How to Clean a Wood Fence

Wood fences are exposed to the elements, which means they get dirty and stained. Dirt and debris are the most common stains, while more challenging stains include mold, mildew, moss, and green algae.

Most cleaning methods include scrubbing, but you can also use a hose or power washer to make the job go much faster. Click here for more info.

Pressure Washing

Pressure washing uses the power of water to mechanically remove gunk, dirt, grime, and stains. Homeowners who have a pressure washer and know how to use it properly can safely clean their fence.

Using the proper nozzle, spray angle and distance can ensure that your fence is cleaned without damage. Using long, even strokes can also help avoid unsightly striping where the wand tip has been closer to the fence.

Bleach can be used to remove mold, mildew, and hard water stains from wood fences. However, it is important to keep in mind that bleach can kill grass and other vegetation. It is therefore a good idea to cover your yard and other plants with plastic tarps before you start cleaning the fence.

Staining or sealing a wooden fence is just as important as, if not more important than, cleaning it. Choosing an oil-based stain will help protect against wood deterioration and highlight the natural grain. Depending on the weather and wood type, it is recommended that you re-stain your fence every three years.


A wood fence is exposed to the elements, and as a result, it can become dirty and stained. Dirt and debris are the most common problems, as are more stubborn stains caused by mold or mildew.

When cleaning a wood fence, you can use a hose or power washer with a fan pattern and moderate pressure. Avoid blasting the dirt away as this can chip away the surface and allow organic growth to burrow in, making it harder to clean.

If you prefer not to use a power washer, you can use a scrub brush to remove stains from a wood fence. Before you start, make sure to cover any plants nearby and apply a solution made of one part water and two parts chlorine bleach. Add a teaspoon of soap for extra cleaning power and focus on the stained areas. Rinse thoroughly after scrubbing. You can also buy a special hose-end cleaner that is geared toward cleaning wood and comes with specific instructions.

Vinegar or Bleach Wipes

When spraying your fence with a hose does not work and you have stubborn dirt or mildew staining, try a simple cleaning solution. A simple mixture of vinegar or bleach will work as long as you dilute it well enough and scrub the area. Typically, one cup of vinegar per gallon of water will do the trick.

Alternatively, you can use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser which looks a lot like a child’s eraser but is twice as strong and will remove stubborn stains from your fence. Get the eraser wet and begin scrubbing the area with the dirt or scuff mark until it is removed.

Make sure you test this on an inconspicuous area of your fence and cover any surrounding plants in case the bleach solution comes into contact with them (which it will). Also, make sure you have a few clean rags to switch out with your dirty ones. Lastly, rinse the area well after you finish cleaning.


Using a stainless steel wire brush to scrub away heavy debris will prepare your fence for painting and can also remove tough stains. Just be careful not to dig into the paint.

A quick rinse with a garden hose, after you finish cleaning, will prevent detergent from drying on the surface of the wood. This will make it more difficult for organic growth to cling to the fence when you get around to staining.

If your fence still looks dingy, try vinegar or bleach wipes. Vinegar is a mild acid that can break down mildew and mold, while bleach is highly corrosive. Be sure to use a wide rag and wear rubber gloves to protect your hands and skin from the vinegar or bleach.

Finally, a coat of wood preservative will keep your fence looking its best for longer. Choosing a stain or sealer that is compatible with your wood will ensure the best results. If you choose to stain, read the product instructions closely as some require the fence to be completely clean and dry before applying. Read on to find out!