The 8 Best Deck Cleaners of 2023

Revive your deck’s beauty with these effective cleaners

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Best Deck Cleaners of 2023

The Spruce / Marcus Millan

A deck cleaner effectively removes existing stains and protects your deck from future damage. Before returning your deck to its former glory, it's important to keep in mind your deck's material and current state. There are numerous deck cleaners available on the market, some of which are specially formulated for specific surfaces and conditions. “Our decks are exposed to the worst Mother Nature has to offer—broiling temperatures, pounding rain, and frigid snow,” says David Steckel, Thumbtack’s Home Expert. “To keep them safe and looking their best, not to mention preventing expensive repairs, homeowners should commit to a maintenance routine that includes regularly cleaning and sealing their decks.” 

We researched the best deck cleaners on the market, evaluating products based on their type, application method, coverage, and overall effectiveness.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

Star-Brite Non-Skid Deck Cleaner

Star-Brite Non-Skid Deck Cleaner


What We Like
  • Removes dirt without harming surfaces

  • No heavy scrubbing required

  • Protects against future stains

What We Don’t Like
  • Can require a second application

This deck cleaner from Star Brite is our best overall pick because it is formulated with special chelating agents that lift dirt without heavy scrubbing. This product is very effective on all types of surfaces, and it's gentle enough to use on painted and composite decks without stripping them. It contains protective polymers that can create a barrier against future stains and weathering. For added safety, it leaves behind a non-skid coating. 

Requiring no mixing or diluting, this cleaner is pretty simple to use. All you need to do is spread it out evenly with a deck brush, let it sit for a few minutes, and then rinse it off with a hose. A 1-gallon jug is enough to clean a deck up to 1,000 square feet. For decks that have really taken a beating, the manufacturer recommends a second application.

Price at time of publish: $39

Application Method: Brush | Volume: 1 gallon | Coverage: Up to 1,000 square feet | Use: Multipurpose

Best Budget

Simple Green Oxy Solve Deck and Fence Pressure Washer Cleaner

Simple Green Oxy Solve Deck and Fence Pressure Washer Cleaner


What We Like
  • Ideal for use on multiple surfaces

  • EPA “Safer Choice” certified

  • Won’t harm plants or grass

  • Very affordable

What We Don’t Like
  • Must be diluted before application

  • May be less effective than harsher cleaners

A 1-gallon jug of this cleaner from Simple Green can effectively clean up to 6,400 square feet of decking, giving you plenty of bang for your buck. It’s biodegradable, so you won’t have to worry about harsh chemicals leaking into your lawn. Instead, it uses peroxide to remove dirt, grease, and other tough grime from decks. It is safe for wood and composite decks and won’t strip their sheen. Best of all, it can also be applied on fencing and other outdoor structures, making it highly versatile.

While the cleaner is designed to be used with a pressure washer, it can also be diluted and applied manually with a brush. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized Simple Green as a "Safer Choice," meaning it is more eco-friendly than many competing products.

Price at time of publish: $22

Application Method: Pressure washer, brush | Volume: 1 gallon | Coverage: Up to 6,400 square feet | Use: Multipurpose

Best for Mold and Mildew

Wet & Forget Outdoor Moss, Mold, Mildew, & Algae Stain Remover



What We Like
  • Comes with a sprayer

  • No-rinse formula

  • Can be used on a variety of surfaces

  • Kills mold, mildew, and algae

What We Don’t Like
  • Doesn’t deliver immediate results

  • May be harmful to foliage

As its name implies, the Wet & Forget Outdoor Multi-Surface Cleaner works on various surfaces without any scrubbing or rinsing. This liquid concentrate comes with a high-capacity trigger sprayer for convenient and thorough application. In addition to decks, it can be used on other outdoor surfaces, including porch steps, driveways, and patios. It’s proven to be highly effective at removing mold, mildew, and algae, as well as the stains and discoloration they cause. 

Keep in mind that this cleaner works over time; it may take several weeks or months to see the full results. Once applied, Wet & Forget helps keep surfaces clean for up to a year or more.  One bottle can treat up to 180 square feet and has an unlimited shelf life. One downside to this formula is that it could harm surrounding plants and grass, so be sure to rinse off any foliage before and after you apply it. 

Price at time of publish: $20

Application Method: Trigger sprayer | Volume: 64 ounces | Coverage: Up to 180 square feet | Use: Multipurpose

Best Pre-Staining

Defy Wood Brightener

Defy Wood Brightener


What We Like
  • Effectively removes stains

  • Brightens wood

  • Neutralizes wood stain strippers

  • Improves lifespan of wood stains

What We Don’t Like
  • May raise the wood grain slightly

  • Leaves surfaces a bit rough

This deck cleaner can restore weathered wood surfaces to their natural beauty. This product is intended for use before staining to create a more uniform finish. It effectively removes stains and neutralizes wood stain strippers, allowing the wood stain to absorb better and last longer once applied. This concentrated formula needs to be diluted and applied with a pump sprayer (not included). Once diluted, you will have 5 gallons of brightening solution to treat decks up to 1,000 square feet.

