Couldn't tell much difference after using the wood cleaner, but I feel it was a necessary step to neutralize the cleaning ingredients before moving on to the next step of staining. We have a 1000 sq. ft. deck so our project took two days. After the first day without the brightening solution, I noticed residue from the wood cleaner. Based on seeing this, I knew the brightener would solve the problem and it worked! This merchant delivers great customer service, fast shipping and excellent pricing!