Cleaning a wood fence without using a pressure washer requires the person performing the job to get the area ready for cleaning. Getting the fence wet is required to ensure that the detergent penetrates well. The next step is to choose the right wood fence cleaner and to apply it evenly, using a painter’s brush, a sponge, or a sprayer, depending on the cleaning agent used. After letting the cleaner soak in, the detergent needs to be rinsed using a garden hose. Before applying any treatments, 24 to 48 hours are required for the wood fence to dry.
The steps needed to safely clean a wood fence without damaging it are discussed in detail below.
Wood Fence Cleaning Supplies
- Wood fence cleaner
- Wire brush
- Painter’s brush
- Water bucket
- Garden hose
Step 1. Prepare the Area for Cleaning
Cleaning a wood fence without a power washer requires similar area preparation as needed before pressure washing a fence. All the objects in close proximity to the wood fence need to be removed. The plants and bushes have to be covered with a tarp to avoid contaminating them with the wood fence cleaner. Even in the case of using a fully biodegradable detergent, this step is recommended to keep the plants healthy.
Step 2. Wet the Wood Fence
Wood fence cleaning requires getting the surface wet before proceeding to the actual cleaning procedure. This step will allow the cleaning solution to better penetrate the wood. Connect a garden hose to a water source and spray the fence until the entire area is covered.
Step 3. Choose the Right Wood Fence Cleaner
The right cleaner for wood fences can be chosen according to the user’s needs. These needs differ according to the type of stains that need to be removed from the fence. The type of fence can also make a difference in terms of treatments, considering that some fences are painted or treated with different substances, while others are not. The procedure also makes a difference in terms of intentions. In case the user needs to clean a wood fence before painting it, a detergent that has degreasing properties is recommended.
Cleaning a wood fence can be performed using ready-made cleaning solutions or homemade cleaners. The differences between the two are detailed below.
Ready-Made Wood Fence Cleaners
Choosing a ready-made wood cleaning solution comes with the benefit of spending less time combining cleaning agents and with the advantage that most manufacturers provide a balanced pH. This is essential when choosing an appropriate cleaning agent for a wood fence, as high pH levels can deteriorate this type of material.
There are various options on the market as buyers can choose from all-purpose detergents to cleaning solutions specially formulated for wood or for various types of stains. A good ready-made wood fence cleaner will not require scrubbing and will leave the surface clean in about 5 to 15 minutes after application. Similar pressure washer soaps and detergents, these wood fence cleaners can come in a concentrated formula or are already diluted.
Homemade Wood Fence Cleaners
Homemade cleaning agents for wood fences usually consist of oxygenated bleach, chlorine bleach, baking soda, or vinegar.
Oxygenated bleach needs to be mixed with water and applied to the fence using a painter’s brush. This cleaning agent should be left to soak in the dirt for about 15 minutes, scrubbed, and rinsed.
Chlorine bleach can be used to remove algae and mold. The chlorine cleaning solution used to wash away algae and mold from wood fences should contain 1 third made of chlorine bleach and 2 thirds made of water. This solution is not recommended for the entire surface in case the mold is present only on certain parts.
Cleaning wood fences with vinegar removes mildew. To make this cleaning solution it is recommended to mix a gallon of warm water with half a cup of white vinegar. The amount of time for this cleaning solution to work is around 15 minutes.
Step 4. Apply the Wood Fence Cleaner
Applying detergent to a wood fence needs to be done evenly to deliver good results. When using a ready-made wood fence cleaner, make sure to read the instructions and leave it in for as long as the manufacturer recommends. Leavin any cleaning solution on for more than what is recommended can lead to permanent damage. Some products require brushing to remove dirt, while others do the job on their own.
To efficiently clean a wood fence without an electric or gas pressure washer, the person performing the procedure needs to follow some recommendations to make sure that a deep clean is provided. These recommendations are as follows:
The first step is to identify the stains on the wood fence and determine the type of cleaner they require. If these stains can be removed manually without using a detergent, use a wire brush. This type of brush is recommended for debris. In the case of using a detergent, test it first on a small surface where damage is not observable. If the solution does not discolor or damage the wood, its use on spots is recommended. In case the cleaning agent changes the color of the wood and makes it lighter, avoid using it on sporadic spots, as it will make the color of the fence uneven.
Start from the Bottom
Start cleaning the wood fence from the bottom and move all the way to the top to avoid leaving stains. Following this rule is recommended whenever cleaning a fence using chemicals.
Clean Small Areas
Washing a wood fence by dividing the surface into small sections is recommended to avoid marks and to avoid leaving the detergent to soak in for a long time, especially if the procedure is performed in the sun. Leaving some cleaning agents to soak in under sun rays exposure can lead to faster drying which will leave marks. High temperatures can also cause some types of cleaning solutions to permanently damage the wood.
Step 5. Rinse the Wood Fence
After applying the cleaning solution to the wood fence and leaving it in for as long as recommended, a thorough rinse is required. This step can be reformed using the garden hose. The rinsing procedure needs to be performed from the top, moving all the way to the bottom of the fence for best results. In case treatment needs to be applied to the wood. This step will take longer than using a cleaning unit because a pressure washer pump can deliver a higher water flow which reduces the time needed for the procedure. Wait for 24-42 hours for the surface to be completely dry.
Step 6 – Patch the Wood Fence – Optional
Patching the wood fence is optional and needs to be performed only if the fence has deteriorated and the owner wants to make it look new. If the fence is not painted or treated with sealing agents, the rough areas can be sanded and the screws or nails that are sitting out can be put back in. The wood fence can be treated with a layer of water repellent to expand its lifespan or with paint or a staining agent to protect it from sun or moisture damage.