As a homeowner, you know about tidying up the interior of your home, including replacing appliances and repainting as needed. You also have to clean the exterior of your home to keep up its resale value and maintain its curb appeal. If you have vinyl siding on your home, you can easily and affordably clean your vinyl siding with simple household products.
Vinyl siding typically lasts at least 10 to 12 years. With the proper maintenance, you can make vinyl siding last for decades, which will save you time and money in the long run. While you may be dreading the process of cleaning the outside of your home, we have some tips for how to take care of vinyl siding.
Vinyl Siding, the Low-Maintenance Option for Your Siding
While wood and fiber cement siding are also good options, vinyl siding is among the easiest to maintain. With proper care, vinyl siding costs less to maintain and lasts longer than most other materials. Insulated vinyl siding can also save you money on your utility bill.
Stucco, wood and fiber cement siding require periodic painting and caulking to be properly maintained. You can easily clean your vinyl siding with some water and mild soap. As long as you clean your house regularly to prevent and treat debris buildup, your vinyl siding will be like new.
How to Preserve, Clean and Maintain Your Vinyl Siding
Cleaning your vinyl siding is easy if you have the right equipment and you prepare ahead of time. You may even consult a professional if your cleaning job is too complicated. If you want to take on the project on your own, here are our tips on how to clean your vinyl siding.
How to Prepare to Wash Vinyl Siding
Before you begin the process of washing your vinyl siding, you should prepare the interior of your home and your siding in order to protect yourself. You should follow all the directions from the manufacturer of your vinyl siding and your cleaning products. Even the discarding of hazardous chemicals needs to comply with the standards set by the manufacturer.
To clean vinyl siding without also cleaning your plants, cover up your shrubbery outside and protect your landscaping. Clear the area of all outside furniture, plants and toys. Unplug any electrical units in your exterior space. Close all the doors and windows to your house to protect your interior space from potential damage.
Use gloves, eye protection and a face mask when dealing with hazardous chemicals. Wear closed-toed shoes and comfortable clothes. Check your house for any cracks or breaks in your vinyl siding.
Inspect for Breaks in the Siding
When vinyl is intact, it is a safe material that protects from insect infestation, water leaks and structural damage. Sometimes, you may find cracks or breaks in your siding that ruin the integrity of your home. These damages to your siding may cause water leaks if you wash your siding with a garden hose or a power washer.
Older vinyl products might have become brittle over time, resulting in breaks or cracks. Heavy winds or rain may also cause breaks in your vinyl siding. Rocks can also build up against a wall because of lawnmowers or weed-whackers.
If your siding has cracked or broken panels, the siding will have to be replaced. You should call a professional if you need your broken panels replaced. Before cleaning your vinyl siding, take these precautions to determine if you need to replace any part of your siding:
- Check the overall appearance of your siding: Discoloration is normal on vinyl siding due to dirt buildup and excessive exposure to sunlight. You may have damage if one part of your vinyl siding is a different color from the rest.
- Check your interior walls for damage: While the damage may not appear on the outside of your home, you may find mold buildup or cracks in your interior walls resulting from cracks in the vinyl siding.
- Check for warped, loose or broken panels: You may find broken panels in your vinyl siding. These panels need to be replaced to protect your house from water damage and further disintegration of your vinyl siding.
Choose the Right Cleaners and Equipment
You want to use cleaners and equipment that will preserve the vinyl siding on your home. Before using a cleaner to wash your vinyl siding, use a soft cloth to test a small amount on an area of your siding.
For easy cleanings like dirt and debris, all you need is a bucket of warm water mixed with a mild soap like laundry detergent or dish soap. Use a bristle brush or a soft cloth to scrub the debris by hand and rinse with a garden hose. Use a long-handled brush to clean vinyl siding that is higher up.
In addition to using household products, you could also create a vinyl siding cleaner using bleach or vinegar. To make a bleach solution for your vinyl siding, use one quart of bleach for one gallon of water. You should use protection and work in a well-ventilated area to protect yourself from breathing in the bleach solution.
To make a vinegar solution to clean your vinyl siding, use 30% vinegar and 70% water. While this option is more eco-friendly than the bleach solution and other household products, bleach may be more effective. If you have a job that is more advanced than a typical cleanup, you might want to consult with a professional.
Use Pressure Washers Correctly
Pressure washers, or power washers, can efficiently clean vinyl siding without scrubbing. We recommend reading the instructions on your pressure washer before use to protect your home from damage. Improper use of the pressure washer could result in water damage.
You should also consult with your siding manufacturer. If you have a warranty on your vinyl siding, power washing your home could affect your agreement with your manufacturing company. Use caution when power washing around openings in the wall.
Power washers are just as the name suggests — they use high power to clean an area. Use this power wisely. If you aim a power washer at your vinyl siding, make sure you stay in front of the siding, as the space between the siding could hold water and develop water damage over time.
If you decide that power washing your vinyl siding is a safe and reliable option for your vinyl siding, here are some tips for how to protect vinyl siding when using a power washer:
- Stand at a 25-degree angle a few feet away from the house.
- Use the power washer with two hands.
- Wash from the bottom of your house to the top, moving the hose side to side to avoid streaks.
