How Do You Clean A Deck With A Pressure Washer?

Last update: Nov 30, 2020

How Do You Clean A Deck With A Pressure Washer?

A terrific advantage of power-washing a wood deck over scrubbing it manually is it’s much faster.

While this tool is gentle enough to wash siding, it can be powerful enough to etch brick so, improper use can erode the light-colored spring wood fiber, resulting in destroying its surface.

In this article, I’ll teach you how to clean a deck with a pressure washer properly.



  • Tape
  • Drop cloths
  • Pressure washer detergent


  • Hearing protection
  • Eye protection
  • Garden hose
  • Pressure washer

Make sure you get the work area ready before getting started:

Start with determining the right spray tip and spray pattern for the job (checking your owner’s manual would help). Pay attention to the wind direction.

How Do You Clean A Deck With A Pressure Washer?

When cleaning, make sure your pressure washer is kept in a safe place.

How Do You Clean A Deck With A Pressure Washer?

Close all nearby doors and windows as well as cover nearby light fixtures, electrical components, and plants.

Finally, remove all loose debris or obstacles that might strip or tangle the hoses.

How Do You Clean A Deck With A Pressure Washer?

Bonus: Read this guide if you want to buy a reliable pressure washer for light to medium-duty cleaning tasks.

How To Pressure-wash A Deck

Step 1: Choose The Appropriate Spray Tip And Pressure Setting For Your Application:

Read the instructions provided by the pressure washer manufacturer to learn about the recommended distance the spray tip should be from the wood surface that you’re about to clean as well as the type of wood cleaner to use.

A rotating spray tip is nice if used carefully but if you’re a beginner, choose a fan tip with a 40- to 60-degree spread.

How Do You Clean A Deck With A Pressure Washer?

About the pressure setting, it’s still effective if you use the lowest possible pressure.

But I highly recommend setting it at about 500 psi to 600 psi for pine, cedar, and other softwoods while 600 psi to 1200 psi is an ideal pressure range for harder woods as they can tolerate stronger pressure.

How Do You Clean A Deck With A Pressure Washer?

Before cleaning, test the high-pressure spray, the distance, and the spray pattern on a hidden place of your deck to ensure the best results with no unwanted damage.

Step 2: Pressure-Washing

Wear hearing and eye protection.

Start with the pressure setting at 500psi to 600 psi and test it on a hidden place while engaging the trigger several feet away from the deck surface.

How Do You Clean A Deck With A Pressure Washer?

Incrementally increase the pressure as wanted to clean the deck (this helps avoid etching and damaging the wood surface) and lower the want to merely 12” above the surface. Rinse from the house outward.

Sweep the wand to clean the deck. Laterally move your arm back and forth to maintain a consistent distance, avoiding the tendency to pivot with it.

To achieve even cleaning with no visible cleaning edges or hot spots, feather the wand lengthwise, parallel to the deck board and slightly overlap each place.

How Do You Clean A Deck With A Pressure Washer?

Step 3: Use The Right Brightener/Chemical Stripper (Optional)

This extra step is just for a wood deck that’s badly stained or darkened with mildew because normally, just plain water is enough to clean thoroughly a deck.

For such special cases, you should choose a wood cleaner included sodium hydroxide – a substance helps brighten the wood color.

Make sure 2 things:

  • The brightener is designed for use in a pressure washer
  • Your pressure washer allows for using chemical stripper or brightener

…and also, follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for mixing up the solution.

Before using brightener with a pressure washer, cover all nearby garden plants and shrubs with sheets of plastic as its chemicals are toxic to plants.

Use the solution in the same manner as when you pressure-wash your deck with plain water but remember to re-rinse it with plain water.

Step 4: Sanding

The reason why you should sand your wood deck after pressure-washing is:

  • The wood fibers commonly make a rough surface because they become raised after getting wet. You’ll regularly find this problem on handrails.
  • The chemicals in brightener solutions roughen up the wood fibers, which requires you to re-seal or re-stain it after washing. To do that, you need to completely sand the deck first.

There are several options for remedying this issue, depending on your preference as well as the damage levels left on your wood deck after pressure-washing.

For example, if you plan to reseal or re-stain/refinish the deck, sand the whole deck to ensure it leaves a completely smooth surface with no splintering. But for people who just want to clean the deck, a spot sanding here and there is enough.

I recommend using a random orbital sander with a 5” sanding pad for best performance.

How Do You Clean A Deck With A Pressure Washer?

If you intend to use sandpaper, choose the 60- to 80-grit for the deck surface itself and the 100-grit type (or lower) for the handrail.

How Do You Clean A Deck With A Pressure Washer?

Avoid using very fine sandpaper as it might clog the wood pores, resulting in that the wood soaks up the stain or sealer difficultly.


Aside from equipping yourself the proper way to use your pressure washer, don’t forget to follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions, such as:

How Do You Clean A Deck With A Pressure Washer?

  • Don’t point the wand at plants, animals, or people
  • Don’t leave the wand unattended when your pressure washer is running
  • Always be aware of where you’re directing the tool
  • Know how to turn the pressure washer off rapidly and release pressure from the system during emergency

That’s all for this article. Thanks for reading!

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