How to Clean and Protect Your Wood Deck

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How to Clean and Protect Your Wood Deck

Maintaining a wood deck involves regular cleaning and applying sealers and stains to keep it looking its best and prolong its lifespan. This guide will take you through the steps of cleaning your wood deck, recommend some of the best products for the job, and explain how to apply sealers and stains effectively.

1. How to Clean a Wood Deck

Gather Supplies

  • Mild detergent or specialized wood deck cleaner
  • Soft-bristle brush or deck scrubber
  • Garden hose or pressure washer
  • Bucket
  • Broom

Sweep the Deck

  • Remove all furniture and decor from the deck.
  • Sweep the deck thoroughly to remove loose dirt, leaves, and debris. Pay special attention to the gaps between deck boards.

Prepare the Cleaning Solution

  • For mild cleaning, mix a mild detergent with water in a bucket.
  • For tougher stains, mildew, or mold, use a specialized wood deck cleaner. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing and application.

Apply the Cleaning Solution

  • Apply the cleaning solution to the deck using a mop or a garden sprayer.
  • Let the solution sit for 10-15 minutes to break down dirt and stains. Avoid letting it dry out.

Scrub the Deck

  • Use a soft-bristle brush or deck scrubber to scrub the deck surface, working in small sections. Focus on any stained or heavily soiled areas.

Rinse the Deck

  • Rinse the deck thoroughly with a garden hose or a pressure washer set to a low setting. Make sure all cleaning solution and residue are washed away.
  • Allow the deck to dry completely before applying any sealers or stains.

2. Recommended Products for Cleaning, Sealing, and Staining

Simple Green Deck and Fence Cleaner

  • An eco-friendly cleaner that removes dirt, grime, and stains without harming the wood or surrounding plants.

Olympic Premium Deck Cleaner

  • A powerful cleaner that effectively removes mildew, mold, and algae stains.

Sealers and Stains

Thompson’s WaterSeal

  • Offers a range of products, including clear sealers and tinted stains, providing excellent water resistance and UV protection.

BEHR Premium Transparent Waterproofing Wood Finish

  • A transparent stain that enhances the natural beauty of the wood while offering waterproofing and UV protection.

DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain

  • A semi-transparent stain with added zinc nano-particles for better UV protection and mildew resistance.

3. How to Apply Sealers and Stains


  • Ensure the deck is clean and completely dry before applying any products. Check the weather forecast and choose a dry, calm day for application.

Application Tools

  • Paintbrush or stain brush
  • Roller
  • Garden sprayer (optional)
  • Drop cloths or plastic sheeting to protect surrounding areas

Step-by-Step Application

Protect Surrounding Areas

  • Cover nearby plants, furniture, and surfaces with drop cloths or plastic sheeting to protect them from overspray or drips.

Apply the Sealer or Stain

  • If using a brush: Start by applying the product along the edges and in the gaps between boards. Then, use a brush to apply the sealer or stain to the deck surface, working in small sections. Brush in the direction of the wood grain for even coverage.
  • If using a roller: Pour the sealer or stain into a paint tray. Use a roller to apply the product evenly across the deck surface, again working in the direction of the wood grain.
  • If using a garden sprayer: Fill the sprayer with the sealer or stain and apply a thin, even coat to the deck surface. Follow up with a brush to ensure even coverage and to work the product into the wood grain.

Allow to Dry

  • Allow the first coat to dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions, typically 24-48 hours.
  • If applying a second coat, ensure the first coat is fully dry before application.

Final Touches

  • Once the sealer or stain is completely dry, remove any protective coverings from surrounding areas.
  • Replace furniture and decor on the deck and enjoy your freshly cleaned and protected outdoor space.


Cleaning and protecting your wood deck is essential to maintain its beauty and durability. By following these steps and using high-quality products, you can ensure your deck remains in top condition for years to come. Regular maintenance, including cleaning, sealing, and staining, will protect your deck from the elements and extend its lifespan.

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