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How To Clean A Wood Fence Without Pressure Washing

How to Clean a Wood Fence Without Pressure Washing

Many homeowners would argue that of all the different types of fences you could get, wooden fences are the classiest. But even die hard wooden fence enthusiasts struggle with finding out how to clean a wood fence without pressure washing it.

If you have wood fencing, then at some point, you simply need to think about cleaning protocols for this aspect of your property.

This is because wood fences are especially predisposed to suffering conditions like mildew stains, oil-based stains, and the build up of amounts of algae over time.

To ensure that the aesthetic appeal of your beautiful backyard hideaway remains untouched, it’s imperative to find the best way to remove the stain coating on your wood fences and restore its natural color without a power washer.

Why Pressure Washing May be a Bad Idea For Your Wooden Fence

If you notice you have an extra-dirty wood fence, your first thought might be to go at it with any random mild soap and bleach combination and then use high-pressure water to eliminate the stains.

However, using a high-pressure stream of water to clean your wooden fence and fence posts might be bad for the structure.

This is more so the case if the wooden fence has loose boards or damaged boards as a result of the action of pests and/or extreme weather conditions.

So, even though you’re only trying to remove all the dirt that’s gathered on the outdoor surfaces of your wood fence over time, using tools like a gas-powered pressure washer will only damage your beautiful fence even more.

So, how do you eliminate those pesky coats of stain without resorting to using an electric pressure washer or gas pressure washer?

Keep reading to discover the correct steps to take to give that extra-dirty fence a proper cleaning and an overall cleaner surface!

Cleaning Wood Fence Without Pressure Washing: Step by Step 

To ensure you have a clean wood fence there are certain things you have to do.

Getting a clean and non-marked fence without using a gas pressure washer or electric pressure washer isn’t exactly a walk in the park.

However, using this method, rest assured you won’t have any broken boards, loose boards, or broken fences at the end of the day!

To make cleaning boards on privacy fences an easier task for you, we’ve broken down the cleaning process into 7 simple to follow steps.

This process will effectively remove everything from caked-on algae stains and mildew stains to oil-based stains (solid-color stains and grease stains) fast and without stress for your cedar fence.

Without further ado, here’s the ultimate 7-step guide to restoring the natural grain and wood grain of your wooden fencing with ease!

1st Step – Cover the Area Around the Fence With Plastic Sheeting

In your quest to restore your backyard bar or prepare the area for your upcoming barbecue party, it’s important to not forget the landscape around your fence.

 So, before you start applying fence cleaners and eliminating combination stains, consider the surroundings of the fence.

To do this effectively, you can simply use plastic sheeting to cover anything and everything that might react to the chemicals you’ll be using to clean your fence.

Keep in mind, these chemicals will include cleaning solutions like soap and chlorinated bleach.

So, to ensure that the chlorine bleach runoff does not destroy your precious plants and lawn, make sure that you cover the entire area properly.

You should cover up to a distance of 1m from your fence, just to be safe.

2nd Step – Strip the Face of Your Fence of Heavy Particles With a Wire Brush

Before you attack the more persistent green algae and oil-based coats of stain on your wooden fences, you should remove anything stuck to the surface of the fence and fence posts first.

You can apply a stainless steel wire brush to achieve this step.

So that you’ll be able to clean the surface of your wood fence more thoroughly, you mustn’t let anything prevent the contact of your cleaning solution with the surface of the entire fence.

The purpose of using a wire brush for cleaning your wood fencing fist is to make sure that caked on algae and other large pieces of dirt and debris fall off first.

However, if your wood fence is painted, make sure you don’t scrub too hard as the wire brush might destroy that. In this case, just use the wire brush to scrape off large pieces of debris without using too much force.

You can then replace the wire brush with a 2-in. brush, preferably a plastic bristle scrub brush, and then scrub more vigorously.

3rd Step – Lightly Clean the Fence With a Garden Hose

After you’ve successfully scraped off the larger dirt particles using the brush method described above, you have to clean the surface with water.

Your garden hose is more than sufficient for this task.

