Vinyl siding is a customizable and durable option to protect your home. Prided for its moisture-resistant properties as well as anti-insect and anti-rot traits, vinyl siding is a frequent and popular choice for American homes. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect though, and vinyl siding does require some maintenance — namely cleaning. Here is what you need to know about cleaning your vinyl siding.
Avoid harsh cleaners
While vinyl siding is simple to clean, there are a few things to remember. Don’t use cleaners that may contain harsh solvents or strong proportions of chlorine like undiluted bleach. Stay away from solvents like grease removers, nail polish removers, and furniture polishes as these may have chemical reactions that could damage the surface of your siding.
Also be careful of the tool you use to clean your siding, as harsh scrubbers may cause scratching, so avoid steel wool and other strong abrasives. Use a soft cloth or a regular bristle brush for stubborn dirt. The Vinyl Siding Institute, recommends that to prevent streaking, you should start at the bottom and work up towards the top of the house.
While many cleaners are safe, and you can often find specifically designed cleaners for the job at your home improvement store, you will still want to wash away and residues after your done. This avoids potential damage to your siding, as well as avoids any remaining stickiness that may attract dirt.
Choose the right cleaning solution for your siding
There are many good options for cleaning your siding, and you can vary this cleanser depending on your needs. Use a specific rust product for stubborn rust stains like Instant Rust Out or Super Iron. Everyday stains like grass, soil, children’s artwork like crayons or paints, and food that has spilled from the garbage can usually be treated with general household cleansers. Try Lysol, Murphy’s Oil Soap, Windex, or even a little dish soap for these regular stains. You may also purchase specific pressure-washing solutions that work well for an overall clean.
You can create a homemade cleanser for stubborn stains too. Mix together 1/3 of a cup of laundry detergent (powdered is preferred) with 2/3 of a cup of household cleaner (again, powdered preferred). Add one quart of bleach to one gallon of water. ***Remember, NEVER combine cleaners with ammonia with bleach, as this can create a toxic gas that is very harmful to your health. For a simpler recipe, try one cup of oxygen bleach with one gallon of water. This also won’t damage your landscaping.
Consider eco-friendly cleaners
In addition to choosing eco-friendly home cleaning products, there are some additional ways you can avoid harsh chemicals when cleaning your siding. Try a mix of vinegar and water to help kill mold and mildew. Use 70-75% cleaning vinegar topped with water. You can also try all-purpose eco-cleansers like Simple Green, which is safe to use on not only vinyl siding, but almost any of your outdoor features including terra cotta and painted wood. This is a great option if you’d like to multiple items on pressure-washing day.
Pressure washing best practices
While it’s not necessary to use a pressure washer to clean your vinyl siding, it’s definitely helpful. The high-pressure water reaches further than your standard hose and scrub brush setup, although nothing takes the place of old-fashioned elbow grease. It’s important to remember that high-pressure is good, but too high of pressure may damage your siding. Before spraying your entire home, try a test area in a secluded corner first. Begin with a lower pressure and work up to a higher setting.
Family Handyman offers some tips for using a pressure washer to clean your home.
- Ensure everything is properly set up and free of debris. Choose the right nozzle for the job (detergent or rinse).
- Start level and at low pressure. This will avoid any kickback.
- Never drive water behind the siding, work to move dirt and water away from openings.
- Make sure anything that can be closed is closed, like windows and doors. Avoid high pressure on these areas, including plumbing connections to avoid breakage.
- Beware of the trigger lock, and make sure this is in the off position when changing parts or making adjustments.
When installing siding in your home, quality matters. By purchasing high-quality siding and getting a professional installation, you’ll reduce your need for cleaning and maintenance in the future.