If you have vinyl siding on your home, you’re in good company. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, vinyl siding is the most popular exterior wall material in the country. In addition to being durable and affordable, vinyl is also an attractive option that complements most architectural styles.
However, like anything exposed to the elements, vinyl siding can get dirty and grimy. Your home’s exterior can also accumulate cobwebs, dust and bird droppings. If your vinyl siding is looking a little worse for wear, you can rejuvenate it by giving it a thorough cleaning.
There are two main options for restoring vinyl siding to its former glory: pressure washing and scrubbing by hand.
How to Pressure Wash Vinyl Siding
If your home is large, or you’re just eager to get the job done quickly, pressure washing your vinyl siding is a good option. Before you start, check your manufacturer’s recommendations. Some vinyl siding manufacturers won’t honor a warranty if a homeowner uses a pressure washer, as vinyl can be damaged by too much pressure. If you’re concerned about your warranty, contact the manufacturer.
When you’re ready to pressure wash, keep the following tips in mind:
- Don’t Use Too Much Pressure – Pressure washing your vinyl siding isn’t like hosing down your concrete driveway. The highest setting is probably too much pressure for the vinyl. If you spray too forcefully, you can bend and warp the vinyl. Extreme pressure can even crack the vinyl.
- Keep the Stream at Eye Level – Hold the wand at your eye level. Avoid spraying at an angle, as this can force water between and behind the siding, which can cause mold to form.
- Use a Mild Cleaning Solution – Avoid harsh chemicals or cleaning products. The best vinyl siding cleaner is an all-natural mixture of products you probably already have on hand.
Whether you’re pressure washing or cleaning by hand, you can make your own vinyl siding cleaner at home. Just follow the steps below for an easy, chemical-free cleaning solution that will make your home sparkle and shine.
How to Clean Vinyl Siding by Hand
If you don’t have a pressure washer, don’t worry. It’s possible to clean vinyl siding with nothing more than a brush, a bucket of water and a little bit of elbow grease.
The best vinyl siding cleaner contains no harsh chemicals and no solvents. And the good news is you can make your own cleaning solution from household items you probably already have in your pantry.
To make a gentle, effective DIY vinyl siding cleaner, do the following:
- In one bucket, combine four tablespoons of liquid detergent (make sure it is oil-free) and eight tablespoons of baking soda. Stir until the baking soda is dissolved.
- Add two cups of warm water to the detergent and baking soda mixture. Stir gently to avoid forming bubbles.
- Add four tablespoons of vinegar. Mix thoroughly.
You can use this cleaning solution with a power washer, or by simply wiping it on your vinyl with a soft, damp towel. Rinse with warm water to remove any residue.
If you’re cleaning your vinyl by hand, avoid using a scrub brush, Brillo pad, or any stiff-bristled brush that could scratch or tear the vinyl.
Common Reasons for Siding Discoloration
You probably have no desire to conduct an in-depth analysis of the gunk you’re washing off your siding, but it can be helpful to know what caused the discolorations in the first place. While most causes are harmless and their effects merely cosmetic, there are a few that may suggest a more serious underlying issue that shouldn’t be ignored.
Algae is one of the most common causes of vinyl staining. It’s more pervasive in damp climates, but unless you live in an extremely dry environment, you almost certainly have at least some algae growth on your roof or siding. Depending on the variety of algae, discolorations can be green, black, brown, and russet. Algae growth will do no structural damage, but if left unchecked it can permanently stain lighter-colored siding.
Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew are both types of fungi. Mildew is usually powdery or fluffy and can be gray, white, or yellow. Mildew can also darken to brown over time. Mold tends to grow in fuzzy or slimy patches that may be bright red, dark green, or black. Airborne mildew spores can cause sore throats, coughing, and headaches for some, but it’s considered a minor respiratory irritant. Mold, on the other hand, can cause much more severe health issues. And unlike mildew, mold growth can cause structural damage if left unchecked.
If you notice what you think might be mold as you clean your vinyl siding, you may want to do a walk-around inspection of your home’s exterior, including the windows and roofline. Keep an eye out for mold growing along the bottom edge of the siding panels. It’s a common warning sign of additional growth underneath. And when mold gets behind siding, it can spread to support structures and eventually to the interior of your house.
If you live in an area with a lot of trees, you’re already well familiar with the springtime ritual of washing the pollen off your car. The yellow powder can coat just about every exposed surface, including your home’s exterior walls. Although it may be a source of misery for allergy sufferers, it can’t damage your siding. But that doesn’t mean it’s harmless. Pollen grains can be a food source for mold, encouraging its spread. Thankfully, vinyl doesn’t absorb pollen stains the way wood or stucco can, so it’s easy to rinse away.
Is It Time to Replace Your Vinyl Siding?
While vinyl siding is straightforward to clean, it should be replaced if it’s faded or damaged. Siding is designed to safeguard your home against the elements. If your siding is cracked or rotting, moisture can enter your home. Water can find its way into even the tiniest spaces, including gaps in siding.
If your siding is damaged or well past its prime, replacing it with energy-efficient siding can protect your home from moisture damage, boost your property value and give your home a brand new look.
Call Nu Look Today to Learn More
Is your home ready for a new look? Contact Nu Look Home Design today — we’ll help you explore vinyl siding styles and colors that suit your home.