Is it safe to pressure wash vinyl siding?
Vinyl siding is a durable, versatile, and resilient building material, but it does require some routine care and cleaning.
The growing popularity of vinyl siding is indisputable. Indeed, U.S. Census Bureau statistics indicate that vinyl siding has been the leading exterior cladding in the U.S. since 1995. Its popularity shows no sign of waning; in 2011, 33% of new single-family homes sold in the U.S. were sided in the material.
Because it is an exterior product, vinyl siding can accumulate a host of dirt, grime, and stains on account of things like pollen, bird and insect droppings, spider webs and rust. In shady, moist areas, mold and mildew can grow, and vinyl is also vulnerable to discoloring effects from insecticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. In addition, vinyl siding’s finish may be marred by a number of commonly used household maintenance products, including caulking, driveway sealant, tar, motor oil and paint.
Luckily, vinyl siding is fairly easy to clean, and there are a wide variety of products to help remove typical stains. According to theVinyl Siding Institute, the best way is to use a soft cloth or an ordinary long-handled, soft-bristle brush. To prevent streaking, start at the bottom and work up towards the top of the house. Thoroughly rinse any cleaning solution as you go.
Some good cleaning solutions include:
• 70% water, 30% white vinegar makes a great all-purpose cleanser that removes light mold and mildew stains.
• For a stronger solution, mix together one-third cup powdered laundry detergent, two-thirds cup powdered household cleaner, one quart liquid laundry bleach and one gallon of water.
• If you are concerned about landscaping, use a solution comprised of one gallon of water mixed with one cup oxygen bleach in a bucket. The oxygen bleach will clean the vinyl without damaging your landscaping.
• Simple Green offers an environmentally friendly cleaner that is specially formulated for use on vinyl and aluminum siding, stucco, terra cotta roof tiles and painted wood. The non-toxic biodegradable concentrate can be used manually or with pressure washers.
• General household cleansers (e.g., Fantastik, Murphy’s Oil Soap, Windex and Lysol) can be used on tough dirt and stains, including those created by top soil, grass, grease, oil, rust, crayon, ink and bubble gum. Rust stains may be removed using products designed for this purpose (e.g., Super Iron Out and Instant Rust Out).
Another effective way to clean vinyl siding is by using a pressure washer, although some manufacturers advise against it, and other manufacturers recommend a limited amount of pressure.
If using a pressure washer, be sure to keep the stream at eye level and pointed straight at the siding, not at an angle. That way, you won’t drive water in behind the siding. Use caution when using a pressure washer around openings like windows, doors, and plumbing connections.
Avoid using any cleaning products that contain organic solvents, undiluted chlorine bleach, liquid grease remover, nail polish remover, or furniture polish or cleaners. Any of these products might damage the vinyl siding’s surface. Also, avoid using highly-abrasive scrubbers or steel wool; these, too, can cause damage.
With just a little bit of time and effort, vinyl siding can be kept looking “like new” and will provide many years of trouble-free protection for your home.