Pressure washing is a quick and easy way to clean a wood fence, but it’s not always readily accessible or ideal — sometimes, too much water pressure can harm the surface and strip its finish. This guide reviews choosing the right wood fence cleaner and the easiest ways to clean your fence without damaging its appearance.
Safe Cleaning Options for Your Wood Fence
The simplest cleaner you can use is water. Unless it’s been a while since you cleaned your fence, you can keep it in great shape by spraying it down with a hose. If you notice stubborn grime or mould, you can use a wire brush or scraper to clean most surface debris. If water doesn’t do the trick for you, consider these cleaners.
If you notice an overgrowth of algae or mould, vinegar helps by killing the microorganisms during cleaning. Be careful not to use too much — a little goes a long way. When making your solution, use one cup of vinegar per four cups of water so it’s properly diluted.
Rinse and scrub your fence first and follow it up with some warm water and dish soap. This ingredient is helpful for surface stains and dirt but may not be enough for embedded mould or extreme discolouration.
Commercial Fence Cleaners
You can find fence-cleaning solutions at your local hardware store. Some of them contain all-natural ingredients meant to be gentle on the wood. It’s essential to pay attention to the ingredients because some chemicals can do more harm than good to wood (more on this below).
If you intend to refinish your fence, you can try bleach. It’s great for killing mould and algae, but you shouldn’t use too much of it, Keep in mind that it does change your wood’s appearance, which is why this option is only acceptable if you intend to touch up the surface afterwards. In most cases, bleach should be a last-resort option because of its potency and toxicity.
Potentially Harmful Cleaners for Your Wood Fence
Some cleaners contain chemicals that change the colour of your wood or compromise its structural integrity when permeating the surface. Try to avoid the following substances and ingredients or use them in moderation when cleaning your fence.
While bleach can be effective when used on tough spots and if you don’t mind discolouring your wood, it is a toxic chemical that is very potent. It can harm your lawn and be harmful to you and your animals. If you must use bleach, take extra caution and use it sparingly. If you use too much, it could lead to wood rot.
Hydrogen peroxide is problematic for the same reason bleach is. It can soak into the wood pores and then discolour them, leaving splotches behind and causing the wood to rot.
If you mix bleach and ammonia, it produces a toxic gas that can severely harm anyone in the immediate area. Another reason not to use ammonia is that it degrades the wood from the inside. Pay attention to the ingredient list if you buy commercial cleaners because some cleaners contain ammonia, and you want to avoid it as a wood fence cleaner.
This natural ingredient is known as an effective cleaner for many surfaces due to its acidity and natural oils. However, it’s not effective on wood and could destroy your fence’s finish.
Cleaning a Wood Fence by Hand: Step-by-Step
Here is how to clean a wood fence without pressure washing if you choose to use soap, fence cleaners, or natural, wood-safe options.
Step 1: Prep the Fence
Give the fence a good spray with your hose, and use a wire brush to scrub the more stubborn areas. In some cases, you’ll notice an immediate difference after this initial spray.
Step 2: Get Your Cleaner Ready
Whether you’re using soap or a wooden fence cleaner, apply it to your fence and let it soak first. Ensure you use warm water when mixing your solutions, and leave it on the wood for about five minutes.
Step 3: Use Some Elbow Grease
Scrub off any visible dirt after the soak. You can use a wire brush or a scraper to get the stubborn debris. If you’re not getting the results you desire, you may need to use vinegar to spot clean.
Step 4: Rinse Your Fence
The final step is to spray your fence down. It’s important to remember this step so that the solution doesn’t soak into the pores and cause internal rotting. If you want, you can use some wood finish to protect your fence from external elements.
Need additional tips? Reach out to us at Ideal Fence, and we can give you advice on the right products to clean your fence without a pressure washer. If your fence is damaged, it may be time to install a new one. Ask us how we can help!