The Best Way To Remove Unpleasant Smells From Underneath Your Deck

Over time, the space underneath our deck can start to develop a gross smell. When that happens, several common reasons should be considered — small animals taking shelter, thriving mold, cigarette butts, or even spoiled food. Once these kinds of pungent items make it out of your home and underneath your deck, the trouble begins. So how do you get rid of that intense and fetid smell? The answer may be in a few household essentials you have lying around — vinegar, bleach, and water. With a little bit of measuring, mixing, and spritzing, you'll be able to banish these unpleasant odors.

While we all know that odors are major red flags around the house, we spend little time maintaining our deck to ensure a similar thing is avoided — which is natural, since they're irregularly used and likely only when it's warm outside. But, by the time spring or summer rolls around, these scents will have festered for so long that you'll likely need to call in professional services. If you clean and maintain your deck regularly — even if that means starting now — your deck will be prepared for any outdoor activity. 

Cleaning unpleasant smelling deck

The first step in cleaning your unpleasant-smelling deck is finding the source. After accessing the right protective gear (gloves, goggles, respirator, etc.), peek under your deck to see if you can identify any animal droppings, cigarettes, food, or the smell of mold/mildew. If mold is a possibility, be sure to wear a respirator so that you don't inhale any toxic fumes. After finding the source, use your hands to clean out what you can. You can also use a long-grabbing tool to catch what you see. Be sure to dispose of any odor-causing materials into a plastic bag, then tie it up and throw it out.

If the smell disappears after removing the culprit, you're good to go. However, that's not often the case — instead, it's likely time to deodorize the surrounding area to get rid of the lingering smell. If animal droppings are the cause of the smell, use baking soda to sprinkle onto the affected areas. Follow up with a mixture of vinegar and water, in equal parts. Spray on the affected areas liberally, and if feasible, scrub the surface. Mold, on the other hand, should be sprayed with a mixture of equal parts water and bleach since it's typically more stubborn than other ailments. 

Maintaining deck regularly

Once your deck is rid of its unpleasant odor, it's essential to regularly clean the top and underneath so that it doesn't appear. For starters, washing your deck weekly can ward off any surface-level damage, stains, or smells. Using a disinfecting cleaner, such as chlorine bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or a homemade vinegar-baking-soda solution, scrub the surface of the deck with a bristled mop. Check for any repairs that need to be made, such as a loose panel of wood or missing nails. Depending on the issue, you may need to call in a professional service to help maintain the quality of your deck.

After addressing any repair issues, a great way to protect the surface is by coating it with a sealant. Sealants protect decks from potential cracks, stains, and further damage. While cleaning should be a weekly task, sealants only need to be reapplied every 1-2 years. Regularly inspect the area underneath for any foreign matter that might start to decompose and smell. If maintained regularly, you shouldn't face another odor issue anytime soon.