Q - I was out looking at our home and noticed how dirty the siding is. What would you recommend I use to clean it?
Ruth in Decatur
A – Ruth – you are scaring every man in Decatur right now who has a wife named Ruth.
Depending on your siding here is what I would use:
For vinyl you can go with a pressure washer or a hose, brush, and bucket. With a pressure washer you get the job done faster, but you need to be very careful about the water pressure. Too much, or come in at the wrong angle and you could possibly get water under the vinyl which could lead to the rotting of the wood behind the vinyl.
If you go the hose, brush, and bucket route use Murphy’s oil soap in a bucket of water and go at it. It is more labor intensive, but it is somewhat safer and your risks are small.
For brick simply spray your brick with a hose and a spray nozzle. If you have spots of moss or mildew, use a stiff natural fiber brush with a bleach solution (although I've heard tell that oven cleaner will work on a tough spot). Don’t use a wire brush and be sure to wet the brick first.
For Hardie plank, again, you can go with a light power washing or the hose, brush, and bucket route. Either way you want to use a mild, non-abrasive soap and be very careful with the power setting on the washer.
If your house is stucco it is ok to power wash (again – beware of the pressure). You may need to spot spray tougher stains with a soap/bleach concoction. Light colored stucco needs to cleaned more frequently than darker shades.
For other board siding use the same soap solution that you use for the vinyl siding. If you have spots of mildew use a vinegar solution (3 parts water to one part vinegar) to clean.
You may have noticed the power washer theme that appears here and there in this tip. Seriously, don’t run a pressure washer on your house unless you have a calm hand and a cool head. Never aim a pressure washer to shoot up-under your siding. Never try to blast old paint from your siding.
Is it fun to write your name on your driveway with a power washer? Yes it is.
But it can be painfully dangerous when used incorrectly on your largest investment. So try to stay away from the power washer, as the chance for damage and marking the siding is much higher.
- Watch the pressure on the power washing (think if I say it enough it will soak in?)
- Be careful using bleach around plants
- Rinse any solutions that you put on the siding off thoroughly