How to Clean Spots on Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is one of the most popular exterior coverings for homes. While this is partially because of its affordability, many homeowners opt for vinyl siding instead of brick or wood because it is relatively easily to maintain. Generally speaking, if you have a power washer or hose and a few household cleaning products, you can easily make your vinyl siding look as good as new year after year. Nevertheless, dirt, grime, and spots will inevitably appear on your siding from time to time. Here are a few useful top spot-cleaning tips we’ve discovered to help keep your vinyl siding looking its very best.

clean vinyl siding

General cleaning tips

Thankfully, regular maintenance of your vinyl siding is fairly straightforward and simple. A garden hose or pressure washer and a soft bristled brush will clear away cobwebs, dirt, and debris on most areas of your siding.

If you opt for a pressure washer, most professionals recommend using it on the lowest setting in order to prevent damage to the siding materials. It’s also a good idea to check with your siding manufacturer, since some experts advise against pressure washing siding. Finally, angle your pressure washer directly at the side of the house rather than in an upwards direction—angling can potentially push dirt and debris up behind the siding slats rather than down and off the wall.

pressure wash siding

Homeowners who like visual instructions for cleaning jobs will appreciate this vinyl siding cleaning video. In addition to demonstrating good practice for cleaning, it offers great tips such as switching your exterior power off, covering exterior outlets and lights, closing windows and doors, and laying down plastic sheets for protecting brickwork and plants or landscaping.

Mold/mildew spots

Over time and through repeated changes in weather, vinyl siding will attract and develop mold or mildew spots—especially in north-facing and other shaded areas. The Vinyl Siding Institute (yes, there really is such an organization) offers some helpful and specific tips for dealing with stubborn moldy spots on your siding.

Store bought cleaners such as Windex will usually do the job for these kinds of spots, but if you want to make your own chemical-free solution, you can use a natural mixture of vinegar and water. If neither of these options works, try making your own concoction from other commonly found household cleaners. This is what the professionals from the Vinyl Siding Institute and Bob Vila recommend:

1/3 cup powdered laundry detergent

2/3 cup powdered household cleaner

1 quart liquid laundry bleach

1 gallon of water

For best results, use a cloth or soft bristled brush and start from the bottom so your cleaning solution doesn’t leave streaks or just drip off the side of the house.

Mulch/dirt spots

If you notice lots of tiny black or dark brown spots developing on your siding above a landscaped area of your yard (as seen below), it is most likely artillery—otherwise known as shotgun—fungus.  Artillery fungus is a wood-dwelling fungus commonly found in mulch.

artillery fungus on vinyl siding

Getting rid of artillery fungus is slightly more complicated than the basic cleaning regimen for vinyl siding and will require significantly more effort than a regular scrub down. Most experts recommend using a mixture of cleaning products (as above) and good old fashioned elbow grease. Check out this post ffor in-depth cleaning instructions and product recommendations.

If you want to prevent further artillery fungus growth, it’s best to choose non wood-based mulches, compost, or stone for your beds instead of standard wood chip.

Safety precautions

As with any household cleaning job, it is essential that you take proper safety precautions to protect yourself and your home before getting started.

If you choose to use store-bought products to clean your vinyl siding, make sure to read all instructions thoroughly and do a spot check on an unseen area of siding in case the product reacts with the surface.

After applying any cleaning product to your siding, it’s important that you rinse it away afterward. This will help prevent streaking and any residual product damaging your exterior or landscaping.

Do not use abrasives such as steel wool or Brillo pads or corrosive products like furniture polish, nail polish remover, or undiluted bleach to clean your siding, as they could potentially damage the plastic and the area around your siding.

Finally, remember that your own  personal safety is important. Make sure that anyone who is around during your cleaning job is wearing goggles, gloves, and masks if the products you are using contain fumes. If you need to use a ladder for hard-to-reach areas, get a friend or family member to help you with your ladder if at all possible. Finally, keep children and pets well out of the way when you’re cleaning your siding.

 

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