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Cleaning House Siding

Submitted by Lorene Bartos, UNL Extension Educator

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Does your house siding need cleaning? Caring for the siding on your house is as important as cleaning and caring for the inside. Here are some tips to help care for your house siding.

Wash the siding every year with cold water. Use a soft brush to loosen dirt. A long-handled car washing brush attached to a garden hose makes the job easier.

Start from the bottom and work up to prevent streaking.

For hard to remove dirt, wipe down the siding with:

1/3 cup mild household cleaner such as TSP (Trisodium phosphate-household cleaner) in one gallon of water. If this doesn’t work for vinyl siding increase the household cleaner to 2/3 cup and add 1/3 cup laundry detergent. Rinse the siding well with clear water.

Mildew may grow on the siding in shaded areas. The dark spots found near the ground or under the overhangs may be mildew.

To remove mildew:

Add 1 quart of household bleach to the cleaning solution for vinyl siding. Protect shrubs and other green plant materials from contact with the bleach solution by covering them with clear plastic (rinse off any bleach solution immediately if it comes in contact with any plant materials). Scrub the siding spots with the bleach solution and rinse siding well with clean water.

Caution:Be sure the mild household cleaner used in the mixture does not contain ammonia. Ammonia can form a poisonous gas when mixed with the chlorine in bleach.

Natural weathering can make paint powder (chalk) on wood, aluminum or steel siding. You can usually wash chalking off with water and gentle scrubbing.

Use power washers with care. Do not tilt it up, as this can force water behind the siding. It will drip down later, streaking your clean siding. Water behind the siding can cause damage to your home. Using too much pressure can remove paint or damage the siding.

Repair loose vinyl siding by either snapping it back into place or loosen and renail it. Check with a vinyl siding supplier for details and the tools you’ll need to repair it yourself.

Keep your house looking new by caring for your siding and cleaning it annually.


Ask Lorene

(This resource was updated May 19, 2008 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

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