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Cleaning Vinyl Siding: A Guide to Cleaner Exteriors

Vinyl siding is a durable and attractive part of your home, but needs occasional maintenance to keep it looking like new. Since it is likely to gather dirt, stains, mold and mildew over time, it can cause your home’s exterior to look grimy and worn out – but with a little time and effort, you can change that! By following these simple tips, cleaning vinyl siding like a professional will be a breeze and you can give your home that crisp look you want.

Getting Ready

Before you start cleaning vinyl siding, take these steps avoid potential hazards and even bigger messes.

Safety First

Wear comfortable clothing, closed-toe shoes, rubber gloves and safety goggles to protect eyes and a face mask to prevent breathing in fumes from cleaning chemicals. Remove outdoor furniture, toys and objects from the area so they don’t get in your way. If you are using a ladder, have a friend hold it for safety reasons.

Protect Your Stuff

Close all doors and windows to prevent water from spraying inside the house. Cover plants, pots and landscaping with plastic tarps to prevent damage from cleaning products. Turn off, unplug and cover lights and electrical units with plastic sheets and secure with duct tape.

Choose the Right Day – No Direct Sunlight

Work on a cloudy day so the sun doesn’t dry spots too quickly and unevenly.

What You Need to Clean Vinyl Siding

long handle scrub brush for cleaning vinyl sidingYou must have the right equipment in order to effectively clean vinyl siding and get the well-kept look you want. Here are some recommended items and solutions to consider using when cleaning vinyl siding.

  • Store-bought vinyl siding cleaning products (Clorox, Windex, Lysol, etc.)
  • Soft cloth
  • Long-handled, soft-bristle brush
  • Hose/buckets of water
  • Pressure washer (optional)

Choosing a Cleaning Solution for Vinyl Siding

Bleach and vinegar solutions can be both helpful and hurtful in various ways. Here are the recommended mixtures and the pros and cons of using them.

Bleach Cleaning Solution

Recipe1 quart of bleach for each gallon of water

Pros:

  • Makes discolored surfaces white again
  • Destroys almost all of bacteria and mold

Cons:

  • Gives off toxic fumes, so must be used in a well-ventilated area
  • Harsh on skin, lungs and environment

Vinegar Cleaning Solution

Recipe: 30/70 mixture of vinegar to water

Pros:

  • Usually kills about 80% of bacteria and mold
  • Does not give off dangerous fumes
  • Non-toxic, natural and safe to use

Cons: 

  • Chemical/Bleach solutions typically eliminate all bacteria and mold

Cleaning Vinyl Siding By Hand

Cleaning vinyl siding by hand is the simplest way to get rid of unwanted stains. Roll up your sleeves and follow these helpful tips.

Divide and Conquer: Clean Your Siding in Small Areas at a Time

man cleaning vinyl siding by hand with scrub brushDivide your house’s vinyl siding into 5 foot x 5 foot sections to work in small areas and easily identify what is clean and what is still dirty. Test a small section of the siding with your cleaning solution to make sure it works without damaging the paint or finish. Start scrubbing at the bottom of the house and work your way towards the top in order to avoid streaking.  Once you have finished this vertical section, repeat until the side of the home is complete.

The Right Way to Clean Vinyl Siding

Dip the cloth or brush into the solution and scrub the siding until you see noticeable changes. Though you want to scrub hard to get rid of the grime, be gentle with the siding as too much pressure may crack it. Rinse with water from top to bottom often as you go to avoid uneven drying and spotting.

Clean Vinyl Siding with a Pressure Washer

using a pressure washer to clean vinyl sidingCleaning vinyl siding by hand can be long and tiring, so some choose to pressure wash a house. Pressure washers save a lot of time and energy and produce clean results, but can also damage siding and cause more problems if used incorrectly. You can rent or buy one at various costs, anywhere from about $50 and up. Here are the steps you should follow when pressure washing a house with vinyl siding.

Before You Start

Check to see if your manufacturer recommends using a pressure washer on the vinyl siding, as many warn that they cause damage on the material. Read the instructions carefully before use. Add a cleaning solution to the pressure washer if the product allows for it, or else just plain water will work.

The Right Way to Pressure Wash Your Siding

Determine the amount of pressure that can be safely applied to your vinyl siding. Take a firm stance a few feet away from the house while spraying. Hold a 25-degree nozzle at eye-level and point it straight at the siding with two hands. An upward spray can force water behind vinyl siding, causing more problems for you as mold and mildew could grow in these wet spots. Start pressure washing your house from the bottom up in small sections, using a side-to-side motion and steady pace to prevent streaking. Rinse with a hose or buckets of water.

Cleaning Mold from Vinyl Siding

Mold and mildew can grow on vinyl siding in shady, moist areas from leaky gutters, wet tree branches or various other reasons. It can be tough to clean mold from vinyl siding, so here are some tips on how to tackle the nastiest spots.

Mold Cleaning Method

Use the recommended bleach or vinegar solution to kill mold and mildew on surfaces. Scrub the spots on the siding and let the solution soak in for a few minutes. Start with the most noticeable and difficult spots first to loosen them up. Rinse thoroughly to get rid of any leftover residue from cleaning products.

Helpful Tips

With super tough spots, add a baking soda paste to the solution as its abrasive nature will break it up and remove stains. To reach small nooks, use a smaller brush or toothbrush to clean.

A Clean Home with Professional Results

By following these guidelines, you will be able to clean vinyl siding in an efficient, effective and safe manner – just like a professional. What looks best with clean vinyl siding? Clean windows! Learn how to wash windows like a pro. Keep your house looking like new with shining vinyl siding and windows and enjoy the spotless exterior look of your home!

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