- After using the power washer, rinse off your siding with a hose or a bucket of water. Rinsing should be done from top to bottom.
Clean Mildew and Mold With the Right Equipment and Technique
Your home could be prone to mold and mildew if you live in a damp climate. You may also see mold in darker areas of the home. Mold may grow on your vinyl siding because of any tree leaves or debris that may have fallen onto your home.
Vinyl siding is typically mold and mildew resistant, but mold can grow on dirt or other types of residue. Mold and mildew are easy to remove from your vinyl siding. Use any household cleaner or a vinegar solution to clean off mold and mildew from the side of your home. You could also use a mixture of laundry detergent, household cleaner, laundry bleach and water.
If your household cleaners are not effective in cleaning mold and mildew, call your vinyl siding manufacturer for a special vinyl siding cleaner. Scrub the affected spot with your cleaning product of choice and wait a few minutes for the solution to soak. You should rinse the cleaner completely to clear away any residue from the cleaner.
Clean Mulch Residue
Mulch residue could be the result of artillery spores in your backyard. Artillery spores arise from a specific fungus that resides in wood mulch and any organic materials in your backyard. The only way to remove those artillery spores from your home is to replace the mulch with full bark mulch and replace the siding.
In the United States, mushrooms, bird’s nest fungus, artillery fungus and slime mold are the most common types of artillery spores.
- Mushrooms: While mushrooms are beautiful to look at, they can be poisonous and remain in mulch for an unpredictable amount of time. When you replace your mulch, you can remove the mushrooms from your backyard and your vinyl siding.
- Bird’s nest fungus: This type of fungus spreads during the rain, and it is relatively easy to clean. You could replace the mulch and remove the bird’s nest fungus from your home, but experts recommend leaving this type of fungus in your backyard because it decomposes organic matter and it naturally exists in the ground.
- Artillery fungus: This type of fungus spreads quickly and can cause ugly spots to appear on your vinyl siding. If you have this type of fungus in your backyard, consider buying “black gold,” an organic mulch that naturally decomposes bacteria.
- Slime mold: This type of fungus comes in a variety of shapes and colors, and it spreads quickly. While the fungus is safe to have in your backyard, it affects the overall appearance of your house. Replace your mulch and your siding to prevent the spreading of fungus in your living space.
How to Protect Vinyl Siding From Discoloration
House siding discoloration is the result of dirt buildup and residue left from debris. You could also have discoloration as a result of using insecticide or herbicide too close to your siding. Carefully read the labels of your insecticide or herbicide before use to protect the life of your vinyl siding.
If you have other material that makes up your side of the house, cover your vinyl siding when completing other renovation projects. For existing discoloration, use household cleaners or a vinegar or bleach solution to clean the dirt off your home.
You can paint your vinyl siding to fix the discoloration if your siding warranty allows you to do so. If you choose paint to repair your house siding discoloration, consult your vinyl siding manufacturer first. For any additional help with discoloration, contact your vinyl siding manufacturer to find out if your siding needs to be replaced.
How Does Heat Affect Vinyl Siding?
Since vinyl siding is made from organic material, when exposed to excessive heat, your vinyl siding could melt. Vinyl siding is also combustible, so you must take safety precautions in case of a fire. Keep your home safe by moving barbecue grills and flammable materials away from the house. You should also protect your home from strong reflections of sunlight from energy-efficient windows.
Excessive exposure to sunlight can also cause chalk accumulation resulting from dust and debris on your vinyl siding. If you live in an area that has four seasons of hot and cold temperatures, your vinyl siding may be prone to expanding and contracting in the change of weather. At the same time, sunlight can protect your home from mold and mildew buildup from the rain.
To protect your house from discoloration and residue buildup, clean your vinyl siding during cloudy days. Direct sunlight can dry your house unevenly and quickly.
How Often Should I Clean My Siding?
You should clean your siding yearly to prevent dirt accumulation and to remove mold, mildew and stains. You can add years to the life of your vinyl siding by taking a day to clean the exterior of your home. You can clean your house more often if you live on a dirt road or if you have heavy storms which can cause debris buildup.
When to Call a Professional
You should consult a professional when your vinyl siding has excessive discoloration or residue that cannot be removed by simple household cleaning products. While cleaning your vinyl siding, try to be in constant communication with your vinyl siding manufacturer regarding your warranty and the proper maintenance. Protect your warranty by following your manufacturer’s directions and using safe materials to clean your siding.
If needed, you may have to call a professional to clean your siding or to replace any siding with excess damage. You should trust a professional to do any work you do not feel comfortable doing on the outside of your home to preserve your vinyl siding and to save money.
Let Sunshine Contracting Install Vinyl Siding on Your Home
Vinyl siding is a cost-effective option for protecting your home. When properly maintained, your vinyl siding will last decades. While other materials require painting and caulking, vinyl needs a simple bucket of warm water and some mild soap to be cleaned about once a year.
Trust our team at Sunshine Contracting to install and replace vinyl siding on your home. We have a variety of colors available for you to select for your home. We also have insulated vinyl that can provide your home with more protection from extreme temperatures. Visit our website for a free estimate form and to speak to a professional about caring for your vinyl siding.