Cleaning your vinyl siding – Do’s and Don’ts

April 21, 2022

Vinyl siding is a smart and durable choice for your home, but it does take some maintenance

Follow these suggestions to keep your siding looking like new!

In its 2020 Survey of Construction report, the Census Bureau’s shows that only stucco is a more popular than vinyl as an exterior material for new single-family homes.  Vinyl siding remains one of the most popular exterior choices year-after-year. It accounted for 26% of new homes in 2020 and was the most widely used primary exterior material in the East South Central Division.  The popularity of vinyl siding is undisputed!

Of course, since vinyl is an exterior material, it accumulates dirt and stains from things like:

  • Pollen
  • Bird poop
  • Insect dropping
  • Spider webs
  • Rust

In shady areas, vinyl tends to grow mold and mildew when moisture sets in.  Insecticides and fertilizers can cause staining, as well as products such as caulk, tar and paint.

Fortunately, if you use the right products, cleaning your siding shouldn’t be a difficult task.  Remember, with any method you choose, the quicker you remove stains the easier the job and the better the outcome!  Read on for tips for cleaning your vinyl siding.

Manually cleaning your vinyl siding

First, let’s look at the directions provided by the Vinyl Siding Institute using only a mild soap and water from a garden hose:

“Wash vinyl siding with a soft cloth or ordinary long-handled, soft bristle brush. For textured surfaces, use only a soft bristle brush to keep the grooves in the texture stain-free. For best results, start at the bottom of the house and work up and rinse the cleaning solution completely before it dries. If your house has brick facing, cover the brick so that it is not affected by the runoff.”

Here are a few other solutions:

  • A DYI mixture of 70% water, 30% white vinegar makes a great all-purpose vinyl siding cleaner. It will remove light mold and mildew stains.
  • If you have more than mild staining, a stronger solution can be made by mix one-third cup powdered laundry detergent, two-thirds cup powdered household cleaner, one quart liquid laundry bleach and one gallon of water.
  • One gallon of water mixed with one cup oxygen bleach in a bucket will clean the vinyl without damaging your landscaping.
  • Simple Green offers an environmentally friendly cleanser specially formulated for use on vinyl and aluminum siding The non-toxic biodegradable concentrate can be used manually or with pressure washers.
  • General household cleansers like Fantastik, Murphy’s Oil Soap, Windex and Lysol can be used on tough dirt and stains, including top soil, grass, grease, oil, rust, crayon, ink and bubble gum.
  • There are several products on the market that specifically target rust stains, including Super Iron Out and Instant Rust Out among others.

Using a pressure washer to clean siding

It is possible to use a pressure washer, but it is very important to read the washer instructions first.  You will want to keep the wand at eye level, since spraying upwards may drive water behind the siding.  ALWAYS follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding pressure limits and cleaning solutions.  Some manufacturers do not recommend using their machines on siding at all, while others do not recommend using a pressure washer around windows, doors, electrical wiring or plumbing.

What NOT to do when cleaning vinyl siding

Avoid using any vinyl siding cleaners that contain organic solvents, undiluted chlorine bleach, liquid grease remover, nail polish remover, or furniture polish or cleaners. Any of these products might damage the vinyl siding’s surface. Also, avoid using highly-abrasive scrubbers or steel wool; these, too, can cause damage when cleaning vinyl siding.

Damaged vinyl

Sometimes, even if you properly tend to your vinyl siding, damage occurs.  It can be caused by lawnmower debris, hail and poor installation.  In this case, you should have the siding repaired as quickly as possible to avoid damage spreading to other areas of your house.  Unique Surfaces Roofing and Contracting is GAF certified and happy to inspect, repair, replace or install siding on your home.

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