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Happy 4th of July!

Turn up the grill and fill up the pool, because today we celebrate the our independence!

Before you invite all of your friends over to join in the fun, however, you're going to want to make sure that deck of yours is spotless. A dirty deck quickly becomes an eyesore that your guests just might not be comfortable eating their burgers around. Beyond that, neglecting your deck will eventually damage the integrity of the wood it's made out of, so there is a necessity to this process. You might as well use the holiday as motivation to get the job done.

Cleaning your deck properly is a great way to add some extra class to your party while earning some well-deserved compliments along the way. Here are some steps to make it shine:

1. Sweep all of the debris off of your deck. Loose dirt, leaves, dead insects, and seed pods are easiest to remove at this point when the deck is dry. That being said, you don't have to be meticulous with this step. A quick once-over with the broom is enough to prepare you for the next task.

2. Scoop out any packed dirt between your floorboards. Depending on how long it's been since the last time you cleaned your deck, this won't take any large amount of time either. You just don't want this harder-to-reach dirt turning into a mucky mess when you're ready to bring out the hose.

3. Using the highest setting on your hose, wash down the surface of the deck (you can clean underneath it if you want extra brownie points). Here is where you can begin to get a little more thorough. Wash away as much dirt, mud, grime, and debris as you can before moving on.

*You can also opt to use a pressure washer, but be sure you know how to use one properly as incorrect use can damage your deck.

4. Using your favorite dish soap or laundry detergent, scrub the deck with a long handled brush. A hard bristle brush is preferable since it will catch onto more of the dirt. Scrub until your deck reaches its original glory, then let it dry.

5. If, and only IF, you see mildew growing on your deck pour a bit of bleach onto the spot and allow it to sit for 5-15 minutes before scrubbing with your brush. Once you are satisfied with the area you can wash it down again with water.Repeat the process until the growth is gone.

6. For the overachievers out there, you can now go about re-sealing the deck. Just carefully follow the directions on the can to ensure you are applying that particular product properly.

You're done! Now get out there and celebrate your freedoms like the proud American you are!

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