Cleaning & Maintaining Your Garden Decking

Everyone loves a good bit of garden decking; it opens your home up to so many possibilities giving you the perfect area to relax in the sun, cook up a barbeque or socialise with friends. Because of the benefits that owning your own decking brings, many people splash out big money on having them installed in their garden, only to later let their decking deteriorate away under the elements.

At Arnold Laver, we have nearly 100 years experience in the timber industry, and so we have seen it time and time again when garden decking is left to decay. To make sure you have decking to be proud of, we have put our thinking caps on and pulled together some hints, tips and advice on the best ways to clean and maintain your own real wood or composite wood garden decking. Explore our guide below for all of the information you could need to protect your investment and make sure your family and friends enjoy your garden for years to come. 

Timber Decking 

Timber decking is an excellent addition to any garden, as the real wood produces a natural, rustic feel that is difficult for faux materials to compete with. It is also very durable and, as long as it is taken from carefully managed sources, it is more environmentally-friendly than using wood-plastic mixes. 

Caring for Your Timber Decking

Like any other material that is left outdoors, timber decking will deteriorate when up against sunlight, snow, rain, frost and other natural elements. This can cause unstained timber to become grey after time, but this can be prevented with the use of special treatments. 

Typically, we would recommend that you use these once or twice a year. However, the level of protection and how often they can be used will vary between products, so you should also read the label carefully. Before you use any oil, stain or protector, it is paramount to give your decking a thorough clean. 

If you have any fungus growing on your timber, then this can be removed with a general garden fungicide. By combining this with an insecticide and scrubbing it into your decking, you can also kill off many insects which can live inside and damage the wood. 

Cleaning Timber Decking 

Different types of stains or marks on your decking can require different methods for cleaning…


If any grease marks appear on your decking, then these can usually be cleaned by scrubbing it with a washing up liquid and water mix. Oil cleaning fluids, such as car engine cleaning solutions can also work on stubborn grease stains. 


Rust marks can appear on timber decking when it has been in contact with metal surfaces. If this does occur, then a simple commercial rust remover will do the trick – just scrub the area and then rinse away. However, if you paint the underside of any metal furniture, this can work to prevent rust marks appearing on the wood. 


Algae can build up underneath plant pots which have been placed on your decking or in particularly damp areas. To get rid of this, mix a cup of bleach with two pints of water, scrub this onto the area where the algae is using a brush and then rinse away any leftover liquid with water. 

You can also stop algae from foaming under plant pots by putting them on moisture-proof stands. 

General Cleaning 

Jet pressure washers can be used for general cleaning purposes on large areas of timber decking although you must take some precautions to stop any damage. Make sure the pressure is set to 1500psi or below, as anything more will destroy the wood fibres and this cannot be undone. 

Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is also effective in cleaning timber decking and can be bought from most local paint stores. Mix this with some washing up liquid and test it on a small patch of your decking by scrubbing it in with a broom and rinsing away with water afterwards. 

You should never use any chlorine-based bleach on our timber decking as this will break down the lining, which is key in holding the wood together. 

Composite Decking 

Composite decking is made up of a wood-plastic mix which can contain a range of materials such as sawdust, wood chips and fibres. It is a low maintenance option which resists most weathering and bugs and is usually slip and splinter-free, while also not having the need to be painted, stained or sealed. 

Maintaining Composite Decking 

Composite decking requires much less maintenance than timber decking, and this is often one of the main selling points for customers who are stuck between the two. However, it does still require some care and forgetting this can lead to composites to deteriorate when up against the elements. In the winter, it is advised that you remove ice or snow from the decking before it can do any damage. 

To do this, use rock or calcium chloride and then rinse it away after with mild soap and water to stop any white marks appearing on the surface.

How to Clean Composite Decking

When it comes to cleaning your composite decking, warm water mixed with a mild washing up liquid can usually do the trick to removing most dirt. Environmentally-friendly solutions are usually available from DIY stores for those who would prefer them although water and washing up liquid is the cheaper option of the two. 

You can also use a pressure washer on your composite decking if you are cleaning large areas at once. Unlike timber decking, you can set the pressure of the device up to around 3000psi when cleaning composites as they are more durable and less likely to be damaged. 

Hold the nozzle at roughly a 30-degree angle and spray in the direction of the length of the plank. Spray one plank lengthwise at a time for best results and do not spray against the grain as this can cause more damage. Now that you have learnt all of our helpful tips and tricks for maintaining your decking, you can look forward to spending more time worry-free in the garden. Explore our wide range of garden decking available online now, and learn more about timber and composite options available.

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