Although vinyl siding requires much less maintenance than other building material types, it still needs some attention to look its best. Over time, the siding can become discolored with dust, dirt from gardening beds, bird and insect waste, and even mildew and mold. A pressure washer is an obvious choice for cleaning it, as no one wants to get out a scrub brush and a bucket of water to clean their whole house.
Before you start spraying, however, take the time to learn the proper way to clean vinyl siding with a pressure washer safely and without damaging anything on your home or landscaping.
Inspect the Surfaces and Area First
Pressure washing cracked, indented, or loose siding or trim is a recipe for damage. The high pressure of the water coming out of the tube can knock off loose caulking around windows and force moisture through cracks into your home.
Also, take a close look at the plants and landscape accents in the area you want to pressure wash. Cover them with tarps so no damage occurs. Also cover electrical outlets, hose attachments, and lighting fixtures carefully.
Pick the Right Pressure Washer and Detergent
Both electric and gas-powered washers exist with varying strengths. The type you choose depends on the size and height of your house and what you feel comfortable using. The choice of detergent is important for the end result, too. Use only those soaps specifically formulated for use on vinyl siding and with the machine you select.
Apply the Soap to the Surfaces
Just as you wash anything else, the first step is getting the soap or detergent onto the surfaces. Use lower pressure and sweep the wand back and forth smoothly to cover all the vinyl siding with the soap. Then, wait a while for the soaps to work on the dirt and grime accumulated over the months or years.
The Optional Scrubbing Step
Some pressure washers come with a scrubbing brush attachment to help you remove tough grime or stains. Before rinsing off all the detergent, use this brush to loosen up stuck-on dirt. They push out soap in a foamy consistency as you use them for even greater cleaning power. There are even brushes that rotate for more power and less tiring arm-work.
Rinse Everything Under Pressure
After the soap works for up to 10 minutes, it is time to use the pressure washer to remove it and the accumulated dirt. This is usually done with higher pressure than the soaping step. Start with less, however, until you get used to how things work.
Do not spray straight at the surface. Instead, stand at an angle and keep the end about two or three feet away from the vinyl siding. Spray downward as much as possible instead of up under the vinyl planks. Not only will this help you clean the siding without a risk of damage, but it will also prevent spray back directly at you. Use a ladder for the upper floors so you do not spray water under the siding where it can cause mold or damage to the structure of the house.
Congratulations! You have now cleaned your vinyl siding with a pressure washer successfully. The siding will dry naturally on a sunny day. However, take a look around the house carefully to check for puddles or trapped water anywhere that can cause problems. Finally, put the tarps away and unwrap the outlets and light fixtures to enjoy your house looking almost as good as new.