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How to Clean Decks and Fences with Your Pressure Washer 

Using your pressure washer to remove the sap, dirt, dust, insects, bird droppings, mud, etc., that can accumulate on your deck or fence is very rewarding! Seeing your deck or fence looking like new again just makes you feel good. 

Most homeowners power wash decks & fences on a yearly or 18 month basis. I pressure wash early, in spring, so I can enjoy the results all summer. 

You can use an electric pressure washer for decks, but it might be somewhat slow work since electric pressure washers are generally not as powerful as gas powered pressure washers.

Electric pressure washers are excellent for cleaning cars, garage floors, smaller walkways, outdoor furniture, etc. But gas powered pressure washers are outfitted with high pressure producing axial cam pumps that really get the larger cleaning jobs done quickly.
And if you're preparing to re-seal your deck or fence, you probably already know you must pressure washer it first. (Make sure you follow the sealer manufacturers advice about pre-and-post sealer drying times and application procedures!)

Before you begin washing, first remove all your furniture, accessories, signs, etc. off the deck or fence you want to clean. Then make sure all electrical outlets, jacks and fixtures are completely sealed from water! Also, I always like to cover any nearby shrubs just to make sure they don't get damaged.

It's very important to keep in mind that wood can be easily damaged by using too much water pressure - or putting the nozzle too close to the deck or fence surface!

And different woods have different hardness factors. Wood can fray, gray, splinter or "fur" if you're not careful, so proceed very slowly and carefully.

Always begin power washing by holding the white nozzle at least 3-4 feet away from the dirty surface. Then slowly move the nozzle closer, IF needed. Change from the white nozzle, to a more powerful nozzle, only if necessary.

I believe, when washing decks, it's a good idea to start in an inconspicuous place.

A little practice makes perfect, but here's the general guideline for cleaning decks & fences:

Your Washer's PSI Rating and Closest Nozzle Distance from Surface:

2,000 to 3,000 PSI --- 12" to 24"

3,000+ PSI --- 18" to 36"

Detergents or Chemicals? Yes! Absolutely! My recommendation is that the right detergent or chemical is a great help to the DIYer/homeowner! These detergents loosen dirt and stains -- and greatly cut down on the time it takes to clean decks and fences.

Just MAKE SURE that the detergent or chemical you use states that it is especially formulated for use in pressure washers. And remember to use your low-pressure (black) nozzle for applying soap or chemicals.

What about bleaches or home-made cleaning "recipes"? NEVER! NEVER! You'll likely ruin your pressure washer - and the very surface you're trying to clean.

MY TIP: Most of us are eager to get our cleaning projects done, so we don't give the pressure washer detergent or chemical enough time to fully do its job! Read your detergent bottle label - it'll advise you that the detergent should rest on the dirty surface for at least a few minutes. This really, truly helps. You'll be amazed at how quickly stains and dirt lift once the detergent has had a chance to do its job.


FAQ's About Pressure Washers & Troubleshooting Tips

A Quick Overview of How Pressure Washers Work


Click here to go from the Deck & Fence cleaning page to the Pressure Washer Buyers Guide home page.

And if you'd like more tips on deck cleaning, read this great resource article at

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