How to Clean Vinyl Siding

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New series: Homeowner’s Manual

Your car comes with a manual. Your stove comes with a manual. Even your toaster came with a manual. Virtually everything you buy comes with a set-of-instructions detailing how to use, how to clean, even where to go for replacement parts – yet your home, arguably the most important (and complicated) purchase of your life, does not. We never thought that made much sense so we are working to fill in the pieces with simple articles outlining the basics in home repair, upkeep and maintenance. Please feel free to join in with your tips, questions or requests for information and sign up for our blog so you don’t miss a single piece in the series. Your house will thank you.  

Like-New Siding in 3-Easy Steps

After a winter’s worth of weather abuse you may notice your white siding has taken on a yellowish hue, your home’s rich Pacific blue looks a little dull, your  Spruce needs a little sprucing  – the once vibrant siding on your house has begun to look dingy. Don’t worry this is perfectly normal and easily correctable.  There are a couple of factors that contribute to this:

  • Common exposure – wind blowing dirt and debris against the house, leaves falling, rain, birds, insects– life outside is dirty.
  • Chalk accumulation – this dull film is a common occurrence for all pigmented materials which are constantly exposed to sunlight and the elements.
  • Stains – while many vinyl siding products, like those from CertainTeed, are designed to resist most common household stains like oil and grease, stains do still occur. Algae build up is one example of a common siding stain.
  • Mildew – extremely damp climates or areas of the home that don’t receive enough sunlight or access to rainfall, such as the eaves and porch enclosures might see mildew growth.

Don’t panic. This is all quite common and in the course of an afternoon you can have your home looking as nice as it did when the siding was first installed.

How to Clean

Let’s take this cause by cause:

  • Dirt, grime, soot and chalk. For general dirtiness all you’ll need is a bucket of soapy water – dish soap or common laundry detergent work well, a soft bristle brush and a garden hose. Apply the soapy mixture by hand and thoroughly rinse the siding with clean water from the garden hose. Avoid prolonged or high pressure rinsing of open ventilated areas and keep cleaning solution off surrounding fixtures and surfaces not scheduled for washing.  NOTE:  We do not recommend power washing vinyl or polymer siding as it can cause moisture intrusion, damage, and/or discoloration.  Instead, we suggest using a house wash that connects to your hose.  This is the simplest and most effective way to clean stubborn siding stains. A small amount of soapy water shouldn’t affect plants or shrubbery, but if you are concerned about plantings close to the house select a soap product without added perfumes, dyes or moisturizers. Before using, test a small amount of the solution on the plant and wait a few days to see if there are any effects.
  • Stains. Occasionally siding will incur a stubborn stain, like algae build up, that does not come off with standard household detergents. In these cases it is best to request a cleaner directly from your siding contractor. They will be able to provide you with products designed to work with the siding at hand but even still, always test a small amount in an inconspicuous location.
  • Mildew. Vinyl siding is mold and mildew resistant.  However if the siding is dirty, mildew could grow on the dirty coating especially in warmer climates with consistently high humidity.  Mildew appears as black spots on surface dirt and is usually detected in areas not subjected to rainfall, such as under eaves and porch enclosures.  To remove mix together: 1/3 cup of detergent (Tide, for example), 2/3 cup of Trisodium (SoilMax, for example), one quart of 5% Sodium Hypochlorite (Clorox bleach, for example) and three quarts of water. (Caution: Greater concentrations may cause damage to vinyl siding.) If this solution does not easily remove the mildew, you can request a mildew-specific cleaner from your contractor or local building materials retailer.

Safety First

When working with chemicals make sure you read all precautions and warnings to avoid injury. Always dispose of chemicals in a manner prescribed by the manufacturer. If you are unsure how to use or discard of a product contact the manufacturer of the product for proper instructions.

After the solutions are applied and the house rinsed, your siding should look like new again. We recommend cleaning your siding once a year to avoid build up and keep it looking its best. For more information about CertainTeed siding products visit CertainTeed.com.

Have any topics you’d like to see covered in a Homeowner’s Manual? Leave them in the comments and we’ll see what we can do!

Plus check out earlier posts in the series.

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About Author

Brian Kirn is Marketing Manager, Siding Products Group for CertainTeed Corporation

1 Comment

  1. Hosing down vinyl siding with a garden hose equipped with a spray nozzle or a pressure washer set on a medium spray pattern is often enough to remove dirt and grime. When hosing down or pressure washing vinyl siding:

    1) Make sure the pressure washer spray pattern is wide enough to prevent damage to the siding, and keep the nozzle moving.
    2) Start washing at the bottom and work your way up; then rinse from the top, working your way down.

    To prevent water from running behind the siding, spray even with or down on the siding, and spray in the direction of the overlapped joints.

    Many blogs I can say 95% they don’t mention about that safety part so it is a great thing you mention here with information about the cleaning of siding where a middle-class man can save some money.
    excellent and informative. Keep us updated with this kind of blogs

    Thank you

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