Cleaning wooden decking: How to clean wooden decking quickly and easily

A patio offers many advantages, especially in the summer. It can be used as a retreat to relax and soak up the sun, or to sit together and enjoy the company of friends and family. Wooden decking is particularly popular, as it radiates a warm naturalness and turns the outdoor area into a cosy outdoor living space. The disadvantage of wood, in contrast to concrete or stone, is its sensitivity, depending on the variety of wood used. To enjoy your wooden decking for a long time to come, it is therefore important to clean and maintain the decking on a regular basis. Here are some tips for wooden patio cleaning.

A woman cleans wooden decking with a Kärcher patio cleaner

When should wooden decking be cleaned?

Whether it’s wood, stone or concrete patios, any outdoor area is exposed to a variety of weather conditions. Wind, rain, and sunlight can cause quite a bit of trouble for a wooden deck. Especially the persistent moisture in the autumn and winter months can attack the wood and make it porous. In addition, there are signs of wear and tear when people eat, party and live on the wooden decking in the summer. This can result in scratches, cracks, stains and discolouration on the wood.

But when is the best time to clean a wooden deck? It is recommended to do a basic clean twice a year. We recommend wooden patio cleaning at the start of the gardening season in spring and in autumn to make the garden winter-proof. The cleaning and maintenance of the wooden deck should always be done in dry weather, so that the wood can dry thoroughly after cleaning.

A woman vacuums her wooden deck

Why should you clean wooden decking regularly?

There are several reasons to clean your wooden decking regularly:

  • Greying is reduced or avoided altogether
  • The wooden patio retains its appearance
  • Green deposits such as moss are removed
  • There are no slippery spots on the wood
  • There is no waterlogging or damp spots due to dirt lying around
  • Harmful fungi cannot multiply
Cleaning wooden decking with a Kärcher pressure washer

Preparations before cleaning wooden decking

Before you get started, all garden furniture and planters should be removed to allow unobstructed access to every corner of the patio. Now the entire outdoor area can be cleaned with a broom. To remove fallen leaves, particularly quickly and effectively, a battery powered leaf blower and blower vac can be used. Only place the garden furniture back onto the deck when you’re sure that the floor is completely dry. The drying time can be effectively used to also clean the garden furniture.

What is the best way to clean the wooden decking?

The degree of soiling will determine how to clean wooden decking. If only leaves or some green deposit has accumulated, it can usually be cleaned quickly and easily by hand. This does not require any special cleaning agents. Instead, a broom with strong bristles, a hand brush or a standard sponge, some warm water and soap are usually more than enough to effectively remove dirt from the wooden decking.

For stubborn deposits such as heavy green deposits, however, a little extra help is needed. A patio cleaner with roller brushes for wooden surfaces works well. It cleans gently and powerfully at the same time, using a minimum amount of water. The two brush rollers loosen dirt without much effort and the water nozzles mounted above them reinforces this effect and rinses away the dirt at the same time. The water supply can be regulated manually via a valve depending on the degree of soiling. Since the powerful motor is fixed centrally and the brushes can reach corners and edges, dirt along house walls can also be removed easily. Thanks to interchangeable brushes, both wood and smooth stone surfaces can be cleaned.

A woman cleans her wooden decking with a Kärcher patio cleaner
Close up: Kärcher patio cleaner in action


To reduce the amount of force needed when working with the patio cleaner, hold the tool at a shallow angle, as close to the ground as possible.

Using a pressure washer to clean wooden decking

To maintain the wooden decking, you can also reach for the pressure washer but make sure you only use it with the right setting or accessories. Wood is a soft material and can be quite delicate, depending on the variety and how it’s been processed. Therefore, the method and accessories for cleaning the wooden decking should be well thought out. Test your chosen method in an inconspicuous place before proceeding. When setting the pressure washer, factors such as workmanship, treatment and condition of the wood should be taken into account. The more sensitive the material, the lower the pressure should be.