All you have to do is run the stream of water from the hose across the face of the entire fence. The fresh water from this will wash down the grime you have scrubbed and prepare your fence for the next stage in the cleaning process.

A couple of passes is usually all you need here. You can hold the hose at a 25-40 degree angle and  spray for a couple of minutes.

You may apply it for 3-5 minutes. But, for a more lasting effect, 5-10 minutes is best. This will make the fence appropriately damp.

Please ensure that the fence has waterproof paint. Otherwise, this process may erode the paint and restore the original color of the wooden fence.

4th Step – Apply Oxygenated Bleach Cleaning Solution to the Outdoor Surfaces of Your Wooden Fence

You wanted to learn how to clean a wood fence without pressure washing, right?

Well, this is where the real work starts!

Before you take this processa step further, you have to remember that you’re dealing with a chemical here. As such, proceed with caution.

 So, make sure you’ve read and understood the label instructions before you proceed.

To use oxygenated bleach, you need to mix it properly with water. The best formula is to always use 2 parts water to one part bleach.

When you have this finished product, the next thing you do is use a large-sized paintbrush to apply this solution to your damp fence.

Make sure you cover the entire fence, top to bottom, and then wait for 15 minutes. After this, run a plastic scrub brush over the surface of the fence for another 15 minutes.  

Finally, thoroughly rinse the mixture and run a stream of water with your garden hose over the fence to rinse it further for good measure.

5th Step – Remove the Mold and Algae With Chlorinated Bleach

This next phase is to eliminate green algae and mold from the surface of your wood fence.

Doing this is particularly necessary if you have an aged fence as there tends to be an unusual concentration of green algae and mold on these surfaces.

This is dangerous work so you have to ensure your protected. So, make sure you wear good rubber gloves before you touch this bleach solution.

To get an even better result, you can add a teaspoon of dish washing soap to the chlorine bleach. The bleach mixture will become even more potent.

With your rubber gloves on and your trusty bristled scrubbing brush, you can begin the proper cleaning process of your dirty fence.

Make sure that you apply the bleach mixture liberally to especially dirty areas.

If the dirt proves too stubborn, add a bit of elbow grease to your bleach mixture and try again. You will see better results this time.

When you’re through running the bleach mixture over the entire fence, you can then use your garden hose to rinse off the cleaning chemical completely.

6th Step – Introduce Your Fence to a Commercial Wood Cleaner

For the penultimate phase of cleaning your fence, you can get a commercial-grade wood cleaner to put some of the last finishing touches on your structure.

To that end, you can simply buy a pre-mixed cleaning solution. These are easy to get and help fast-track the entire cleaning process. 

For the best results, make sure you only consider an assortment of products specifically created and designed for wood and deckings.

7th Step – Use White Vinegar to Eliminate Mildew Stains

The last thing you have to do is remove mildew stains from the surface of your wood fence. All you have to do is treat your fence with vinegar and it’ll be as good as new!

To use white vinegar to rid your fence of mildew and moss, all you have to do is prepare this cleaning solution properly.

This entails mixing 4 litres of warm water with 120 mL of vinegar.

Next, use a sponge to apply this cleaning solution to the affected area and wait for 15 minutes.

Once this is done, take a soft bristled scrub brush and run 1-2 passes across the moss and mildew-stained areas.

You can then rinse the fence surface thoroughly and you’re done! Now, you know just how to clean a wood fence without pressure washing.


Giving your wooden fence the very best care can be tough, especially as it ages.

If you don’t know things like how to clean a wood fence without pressure washing, it might be tough to give your fence the treatment it deserves.

Now that you know the right techniques and solutions to use when your wooden fence needs cleaning, you can keep it looking beautiful at all times.

So, don’t waste another moment! Clean your wood fence today!

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About Lisa Bohrer

Lisa is a native Texan who says she wears many hats. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, farmer, animal lover, fisherwoman, gardener, and college student. Lisa is a sophomore at Liberty University where she is taking classes to earn her Associates Degree in Creative Writing. She and her husband of 35 years fill their days with life on the farm raising goats and chickens, and then most evenings she can be found at the computer writing, or researching a topic that has piqued her interest.

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