Composite decking has gained immense popularity in recent years due to its durability, low maintenance, and aesthetic appeal. However, like any outdoor surface, it requires regular cleaning to maintain its pristine condition. One effective method for cleaning composite decking is the soft-washing technique. In this article, we will delve into the soft-washing process, and its benefits, and provide you with a step-by-step guide to help you achieve a clean and beautiful composite deck.
What is Soft-Washing? Soft-washing is a cleaning method that utilizes low-pressure water, along with a specialized cleaning solution, to remove dirt, grime, algae, and other organic matter from surfaces. Unlike high-pressure washing, which may damage composite decking, soft-washing offers a gentler approach while still delivering excellent results. This technique not only cleans the deck but also helps to prevent future growth of mold and mildew.
Step-by-Step Guide to Soft-Washing Your Composite Deck:
- Safety First: Before starting any cleaning process, ensure your deck is clear of any objects, furniture, or obstacles that may obstruct your path. Additionally, wear protective gear such as gloves and goggles to safeguard yourself during the cleaning procedure.
- Prepare the Deck: Sweep away loose debris like leaves and twigs from the deck surface. Use a broom or brush to remove any stubborn dirt or mud. This step helps prevent the cleaning solution from spreading unnecessary grime while soft-washing.
- Choose the Right Cleaning Solution: Select a cleaning solution specifically designed for composite decking. These solutions are formulated to be effective yet gentle on the material. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals as they can cause discoloration or damage to the deck.
- Dilute the Cleaning Solution: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to dilute the cleaning solution properly. Typically, a mixture of water and cleaning solution in a 1:1 ratio works well. Ensure that the solution is well-mixed before proceeding.
- Apply the Cleaning Solution: Using a low-pressure sprayer or a soft-bristle brush, evenly distribute the cleaning solution onto the deck surface. Start from one end of the deck and work your way towards the other, covering the entire area. Take care not to oversaturate the deck as excessive moisture can cause issues.
- Allow Dwell Time: Allow the cleaning solution to sit on the deck surface for the recommended dwell time. This time allows the solution to penetrate and break down dirt, grime, and organic matter effectively.
- Soft-Wash the Deck: After the dwell time has elapsed, rinse the deck using low-pressure water. Use a garden hose with a gentle spray nozzle or a pressure washer set to its lowest pressure setting. Maintain a distance of about 12 inches from the deck surface to prevent any damage.
- Rinse Thoroughly: Continue rinsing until all the cleaning solution and residue have been removed from the deck. Ensure that no cleaning solution is left behind as it can lead to discoloration or stickiness on the surface.
- Dry the Deck: Allow the composite decking to air dry completely before returning any furniture or objects to the deck. This step prevents slips or falls due to wet surfaces and also avoids trapping moisture that can encourage the growth of mold or mildew.
By following the soft-washing technique outlined in this guide, you can effectively clean your composite decking while preserving its appearance and longevity. Regular maintenance through soft-washing will not only remove dirt and grime but also prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Remember to prioritize safety, choose the right cleaning solution, and follow the steps carefully for optimal results. With a little effort and the soft-washing technique, your composite deck will remain a beautiful and inviting outdoor space for years to come.