This is how to clean the wooden deck with a pressure washer, cleaning agent and power scrubber:

A Kärcher dirt blaster pressure washer lance cleans wood

Step 1: Apply cleaning agent

Coarse soiling on patios comes off particularly well when a wood cleaning agent is applied to the surface e.g. through the Vario-Power jet pipe, and then the pressure washer is used. The wood cleaner 3-in-1 not only cleans thoroughly, but also provides UV protection as well as a natural wax component that conditions the wood and protects it from dirt and moisture. Wet the surface evenly with foam and leave the cleaner on for two to five minutes.

A Kärcher power scrubber cleans a wooden deck

Step 2: Scrub the wooden decking

To thoroughly clean the wooden patio, first remove the flat-jet nozzle and attach the power scrubber to the pressure washer. Using the scrubber is particularly recommended on wooden decking, because the fine bristles reach into the grooves of the surface. There are also three high-pressure nozzles in the brush, which increase the scrubber’s cleaning power. Now evenly move the power scrubber back and forth, while adding water. Always scrub in the direction of the grain.

[A wooden deck coated in cleaning foam

Step 3: Reapply cleaner

For longer-lasting protection, the 3-in-1 wood cleaner can be reapplied. To do this, attach the jet pipe to the pressure washer once again, then apply the cleaning agent evenly to the wood surface with the flat jet nozzle and allow it to take effect (see step 1).

A Kärcher surface cleaner cleans wooden decking

Step 4: Rinse off the decking

Finally, rinse off the wooden decking with the flat spray nozzle in the direction of the grain. When cleaning wooden decking, only use the flat jet nozzle, as spot blasting or dirt cutters could damage it in the process. When rinsing the decking, keep a distance of 30 cm from the surface to achieve the ideal result. Allow the deck to dry afterwards.

Wooden decks can also be cleaned especially gently and with low water pressure using a surface cleaner with integrated rinsing function.

A wooden deck with light and dark grey tones

Remove coarse dirt and grey discoloration from wooden deck

Coarse stains from weathering and everyday patio use are (almost) impossible to prevent. Over time, the wood turns grey due to moisture and sunlight, or deposits and stains form. To remove these, the wooden decking should first be briefly sprayed with water. Any remaining dirt is then removed with a broom or hand brush. To combat the grey colouration of the wood, there are special cleaning agents on the market. The agent is applied to the wood and should be left on for several hours before it is rinsed off with clean water.

Using a broom to spread a liquid on a wooden deck

Remove green deposits

Moist green deposits makes wooden decking a slick mess. The wood becomes increasingly slippery due to the moisture settling within the moss and other vegetation. To prevent accidents, the moss should be cleaned from the wooden decking immediately. Home remedies such as a little warm water, cornstarch and bicarbonate of soda are excellent for this purpose. This solution can be used to make a cleaning paste to remove green deposits and moss. Add three tablespoons of cornstarch to about 500 ml of warm water and stir well so that the starch dissolves. When mixing the paste, make sure that no lumps form. Then put the slightly creamy mixture in a pot with 100 g of bicarbonate of soda and pour 5 l of water on top. Bring the mixture to boiling point on the hob.

Now apply the cleaning paste to the wood deck and work it in with a scrubber or hand brush. After a few hours of soaking, the mixture should be thoroughly rinsed off the wood deck with a garden hose.

Cleaning wooden decking and slats with other home remedies

In addition to the soda-starch mixture, there are other home remedies to maintain the wooden deck. For example, diluted washing up liquid helps against simple stains. A few drops of washing up liquid dissolved in water is sufficient. Simply spread generously over the wooden slats and then scrub them thoroughly with a brush or bristled broom. Finally, rinse the deck with clean water. Liquid soap also works. Apply undiluted soap to the wooden deck, scrub with a brush and then rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Maintain wood decking with oil

To seal the wood and protect it from becoming dirty again, a special wood oil can be applied after cleaning. The oil not only helps the wood retain its colour, but also seals cracks and irregularities in the material. It also protects against moisture. Some wood cleaners protect the wood, so there is no need for any subsequent treatment with oil.

Suitable products for wooden decking

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