How to Clean Vinyl Siding Without a Pressure Washer

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 8:10:00 PM Categories: Cleaning Tips Home Cleaning Tips Home Maintenance

In this article, you'll learn

  • Simple solutions to combat dirty vinyl siding with ingredients you have around the house.
  • Bleach and powdered detergent recipe for eliminating grime.
  • Vinegar and water solution to remove mildew and mold.
  • Need other cleaning solutions? Check out our other articles.

How to Clean Vinyl Siding Without a Pressure Washer

cleaning vinyl sidingMany homeowners live under the impression that the only way to clean vinyl is with a pressure washer, and in turn they live within dirty walls. While a pressure washer can be the simplest solution, it’s not necessarily the most effective, or the most reasonable.

Maybe you don’t have a pressure washer, maybe your neighbor borrowed it and moved, or maybe you don’t want to pay the ridiculous price to rent one. Whatever your reason may be for finding alternative cleaning methods, we’ve got two solid solutions that will provide you with some surprising results and have that vinyl siding looking good enough to make your neighbors drop their pressure washers and ask what your secret is.

A word to the wise - before you begin any substantial cleaning project like the siding of your home, check any manufacturer’s guidelines first for your brand of siding. Then apply a small amount of the cleaner you plan to use to an inconspicuous “test” area. Wait at least 24-48 hours to see if there are any adverse side effects. It is always better to be safe, than sorry.

Household Cleaner #1: Bleach Solution

One of the most popular alternatives to power washing your siding is detergent, bleach and water. If your white siding is beginning to look a little green, then this is the route you want to go, as it is very powerful against mildew and mold. Always use caution when dealing with a harsh chemical like bleach.

Mix the following household ingredients in a garden sprayer, which you can get for under $20, or find in your garage.  

  • 1/3 cup powdered laundry detergent
  • 2/3 powdered household cleaner
  • 1 quart liquid laundry bleach
  • 1 gallon of water

*One more tip for using this bleach mix and a garden sprayer is to apply a “firemen” nozzle from your hose so you can reach higher points like your eaves better.

Double check to ensure children and pets aren’t in the area, and wear some sort of safety mask. You may also want to cover your plants or other vegetation around the base of your home with drop cloths. These ingredients generally aren’t harsh to clean with, but can be dangerous if you are breathing, or ingesting the ingredients. Sometimes taking the extra precaution can really pay off.

Once you have the solution mixed, you will begin applying it to your siding. One gallon of your should should cover a 10’ X 20’ area or a little further, depending how liberal you are with it. Once you apply a good coat to your vinyl siding, let it stand for five to ten minutes.

After this lapse in time, use your garden hose to rinse the siding off. If you don’t have a garden hose, thoroughly cleanse your garden sprayer and fill it with water to rinse the siding. Depending on the severity of mold, you may need to apply a second third coat and repeat the steps we already covered.

Most find that using a bleach mix takes a bit longer than a power washer but it gives you much more thorough clean. The work is worth it.

Household Cleaner #2: Vinegar Solution

There is yet another alternative to pressure washing! Some find using vinegar and water is not only safer for them and the environment, but does a more thorough job dissolving mildew than any other concoction. You’ll find that this method also removes light mold and mildew stains.

Vinegar is more effective at killing mold and mildew on porous surfaces than other cleaning methods, however the process is a bit more time consuming. Here are the supplies you will need for the job:

  • Large Scrub Brush
  • Small Scrub Brush (if you really want to be thorough)
  • White Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Water
  • Ladder
  • Robber Gloves
  • Bucket
  • Small plastic container, like an old butter tub

Because you will be conquering this method by hand, it’s smart to divide your siding into sections. One suggestion is to complete the most visible part first and then break the rest into smaller sections you can tackle here and there.

Vinegar can kill plants as easily as bleach so try not to have whatever you rinse out fall on any foliage. You can either tarp off large shrubs, or be careful not to splash excess vinegar solution from the bucket onto flowers. Move any planters out of the way, either a few feet away, or inside.

First, take your bucket and begin your mixture of 70/30 mixture of water to vinegar. It doesn’t need to be precise, but one of the easiest ways to do this is 7 cups of water to 3 cups of vinegar.  In the small plastic container, mix a paste of baking soda and water, a good mixture is ½ cup of baking soda to ¼ cup of water. You want to keep the gritty consistency

Next you will grab your ladder and go to the first section you have decided to clean. Start from the top of the house siding because the water and vinegar will run down and loosen the dirt and mildew making the job a bit easier.

Make sure you are wearing rubber gloves when dealing with this mixture to keep hands from drying out. Use the large scrub brush and brush against the grain so you can hit small grooves you would be most likely to miss. Rinse your scrub brush out as mildew or dirt accumulates.

To reach the nooks and crannies you find with vinyl siding, whether in the texture or below the panel, use your small scrub brush, or tooth brush.

If you reach a tough stain, use your baking soda paste and smaller scrub brush to tackle the blemish. The baking soda’s mild abrasive nature will work to remove debris and tough stains. Make sure to remove any excess baking soda paste after your stain has vanished.

There you have it, if you’re not the owner of a pressure washer, you can still have a beautiful, vinyl-sided home. The items required for either of these vinyl cleaning solutions are right around your home.

It may take a little bit longer, but these methods are fool-proof, less messy and generally less expensive than the investment of a pressure washer.

What other household chores have you found alternative ways to complete? What about cleaning sidewalks, brick or even completing a building project?

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