mold if the debris is wet.

Floor Groove Dirt

No decking boards are impenetrable no matter which types of decking you have. Small grooves can trap dirt and build up over a period of time. You can try to remove it with the soap and water method, but if this does not work, then try pressure washing. You will need to use a fan tip for the washer, and you should not go over 1500 PSI.

Food and Beverage Stains

Most food stains and drink spills can be wiped up or hosed off easily. Even those tannin stains from spilt red wine will clean up quickly. The backup for this is soap and water if the stain is tougher. As with anything, you don’t want to leave the spill sitting for a long period of time, so clean it up the same day and you’ll have no worries about bad stains.

Oil and Grease

Outdoor entertaining means barbeques and outdoor food prep. This means oil and grease stains can happen and decking care needs to be maintained. The stain warranty for some deck types is voided if a spill is left over seven days, as it will do damage, so a quick cleanup should happen. Use soap and water to clean these tougher spills and increase the amount/strength of soap if you need extra to cut through the oil and grease. If it is done quickly, then the stain should be non-existent.

Pressure Washing your Composite Decking

People often ask if you can pressure wash a composite deck. The answer is yes, but carefully. Using an electric pressure washer is fine, but there are some rules to follow so it doesn’t damage your decking materials.

  • Use a fan tip so the water pressure is not overly concentrated.
  • Do not go over 1,500 PSI. It will cause small cuts in the deck if the water is too strong.
  • Keep the sprayer at least 6” from the deck.
  • Clean with the grain of the boards.

Removing Snow and Ice

Wood deck snow

While you won’t be using your deck as an outdoor living space in the middle of winter, you may need to clear a path to walk. You can use a snow shovel as long as it has a plastic or rubber edge. If it’s a small amount of snow, use a broom or leaf blower. Do not use a snowblower.

If you have ice buildup, don’t use anything to chip it off, as that can damage the deck. Use an ice melt that is suggested by the deck manufacturer. Calcium chloride is often suggested. Do not use sodium chloride, as it can leave permanent marks.

Decking Don’ts

  • Do not use chemical cleaners.
  • Do not use bleach.
  • Do not use undiluted vinegar on the deck to clean.
  • Do not use anything metal, hard-bristled, or plastic to clean the deck.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your outdoor space free from dirt, stains, and the growth of mold and mildew is important.  Your investment in your composite deck needs to be protected. Easy soap and water maintenance can do wonders. You have created an area to enhance your living space, and keeping it maintained means you will not only hold onto its warranty but also that the chances of needing work done on it will be reduced. Whether it needs a deep clean or simply some spring rejuvenation, you can do that easily and without a lot of fuss and muss.

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