While Defy does a great job of brightening and restoring wood to nearly new condition, it may also leave your wood grain slightly raised, and the deck surface a bit rough. If you’re aiming for an ultra-smooth deck, you can sand the wood before staining and sealing it. This product is part of a multi-step process, not a standalone deck cleaner, making it pricier than other options. 

Price at time of publish: $31

Application Method: Pump sprayer (not included) | Volume: 1 gallon | Coverage: Up to 1,000 square feet | Use: Wood

Best Composite

DeckMAX Concentrated Composite & Wood Deck Cleaner Kit

DeckMAX Concentrated Composite & Wood Deck Cleaner Kit


What We Like
  • Gentle formula

  • Safe on composite and wood surfaces

  • Removes stubborn mold and mildew

  • Kit includes a brush

What We Don’t Like
  • Brush lacks a handle

  • Pricier than other options

While other deck cleaners may be too harsh for composite decking, the DeckMAX Cleaner Kit has been developed specifically for this purpose. Free of volatile organic compounds and solvents, it removes stains, dirt, and grease from composite decking without stripping the sheen. DeckMax also does a great job of removing stubborn mold and mildew. Once diluted, this concentrated formula can treat decks up to 1,500 square feet. A high-quality bristle brush is included for easier application and extra scrubbing power. 

This versatile cleaner can be used on all composite and wood surfaces, including fencing, railings, and trim boards. Instead of a pressure washer, the manufacturer suggests using a garden sprayer with a pump to put DeckMax on your deck.    

Price at time of publish: $45

Application Method: Brush, pump sprayer | Volume: 64 ounces | Coverage: Up to 1,500 square feet | Use: Wood and composite

Best for Vinyl

ZEP House and Siding Pressure Wash

ZEP House and Siding Pressure Wash


What We Like
  • Powerful stain removal

  • Suitable for many outdoor surfaces

  • Makes up to 20 gallons

  • Large coverage area

What We Don’t Like
  • Works best with a pressure washer

  • Won’t revive deteriorated surfaces

Since a vinyl deck doesn’t require paint, you don’t have to worry about cracking, chipping, or rotting. However, it can still get dirty and collect mildew over time, so this cleaner from Zep is a great choice for treating vinyl decks. It’s specially designed to be used in a pressure washer with downstream injectors, powering away tough stains like algae, mold, mildew, and grease. This versatile formula is also well suited for wood, aluminum, cement, stucco, and brick. 

After diluting with water, this 1-gallon cleaner makes up to 20 gallons, which is enough to clean up to 5,000 square feet. With an impressively low price, Zep gives you plenty of cleaning power for your money. According to the manufacturer, using this formula with pressure washing equipment will deliver the best results. It’s worth noting that Zep is not meant to revive deteriorating surfaces. Therefore, it should not be used on old wood or paint unless you intend to refinish it. 

Price at time of publish: $24

Application Method: Pressure washer | Volume: 1 gallon | Coverage: Up to 5,000 square feet | Use: Multipurpose

Best for Concrete

CHOMP! Pull It Out Concrete Cleaner

CHOMP! Pull It Out Concrete Cleaner


What We Like
  • Biodegradable formula

  • Tackles tough grease stains

  • Easy to apply

What We Don’t Like
  • May leave behind a white residue

  • Only suitable for porous surfaces 

If you have a concrete deck that’s collecting greasy residue from your grill or pet odors, this product is a game changer. The cleaner penetrates deep into surfaces to remove tough oil and grease stains. It’s biodegradable, so it doesn’t contain bleach, acid, or similarly toxic ingredients, making it safer to use outdoors. 

This liquid cleaner is very easy to use—just be sure to do a spot test first. You only need to pour a small amount onto the stain and allow it to dry. Once it’s dry, you can simply brush it away. 

Price at time of publish: $18

Application Method: Brush | Volume: 32 ounces | Coverage: Spot treatment | Use: Concrete and brick

Best Concentrated

Sun Joe SPX-HDC1G House and Deck All-Purpose Cleaner

Sun Joe SPX-HDC1G House and Deck All-Purpose Cleaner


What We Like
  • Gentle yet effective formula

  • Biodegradable and non-toxic

  • Safely cleans many outdoor surfaces

What We Don’t Like
  • Less effective than harsher cleaners

Sun Joe’s fast-foaming, concentrated formula can tackle tough stains with ease. This cleaner can be applied with a pressure washer, mop, or brush. It’s safe to use on various outdoor surfaces, including wood, brick, vinyl, and aluminum. This formula is biodegradable and bleach-free, so it shouldn't be harmful to nearby vegetation. 

A little bit of the diluted solution goes a long way. This product effectively removes old paint from decks when used with a pressure washer. As is the case with most environmentally friendly deck cleaners, there are some complaints that Sun Joe’s Concentrated Cleaner isn’t as powerful as other formulas. Overall, though, it works very well without using harsh chemicals.

