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Cleaning Your Siding: What To Do, And What Not To Do

by Camila Holland

Siding does start to show some wear and weather after a while. Dirt can collect on the panels, and before you know it, your house looks a little duller than it did before. The great thing about vinyl siding is that it can be cleaned easily, but many people can harm their home's exterior if they go about cleaning it in the wrong way. Here's what every homeowner needs to know about cleaning vinyl siding. 

What to Do

Walk around the property to get a look at where your siding is showing the most dirt and debris. Some siding may even have some green mildew growth (usually on the north and west sides). Assess whether you'll need a ladder to reach some areas that are dirty. 

Then, prep your materials. You'll need a bucket of hot soapy water, a telescoping pole with a soft car wash brush or sponge, a garden hose with a spray nozzle, and some plastic sheeting.

Cover any shrubs with sheeting to help keep soapy water from falling directly on them. Then, use the pole and brush to gently scrub the dirty areas of the siding. Go along the grain of the siding (usually horizontal), working downward to prevent dirty water from dripping down to clean sections. 

Then, use the hose and spray nozzle to wash away the soap, and gently spray the siding. 

If you want to, you can use microfiber rags to dry the siding after you are finished.

What Not to Do

To save time and energy, many people don't bother with a hose or brush. Instead, they hook up a power washer to aggressively spray down dirty siding. This has a number of risks, including:

  • dulling or removing the finish of your siding, making the coloration appear uneven
  • getting water underneath the siding where it will be trapped behind the vinyl
  • using so much force that the siding etches, cracks, or even breaks from the water pressure
  • pitting from small drops hitting the siding too hard

Power washing may seem like the right route to go, but it is very hard on exteriors. If you don't have time for a DIY cleaning, hire a siding company to come and provide a professional clean. That way, you don't end up needing to replace panels because they are damaged in the washing process. 

You also want to make sure that you don't use harsh chemical cleaners like bleach on siding or scouring pads. These can affect the look of your siding, leaving it worse than it was before.