The Best Inexpensive Non Toxic Homemade Deck Cleaner

Looking for an easy and inexpensive way to wash your deck? This oxygen bleach homemade deck cleaner works great well and is non-toxic…it won’t harm your plants, pets or kids.

The Best Non-Toxic Inexpensive DIY Deck Cleaner
The Best Non-Toxic Inexpensive DIY Deck Cleaner

It’s the beginning of summer…time to start inviting some friends over to hang out on the deck!  The only problem?  The deck is covered in dirt and algae (and this winter was particularly cool and damp around here…perfect algae growing conditions!)

The Deck "Before" using the best (inexpensive and non-toxic) homemade deck cleaner ever!
The Deck “Before”

It definitely needs to be cleaned!

Deck with plants after using the best (Inexpensive and Non-Toxic) DIY deck cleaner ever!
Deck with plants

Over the years, I have tried lots of different store-bought cleaning products.  Some work better than others, but almost all of them are really hard on the plants around my deck (and as you can see, I have a lot of plants around my deck!)…not to mention toxic for my pets and the stream flowing behind my house.

I’m also not a big fan of using pressure washers on the deck…if you don’t get the spray strength adjusted to the right level, it will take the surface off the deck boards…which makes the deck rough (and seems to make the grime come back even faster).

The Deck after using the best (inexpensive and eco-friendly) homemade deck cleaner ever!
The Deck “After”

I finally stumbled across a homemade deck cleaner that is safe for plants, animals, and kids, doesn’t cost very much, and actually works really well!  Oxi-Clean (otherwise known as oxygen bleach)!

Oxygen bleach uses oxygen ions to break apart the dirt which means no harmful chemicals are involved at all…and it’s inexpensive.  I have a fairly large deck, and it takes about 2 cups of Oxi-Clean to do the whole thing.

Read on to see how to make your own inexpensive and non-toxic homemade deck cleaner (and how to apply it).

DIY Deck Cleaner Ingredients

Oxygen Bleach – I used Oxi-Clean*





How To Make Oxygen Bleach Homemade Deck Cleaner

Deck Cleaning Supplies | The Best (Inexpensive and Eco-Friendly) DIY Deck Cleaner Ever!
Deck Cleaning Supplies

Not only is this homemade deck wash effective, it is also really easy to make…the only two ingredients you need are Oxygen Bleach (eg. Oxi-Clean*) and water.

Mix about ½ cup of oxygen bleach with 2 gallons of warm water in the bucket until it dissolves.

Depending on the size of your deck, you may need more than one batch to finish the job.

How To Clean Decking

The Deck "Before" | The Best (Inexpensive and Eco-Friendly) DIY Deck Cleaner Ever!
The Deck “Before”

Washing the deck with your homemade deck cleaning solution works best on a not-too-hot, not-too-sunny day so that the water doesn’t dry up before you have a chance to finish.

If you have a large deck, you may want to clean sections of it at a time to make sure the oxygen bleach solution doesn’t dry on the boards (it’s not the end of the world if it does…it’ll just mean more work for you to get it off).

Soak the deck with a hose before starting | The Best (Inexpensive and Eco-Friendly) Homemade Deck Cleaner Ever!
Soak the deck with a hose before starting

1. Before applying your DIY deck cleaner, soak the deck with the hose.  This will open up the wood pores and make it easier to get rid of the dirt. I also use it to clean out any debris that may have gathered in the cracks between the boards.

Spread the oxygen bleach solution on the deck with the scrub brush | The Best (Inexpensive and Eco-Friendly) DIY Deck Cleaner Ever!
Spread the oxygen bleach solution on the deck with the scrub brush

2. Use the deck brush to spread the oxygen bleach cleaning solution over the deck.  If your deck has a pretty thick layer of dirt and algae like mine did, you’ll need to scrub a little to get it into the grooves.

