Deck building is an exciting part of homeownership. It’s best done by professionals, but watching it take form can be enjoyable. When the builders are done, they’ll probably give you a bit of advice on keeping the area clean and odor-free. Here are some cleaning tips in case you want a refresher:
Keeping a Deck Clean and Odor-Free
You’ll need a power washer or at least a garden hose if the water pressure is good. Spot cleaning is fine when you do it frequently, and a spray solution of vinegar and water should be enough to get rid of most smells. Rinse your deck with the power washer or hose. You can also sweep some baking soda over your deck and into cracks and grooves to eliminate odors.
Sometimes, even weekly cleaning isn’t enough if the odor is overpowering. There are a few possible reasons behind that horrid smell:
Animals: Dead or alive, an animal can cause a stink in your deck area, whether it’s real wood or composite decking. Pets like dogs and cats, for instance, might use your deck for relieving themselves. But other animals might also visit the area, including skunks, raccoons, rats, woodchucks, rabbits and squirrels. If an animal dies under your deck, even if it’s tiny, the decomposing carcass can emit a powerful odor.
Food: People like to eat outdoors on a good day. If you have regular meals on your deck, or if you recently had a barbecue there, chances are that smell is coming from food that has made its way under your deck.
Cigarettes: Cigarette butts under your deck can emit a strong smell of smoke and tobacco, especially if the ground is wet.
Mold and mildew: Mold and mildew thrive where there’s shade and moisture. While that area might be the underside of your deck boards, mold and mildew often form above the deck.
You can get rid of the foul odor coming from your deck, but first, you have to investigate. Some smells are easy to identify, but you still have to find where they’re coming from.
If it’s a dead animal, you have no choice but to get on all fours and take it out from beneath the deck. Use disposable gloves, or grab the carcass with a plastic bag that you can then tie shut. You can also use a garden trowel or a long grabber.
Food you can scoop up with a garden trowel.
For cigarettes, either scoop them up with a trowel, or pick them up with an old pair of tongs that you can keep for that purpose.
For mold and mildew, a water and bleach solution should kill them. If your deck is real wood, sand the affected spots, and apply a wood sealer with an oil base. If the infestation is really bad, it’s best to call a professional mold remediation specialist.
There could be any number of reasons behind unpleasant odors on your deck. For example, skunk spray is different from dog urine so make sure to use the right cleaner. Research the right liquid solution based on your cleaning needs.