How to Clean Siding

Rob Reed | Improvement Center Columnist | December 13, 2011

The three most popular siding choices today are vinyl siding, fiber cement siding and aluminum siding. Whatever siding is on your home, it is important to keep it clean. As with most things, clean siding looks better than dirty siding. And by cleaning your siding on a regular basis, you prevent the type of dirt build-up that can become difficult to remove.

For that weekend when you're in a DIY mood, use these 7 steps to get squeaky clean siding:

  1. Gather the essentials. These include a large bucket, sponges, a scrub brush, including one with a long handle, a ladder, a garden hose and power washer.
  2. Mix up a cleaning solution. Use a commercial cleaning product or mix up your own. One good recipe is 1/3 cup powdered laundry detergent or 2/3 cup powdered cleaner to 1 gallon of water. If there is mildew present, opt for a mild bleach solution in hot water. Double-check labels for safety, before mixing cleaners with bleach.
  3. Set the stage. Close all the doors and windows to your home and turn off power to all outside electrical outlets. Cover potentially exposed plants to protect them from the cleaning solution. This is especially important, if you include bleach in the mix.
  4. Spray the cleaning solution. You'll use the water spray for most of the siding cleaning. You can use either a garden hose with an attachment that contains the cleaning solution, or a power washer for really dirty spots. If you use a power washer, keep it on the lowest setting to prevent damage to your siding.
  5. Work from the top down. Clean the highest areas first and work your way toward the bottom. This prevents dirty water from contaminating the clean siding. If you have vinyl siding, this also keeps water from getting behind the siding. If this happens, it could dislodge your vinyl siding panels.
  6. Hand scrub problem areas. Use a scrub brush to remove dirt from any trouble spots. Use the long handled brush, a ladder or both to reach higher areas. This is the best way to remove the white deposits known as "chalk" from aluminum siding.
  7. Rinse. Use the garden hose or power washer on the lowest setting to rinse cleaning solution from the siding. Work from the top down to keep the rinse water off cleaned areas. After it has dried, check the siding for streaks or stains that you may have missed.
  8. By following these 7 siding cleaning tips, you can keep your siding looking as good as new and maintain the curb appeal of your home.