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Homemade Outdoor Wood Cleaner for Wood Decks & More

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Using a scrub brush and DIY wood cleaner to get dirt and debris off the old wood of this log cabin playhouse.

How to make your own outdoor wood cleaner for wood decks, playhouses, and fences. This DIY cleaner uses ingredients you have readily available.

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We inherited an AMAZING wood playhouse when we bought our house. It’s in great shape and even has electricity run out to it. It’s many years old though and the log cabin wood has seen better days. It has some mildew and tons of dirt so I decided to clean the wood.

Cleaning it allowed me to see what I was working with so I could stain or paint it. This will hopefully get the playhouse looking like new for my kids.

Here’s some “before photos” so you can see what I was working with.

Before photos of the playhouse before the wood was cleaned up.

Super cute right?!

Old photos of the playhouse before the wood was cleaned up.

I’ll write up a post later once I get the whole thing stained/painted, but I wanted to show you the before and afters for cleaning the wood. It made a HUGE difference in appearance. And the level of gross was pretty impressive.

DIY Wood Wash


  • 4-5 gallons of water
  • 1/2 c of bleach
  • 1/2 c of powdered Tide/laundry detergent

Supplies Needed

  • 5 gallon bucket
  • Scrub brush
  • Hose and clean water to rinse

For my first attempt at this, I used 1 c of powered laundry detergent, but the water ended up really slimy. Too much detergent can be just as bad as too little as it leaves residue.

On round #2, I used 1/2 cup of the detergent. It was still a bit slimy but seemed to do the trick!

Mix up your ingredients in a big bucket! Toss a scrub brush in and keep a dry towel to dry your hands off as needed.

DIY outdoor wood cleaner.

Hop out to your outdoor space that you want cleaned off. You’ll dip your scrub brush in the DIY cleaner and use it to scrub away at the sides of the wood. Scrub a dub dub… yeah it’s a lot of work. I put the kids to work helping…

Kids helping clean the old wood log cabin.

You’ll find that the water gets VERY dirty FAST. I did the majority of the scrubbing because it REALLY needed my strength.

As you scrub, you can SEE the dirt and debris coming off. It’s pretty disgusting. I scrubbed an entire side and let the cleaner sit on the wood for a bit.

Dirt and debris being cleaned off an old wood playhouse. YUCK!

Once I finished that side, I would pull the hose out and spray it all down. It takes a while to clean off the soap and debris fully.

Rinsing soap and dirt off the sides of the playhouse.

Should I use a power washer or hose on old wood?

DO NOT use a power washer. The force from it can cause your wood to splinter or break. You may need to sand it down to make it look nice again; any time you save with the power washer will be eaten up with sanding.

A hose and clean water should do the trick to rinse off the DIY wood wash.

Finished photos

Here are the “after” photos of the playhouse! Isn’t it SO much better?! I can’t wait to stain this.

I need to actually get back out with cleaner for the top of this before I stain. I couldn’t reach the top of the triangle.

"Washed" wood of the log cabin playhouse. The top isn't done yet because I didn't have a ladder.
"Washed" wood of the log cabin playhouse. The top isn't done yet because I didn't have a tall enough ladder.
"Washed" wood of the log cabin playhouse.

Keep an eye out for a new post about the updates! Subscribers get emails when new posts come out (I usually send an email a couple of times per month). Love DIY cleaners? Check out my DIY cleaning spray for laminate floors.

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