The Quick Guide to Cleaning House Siding

Siding is versatile, durable and resilient, but like other aspects of home improvement and maintenance, it requires a bit of routine cleaning and care. Because siding is an outdoor product, it can accumulate dirt and stains due to several factors — from bird droppings and dead insects to pollen, rust and spider webs.

Why Do You Need to Clean House Siding?


After multiple seasons of weather abuse, your siding may take on a different hue or look a bit dull or dingy. This is normal but can ruin the aesthetic of your home, as well as wear away at the siding material over time. Factors that contribute to this change include exposure to wind, debris, rain, sunlight, oil and grease stains, and mildew in certain conditions.

Longevity and Function

How often you should clean your siding depends on the material, but all siding requires some level of maintenance to keep it functioning as it should for longer. For example, Vinyl siding has been the leading home exterior product since 1995 due to its easy maintenance and resilient finish. However, that doesn’t mean that homeowners know how to take care of it. Several things can mar siding, even home maintenance products, such as caulking, tar, paint or motor oil.


Cleaning Prep

Gather Materials

Before starting your DIY siding cleaning project, you should gather the necessary tools, including:

    • a large scrub brush
    • how to clean your home's sidinga small soft bristle brush (if you want to be really thorough in the tough-to-reach spots)
    • vinegar
    • baking soda
    • dish soap
    • clean water
    • rubber gloves
    • a ladder
    • a bucket and a small plastic container

You may need additional supplies, such as a power washer (or pressure washer), but these items will get you started.

A good vinyl siding cleaner is a mixture of 70 percent water and 30 percent white vinegar. It will remove light mold and mildew stains. If you come across a tough stain, make a paste of baking soda and water and use your small soft bristle brush to tackle the stain.


Don’t think that washing your siding is going to be like washing your car. Wear clothing that is comfortable and easy to clean. Wear close-toed shoes, rubber gloves and safety goggles to protect yourself from flying debris. If you have chemical sensitivities, wearing a face mask may help.

Be sure you clear the area around the exterior of your home, so things don’t get in your way. This may include furniture, toys and other objects that may cause accidents or inhibit your access. Make sure your windows and doors are closed so that you don’t spray inside the house and be sure to turn off, unplug or cover any electrical plugs and lights.


Ideally, you will want to clean your siding every one to two years, or more frequently in areas that foster a lot of algae or mildew growth. The best season to clean is spring, so you can remove the grime from winter and spruce up your curb appeal for the warmer months. Some areas and climates may need cleaning more often, and a good look at your siding will often tell you whether or not it is due for a cleaning. Allow yourself plenty of time to complete the job. Also, a helpful tip: working in sections often makes the task less daunting.


What NOT to Do

Cleaning Damaged Siding

Cleaning siding is fairly straight forward, but if any part of your exterior is damaged, you should replace or repair it before cleaning. Siding is made to protect your home against the elements, but if it is rotting or cracked, moisture can seep into your home, even through the tiniest spaces.

Things to Avoid

When cleaning your siding, be sure that you don’t use cleaners containing organic solvents such as undiluted chlorine bleach, nail polish remover, liquid grease remover or furniture cleaners. Avoid using highly abrasive scrubbers such as steel wool, wire brushes or paint scrapers. If you are pressure washing your home, keep the stream of water coming from the spray nozzle eye level, so you don’t push water behind the siding and cause moisture issues.


How to Clean Different Types of Siding

Vinyl Siding

In most situations, the most simple vinyl siding cleaner is the recipe listed above. A yearly scrubbing will keep it looking new. Apply the cleaning solution with a soft brush and scrub the full length of each lap of siding. Start at the top and work your way to the bottom, rinsing each section with a hose before it dries to prevent streaking.

Wood Siding

People often mistake wood siding for needing a fresh coat of paint when, in reality, it just needs a thorough cleaning. The trick with wood siding and cleaning is to do more good than harm. You may feel tempted to clean it with a power washer, but think again. Pressure washing can gouge boards, strip paint, and loosen caulk and grout. Try using a garden hose and soft scrub brush instead. Scrub the siding with the brush or a soft cloth and cleaning solution and then rinse it off with a garden hose. cleaning house siding

Cedar Siding

Cedar siding is beautiful when its new, but as years go on, it may develop mold or mildew that looks black. Cleaning it with an oxygen bleach solution can help prevent the feeding of future growth. Oil-based stains often used to preserve the wood color are often considered food for mold and mildew. To restore your wood’s beauty, mix the powdered oxygen bleach with water in a 1-part bleach to 4-parts water ratio. Apply the solution with a garden sprayer and allow it to soak into the wood for about 15 minutes. This will remove much of the discoloration. Then use a soft brush to remove the remaining discoloration. Simply rinse the wood with a garden hose afterward.

Fiber Cement Siding

Fiber cement siding is extremely durable, but still requires a bit of maintenance. The process for cleaning fiber cement siding is similar to when you clean vinyl siding. Simply brush the cleaning solution on the siding with a soft brush and then rinse with a garden hose.


When Cleaning Isn’t Enough


Unfortunately, siding is vulnerable to being infiltrated by water around doors, windows and corners. Before you decide to clean siding, look for caulk or grout that has pulled away from surfaces or cracked. Also inspect your siding for cracks and chips, or any other signs of damage. You’ll want to repair these defects before cleaning. And the sooner you make repairs, the more protected your home will be from moisture infiltration that can result in mold formation inside the walls and dry rot.


Repairs to vinyl, wood, cedar, and fiber cement siding often require experts to remove the damaged siding while leaving the surrounding areas intact. If you are skilled enough, you can clean small cracks and loosened caulking by cleaning the area thoroughly and then applying color-matched caulking to the area. Bigger areas will almost always require the help of a professional.


When to Talk to a Professional

If you don’t have the time or the inclination to clean your siding, you may want a professional to do it for you. A professional team not only has all the right tools to clean up your siding well, but will also be able to ensure that water penetration doesn’t take place at the joints, electrical fixtures, and around doors and windows. If that’s the case for you, let us know. Our maintenance team will clean your siding quickly to have it looking brand new in no time.

Unfortunately, sometimes cleaning your siding, even professionally, isn’t going to be enough. Although siding is durable and long-lasting, damage can still occur. If the damage is more than you can handle on your own, hiring a professional to repair your wood, vinyl, cedar and fiber cement siding is your best option. Contact us to get your siding project started today. We’ll have your home beautiful and protected again soon!

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