How To Clean Mold, Mildew, And Algae Off Vinyl Siding
Vinyl siding is a top choice for residential and commercial buildings. It looks beautiful, comes in any color you want, and will easily last for years with the right care. But like any outdoor material, it can accumulate debris over time, resulting in stains and discoloration that hurt your curb appeal.
Fortunately, vinyl siding is simple to clean whether you want to hire a professional or use a DIY vinyl siding cleaning method. You have the option to remove mold on vinyl siding with cleaners you already have at home, or completely restore your vinyl siding with an in depth pressure washing.
Regular cleaning of your vinyl siding keeps your exterior looking its best, and ensures your siding will last for decades. You can also clean specific areas if mold or algae is growing, or dirt or paint has stained the siding.
Whenever you need to refresh your vinyl siding, this guide provides everything you need to know about cleaners, methods, costs, and what to avoid to make your vinyl siding look as good as new.
Benefits To Vinyl Siding
Over one third of the siding installed today is vinyl, far more than other options like wood, aluminum, stucco, or brick. Made from PVC, vinyl is a versatile material that homeowners appreciate for being:
- Durable – PVC vinyl is resistant to all of the common damage other siding experiences. It does not easily dent, warp, fade, or chip away. The average lifespan of vinyl siding is 60 years or more.
- Easy to Maintain – Unlike wood, vinyl does not require regular repainting. The color is part of the vinyl itself, providing a color that will last for years without fading in sun, snow, and rain. The cleaning process is also simpler and less labor intensive.
- Many Color and Texture Options – Vinyl comes in almost any color imaginable and a variety of textures. It often imitates wood, but manufacturers have started developing vinyl that mimics a range of historical textures.
All of these factors have made vinyl siding one of the most popular options for homes of all sizes. Older homes are upgrading to vinyl, and it is a standard material for new constructions.
Although vinyl siding is more resilient to deterioration than materials like wood or metal, it is not impervious to dirt. Exposure to the elements will eventually cause some staining. The wood texturing on the vinyl planks are the perfect place to trap dust and oils. Mold, mildew, and algae can then begin growing in the dirt that builds up on the surface of vinyl, particularly in areas that are damp and mostly shaded.
Dust, green algae, and mold on siding will eventually lead to siding looking faded and dated. Molds and mildews are also associated with some serious health risks, so you likely do not want them growing all over your home.
While you can prevent algae somewhat by limiting water on your siding from sprinklers or leaky gutters, cleaning will still be a necessity at some point.
Best Vinyl Cleaning Solutions
One of the benefits of vinyl siding is that it is possible to clean the siding yourself. Now, the sides of your home can be large, and so without the right tools it may be a more difficult process than it would be if you hired a professional. But it is possible to clean your siding yourself with a few basic steps. For the most basic cleaning job, all you will need is:
- Brush or Sponge
For water, we recommend using your garden hose with a sprayer attachment. This is easier than lugging around a bucket of water and offers some light pressure to help wash away dirt. Most importantly, a hose works better for removing cleaner from the siding, even in hard to reach places. Leaving detergent residue behind can cause some permanent staining or weaken the vinyl. A hose makes it possible to remove all cleaner while still wet.
Once you have your source of water, you will need a vinyl cleaner. There are vinyl siding mold removers available commercially, but you can also use household cleaners to remove mold and most other dirt. In fact, the best homemade vinyl siding cleaner can be made with common household items, including all natural and safe options.
Cleaning Vinyl Siding With Vinegar
Distilled white vinegar mixed with water will kill mold, cut through grease, and lift mild stains. You should mix approximately 7 parts water with 3 parts vinegar to create your all natural detergent. Then use a sponge, brush, or cloth to apply it to siding.
Vinegar can cause the leaves of plants around your home to brown and wither, although it usually will not kill the plant as long as you do not saturate the soil. Diluting with water also helps preserve landscaping, but it is still best to avoid getting the vinegar mixture on grass and plants as much as possible.
Cleaning Vinyl Siding With Bleach
When you need a stronger cleaning solution for tougher stains, bleach is an affordable and effective option. Mix 1 part bleach with 4 parts water and apply it over stains, mold, and mildew. The bleach will kill any fungal growth like mold, making it easy to wipe away. It will also help lighten stains.
It is important to dilute the bleach before you apply it. Pure bleach can be too strong for siding and can hurt your landscaping. Even with diluted bleach, be careful during use since it is a hazardous chemical if used incorrectly. Also, test it on a hidden portion of your siding to make sure that it does not affect the color.
