Swabbing The (Concrete) Deck
First off, let’s be honest. Cleaning the concrete deck around your pool probably isn’t on the top of your list of fun things to do. But, like any other part of home upkeep, the end result makes the effort worthwhile.
Whatever schedule you set, be sure to follow it. A regular cleaning routine makes for easier maintenance and more time actually enjoying the pool.
Make It a Habit
If cleaning your concrete isn’t already a well-oiled ritual, it’s probably best to dig out manufacturer documentation that outlines the recommended cleaning and maintenance regimen. Then, start a file you can refer to regarding the schedule, products used, changes made, best practices and so on. Making it into a standard, step-by-step process will save time, money and, quite possibly, your sanity.
A common approach is to mix a solution of a disinfecting detergent or a simple concoction of household bleach and water, typically no more than a 50/50 mix. Generously saturate the surface using a mop, then switch to a very coarse, hard-bristled broom or long-handled scrub brush. Make sure the cleaner makes it into all the dips, pores, nooks and crannies.
Then, grab a glass of lemonade and wait for the cleaner to thoroughly sink in. Sunshine can help with the bleach job, too. Let it sit for a while to ensure you’ve successfully sanitized the surface.
If you prefer, you can mix up a “greener” cleaning solution of water and a mild degreasing soap. Start with a 10-to-1 water-to-soap mix, increasing the soap portion until arriving at an effective solution for your particular surface. Again, it’s helpful to keep notes so you only have to play mad scientist the first time.
Rust marks from furniture or other metal items left on the pool deck can be fixed by using a rust-removal product found in your local hardware store. A good rule of thumb is to test a small area of the pool deck before making any wholesale application. You can never be too careful.
If standard household cleaners leave behind stubborn stains, it may be necessary to ramp up your efforts in the form of a more heavy-duty cleaner such as tri-sodium phosphate (TSP). Follow the same procedure as above, starting with one-fourth cup of TSP per gallon of water in a large plastic bucket. Depending on the condition of your deck, you may need to gradually increase the amount of TSP to a maximum of one cup per gallon of water.
When working with TSP, it is a good idea to wear safety gear, such as rubber gloves and a breathing mask. You may even consider hiring a professional.
Rinse and Repeat
Whatever the cleaning solution, you’ll need to finish by thoroughly rinsing the newly cleaned concrete surface with fresh water, using either a pressure washer or a hose fitted with a high-pressure sprayer head. It’s a good idea to rinse and repeat, just to make sure you’ve washed away all of the cleaning solutions and the concrete is ready for barefoot traffic.