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Weekly Gardening Tips for Your Area


Choosing The Right Cleaner For Every Outdoor Job

Shaina Oliphant
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Chances are that sun, wind, rain or snow has taken a toll on your deck, patio or walkway over time. So you most likely have some cleaning up to do.


Before you can make the most of your outdoor space, you have to first assess your mess. That’s where cleaners specially formulated for outdoor conditions come in. The right products can make even a tough job easy and help get results you’ll be proud of.


Be sure to read all labels and always follow package instructions for product usage. Keep in mind that some formulas may require diluting, as well as the use of eye and skin protection.

Cleaning Solutions For Everyday Problems

Stubborn stains on brick (including efflorescence):

Try using ammonia or bleach. They break down efflorescence: the salt deposits left from moisture that has seeped into the brick. Look for products that are specially formulated to provide corrosion protection for metal surfaces when used according to label instructions. All-purpose cleaners can remove stains and cleans dirt and grime from decks, patios, driveways, sidewalks, patio furniture, garbage cans, siding, fencing and more.

A troublesome spot of grime:

Everyday cleaning solutions that cut through grime and dirt make great spot treatments because they are safe to use on all surfaces.

Mold and mildew on wood, concrete, brick and stone:

Bacteria and enzyme formulas are best for combating mold and mildew (even urine stains) on all surfaces. A dedicated mold and mildew product can solve the problem, as can bleach (dilute if using on brick). A water-soluble, high performance detergent cleaner and mold and mildew stain remover is great for wood decks, vinyl and aluminum siding, trim, fences, painted or stained stucco, concrete and other painted surfaces.

Patio furniture with rust and water stains:

Ingredients such as oxalic acid, d-limonene and citric acid are best for combating hard water deposits, mild rust stains and oily stains from brass, copper, aluminum and concrete.

Sealed wood and concrete surfaces:

Water is best for freshening up wood, resin decks or fencing when used with a pressure washer. When cleaning antique brick it’s best to use a hose. For tough stains use a stiff brush.

A greasy grill:

Look for the key ingredient, oxalic acid, which works best for grills and aluminum storm windows and doors. Also d-limonene, which is made of several citrus oils, will work on oily surfaces. A grill cleaner that comes in a thick foam formula works well because it clings to vertical surfaces for extended contact time.

Smudged windows:

Try ammonia for streaky windows. Diluted with water, ammonia is also good for outdoor pools, hot tubs and trash cans. How much you dilute depends on the surface you’re cleaning and how dirty the surface is. Read the label for more detailed instructions. Try an ammonia-based formula to remove finger prints, smudges and airborne contaminants without streaking or haze.

An eco-friendly cleaner:

Whenever possible, use biodegradable, milder formulas when cleaning.By doing so, you will protect flower and vegetable beds, lawns and shrubs. Eco-friendly cleaners breaks down into the environment faster, making them safer for kids and pets. Oxygenated cleaners are plant-safe and can be used on patios, decks, siding and gutters.

Got questions about this article or any other garden topic? Go here now to post your gardening ideas, questions, kudos or complaints. We have gardening experts standing by to help you!