how to clean a cedar fence

How to Clean a Cedar Fence: Complete Guide to Cleaning Cedar Fence

Cedar fences are a beautiful, timeless addition to any property. But nature’s elements can dull that radiant cedar hue over time, leaving your fencing looking weathered and lifeless. 

Don’t stress, though – you reclaim the fence’s former glory without causing damage with the insights we’ll share in this comprehensive guide to cleaning cedar fences!

We’ll talk about how to clean a cedar fence using tried and true tactics that reveal a like-new surface without the risk of causing more harm than good. And, if you find that your cedar fencing is beyond cleaning, you can find replacement boards here at Big Tex!

The Importance of Regularly Cleaning Cedar Fence Boards 

Cedar is a statement of style, elegance, and durability. However, without proper care, this naturally resilient wood can lose its captivating allure. Here’s why regular cedar fence cleaning should be a priority…

Preserving Cedar’s Natural Beauty

Cedar is prized for its rich, warm colors, ranging from reddish-browns to soft yellows, which effortlessly elevate any property’s aesthetics. 

However, exposure to elements such as rain, sunlight, and wind can cause its iconic hue to fade, and the accumulation of dirt and algae can further dull its appearance. 

Regular cedar fence cleaning ensures that the cedar’s vibrant tones are maintained, keeping it as eye-catching as the day it was installed.

Extending Your Fence’s Lifespan

While cedar is known for its longevity, no wood is entirely immune to the ravages of time and environment. So, how long does cedar fence last with proper maintenance? Up to 20-30 years in some cases!

However, moisture, mildew, and pests can lead to premature wear and degradation if left unchecked. Cleaning your cedar fence boards not only enhances its visual appeal but also acts as a preventive measure. 

You’re effectively prolonging the lifespan of your cedar fence by removing harmful elements from the wood’s surface, ensuring it stands tall and strong for years.

Avoiding Costly Repairs

Regular cleaning aids you in detecting early signs of rot, pest infestation, or structural issues. Addressing these concerns promptly can help homeowners sidestep hefty repair or replacement bills down the road. 

Additionally, consistently clean fences are less likely to suffer from such issues in the first place, acting as a deterrent against potential structural and cosmetic problems. That being said, here is how to clean a cedar fence…

How to Clean a Cedar Fence: Step-by-Step Guide to the Best Way to Clean Cedar Fencing

Ready to discover the best way to clean a cedar fence? The last thing you want to do is cause more harm than good – but unfortunately, we see this happen far too often. 

Homeowners pull out the pressure washer and get to blasting their fencing – only to discover a splintered, ugly surface left behind. 

We’re going to help you avoid this with a simple, straightforward guide on cleaning cedar fencing below. First, let’s talk about gathering the right cleaning materials.

Gathering Necessary Cleaning Supplies

Ensure you have the right tools for an efficient and safe cleaning session before you start.

  • Cleaning solution: Opt for a mild detergent or a wood cleaner specifically designed for cedar. For those leaning towards eco-friendly methods, a mixture of vinegar and water is a natural alternative.
  • Brush with soft bristles: A non-abrasive brush ensures you scrub away the grime without scarring the wood.
  • Garden hose with spray nozzle: A hose helps rinse off the cleaning solution. Remember, pressure washers can be too harsh for cedar and might cause damage, so use them with caution.
  • Gloves and safety goggles: Safety first! Protect your hands and eyes from any splashes of the cleaning solution.


Armed with the essentials for cedar fence cleaning it’s time to get to work. Not so fast, though. There is a bit of prep work to be done to pave the way for an effective, efficient cleaning process.

You should check the weather before getting everything outside to save yourself the frustration of improper timing. Intense sunlight can cause the cleaning solution to evaporate quickly, reducing its effectiveness. So, choose a cool, overcast day to clean your fence.

When the time is right for cleaning, start by removing any obstacles near the fence, such as potted plants, lawn furniture, or toys. This gives you clear access to the fence.

This is also a good time to test your cleaning solution on a small, inconspicuous area. This step ensures the solution is safe for your cedar fence and won’t cause discoloration or damage. If no red flags pop up, the fun can officially begin!

The Cleaning Process

The cedar fence cleaning process itself is as simple as can be. There are just four steps:

  1. Wet the fence: Start by dampening the fence with water using your garden hose. This pre-wetting prevents the wood from soaking up too much of the cleaning solution.
  2. Apply the cleaning solution: Starting from the top and working your way down, gently apply the cleaning solution using a brush. Use circular motions to scrub away dirt, mildew, and any algae.
  3. Let it sit: Allow the cleaning solution to sit on the fence for about 10-15 minutes, giving it time to break down grime and stains.
  4. Rinse thoroughly: Using the garden hose, rinse the fence from top to bottom, ensuring all cleaning solution is washed away.

