Hand Washing Vinyl Siding
There are two main ways to clean vinyl siding: by hand or with a pressure washer. If you decide to wash your siding by hand, prepare to put a lot of time and elbow grease into it.
If you are washing by hand, you will need:
- Long-handled brush with soft bristles
- Soft cloth
- Cleaning solution
- Plenty of elbow grease
A soft cloth can be used to clean vinyl siding but you will need a soft bristle brush if you have a textured surface to get into the grooves. Begin with the bottom of the house and work your way up, rinsing the cleaning solution away completely before it can dry as you go. Make sure you cover any brick on the building to protect it from runoff.
Pressure Wash Vinyl Siding
Pressure washing vinyl siding is the standard method and recommended by the Vinyl Siding Institute of America, although you do need to use caution to avoid damaging the siding. Be sure you check with your siding manufacturer's recommendations. While some manufacturers recommend against power washing, others recommend it with a specific amount of pressure.
Using a pressure washer requires a pressure washer, low pressure nozzle, and the right cleaning solution.
Before getting started, make sure you take a quick look at your siding to make sure it is all intact and nothing has come loose. Look for cracks that water could penetrate and look at how the siding overlaps. Next, soak the soil and landscaping around your house to dilute any chemicals that run off.
Choose the Right Nozzle
It's also important to use the right nozzle. There are dozens of nozzles that can be used to clean siing, but a soft brush is a good way to finish the job and get hard-to-reach areas with thick layers of dirt. A soap tip that blasts water at a lower pressure and a wider 60-degree angle is ideal for applying the cleaning solution. When it's time to rinse the siding off, switch to a general use tip that delivers a 15 to 20 degree angle for a stronger stream of pressure. This will help loosen debris.
A pressure nozzle with a wide fan pattern is always preferable to a narrower pattern, although you can narrow the nozzle as you progress if you need to. Yellow nozzles spray a 15-degree fan pattern, green at 25 degrees, and white at 40 degrees. Do not use a red nozzle (0 degrees) on vinyl siding.
How to Point the Stream
When using a pressure washer, always ensure the stream is at eye level and pointed straight toward the siding. Never point the stream at an angle as it can direct water under the siding and cause severe damage. Use caution when using the pressure washer around any openings like plumbing connections and windows.
Be careful that you do not point the water stream upwards or between any laps in your siding. Watch when you spray into corners to see how the water impacts crevices. The corners will still be hit by off-spray as you clean surrounding areas.
Work in a steady fashion and pressure wash one section of siding at a time, moving from bottom to top and sweeping from left to right.
Get the Pressure Right
To choose the right pressure washer for the job, you'll need a model with anywhere from 1,300 to 1,600 psi, whether it's electric or gasoline-powered. Aim for 45-65 psi from the nozzle to effectively clean your siding without causing damage. You can adjust the power of the spray by adjusting the nozzle setting or standing further away from the siding.
Make sure you keep your distance when using a pressure washer. A pressure washer packs a punch and standing too close to the siding during use can easily punch a hole in the vinyl. A good rule of thumb is to hold the nozzle no closer than 18 inches from the siding. Start farther away and move closer as you need more pressure.
Dangers of Improper Pressure Washing
Power washing siding needs to be done carefully because it can be easy to damage your siding, including punching a hole in it with water pressure that's too high or shooting water underneath the siding and causing rot.
Remember that electricity and water do not mix. Because you'll get wet while pressure washing, you are at risk of receiving an electrical shock. Make sure you look overhead for power lines before extending a ladder and do not spray the electrical meter, exterior outlets, lights, or the building's electrical service entrance cable.
If you aren't confident you can pressure wash the siding correctly, you may want to leave the job to the professionals. Pressure washing is an art that requires a careful balance of pressure, distance, and angle and what to use to combat specific problems.
Vinyl Siding Cleaning Solutions
There are several popular and effective cleaning solutions you can use safely on vinyl siding. You can choose to buy a specially designed cleaning product or you can make your own cleaning solution. Here are a few solutions:
Make a solution of 70% water, 30% white distilled vinegar for a strong all-purpose cleaner that removes light mildew and mold stains.
A solution of one-third powdered laundry detergent, two-third powdered household cleaner, one quart liquid laundry bleach, and one gallon of water makes a stronger solution to combat tougher stains.
One cup powdered oxygen (not chlorine) bleach mixed with one gallon of water creates a more eco-friendly cleaning solution that won't damage your landscaping. This solution is best for fighting algae but it needs to be left on the siding for 10 minutes before it's removed.
Some general household cleaners like Murphy's Oil Soap and Lysol can help with stubborn stains, especially stains from grass, oil, rust, ink, and crayon. If you have rust stains, look for a product designed to remove rust like Instant Rust Out.
DIY vinyl cleaning solutions work best when you are scrubbing your siding by hand. If you plan to use a pressure washer, check the manual to make sure you can use a DIY solution.
There are some cleaners and solutions that can damage vinyl siding. Never use:
- Liquid grease remover
- Undiluted chlorine bleach
- Furniture cleaner or polish
- Abrasive scrubbers
- Steel wool
If you are going to use a power washer, there are several recommended cleaning solutions such as Sontouch 659, an industrial-strength cleaner that won't damage landscaping. Cleansol BC is another safe vinyl cleaning solution that can also be used on gutters and decks to remove black streaks.
Prevent Mold and Algae on Vinyl Siding
Want to minimize the amount of time you spend cleaning your siding every year? There are some steps you can take to keep mold and algae from growing on your vinyl siding.
If your vinyl siding is painted, use a paint that contains a mildewcide additive to keep mildew at bay. Many paint brands include it in the formula, but it can also be added at the paint counter. You can also apply an outdoor mold remover product like Wet & Forget to keep mold and mildew away for up to a year. Every time it rains, the product binds with the water to fight mold. This product needs to be diluted to a 5:1 ratio with water before it's applied but it's environmentally friendly and does not harm landscaping.
Do what you can to let as much sunlight as possible hit your siding as well. This is especially important on the north side of the building. You may need to remove shrubbery from around the building or trim trees to let in more light.
Does your vinyl siding look dingy and dirty? Do you have a problem with unsightly mildew and algae? At Pressure Washing Tampa, we deliver reliable and high-quality pressure washing services backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Contact us today for a FREE estimate on your vinyl siding project to get your home looking its best. Or call us right now at 1-813-658-5893.