How to Clean Your Siding Without Damaging It

Today’s siding is strong and durable, but, as an exterior product, you can’t keep it from being exposed to dirt, grime and stains from the environment. In shady, moist areas, mold and mildew can form, and a grill is near the house, oil and grease can splatter onto your siding. Rain is typically enough to wash dirt off; however, a deeper clean will sometimes be needed. A garden hose and mild cleaning solution most often does the trick, but a more thorough cleaning with a power washer may be necessary on occasion. Follow our tips to clean your siding without damaging it. 

Use a Proven Cleaning Solution

For cleaning hard-to-remove dirt from your vinyl siding, wipe the panels down with a solution of ⅓ cup powdered detergent, ⅔ cup household cleaner and one gallon of water. If your siding has mildew on it, use the same solution but substitute one quart of laundry bleach for one quart of water. Greater concentrations can cause damage to vinyl siding. Do not use cleaners with abrasive particles, solvents or ammoniated-type cleaners or paint removers. Thoroughly rinse the entire surface with fresh water from a garden hose immediately following the cleaning process. 

Proper Brushing Technique

For the best results, use a soft-bristled, long-handled washing brush that attaches to your garden hose. Rub gently as vigorous scrubbing can create glossy areas over the siding finish. Start at the bottom of your house and work your way to the top to minimize streaking. 

The Right Temperature

If you’re using a cleaning solution to wash your siding, apply it on a cool, overcast day. Temperatures between 55° to 75° F are ideal. Wash only small areas at a time to allow the wet cleaning solution to remain in contact with the finish for about 3 minutes (no less). Then rinse it with clean water before the solution has a chance to dry. 

Don’t Use Too Much Pressure

If you use a power washer to clean your siding, be careful not to use too much pressure. You may end up piercing a hole in your siding, which can lead to moisture issues down the road. Before you start, adjust the pressure on the power washer and ensure sufficient space between you and the surface you’re washing so the water doesn’t hit too forcefully. Ensure the stream is at eye level and pointed straight at the siding rather than at an upward angle so you don’t drive water behind the siding.

Protect Your Landscaping 

Using anything more than water to clean your siding can cause damage to your landscaping. Wet down adjacent plants with a garden hose before you start the washing process. This way, the cleaning solution won’t dry on foliage and leave burn marks. If the plants start to dry up, you may need to spray them again. If you’re using harsh chemicals like bleach, consider covering your plants with a tarp. 

Ready to clean your siding? Follow the above tips to ensure it goes off without a hitch, and take a look at this siding cleaning checklist, offered by Preservation siding.