Wooden Fence Cleaning

Written by michelle hogan
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Wooden Fence Cleaning
A wooden fence can be cleaned with a variety of methods. (wooden fence image by sparkia from Fotolia.com)

A wooden fence can add interest and depth to a landscape, in addition to being an effective barrier. Wooden fences can be painted, stained and weathered to complement or contrast with your yard. Taking care of a wooden fence is not difficult as long as it is done on a regular basis. However, if a wooden fence is allowed to fall into disrepair, it may need to be replaced.

Power Washing

"Family Handyman" magazine recommends that you rent a power washer that operates at 1,500 or 2,000 psi. Anything higher can damage your fence. Get both 15- and 25-degree spray tips. Fill the pump and hoses with water and snap in the 25-degree tip. The 25-degree tip makes a larger "fan" than the 15, making it a softer cleaning method. This is better at first, so that you don't cut or gouge the fence before you have a little practice with the washer. The 15-degree tip is often referred to as the chisel tip and is excellent at removing debris, but can damage the wood if you're not careful with it. Make sure you tie back any plants that are growing alongside your fence and cover any large plants with tarps or boards so they aren't damaged. Start your power washer and then start spraying the fence from about 18 inches away. As you wash the surface, the wood will brighten. It's better to start from too far away and work your way in after practicing, then to start too close and gouge your fence.

Bleach Scrub

Mix oxygen bleach with water (according to the manufacturer's instructions) in a bucket and use a scrub brush to wash your fence. Do not use chlorine bleach as it can harm surrounding plants and wildlife. You can also rent a power washer and get a rotating brush attachment for it that will scrub your fence, or put the solution in a sprayer -- like the kind used for insecticides -- and spray your fence with the bleach solution. Allow it to soak in for several minutes before scrubbing.

Vinegar and Water

Apply a solution of a cup of white vinegar in a gallon of water with a sprayer or with a sponge. Allow the solution to soak into the wood and then scrub it with a scrub brush. You can rinse the vinegar solution off with a garden hose. A jet nozzle will help remove dirt off hard-to-clean areas without the expense of renting a power washer. If you need a harsher cleanser on some areas of your fence -- those affected by mould and mildew, for example -- you can sprinkle baking soda on those areas after spraying the fence with white vinegar. The baking soda will react with vinegar and kill the mildew or mould. The baking soda and vinegar can then be rinsed clean.

Oxalic Acid

Mix 118ml. of oxalic acid crystals in 1 gallon of warm water. Be sure to wear protective clothing since oxalic acid can burn your skin and harm eyes and other mucous membranes. Wet down your fence with a hose and then use a garden sprayer to spray the acidic solution on to the fence. Rub the solution into the fence by using a regular straw broom. Allow the solution to remain on the wood for about 30 minutes and then rinse off with a garden hose. All of the stains should be gone.

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