3. Leave the solution on the deck for about 10 minutes.

Rinse the solution off, taking all the dirt with it! | The Best (Inexpensive and Eco-Friendly) Homemade Deck Cleaner Ever!
Rinse the solution off, taking all the dirt with it!

4. Then wash it off with the hose.  You can see the green coming off with the water!

The deck after being rinsed ...guess which part has been washed... | The Best (Inexpensive and Eco-Friendly) DIY Deck Cleaner Ever!
The deck after being rinsed

If you have some really dirty spots, you may need to give them a second treatment.  I usually use the slip test…if the boards are still slippery when wet, there’s still algae left on the surface…

The deck after cleaning | The Best (Inexpensive and Eco-Friendly) Homemade Deck Cleaner Ever!
The deck after cleaning

After it dries, your deck will look as good as new.

Enjoy Your Clean Deck

Put out your furniture and your umbrellas on your newly cleaned deck | The Best (Inexpensive and Eco-Friendly) DIY Deck Cleaner Ever!
Put out your furniture and your umbrellas on your newly cleaned deck

After the deck has been washed with your DIY deck cleaner, you can bring out the furniture and the umbrellas.

In my case, those usually need cleaning, too…that algae grows everywhere! Fortunately, this oxygen bleach deck cleaner also works really well on patio furniture, siding, wood or poly-vinyl fences and pretty much any other outdoor surface that needs to be washed.

Relax with some iced tea | The Best (Inexpensive and Eco-Friendly) DIY Deck Cleaner Ever!
Relax with some iced tea

Then sit down with a cold iced tea (or whatever your beverage of choice is) and relax on your clean deck!

The plants are completed unharmed | The Best (Inexpensive and Eco-Friendly) Homemade Deck Cleaner Ever!
The plants are completely unharmed.

It’s hard to believe this is the same wood that was so green before!  And the plants are completely unharmed.

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Have comments or questions on the best inexpensive, non toxic homemade deck cleaner?  Tell us in the section below.

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45 Responses

  • Absolutely brilliant! I was on the right track with peroxide but this is SO much better. Thanks so much for all the tips!!

  • How fantastic! I don’t have a wood deck but I have had algae on the side of the house and on the gutters. I wonder if this would work on the mildew on the driveway, too. I’ll have to try it. It’s amazing to me how so many people don’t seem to be concerned about the toxicity of the products they use. So thank you for this information!

    • Thanks, Cyndi! I haven’t tried it on mildew (you’ll have to let me know if it works!) but I have used it to get the algae (and other grime) off the siding & gutters…it is definitely good for that.

  • Dear Wanda, I want to try this, but please help me…. What is a Gallon Water? 4 Liters? More/less?
    Greetings from Austria!

    • Hi Ann…I haven’t tried it on Trex but it should be fine. I use it on my house siding with no problems. You might want to try it on a hidden spot first just to make sure.

      • Hi Linda…I haven’t tried it specifically on TREX decking, but I have used it on deck tiles that are made out of a similar material and it works very well.

  • I’m happy to find this post! I have 3 dogs and some rabbits that have nested under my deck and I’m happy to find I can have a clean deck without harming the animals!! Now to get to work!!

    • Thanks, Jacqueline! I also have a dog and lots of wildlife around so I was happy when I found this solution, too 🙂

  • The generic chemical Soda Ash (sodium percarbonate) is the active ingredient in Oxiclean and similar ‘Oxygen’ bleach products.

    Oxiclean contains some inactive ingredients, so you use 1/2 or less as much sodium percarbonate.

    Always dissolve in warm/hot water, and it won’t dissolve well in water under 65F.

    Dissolved (8oz to 32oz water) it is equal to 27% hydrogen peroxide (9 times stronger than pharmacy grade 3%.)