Drying and Aeration

Ensuring that your cedar fence dries properly after the cleaning process is pivotal for its health and longevity. You should let it dry naturally under the sun. Cedar is a porous wood that benefits from this as it lets any trapped moisture evaporate out, preventing mold and mildew buildup. 

If your fence is in a location where the sun doesn’t reach directly, using fans or ensuring the area is well-ventilated helps speed up the drying process.

Inspect the fence for any damp spots after a day. Prolonged dampness can lead to mold growth, so ensure that the entire fence is dry. You may need to get the leaf blower out and give it a little help if some areas are still wet.

Applying Sealants and Protectants

While the actual work of cleaning a cedar fence is complete, a bit of maintenance after the fact can go a long way in preserving your fencing’s natural beauty. This is where sealants and protectants come in.

We wrote a complete guide to sealing cedar fence discussing this process. Here’s a quick overview of what you need to know for a successful seal:

  • Choosing the Right Sealant: Not all wood sealants are suitable for cedar. Choose a sealant specifically designed for cedar fences. These sealants often contain UV blockers, which prevent the wood from graying due to sunlight exposure.
  • Applying the Sealant: Ensure the fence is completely dry before application. Using a brush or sprayer, apply the sealant evenly across the fence. Depending on the product, you might need a second coat, so always read the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Opt for Added Protection: Consider using protectants that are resistant to mold and mildew. This will further enhance the cedar’s resistance to these common wood adversaries.
  • Regular Maintenance: While sealants and protectants provide robust defense, it’s a good idea to reapply them every 2-3 years. Regular inspection and touch-ups can significantly extend the life of your cedar fence.

Signs Your Cedar Fence is Beyond Cleaning

There you have it – everything you need to know about the best way to clean a cedar fence. But, before we wrap up this conversation on how to clean a cedar fence, let’s talk a bit about signs your fencing may be in need of replacement rather than cleaning.

Don’t get us wrong, restoring a fence is entirely possible. Sometimes, though, you’re better off starting fresh. Here are some signs that may be the case for you:

  • Persistent Mold and Mildew Growth: While occasional mold or mildew is natural and can be cleaned, if these fungal growths return quickly after cleaning, it suggests the wood is compromised. Mold and mildew not only tarnish the look but also weaken the fence’s structural integrity.
  • Visible Rot and Decomposition: If your cedar boards are soft to touch, crumble easily, or show signs of decay, these are undeniable indications of a fence past its prime. Cleaning will not reverse rot, and rotten sections can jeopardize the stability of your entire fence.
  • Warped or Split Boards: Cedar, when exposed to varying weather conditions without proper care, can warp or split. If a significant portion of your fence boards are misshapen or have large splits, cleaning won’t rectify the damage.
  • Frequent Repairs: If you find yourself repairing or replacing sections of your cedar fence frequently, it might be more cost-effective and less labor-intensive to replace the entire structure.
  • Loss of Natural Color: While cedar can be re-stained or painted, if it’s continually losing its natural reddish-brown hue, it could be a sign of age and prolonged exposure to elements. A uniform color loss across the fence might suggest it’s time for a replacement.

If any of the above signs resonate with your current fence’s condition, cleaning might not be the best course of action. Instead, consider investing in a new cedar fence. And if you’re in Texas, Viking Fence can help.

We have come to be known as the unparalleled provider of western red cedar fence in Austin and western red cedar fence in San Antonio alike. 

Our fencing not only enhances the curb appeal of your property but also stands the test of time, offering peace of mind and impeccable aesthetics! Get in touch and learn more as we wrap up this guide on how to clean a cedar fence.

Final Thoughts on How to Clean a Cedar Fence

Cedar fencing is a blend of beauty, durability, and practicality. Its rich hues and natural resilience make it a prime choice for homeowners. However, like all prized possessions, it demands care. 

Regularly cleaning a cedar fence preserves its elegance, extends its lifespan, and safeguards your investment. Yet, when the signs indicate your cedar fence is past revival, embrace the opportunity for a fresh start. 

For those in Austin and San Antonio, our premium cedar fencing solutions await. Elevate your outdoor space’s charm and durability. Choose quality, choose longevity, choose us. Your cedar masterpiece is just a call away!