Some may be surprised to learn that vinyl siding is the most popular choice for homeowners in the U.S today. Or maybe you’re not surprised at all due to the vast number of benefits that accompany this practical choice of siding. For starters, it provides a long-lasting, low maintenance, and low-cost solution for your home’s siding needs. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 213,000 (of 795,000) single-family homes were completed in 2017 with vinyl siding as the primary exterior wall material. Nevertheless, it is important that you learn how to properly clean your home’s siding.
There are a lot of factors that can result in an unpleasant appearance of your vinyl siding. The most common contender on our list is dirt, but it doesn’t just end there. Think grime, mold, mildew, and even certain types of weather that can negatively affect the appearance of your home’s exterior. The worst among these stains are algae build-up and mildew growth that occur as a result of the other dirt, dust, or tiny particles that already exist on your siding. Even the sap and sugar that trees produce is working against your efforts to keep your home’s siding clean.
Wait, isn’t vinyl siding supposed to be “maintenance-free”?
Now, we never said maintenance-free. All products require some maintenance; however, the good news is the amount of maintenance needed to keep your home spick and span is significantly less than other options. Not to mention, all of these problems are fairly common for your home’s exterior to face over time.
Truthfully, no one wants to have to clean the outside of their home, but it’s important to protect your siding from the harmful growths mentioned earlier. Not only will the stains affect your home’s curb appeal, but exposure to mold and algae could risk your health by leading to harmful illnesses. Now there’s some motivation! By simply cleaning your siding once a year, your home is guaranteed to look better, and you’ll feel better too.
Luckily, it will only take a few steps to get your vinyl looking brand new again.
Equipment & Tools Needed to Clean Your Siding
At this point, you must be pretty eager to start cleaning your siding or at least evaluate the need. Before you run, let’s talk about your options, which are to pressure wash or hand wash.
If you opt for the slightly more laborious, but just as rewarding, hand washing technique, you’ll need a soft cloth or a long-handled, soft-bristle brush. A soft-bristle brush is best for textured surfaces as it reaches between the grooves in the texture, ensuring a stain-free surface. Next, you’ll need a great cleaner, otherwise, a hassle-free job could turn into quite the opposite. We strongly advise you do not use cleaners that contain organic solvents, undiluted chlorine bleach, liquid grease remover, nail polish remover, or furniture polish or cleaners. As always, it’s a best practice to spot check any cleaner before using it on your entire home.
Items you’ll need:
- Soft Cloth or Long-Handled Soft-Bristle Brush
- Vinyl Cleaner
- Water Bucket
Now, if you rather avoid using general or stain-specific cleaner, you can always make your own by combining 70% water and 30% white vinegar. The homemade solution makes for a great all-purpose vinyl cleaner that will remove any light mold and mildew.
Maybe your home needs more than just a light cleaning. In that case, we suggest a stronger solution. Mix one-third cup powdered laundry detergent, two-thirds cup powdered household cleaner, one-quart liquid laundry bleach, and one gallon of water.
If you’re particularly worried about plants and landscape, combine one gallon of water with one cup of oxygen bleach in a large bucket. When in doubt, store-bought choices, as well as general household cleaners, can also work. A few of our favorite general cleaners include Simple Green®, Armor All®, and Nice & Easy®.
Need to Know- The Process of Hand Cleaning
Step 1: Prepare your cleaning solution using the mixtures above, or a store-bought brand.
Step 2: Test a small section of your siding by applying the cleaning solution to make sure it works without damaging your vinyl.
Step 3: Spray the siding with a hose to remove loose dirt and particles from the siding’s surface.
Step 4: Dip your brush or cloth into the solution, and scrub your siding in small sections. Begin at the bottom of the section working your way up.
Step 5: Rinse each section from top to bottom. Bonus points if you continually rinse each section of cleaning solution as you go.
Now, if all of the above sounds like more than you signed up for there’s always the second option, which is using a pressure washer. However, there are a few things to note before you get started. First and foremost, there are manufacturers who do not recommend the use of a pressure washer on their siding. In that case, make sure you refer to the relevant safety manual from the manufacturer to determine if it is safe for you to pressure wash your home’s exterior. Second, make sure you proceed with caution because safe practices are best practices. People can and do hurt themselves quite frequently with pressure washers, so make sure you adhere to common safety procedures.
Need to Know- The Process of Pressure Washing
Step 1: Pre-dampen all plants, decks, windows that could be sensitive to your cleaning detergents.
Step 2: Connect the cleaning solution to the pressure washer and spray down the siding in a bottom to top fashion. Work in sections like noted above.
Step 3: Take a five to ten-minute break, allowing the solution to work its magic.
Step 4: Disconnect the cleaning solution and spray the siding starting from the top working down.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Pressure Washing
On the fence about which option is best for you and your home? Here are the pros and cons to consider to help you choose wisely.
Pressure washing is quick. Seriously, it can take as little as thirty minutes and as much as two hours depending on the size of your home. It is a super effective way to get rid of stains and mold. Pressure washing allows you to get to those hard to reach places.
If pressure washing is done incorrectly, it can cause damage to your home. When the pressure washer is held too high, it can force water behind the siding or even lead to cracks in your siding. Water that gets behind the wall, it can cause wood rot if your house lacks a proper weather barrier beneath the siding. Fortunately, MHx always installs a weather barrier under vinyl siding.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Hand Washing
Hand washing your home’s exterior is much cheaper than pressuring washing since you don’t have to rent or purchase a pressure washer. By choosing to hand wash your siding your chance of damaging your siding is little-to-none. Plus, it is a relatively simple process.
Of course, anything done by hand is going to take longer, so con number one is that it’s a timely process. Second, you’ll save by not purchasing a pressure washer, but you’ll need a ladder to reach the highest parts of your siding.
Need to Know- What NOT to Do
- Do NOT use cleaners that contain organic solvents, undiluted chlorine bleach, liquid grease remover, nail polish remover, or furniture polish or cleaners.
- Do NOT work in direct sunlight because the solution is more likely to dry on the siding resulting in a less than proficient solution.
- Do NOT start strong. This means that if you’re using a pressure washer, it’s best, to begin with, a low-pressure setting and adjust as needed.
- Do NOT aim for windows, doors, electrical wiring, or plumbing.
Remember earlier when we said vinyl siding was low-maintenance? Well, we truly meant it. Once you decide on a method of cleaning, all that’s left are a few simple steps until your home’s curb appeal is elevated instantly. You’ve got this.