Everything needs maintenance and care to last a long time. Wooden decking requires laborious maintenance and care, but maintenance of composite decking is much easier. If you are looking for ways to clean your composite decking, you are in the right place.
Here is your complete guide to cleaning composite decks.
Can You Clean Composite Decking with Vinegar?
Vinegar is the most common household ingredient that people use for cleaning stainless steel sink, countertops, etc. That is because it is readily available and affordable. After all, each of us has vinegar in the house. That is why you might be thinking that you can even clean your composite decking with vinegar.
So, can you use vinegar? Yes, it is safe to use vinegar to clean composite deck and wooden deck. However, always dilute it before using it on your deck. Take half a cup of vinegar and dilute it in one gallon of water. For best results, you can also add ¼ cup of baking soda into the mix.
The mixture of bleach and baking soda is an effective homemade cleaning solution. However, take care to mix it in the right proportion.
Besides that, you should not leave the vinegar on your deck for an extended period. That is because vinegar is acidic, and if you leave it on your deck for too long, the color will fade. However, if you want to give your composite decking a weathered look, you can leave vinegar for long.
Here are the many reasons why vinegar is a suitable ingredient for cleaning your composite decking:
- Dissolves dirt and grime
- It kills viruses, household pathogens, and bacteria
- Removes stains
Don’t substitute vinegar as a disinfectant because potent pathogens are resistant to it. That is why if you want to disinfect your composite decking, you should use a commercial disinfectant.
Can You Use Bleach to Clean Composite Decking?
Many people think that if vinegar is a great option to clean the composite wood deck, it must be okay to clean with bleach. However, that is not the case because bleach is a harsh chemical. It is much more potent than vinegar, and if you have a composite deck, you should never use it.
The chemicals in the bleach will eat away at the composite surface and leave permanent damage and discoloration. Bleach is a recipe for disaster when it comes to cleaning your composite deck. That is why you should keep it as far away as possible from your composite decking.
If you want something more potent than vinegar, you can always opt for commercial cleaning solutions made for composite wooden decking. They will quickly clean the deck without causing any damage. Never under any circumstance should you use bleach on composite decking.
Steps to Clean Your Composite Deck with Vinegar
If you don’t want to opt for a commercial cleaning solution, you can always clean your composite deck with vinegar. Here is a complete step-by-step guide for you to clean your composite deck with vinegar:
1. Materials Needed
Keep in mind that vinegar should never be used on its own. It should always be diluted with other materials to create a cleaning solution perfect for composite decking.
Here are the top three materials you’ll require to clean your composite deck with vinegar:
- Three to four liters of water
- ½ cup vinegar (you can use apple cider vinegar or white)
- ¼ cup baking soda
These materials are readily available in everyone’s homes, and when you gather them, mix these ingredients in a large bucket.
2. Pre-Rinse Composite Deck
Once you have all your materials mixed in the bucket, you should prepare your composite deck for cleaning. To prepare your deck, you need to pre-rinse it with water. The best way to do that is with your standard garden hose.
The water from the garden hose will have some pressure to remove any debris and dirt from the deck. Besides that, it will soften the fibers of the boards on your deck. The softness will aid the vinegar solution to work effectively on your composite deck.
3. Scrub the Deck Boards
After you are done with the pre-rinse, it is time to scrub your deck with the vinegar solution. Remember that you should never use a metal brush because it will ruin your deck’s surface. Doing so will lead to dire consequences that you will have to fix later.
Instead, you should dip a soft-bristle brush in the vinegar solution. The bristle brush will be gentle on the deck, which will help the solution be absorbed better. That is why you should ensure that the bristle brush is soft.
4. Rinse with Water
When you are done scrubbing your board with the vinegar solution, make sure to rinse your composite deck with some water. If you want to remove the vinegar solution effectively, use your standard garden hose.
You can power-wash the deck too, but it might be too challenging. We recommend that you should use your standard garden hose to remove the solution effectively.
5. Check for Remaining Spots and Stains
Finally, you should check the composite deck for any remaining stains or spots. If any spots are persistent and still on the deck, you will need a strong cleaning solution to get rid of them. The best way to do that is to take 1 part water, 2 parts vinegar and apply it to the stain.
Once you apply this, sprinkle some baking soda and let it be for a few minutes so the vinegar can go in the stain to remove it. After a few minutes, rinse the solution with water. The stain will likely be removed.
Composite Decking Maintenance Tips
After you have cleaned your deck with the solution, your work does not stop there. Here are some essential tips you need to follow to take care of your composite decking:
1. Never Use Sharp Edges
Using sharp edges will ruin your composite deck as it will create marks and spots. That is why you should never use sharp edges or a shovel when it comes to cleaning ice and snow from your wooden deck. On the other hand, you should not use sand either.
The best way to remove ice or snow is to use rock salt or a calcium-chloride-based ice melt. Keep in mind that the ice melt should not have any added colorants. These dyes can leave stains on your wood decks.
2. Clean Grease and Oil Stains Immediately
If there are any grease or oil stains on your composite deck, you should clean them as soon as possible. The longer you leave these elements on the deck, the higher the chance of the wood fibers soaking these elements. You can always use soap and water to clean oil and grease.
If that does not seem to get rid of the stain, you can use a commercial cleaner to remove such stains on composite decking.
3. Keep Your Composite Deck Dry
Standing water is one of the biggest enemies of a composite deck.
If standing water is a regular occurrence on your deck, it will start staining with time. These stains will be difficult to remove, and the water will affect the longevity of your composite deck.
Keeping the wood dry will reduce the chances of wood rot and increase the life of your deck.
4. Adequate Ventilation
Mold growth can be a common problem if the decks don’t have enough ventilation. That is why you need to ensure adequate ventilation between and under your composite deck boards. For example, dryers ventilate the heat coming from them to the outside area of your house.
You need to ensure that the vents from these dryers do not open near or under your deck. The heat from it will increase the temperature and promote early decay of your air. The vents will also spew moist air, which is an invitation for mold and mildew to grow in the long run.
5. Unclog Gaps Between Deck Boards
Many things can get stuck between the composite deck boards. These include grass, leaves, and much more. When such things get wet, they promote the decay of your deck.
That is why whenever you notice these gaps getting clogged with various materials, you should use a putty knife or spatula to unclog. After that, you can rinse your composite deck with a garden hose to ensure everything comes out.
Regular unclogging will prevent decay, and it will enhance the life of your deck. That is why you should never leave a buildup of materials on your deck for extended periods.
6. Sweep as Often as Possible
Last but not least, you should sweep your composite decking as often as possible. That is because it gets rid of dirt and prevents debris from clogging the gaps between the boards. Sweeping should be done after every two to three days for the best results.
However, during the autumn season, you should do it every day. It will not take much time and maintain your composite deck for a long time to come.