6 Tips For Cleaning Your Siding
Without Damaging Your Siding Or Your Landscaping
It isn’t uncommon for homeowners to think of their siding as something eternal that needs zero maintenance. The truth, however, is that your siding needs love and attention just like everything else in your life. Dirt, grime, and even mold can build up in layers on your siding in a process so slow that you don’t even notice it happening.
Happily, cleaning your siding is a simple job that can be accomplished in a single afternoon. While siding comes in several types (metal, vinyl, wood, and cement), certain cleaning rules apply to them all. With that in mind, here are six tips for cleaning your siding.
1. The Power Washer Is Not Your Friend
Yes, watching the clean area magically grow behind your moving spray head is addictive fun. Yes, it’s a crazy fast way to get almost anything clean. But also yes, it can damage your siding and the walls the siding is meant to protect if you aren’t very, very careful.
Most siding manufacturers advise against the use of power washers, and some will even void their warranty if you ignore their warnings. If you insist on using a power washer anyway, then follow these rules:
- Keep the pressure low – 600 psi max
- Use a fan tip to spread the pressure
- Shoot straight on at eye level
- Never shoot upwards or against seam direction
- NEVER POWERWASH CEMENT TILE SIDING
The chances of damaging your siding are still pretty high even if you follow these rules.
2. Use A Soft-Bristled Brush And A Microfiber Cloth
While designed to withstand anything nature can throw at it, the surface of siding has trouble holding up to pointed attacks like the bristles of your standard push broom. Those stiff bristles will gauge into the surface coating of all siding materials, leaving scratches that are both unsightly and weak areas where the elements and insects can start breaking down the material. For areas that are difficult to reach, use a soft-bristled brush or broom to extend your reach.
It is best to use a microfiber cloth or small brush for areas that are easy to reach. It may be a slower process, but it is a guarantee against even microscopic damage to your siding. Just remember, any shell (and siding is your house’s shell) is only as strong as its weakest point. An extra hour or two with a microfiber can save you from spending thousands of dollars when your siding fails years before it should have.
3. Mild Home-Made Cleaners Work Best
Many siding cleaner recipes are on the old interwebs, but we’ve found that simple is best. Best for your siding and best for the plants around your house. However, if you have mold patches on your siding, you’ll need a more creative recipe to get the job done. Here are our favorite cleaning solution recipes that are simple to mix:
- Vinegar And Water
- 3 parts White Vinegar
- 7 parts warm water
Mix them in a bucket and use a soft brush to apply the mixture to your siding from the bottom up. Rinse each section with a garden hose before moving on to the next to prevent the dirt from drying onto the section you just cleaned.
- Baking Soda Paste
- ½ cup baking soda
- ⅓ cup water
Mix the baking soda and water to form a paste. You can use this paste as a mild abrasive to break up stubborn areas where the vinegar and water are ineffective. Spread the paste on the problem area and then use a soft brush to scrub at the stain. Rinse with a garden hose when you are done, making sure that the dirty water is rinsed all the way down to the ground.
- Mold Destroying Recipe
- 2 quarts water
- ½ tsp clove oil
Mold is more tenacious than dirt, so you will need to take more time with this process. Spread the mixture where you see or suspect mold and let it sit for 24 hours. After 24 hours have gone by, use a mild detergent and a soft-bristled brush to clean the area. The clove oil will not only kill the mold and any spores in the area, but it will prevent it from returning.
4. Take Care Of Your Plants
Any plants that are near your siding will soak in whatever you use to clean your siding. The recipes above will not harm your plants, but if you elect to use a commercially available siding cleaner, any cleaner that splashes back from the siding could damage your plants. Use a tarp to cover your plants and protect them from the harsher cleaning chemicals.
5. Never Use Undiluted Chemicals
Using full-strength bleach or other chemicals will damage the protective coating on your siding and reduce its lifespan. Harsh cleaners such as brake cleaner, acid-based cleaners, or starter fluid will break down your siding and, at the least, cause it to discolor.
Household cleaners such as dish soap or mild floor cleaner are fine to use so long as you dilute them with water. You can also add powdered detergent if you need a little scrubbing action to help remove stubborn areas of dirt.
6. Wood and Cement Tile Siding
If you have siding made of wood or cement tile, you should never use anything more powerful than a garden hose and a soft-bristled brush to clean your siding. Both types of siding are extremely durable but susceptible to the physical force of a power washer and the corrosive effects of most chemicals.
Your best bet is to stick with gentle brushing of the siding followed by low-pressure water from your garden hose. Cement tile is designed to shed dirt easily, so you should get a good result from a mild cleaning.
Cleaning your siding is only necessary once or twice a year. You may want to pair this chore with changing the batteries in your smoke detectors as a reminder.
Be careful to always spray with the seams in your siding. This prevents water from pushing under your siding and damaging the structure beneath.
Try to avoid using a power washer and check with your siding manufacturer before cleaning your siding. Every manufacturer provides detailed instructions for the maintenance of their product.
If your siding is getting old on your Central Massachusetts home, or you just want to ask some questions and get some advice, contact us at Solid State Construction. We are always happy to help!