Your home’s siding is its armor. Instead of fending off marauding soldiers, its battle is against the elements. Properly maintaining your siding makes it look better and allows it to be more effective in its war with nature. Routine cleaning will lengthen its useful life and allow it to provide better protection to your home.
Let’s look at how to properly clean your siding.
Over time dirt, bird and insect droppings, algae, moss, and pollen accumulate on your siding. To keep up with those deposits, you should thoroughly clean your siding at least once a year. If you notice growth or significant dirt build-up, you may need to add more frequent cleanings.
There are several options for siding cleaners. Home improvement stores will have siding-specific cleansers, many of which are formulated for specific siding types. You can also make your own cleaner. For an all-purpose cleaner, mix warm water with dish soap, powdered laundry detergent, or trisodium phosphate (TSP, which is available at most grocery and home improvement stores).
If you notice significant algae growth, use a vinegar and water mix instead. To combat mildew, use one part bleach and four parts water. Shield your eyes and skin from any splashes and protect your plants from overspray. Rinse thoroughly regardless of your cleaning product, but especially with a bleach solution.
How to Clean
Apply the cleaner with a cloth or soft-bristled brush. Use an extension pole to clean higher areas while you remain safely on the ground. Working from bottom to top will prevent streaking.
Because cleaning your entire home can be time-consuming, divide the job into manageable sections. That allows you to complete the project in several sessions and always know which areas you’ve completed. An average-sized house can easily take an entire weekend, or more, to properly clean. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the siding once you’ve cleaned it. The easiest way to do that is with a garden hose.
Choose a day with pleasant weather, as you will be outside all day. It’s best to work on a day with little or no wind, so you don’t get more of a shower than your siding does.
It can be tempting to grab a pressure washer and put it to work on your home. However, that is not recommended for most siding. The force of the water can damage the materials. It can also remove paint from trim and other surfaces. Finally, with a pressure washer, you risk forcing water under the vertical joints in the siding, which can lead to damaging water accumulation behind the siding.
While professionals may use a pressure washer for the task, homeowners without the proper experience should not attempt it. Cutting corners and doing a quick pressure wash could cost you time and money in the long run. Stick to your brush and soapy water for the best results.
Cleaning your siding also allows you to inspect it as you work. Be aware of any cracks, gaps, holes, or missing pieces. If you note those issues, address them immediately to prevent water intrusion and further damage to your home. Contact trusted roofing and siding contractors for an estimate on repairing or replacing any damaged siding.
You can take several steps to keep your siding cleaner, so it requires less frequent cleanings in the future.
- Properly maintain your gutters – Damaged or blocked gutters will overflow, forcing dirty water and debris down the side of your home. Not only will this get your siding dirty, but it can also damage your home. Remove gutter obstructions and clean gutters regularly.
- Trim your landscaping – Keep bushes, trees, and other vegetation trimmed away from your siding. If these items are touching your home, they may deposit dirt. They also encourage insect and animal activity. Because they prevent proper airflow around your siding, they can lead to mildew or mold if they are too close to your home. Finally, if they are scraping against the siding, plants can cause damage. Trim everything so that there is a gap between vegetation and your siding.
- Direct sprinklers away from your siding – Aim your irrigation system or sprinklers away from your home. The water from sprinklers can cause dirt and pollen to stick to the siding, leading to the need for more frequent cleanings. Excessive moisture can also damage your siding, so water your lawn, not your home.
Cleaning your siding is a manageable DIY project, but it can be long and exhausting. If you have a two-story home, you will need to be up on a ladder, working with soapy water, and managing a brush on a pole, which can be dangerous. If all of this sounds intimidating or overwhelming to you, it may be time to call the professionals. Most roofing contractors will offer this service.
They can complete most homes in one day, using a trained team and specialized equipment. This is not usually an expensive service, with rates based on the size and materials of your home.
Cleaning your siding is effective preventative maintenance for your home. You’ll extend the life of the siding, better protect your home, notice issues before they become larger problems, and make your home look better. Fighting off dirt and growth will allow your siding to be most effective in its battle with nature.