  • I did my patio 2 weeks ago… I just used water with an electric pressure washer !!!! Did a great job without any cleaning products, except Eater! Difficult tout be more non-toxic than that!! ☺

    • I have always been afraid to use the pressure washer on my deck because it can damage the wood, but it’s great to know that it will work on the patio. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sorry, I am a french speaking person… For me, there is no difference between a deck and a patio. My “patio” or “deck” is made of wood, so I guess you would call it a “deck”… It is very important to control the distance and the “spraying” time, but it does an amazing job! Wish I could post a before and after picture!

  • Does the liquid oxyclean work just as good as the powder? I’ve had my 2 giant rabbits living on my deck while we make their house outside. Good to know that it won’t harm my animals I also have 3 dogs that like to go under the deck.

  • Will using these ingredients harm my landscaping? My deck is raised above the ground level below which We have flowering plants.

    • Hi Marqueta…I have flowering plants all around my deck and I have never had anything bad happen to them. That’s the benefit of using oxygen bleach rather than regular bleach 🙂

  • I have a deck, with a paint product called Deck over from Home Depot. Is this solution safe to use on my deck?

    • Hi Janet…I’m not sure about that since I haven’t tried it. I haven’t found too many things that it isn’t safe for, but I would probably try it in a little corner somewhere first just to make sure.

    • Hi Tonya…I use Thompson’s Water Sealer every 2 – 3 years and put it on with a roller. Using a garden sprayer is faster but too much of it gets on my plants, and it’s not good for them. You can get it at any of the big box hardware stores.

  • Is this safe for fish?
    This sounds promising. Since we have had our deck I’ve just power washed it but it but am worried that it is harming the wood, we have Oak and Hickory trees that coat it with black gunk that takes a lot of force to get it off. I’ve stayed away from cleaners because we have a fish pond right beside it and I’m afraid of harming my fish.
    Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Mary Lou…I’m not really sure if it’s safe for fish. I would think it would be okay (especially if it’s just a couple of splashes), but it’s probably best to check with someone who knows more about fish than I do.

    • Hi Elizabeth…I used 1/2 cup Oxiclean in 2 gallons of water, and then used a deck brush to put it on the deck (there’s a link in the post to the one I used).

  • I have a deck that wraps around 2 sides of my house (53 x 32), mostly so I can clean windows without scaffolding. I am in the woods on a bluff overlooking a river so lots of Oak, hickory around to shed leaves, oak tassels on the deck and in the gutters. hope to get gutters cleaned and covered soon and will tell the company to use Oxyclean so plants and animals not harmed. have coons, squirrels, birds, possum visit me every day not to mention my 3 cats and vegetables, houseplants. also have an ocassional visit by Clyde our mountion lion. Finding a safe alternative for cleaning the deck and siding is fantastic! ?? think this would be okay to use on the roof shingles as they tend to get moss and algae too.?

    • Hi Dorlis…Your house and decks sound beautiful! I haven’t tried this on shingles but I think it should be fine. I would try it on a small corner of the roof first to see what happens. Good luck with it!

  • Hi Wanda! I enjoyed reading your post! However, I don’t think Oxi-Clean is quite as safe as you’ve been led to believe. I did a quick Google search on the safety of the ingredients of Oxi-Clean and came across this, from Sustainable Baby Steps.
    They provide a cheap alternative of just water, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and liquid soap nuts (optional). I think they’re looking at it for laundry purposes mainly, but they mention environmental consequences as well!

    • Hi Laura…Thanks for the information, but I have done my own research on the ingredients of OxiClean and I am comfortable using it as a cleaning solution. The hydrogen peroxide and baking soda that you mentioned as the safer alternative are the main active ingredients in OxiClean. The only other ingredient that has been raised as a potential issue are the non-ionic solvents that OxiClean uses to help dissolve stains. A very in-depth European study showed that they are biodegradable (you can read it here if you’re interested: https://www.heraproject.com/files/34-f-09%20hera%20ae%20report%20version%202%20-%203%20sept%2009.pdf).

    • Hi John…it does, although it might require a little more work if the pavers are porous…you’ll need to work the oxiclean in so that it can get the grime out.

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