Is Cleaning Composite Decking as Easy as Dawn Dish Soap?


Whether you have a brand new deck or it has been around for years, maintaining your deck is key to ensuring it looks and performs as intended. 

Unlike wood decking, composite requires less maintenance.

Due to their durable material composition and high-performing design, you don’t need to worry about staining or sanding the material – this makes them cheaper to maintain in the long run. 

However, you still need to ensure that you’re periodically scrubbing your composite decking with the right cleaner and tools – all in all, it should be a simple afternoon task. 

However, you may be wondering whether or not you can use Dawn on composite decking.

Well, lucky for you, Dawn is a perfectly acceptable cleaning agent. 

With this in mind, this article will explore everything you need to know about cleaning composite decking. 

When Should You Clean Composite Decking?

Cleaning your composite wood decking shouldn’t be something you dread. In fact, most of the time, we look forward to doing it!

That being said, you should only clean your decking once or twice a year when the weather is calm and sunny. 

This allows enough time for the cleaning agent to work its magic in the texture of the composite wood before any wind or rain drives you away. 

Although, if you’re working in direct sunlight, ensure you’re cleaning in small increments to prevent any cleaning solutions from drying up before you’re able to wash them away. 

Prepare The Deck For Cleaning

Before you begin cleaning, you’ll want to remove or cover any grass, plants, yard ornaments, or any other items away from the deck to protect them from the cleaning products. 

Just keep in mind that any grass or plants kept under cover for too long could potentially lead to them dying. 

Once done, you’ll then want to remove any debris, general dirt, or furniture from the surface of the deck. This could include chairs, potted plants, tables, rugs, and anything else. 

Then, sweep away any leaves, debris, or branches obstructing the surface, as well as the corners.

If you’re trying to remove leaves or dirt from the crevices, try hooking a wide putty knife to the end of a broom handle. Do be careful not to scratch the composite.

Once you have completed all of this, give your deck a hose down to remove any excess debris. 

Use Liquid Detergent (DAWN) And Water To Clean The Deck

To remove layers of dirt and surface stains that have accumulated over time, most composite decks require a good cleaning using a scrub brush and some soapy water. 

Using a large bucket, mix ¼-cup of liquid dish detergent, such as Dawn, with a gallon of warm water. 

Dawn is a good choice considering it is non-toxic for both animals and humans, biodegradable, and doesn’t contain any phosphates.

Plus, it is gentle enough that it won’t damage your skin or any other surrounding environments, although strong enough to remove any dirt stuck in the grains of your composite decking. 

Using a handheld or long-handled brush, dunk it into the bucket and begin scrubbing your boards – ensure you’re going in the same direction as the grains on the plank in small sections. 

Use Dawn To Remove Grease And Oil Spots

If you have any hard-to-remove grease or oil stains, then applying a few drops of Dawn directly onto the affected area should help.

This helps to power through the grease, lifting it from the surface without removing the composite. 

To whisk away any oil stains, use a handheld scrub brush and dip it into some warm water.

To prevent streaking from taking place, ensure you move quickly so the detergent doesn’t dry and leave a film. 

Using the garden hose, wash away any soapy, dirty residue. 

Using Dawn in a Pressure Washer To Clean The Deck

Use A Pressure Washer To Clean The Deck

You can use a pressure washer to remove embedded dirt without requiring any cleaning products, although this isn’t usually recommended.

If used incorrectly, the high pressure of the washer can damage the composite decking itself. 

So, while you can use pressure washers on composite deckings, you can also clean them just as well without.

Using some old-fashioned elbow grease and a combination of a deck brush and warm soapy water, you’ll be able to clean your deck without damaging your flooring. 

Although if using a pressure washer, a quick spray using the fan tip on the decking will help lift any debris and freshen up the look.  

Using the fan tip on the pressure washer will give a breath of life into your decking, removing any debris and dirt from the surface.

The fan tip on the pressure washer ensures enough force without damaging the decking. 

It is generally recommended to keep the pressure below 1,500 psi (pounds per square inch), as well as six inches away from the deck boards.

Plus, keep a broad sweeping motion, going in the same direction with the grain on the board. 

 If your deck has stubborn stains or thick layers of dirt, then you can fill the soap dispenser on your pressure washer with Dawn – which is specially used for pressure washers. Or mix 1 tablespoon of Dawn with 1 quart of water.

For best results, ensure you’re following the manufacturer’s directions. Then, with a stiff brush, scrub the deck, making sure to get into the corners, too. 

Using the widest pressure washer nozzle, wash down the deck using plain water.

Make wide, sweeping motions, about two feet above the surface – to ensure it is thoroughly cleaned. 

A drawback of using Dawn dish soap in a pressure washer is the results may not be as good as detergent specifically designed for pressure washers. In a bind will work, but soap designed for a pressure washer and decks will almost all the time work better.

Remove Mildew And Mold Using Armor E-Z Deck

It only takes minutes for Mold Armor E-Z Deck, Fence, and Patio to cut through large splotches of mildew and mould.

Mold Armor E-Z Deck

Not only does this bleach-based product clean, but it also brightens and kills mildew and mould without damaging the surface. 

With your hose, attach the hose-end adapter and spray the affected area evenly.

Before you begin washing and cleaning off the solution, ensure you wait 10 minutes and then do so. 

Use Simple Green Oxy To Remove Tree Sap

Sometimes, sticks areas of tree sap can be near-on impossible to scrub away using soap and water.

Therefore, what you’ll need is Simple Green Oxy Solve. 

Simple Green Oxy

The concentrate, which can either be used with a pressure washer or a bucket, can easily cut through sap thanks to its peroxide base.

Other products rely on harsh chemicals to get through thick oils and grime; however, you don’t have to worry about that here. 

Use WD-40 To Clean Rust Stains

A simple spritz of WD-40 helps to loosen up the porous layers of rust without damaging the surface underneath. 

Directly spray the WD-40 on the rust, allow it to sit for 10 minutes, then wipe away using a dry, clean cloth.

Use water and detergent to wash away any excess. 

If rust is a problem on your composite deck, here are some more ideas on how to remove rust with common household products. Opens in a new tab.

Final Thoughts

One of the most important aspects of keeping a decking is maintenance – without doing so, you run the risk of permanently causing damage to your flooring.

Therefore, one of the best products to do so is Dawn.

Not only is it gentle enough for your pets and outdoor environment, but has enough strength to cut through all your dirt and debris. 

Ryan Nickel

A Red Seal carpenter, passionate about building decks to be enjoyed.

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