Vinyl and composite decking may be easier to maintain and more durable than solid wood, but these materials aren’t completely exempt from a bit of cosmetic cleanup now and again.
Vinyl and composite decking may be easier to maintain and more durable than solid wood, but these materials aren’t completely exempt from a bit of cosmetic cleanup now and again. Synthetic decking will get dirty and stained from normal use, and you’ll need to use different cleaning products, depending on the type of stains you have. While it may be tempting to pull out the pressure washer and give your deck a good going over, pressure washers can actually do more harm than good, especially on composite materials. And, pressure-washer damage can void your decking warranty. A little elbow grease and the right cleaners are a better cleaning approach. Here are some suggestions for how to clean various stains from vinyl or composite decking. Be sure to wear protective gloves and safety glasses when working with strong chemicals.
Dirt & Tree Sap Stains: Remove ordinary stains from foot traffic, bird droppings or tree sap with household dish soap diluted with water. Mix a strong concentration in a bucket, scrub the stains and rinse with clean water.
Fastener, Leaf or Tannin Stains: Steel fasteners, tree leaves or resin stains from cedar or redwood can leave dark tannin stains on composite decking. To remove these kinds of stains, spray on a deck brightener/cleaner product that contains oxalic or phosphoric acid, then flush the surface with lots of fresh water.
Oil & Grease Stains: Oil and grease spots from barbecuing or tanning lotions should be cleaned immediately, before they dry. Use a household degreaser (such as an orange citrus cleaner), Simple Green, or ammonia and a scrub brush to remove the stain. Follow with soapy water and thorough rinsing.
Mold & Mildew: Use a diluted solution of household bleach and water or a deck cleaner with mildew and stain remover to kill off mold and mildew growth. A good preventive measure is to scrub and wash your deck at least once a season, especially in shady or damp areas where mold and mildew are likely to grow.
Berry & Wine Stains: Use a dilute solution of household bleach and water to spot-clean wine or berry stains from decking. Depending on the depth of the stain, you may not be able to remove it entirely, but generally these stains will fade over time.
Crayon & Marker Stains: If you have young kids, sooner or later crayon or marker stains are inevitable. The trick to removing them is using the correct solvent. Mineral spirits will remove crayon wax, and soapy water cleans up water-based marker stains. Use denatured alcohol (available at home centers) to remove dye-based, permanent markers.