To Pressure Wash, or Not to Pressure Wash? Best Tips for Cleaning Your Exterior Siding

Skywalker Windows and Siding

The exterior siding on your home is a key feature that serves many important functions. Besides playing a significant role in defining your home’s curb appeal, the right siding installation should be weather-resistant, moisture-resistant, pest-resistant, easy to maintain, and may even contribute some additional insulation value.

But even though a siding product like vinyl siding doesn’t need a lot of maintenance, that doesn’t mean it never needs any. If your siding is starting to look a little dingy and you’d like some tips on how to get it clean again, we’ve got you covered. And should you use a pressure washer on your siding or not? Keep reading to gain some expert insights!

All Siding Needs Cleaning Every Once in a While

As long as you’ve chosen a quality siding product and had it installed by a capable professional like Skywalker Windows & Siding, you shouldn’t have to do much to your siding very often. But most experts will tell you that you should give your siding a good cleaning at least once a year to remove dirt, film, and any mildew that may have appeared. And fall is a great time to do just that, especially after the leaves have come down.

Why Does Siding Ever Get Dirty to Begin With?

That’s a great question. Before we get into some siding cleaning tips, let’s talk about how siding can get dirty or dingy over time. Here are some key reasons, especially in and around the Southeast:

⇒ Siding mounted close to the ground.

If the top of your building foundation sits just above ground level, then backsplash can occur whenever heavy rain sets in. Over time, this ground-splashed water can apply a layer of dirt and film to the lower areas of your exterior siding. And even if your foundation is built up a bit higher, your siding can still experience some dirtying effects of back splashing.

⇒ Shady spots

Depending on where your house sits and how it receives sunlight, you might find that some sides of your house tend to get a little greener than others. Why does this happen? Mildew, mold, and moss all tend to thrive in shaded, damp areas, and there are quite a few of those in humid climates like those found in the Southeast. That being the case, certain sections of your siding can ultimately be more prone to mildew development.

⇒ Lighter siding colors will show more dirt.

Just look at your laundry as a frame of reference. You probably know from experience that it’s simply harder to keep those whites and light colors clean! Well, this same principle applies to white and lighter shades of siding, too. Because this is true, you’ll probably need to clean your siding a little more often if you didn’t opt for a more neutral or earthy tone.

So, Should You Pressure Wash Your Siding, or Not?

This is one of the most common questions we hear from our siding installation and siding replacement customers – is it OK to clean siding with a pressure washer? While many Google searches will tell you that pressure washing is fine for siding, that hasn’t really been our experience.

We’re not saying that a pressure washer won’t take dirt off your siding; it most certainly will! But the fact of the matter is that many siding manufacturers actually advise
that you forego using a pressure washer to clean. But why?

One of the main reasons has to do with the force of the pressurized water itself. If you’re not careful, a pressure washer can push moisture underneath your siding and right into your sheathing and underlayment, which can do some real structural damage. Because of this, Skywalker Windows & Siding doesn’t recommend the use of a pressure washer for cleaning your siding. A cleaning solution combined with a soft scrub brush and a garden hose sprayer will generally work just fine.

But if you decide to go ahead and use a pressure washer anyway, here are some helpful tips to follow. Make sure you’re applying the stream at eye level, directing the spray at a level angle. Whenever you turn a pressure washer upwards towards your siding, that’s when it’s much easier for water to get driven underneath, especially if your siding was installed with a horizontal orientation. So, if you want to use a pressure washer for siding cleaning, you’ll need to get up on a ladder in order to reach anything above standing ground level. It’s also best to turn your pressure washer to the lowest available pressure setting. And be sure to use special caution around any doors, windows, side vents, and other extrusions.

Some Helpful Tips for Cleaning Exterior Siding Safely and Effectively

There are many ways to get your siding clean, and thankfully they don’t all require a ton of elbow grease. The Vinyl Siding Institute recommends going with the tried-and-true soft cloth or soft-bristle brush method, but there are also some good spray-and-rinse alternatives that might do the trick:

• A mixture of 70% water and 30% white vinegar makes a great, all-natural cleaning solution for removing light mold and mildew.

• If you need something a little stronger, try mixing one-third cup of powdered laundry detergent, two-thirds cup of powdered household cleaner, one quart of liquid laundry bleach, and one gallon of water.

• If you’re worried about harming your landscaping, you can also create a siding cleaning solution by mixing in one cup of oxygen bleach (like OxiClean) with one gallon of water. Oxygen bleach usually does a pretty good job of cleaning siding, and it shouldn’t do any damage to your shrubs or other landscaping.

• Simple Green makes an environmentally friendly cleaner specially formulated for use on vinyl and aluminum siding, stucco, terra cotta roof tiles, and painted wood. It’s non-toxic, biodegradable, and can be used either manually or in combination with a sprayer.

• General household cleansers can be applied to tough dirt and stains, and there are also products specially made for removing stubborn rust stains.

• Here’s another idea for using an all-natural cleaner. You can apply a paste made with equal parts baking soda and water, and then use a soft cloth or bristle brush to scrub off any dirt or mildew. Once you’re done with the scrubbing, just use a garden hose attachment to rinse your siding from top to bottom.

Skywalker Provides the Best Home Improvement Services in NC & VA

We hope you’ll find these siding cleaning tips to be helpful, and we wish you great success in making your siding clean and pristine again! But once you get to the point where cleaning your siding simply isn’t enough anymore, it might be time to plan for a new siding installation or siding replacement. And when that time comes for some professional vinyl siding home exterior solutions, we hope you’ll keep Skywalker in mind!

It’s right there in our name – Skywalker Windows & Siding is your local windows and siding installation expert serving North Carolina and Virginia! We do vinyl siding installation and vinyl siding replacement, and we also work with other popular siding replacement materials like fiber cement siding, composite siding, synthetic siding, and wood shake siding. There’s no need to waste your time looking for other siding contractors; you’ve already found the best in Skywalker!

And besides our highly rated windows and siding services, we offer many other valuable home improvement services as well. Would you like to have some custom gutters fabricated and installed? Looking for some good gutter guards? Need a roof replacement? Or perhaps you’d like to have a new porch or deck built? Skywalker Windows & Siding does all of that, and more. We’re not just home improvement contractors; we’re home improvement solution providers!

Skywalker has you covered across the entire NC Piedmont Triad, NC Piedmont Triangle, Mooresville & Lake Norman area, and southern Virginia region all the way up to Roanoke. You can connect with us online here, but for an even faster response, just give us a call at (336) 627-5596 today. Experience the Skywalker difference for yourself!

Luke Wilson

Luke Wilson

Owner - Skywalker Windows and Siding

Luke Wilson started working on roofs with his dad when he was a teenager, and eventually launched Skywalker Roofing in 2003. Skywalker operates in 5 locations across NC & VA, and now includes windows, siding, and other exterior services. Luke also hosts the popular Roofing Mythbusters series on YouTube.

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