How to Clean Your Vinyl Siding

Friday, June 26 2015 10:33 AM

No one wants to have the dirty-looking house on the block. Keeping your home’s vinyl siding clean helps keep your home looking great and will help your siding protect your house for years to come.

When cleaning your home’s siding, it’s important to avoid using cleaning products like steel wool, abrasive scrubbers, liquid grease remover, nail polish remover, furniture polish, organic solvents or undiluted chlorine bleach. These products could damage the siding surface and end up costing you even more time and money.

Here are some items you’ll want to have on-hand before you begin cleaning:
  • Garden hose
  • 5-gallon buckets of water
  • Soft-bristled brushes
  • Garden sprayer or power washer
  • Old rags or towels
  • Rubber gloves

Before cleaning your siding, be sure to check the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning to be sure you’re following the recommended method for that particular brand. Apply a small amount of your chosen cleaning solution to a test area and wait a day or two to see if there are any adverse effects. Doing this could save you many headaches if the siding reacts poorly to your chosen cleaning method.

Bleach Siding Cleaning Solution

A popular method for cleaning siding is mixing a simple solution of powder laundry detergent, powder household cleaner and bleach with water. Using a bleach mix takes longer than power washing, but will give you a more thorough cleaning.

  • Mix the ingredients in this fashion in your bucket:
  • 1/3 cup powdered laundry detergent
  • 2/3 cup powdered household cleaner
  • 1 quart liquid laundry bleach
  • 1 gallon of water

A gallon of solution should cover at least a 10’x20’ section of siding, so plan accordingly. You can also use a gallon of water with a cup of oxygen bleach instead if you’re concerned about damaging landscaping.

Vinegar Siding Cleaning Solution

Another effective siding cleaning solution can be made with white vinegar. Using vinegar is generally safer for the environment than bleach, and is believed to do a better job removing mildew and mold stains. Here is what you’ll need:

  • 30% White Vinegar
  • 70% Water
  • Baking Soda (1/2 Cup to 1/4 Cup of Water for a gritty paste)

Exposure to the vinegar solution can be dangerous for plants, so make sure they are protected or out of the way before you begin. You can also use a baking soda paste to use in conjunction with the vinegar solution by mixing 1/2 cup of baking soda with 1/4 cup of water to make a gritty paste.

Cleaning Siding with a Soft-Bristle Brush

Now that you have your cleaning solution, you’ll need a soft-bristled brush to scrub the siding panels clean. You’ll probably need a long- handled brush as well as smaller brushes, like toothbrushes, to make sure you get to every corner of the siding.

You’ll want to wear your gloves, a ventilation mask and make sure any nearby landscaping, pet items or children’s toys are moved away or tarped over. After you’ve scrubbed the siding clean, you’ll want to spray it with your garden hose to rinse away any lingering residue. If any stains remain after rinsing, you’ll need to get in and scrub again.

For best results, start at the bottom of the house and work upward. This will prevent streaks and you’ll need to thoroughly rinse as you go.

Cleaning Siding with a Pressure Washer

If you have access to a power washer it can be a faster, easier way to clean your house’s siding, decreasing or eliminating the need for scrubbing. Some siding manufacturers advise against power washing, however, so be sure to check with your manufacturer’s recommendations before power washing.

Be sure that you don’t get water in behind the siding panels through the seams, or else mold and mildew could form and cause problems down the road. Also make sure you close all windows and doors, turn off outdoor electrical units and cover plants, shrubs and landscaping items. If your house is too large or too complicated to clean yourself, you may need to find a friend with a ladder or hire a professional to do the cleaning for you.

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