Before and after using a pressure washer on a garden deck

Step by step guide to effectively clean exterior wood

Spring is a great time to get your exterior wood cleaned up ready for those warm evenings spent in the garden.

You might just have a bit of residual dirt on your wood, or you may have some mould or algae built up over the wet Winter months. This is normal and regardless of how bad your wood is, we have created this handy step by step guide to help you get it looking spick and span again in no time.

When to clean exterior wood

As your exterior wood is exposed to the elements all year-round, we recommend regular maintenance to increase its longevity. If you want to keep your exterior wood in the best shape possible, you should give it a thorough cleaning at least once a year. It’s best to do your cleaning in the Spring or Summer when the weather is better to give the wood more time to dry.

A yearly deep clean can breathe new life into your exterior wood, preserve it, and ultimately help to prevent expensive repairs.

How to clean exterior wood

There are a few ways in which you can clean your exterior wood. We have created a step-by-step guide for a two of them to help you get the best out of your garden.

Wood Cleaning solution

Before & after using Net-Trol on a fence

A safe option when it comes to cleaning wood is to use a specific wood cleaner such as Net-Trol. Net-Trol is a very strong yet gentle water-based wood cleaner and brightener which restores greyed and weathered wood back to its original colour without damaging the wood’s fibres. It is biodegradable and does not contain solvents or bleach making it safe to use in the garden.

Net-Trol effortlessly removes surface as well as ground-in dirt leaving the wood looking bright and vibrant. It is fast-acting and can restore the original colour of your wood in as little as 15 minutes with no sanding required.

How to clean wood with Net-Trol:

Step 1

Wet the surface with fresh, clean water

Step 2

Apply Net-Trol with a synthetic brush or roller (medium or long pile)

Step 3

Scrub the surface with a stiff nylon/synthetic brush

Step 4

Leave to stand for approx. 10-20 minutes. If the surface starts to dry, dampen with a mist application of water

Step 5

Scrub the surface whilst rinsing with fresh clean water or use a pressure washer (max. 60 bar with a fan head attachment)

If required repeat procedure. Allow the wood to dry for 48 hours or until it meets the moisture content required by the chosen finish before finishing

Soap and water

Another option if your wood is only lightly soiled is to use a soap and water mixture. Just remember that whatever soap you use should be environmentally friendly to help protect your wood as well as any members of family or pets.

How to clean wood with soap and water:

Step 1

Create a solution with your chosen soap and warm water

Step 2

Apply to to your wood and gently scrub with a soft brush

Step 3

Leave the solution to work for a few minutes

Step 4

Rinse off the solution with a hose or pressure washer

You may find that you will still have some residual dirt left behind after using soap and water. If this is the case, you can try repeating the procedure or alternatively trying one of the other ways mentioned.

Pressure washer

Before and after using a pressure washer on a garden deck

Most people will want to grab their pressure washer to quickly and easily clean their wood.  However, this is not always the best tool to use. Depending on the type of attachment on the end of your pressure washer could cause problems.

If it is a full on steady stream of high pressured water, this can cause a great deal of stress on the wood fibres which will cause them so swell and leave you with an almost ‘furry’ looking finish. Not only can this be aesthetically problematic as it can remove the finish, it can also effect the lifespan of your timer.

How to safely use a power washer:

  • Always use a fan head attachment and spray in a sweeping motion across the wood
  • Always spray at a minimum distance of 30cm

Things we do not recommend you do

  • Do not use a turbo head
  • Do not keep the spray still or in one place for too long

After you have successfully cleaned your wood you may want to consider applying a finish if there is not one already applied. Why not take a look at our wide range of exterior wood finishes, where we have a variety of saturating finishing oils to opaque paints and more.


So there you have our step by step guide to effectively clean exterior wood.

We hope you found this post helpful. If you have any other tips, tricks or advice, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. We love hearing from you!

Want to keep up with all things Owatrol? Why not follow us on social media? You can find us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest at @owatroluk or at the hashtag #owatroluk

Step by step guide to effectively clean exterior wood - Pinterest

About Owatrol Team

Our team are ready and willing to support you with your requirements whether it is protecting your newly laid deck or renovating a luxury yacht, whatever the application Owatrol has the solution you are looking for.

4 thoughts on “Step by step guide to effectively clean exterior wood

  1. My deck is about 5 square metres in size; it is 8 years old and has been treated regularly with decking oil. However, it has become very dark and stained. Can you recommend a good decking stripper that would take it back to something like its original colour?

    1. Hi there Mike,

      For the removal of old oils from wood we recommend using a products such as Aquanett: https://www.owatroldirect.co.uk/product/aquanett
      If you use Aquanett, be sure to use Net-Trol after application: https://www.owatroldirect.co.uk/product/net-trol – this is vital as Net-Trol is a neutraliser and stops the active ingredient in Aquanett from continuing to work on the wood.

      If you would like to, you can purchase samples of both these products for £6 each with free shipping.

      I hope this was helpful.

      All the best,
      The Owatrol Team

  2. Hello

    I have used your Decking Paint, which product can I use to clean my deck without damaging the paints?

    Thank you
    Melanie

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