Vinyl siding is fairly low maintenance, but occasional cleaning is important for removing dirt, grime and debris that build up over time. Cleaning also removes mold, mildew and chemical residues that can prematurely age, fade or discolor your siding.
Ideally, siding should be cleaned once a year, particularly in shady or damp areas where mold and mildew thrive. If your siding is not shaded or damp, and it looks clean, you can probably reduce the frequency to every other year. However, pressure washing isn’t the only method of cleaning, and, in some cases, siding manufacturers caution against it.
Pros and Cons of Pressure Washing
Pressure washing is a fast and efficient way of cleaning vinyl siding. It is particularly effective for removing mold and other stubborn stains.
Done incorrectly, however, pressure washing can seriously damage your siding. If the pressure is too great, you can crack or dent the siding. If the angle is incorrect, you can trap water behind the siding, damaging the structure underneath. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s best to hire a professional exterior cleaning service.
Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before deciding to pressure wash your siding, whether you opt for DIY or a professional. Some manufacturers discourage it entirely, while others suggest a limit to the amount of pressure. Keep in mind that damage isn’t the only risk associated with disregarding manufacturer’s instructions; you can also void the warranty.
If you do decide to pressure wash, make sure the stream of water is pointed directly at the siding, not an angle. Cover up light fixtures and anything else that could be damaged. Be especially cautions around plumbing, doors or windows.
Other Methods of Cleaning Vinyl Siding
Most manufacturers, as well as the Vinyl Siding Institute, recommend cleaning your siding with a soft cloth or a long-handled, soft-bristled brush. They recommend starting at the bottom of the house and working up, rinsing the cleaning solution from each area before it dries.
According to the Vinyl Siding Institute, spots of mold or mildew can be treated with:
- Household cleaners such as Windex or Fantastic (smaller spots)
- A solution of 30 percent vinegar and 70 percent water (larger spots)
- A solution of 1/3-cup powdered laundry detergent, 2/3-cup powdered household cleaner, 1 quart liquid bleach and 1 gallon water (for large, tough stains)
The Vinyl Siding Institute also offers a complete list of recommended cleaning products for removing various stains. But don’t use this as a replacement for your manufacturer’s instructions. Different brands, grades and colors of vinyl react differently to various chemicals.