Prepping Your Patio for Warm Weather Fun
Whether you live in Florida or Minnesota, winter can take its toll on your deck or patio. Once the April showers subside, the spring clean-up job seems overwhelming and you may not even know where to start. Fear not, with the right tools and know-how, your pool space can be sparkling sooner than you think.
THE SCRUB METHOD
The first step is removing everything from your deck—grills, patio furniture and whatever else that may consider your deck its home. Then, sweep off everything that you can including dirt, leaves and salt.
Next, scrub your deck or patio using a cleaning agent like oxygen bleach (the stuff that makes up OxiClean). This is a great (and green!) alternative to household chlorine bleach, because it breaks down to nothing more than water, soda ash and oxygen. There are no harmful chemicals, and it works wonders on organic stains like salt and dirt. Dissolve the powdered bleach completely in a bucket of water and use a stiff brush on a long pole to scrub the deck. Make sure to read the directions on your chosen cleaner to see how long it should stay on before rinsing.
When you’re ready, rinse the cleaning agent off using a pressure washer or garden hose set on high. For the best results on stubborn stains and mildew, a pressure washer is definitely your best bet!
Whether your deck or patio is made of brick, wood or cement, using a pressure washer is easily the fastest and most convenient way to clean. However, it is important to know how to use the equipment or you may cause unintentional damage to your space. According to decks.com, the pressure needed to wash your deck is rarely more than 1500 PSI. Using too much force can actually damage your deck, especially wood. Therefore, you should always read your user’s manual before setting to work with this option.
If you’re looking to invest in a pressure washer this spring, here are some helpful things to know:
- Some pressure washers are gas-powered, while others are electric. The greener (and more budget-friendly) option is to buy a light-duty electric washer, like the AR Blue Clean 1500 PSI (Electric-Cold Water) Hand Carry Pressure Washer that sells for around $100.
- It is also possible to rent a pressure washer. To rent a 1400 PSI electric pressure washer for one day from Home Depot, it will cost around $35: a small investment for a clean summertime space.
- Pressure washers can also be used to wash driveways, siding, patio furniture, etc.
CLEANING PATIO FURNITURE
Some patio upholstery is removable and can be washed in the washing machine. For those that can’t, the DIY Network suggests mixing 1 tsp. dishwashing detergent with 1 tsp. Borax in 1 quart of warm water and spraying the mixture on generously. If using this method, make sure you have no open cuts and/or wear protective gloves, because Borax can be harmful if it enters the body. Let the mixture set for 15 minutes before rinsing off the cushions with a garden hose (or pressure washer).
Another alternative is to gently scrub fabric with a mixture of warm water and the oxygen bleach recommended earlier in this post. Set the cushions up to air-dry and consider spraying them with a fabric protector like Vectra Spray to prevent further staining.
Make sure to put removable slipcovers back onto cushions while they are still damp so that they can be stretched and to ensure they take on the appropriate shape.
To clean metal and plastic furniture, consider using natural household solutions such as baking soda and water or even white vinegar and water. Here are some natural cleaner recipes taken from Naturally Savvy—according to furniture type:
Plastic, Resin Wicker, Steel/Metal and Fabric Outdoor Furniture Cleaner Recipe
- 1/2 cup of dish soap
- 1 cup of vinegar
- 2 gallons of warm water
Teak, Wood and Wicker Furniture Cleaner Recipe
- 1 tablespoon of dish soap
- 1 gallon of warm water
Spray these mixtures on generously and scrub with a strong brush or sponge to remove dirt and mildew.
WINTERIZING YOUR DECK
One of the best ways to help your deck look pristine in the spring is to clean and winterize it at the end of summer. Apply a protective stain or finish to your wooden deck before winter hits in order to minimize the scrubbing you’ll have to do later.
For brick and stone patios, make sure you sweep all unwanted leaves and rocks from between the stones. It’s also important to pull out weeds (or dig them out using a trowel), making sure to get the roots, to prevent them from dislodging the stones. You may also want to treat the area with weed killer to prevent future growth.
If your area is prone to harsh winters, make sure to put patio furniture away where it won’t be exposed to the elements.
Cleaning up can seem like a daunting task, but these tips should help put some “spring” in your step. With the right tools, you can be pool-ready in no time!