Price at time of publish: $17

Application Method: Pressure washer, mop, brush | Volume: 1 gallon | Coverage: Not listed | Use: Multipurpose

Final Verdict

The best deck cleaner is the Star Brite Non-Skid Deck Cleaner. It removes tough stains without heavy scrubbing and leaves behind a nonskid surface. For a budget-friendly choice, consider the Simple Green Oxy Solve Deck and Fence Pressure Washer Cleaner. This versatile pick has an eco-friendly formula that lifts grime on a variety of deck surfaces without any harsh chemicals.

What to Look for in a Deck Cleaner 


There are many different kinds of deck cleaners. Some are made for specific surfaces or weather conditions. It’s important that you choose the right product when cleaning your deck. An all-purpose deck cleaner suits most exterior wooden surfaces, including cedar and teak. However, if you have a painted wood deck, you’ll want to use a gentler formula that won’t damage or strip the paint. Look for a product (preferably ammonia-free) that specifically states that it’s safe for use on painted surfaces, such as our best overall pick, the Star Brite Non-Skid Deck Cleaner

Restorative wood deck cleaners are designed for older wood decks that have become dull or weathered over time. These products often contain a bleaching agent that lightens the wood and fades penetrating stains. To create a uniform finish, a restorative cleaner should be applied before staining your deck. Never use a cleaner that contains bleach when cleaning a composite or vinyl deck. Bleach will remove the deck's sheen and leave the surface looking dull. If you notice mold and mildew growing on your deck, look for a deck cleaner that contains a mildewcide to kill off the fungi. 

Application Method

Deck cleaners come in a variety of forms, some designed specifically for use in pressure washers, and others designed for use with a pump sprayer or brush. Due to their convenience, efficiency, and power, pressure washers are the method of choice for most people. “It should be noted, however, that pressure washing could do more harm than good if it is not done properly,” says David Steckel, Thumbtack’s Home Expert. “If you aren’t familiar with operating the washer, you could use too much water pressure, attach the wrong nozzle, or even cause surface damage or injury to yourself or others.” 

You can also clean your deck without a pressure washer if you use a brush to dilute some concentrated deck cleaner with water. Some deck cleaners need to be rinsed off after application, while others remain on to protect against future stains, mold, and mildew growth. Our top choice for removing mold and mildew, Wet & Forget Outdoor Multi-Surface Cleaner, continues to remove and repel stains for up to a year. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, as the application method varies by product and surface type.  


A ready-to-use gallon of liquid deck cleaner can treat anywhere from 250 to 1,000 square feet of decking. Of course, the coverage will vary, depending on how dirty your deck is. Once diluted, a 1-gallon jug of concentrated formula can make 10 to 20 gallons of solution, enough to clean 2,000 square feet or more. With just one bottle of our top budget pick, Simple Green Oxy Solve Deck and Fence Pressure Washer Cleaner, you can clean up to 6,400 square feet of decking. 

  • How do you apply deck cleaner?

    If you have access to a pressure washer, that is the most efficient method for removing stubborn stains. “[It] will save you both time and energy when cleaning a large surface like a deck,” says Steckel. If you don’t have a pressure washer, Steckel suggests using an all-purpose deck cleaner and diluting it with about four liters of warm water. To apply the solution, use a deck or bristle brush, leave it on for about 10 minutes, and rinse it off with water. You’ll want to repeat the process for tough or persistent stains.

  • How long after cleaning your deck can you stain it?

    Wait at least 48 hours after cleaning a deck before applying stain for best results. “Sufficient drying time will also depend on whether your deck faces the sun or is mostly shadowed, so be mindful of that, and wait up to 72 hours if your deck receives little sunlight,” says Steckel. 

    He suggests doing a water test if you're unsure whether your deck is ready to be stained. To do that, pour a cup of water onto your deck. If the water absorbs, and the color of the wood changes within 10 minutes, the deck can be stained. However, if the water pools or beads, further cleaning is required before it is ready.

  • Can you clean your deck without a pressure washer?

    Although a pressure washer is ideal for cleaning a deck, it is possible to clean your deck without one. In lieu of a pressure washer, Steckel suggests any of the following methods: 

    • Hose pipes will remove loose dirt, especially if used with an attachment that directs water with a more concentrated jet. 
    • Dilute a concentrated formula in a bucket of water, and apply it with a bristle brush. (This method is more time-consuming, especially if you have to scrub tough stains vigorously.)  
    • When connected to a garden hose, an outdoor cleaning wand with an integrated scrub brush will easily spray away loose dirt and debris.

Why Trust The Spruce?

This article was written by Sage McHugh, a lifestyle writer who specializes in the home and garden sector and has been writing for The Spruce since 2019. For this roundup, McHugh considered dozens of products, carefully evaluating their type, application method, coverage, and overall effectiveness. For expert insight on deck cleaners, she interviewed David Steckel, Thumbtack’s Home Expert.