Chemistry

Chlorine bleach is inappropriate for decks, docks, patios and siding

Chlorine bleach is inappropriate for decks, docks, patios and siding

Dear Tim, I need your help. I own a summer home on a lake that has a dock and large deck. I've also got my primary home, which has an outdoor patio surrounded by huge trees and expensive landscaping. All of these things, as well as the siding on my home, need to be cleaned. Online research has yielded a lot of contradictory advice. Some websites say to use chlorine bleach and water to clean everything using a 1:1 ratio. Others say to use oxygen bleach. What would you use and why? --Brad, Worcester, Mass.

Brad's question reminds me of a dinner I had 22 years ago with a physical chemist. Ten days earlier, I had started to do research for my first-ever deck cleaning column. Before I...

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