How to Clean Popular Sidings and Exteriors

Home siding is an often overlooked part of home maintenance. Homeowners see it every day and over time it starts to blend into the background. This often occurs to the point where people begin to simply glance over it. Wear and tear and build-up is unnoticeable on a day-to-day basis, but annual cleaning is essential. Try taking a picture after your next cleaning session and take another picture after a year; I guarantee you will see a drastic difference.

With multiple siding styles in today’s market comes multiple ways to clean it. Here is what you need to know about cleaning America’s most common home exterior materials.

Wood Siding

Wood siding is common because its natural look will always appeal to a number of homeowners. Wood can be touchy due to its natural elements but does not take an expert to clean and maintain. Like most exterior materials, a power washer can clean it, but soap, water and a soft bristle brush can get the job done, too.

To start, make sure your wood siding is properly maintained, stained and sealed. Experts recommend retaining and resealing every 3 to 5 years based on your location’s climate, or the climate during that duration—some regions can experience abnormal whether from time to time. Wood will rot if it is not adequately stained and sealed.

The top criminal dirtying your wood siding is mostly just regular ol’ dirt and grime, which needs to be cleaned annually. Sometimes mildew and mold can build up but can be easily removed with bleach, water and a soft bristled brush.

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is made to be left alone, but power wash it once a year. At the worst, dirt will affect the color of your siding, which can become a problem if you have to replace a section, but dirt shouldn’t damage the siding.

Mildew and stains will still build up on your home. When these make an appearance, use heavier, mildew and stain specific, detergents. Apply and scrub these stains using a brush or sponge, depending on how stubborn the spot is, and rinse it off with a power washer.

In terms of preventing vinyl siding damage, it really comes down to installation. Heavy winds are a major culprit, but proper installation can keep the vinyl firmly attached to your home. For top-notch installation, skip the DIY and hire a professional contractor, like Blackstone Exteriors, to install your vinyl siding.

Hardie Board/Cement Fiber

Hardie Board and Cement fiber are designed for durability with minimal replacement, but everything requires some maintenance. Don’t use a high-pressure power washer or a heavy-bristled brush on this siding type. Instead, use a soft to medium bristled brush to wash and scrub, then rinse with a hose. Here’s what you will need to wash away each siding blemish.

  • Dirt:  This one is easy. Simply apply water with a hose, scrub away with a brush or sponge, and grab the hose again to rinse.
  • Oil:  Oil can be stubborn due to its stickiness but is still relatively easy to remove. Grab a sponge or brush, dish soap and your garden hose. Wet down the siding with a hose, scrub off the oil with soapy water and a brush, and rinse with the garden hose again. Repeat this process until the siding is clean.
  • Mildew:  Like oil, mildew is more stubborn than dirt, but you will need to use a mildew specific cleaner instead of dish soap. Replace the dish soap with your newly-purchased, mildew-specific cleaner, and repeat the process you used when removing oil.

Metal Siding and Brick

Metal and brick exteriors might be the most durable of all, but they require a step-by-step process for cleaning. However, both utilize similar steps.

  1. For brick, make sure you patch cracks in the mortar and let it dry before applying any water or cleaning solution.
  2. Rinse siding with a power washer.
  3. Wash with a cleaning solution.
  4. Scrub away stains using a medium-bristled, long-handle brush. (For mold, oil, or other unique substances, use a specific cleaner to remove them. Refer back to the “Hardie Broad/Cement Fiber” section for the respective substance.)
  5. Use the power washer to rinse the soap and cleaning substances. Make sure to keep the setting on low; you’ve already scrubbed the substances, you’re just rinsing at this point.
  6. With metal siding, your job is complete after step 5. Brick-home owners have to continue to one last step and apply sealant.