Cleaners To Avoid Using On Vinyl Siding
While vinyl is durable, there are some materials you will want to avoid during the cleaning process. Chemicals found in many standard household cleaners interact negatively with the plastic, permanently damaging the surface of the vinyl. This can result in cosmetic damage, and significantly shorten the lifespan of your siding. Cleaners to avoid include:
- Organic Solvents
- Undiluted Chlorine Bleach
- Liquid Grease Remover
- Nail Polish Remover (Acetone)
- Furniture Polish or Cleaners
In addition, these cleaners are often more powerful than is necessary to remove the type of dirt and mold that builds up on siding. It is safer and easier to use gentler cleaners, combined with a gentle form of agitation to remove stains and debris.
Cleaning Vinyl Siding With A Soft-Bristle Brush
After spraying down your siding with a hose, you can apply the soap. One option for this step is a soft-bristle brush. The bristles work with the soap to help loosen dirt and mold so that you can easily wash it away with water. Individual bristles can also get into the crevices and cracks of textured vinyl. This pushes the soap into places it may not be able to reach otherwise and the scrubbing pressure removes the dirt.
You should clean the sidings in sections, working from bottom to top of the wall, with this process:
- Spray Siding – Wet a small section of siding with the hose or water from a bucket. Angle the hose downward or pour water from a bucket from above to avoid forcing water between siding planks.
- Use Brush – Run a brush with your chosen cleaner along individual vinyl planks, using a light scrubbing motion when necessary to attack ingrained dirt.
- Rinse Thoroughly – Do not let the water and cleaner dry or they can streak and wear the vinyl. Rinse while the siding is still wet to remove all residue.
A long handled brush is best since it lets you reach higher areas without a ladder, but any brush will work. You can also use a sponge or cloth. Just be sure to avoid stiff bristles, steel wool, or other abrasive materials. They can scratch the vinyl.
Pressure Washing Vinyl Siding
Another option for cleaning vinyl siding – and of course, our preferred recommendation here at Judge Mobile Wash – is pressure washing. This method uses special equipment to direct water at high pressure onto the siding. The high pressure works similarly to the brush. It forces soapy water into crevices and agitates the dirt collected below the surface to remove it. The water then naturally washes the dirt away.
Unlike scrubbing with a brush or sponge, power washing vinyl siding is faster and requires less effort on your part. It also gives you a thorough, deep clean by getting to spots that your brush may not be able to reach.
Removing Mold, Mildew, And Algae Using A Pressure Washer
Pressure washing is the best way to remove mold and mildew from siding, as well as any other type of dirt buildup. You can pressure wash vinyl siding yourself or hire a professional to clean for you. There are advantages to each.
DIY pressure washing for vinyl siding is affordable, though it can have some high upfront costs and be difficult for a novice. You will need a pressure washer and a nozzle appropriate for vinyl. You may own a pressure washer already, or you can likely rent or buy one from your local hardware store. To pressure wash your home’s siding:
- Use the pressure washer to apply your soapy water mix over the siding.
- With a general wand tip, rinse siding.
- Avoid spraying upward as this can trap water behind siding panels.
- As with cleaning by hand, be sure to rinse before soap can dry on siding.
If you choose the DIY route for cleaning vinyl siding, be sure to test on a small, inconspicuous area. Durable vinyl can still be damaged by too much pressure and many commercially available power washers have limited adjustment settings. Making sure you have the right pressure and nozzle with a test will help you avoid any lasting damage.
Costs Of Cleaning Vinyl Siding
Whatever method you choose to clean vinyl siding at your home, the process should be affordable. Any costs of cleaning are also a good investment in your home. Regular cleaning maintains your curb appeal, increasing the value of your home, and extends the lifetime of siding.
As you plan how to clean mold and mildew off your siding, consider the following cost of cleaners, pressure washers, and other equipment.
Costs Of Cleaners
The cost of vinyl siding cleaner can vary from a few dollars for homemade cleaners like vinegar and water, to $10 to $15 for a commercial cleaner. Depending on the square footage of area that you need to clean, many commercial cleaners contain enough product to work for multiple cleanings, further reducing the overall price.
Costs Of Pressure Washers
The cost of a pressure washer varies more widely with many options available depending on your needs. Entry level power washers can be battery powered or electric, and start at $100. These are ideal for infrequent cleaning projects around the house and small areas. Available pressure settings are often low, but this can be enough to clean vinyl siding at a small to mid-sized home.
Gas powered pressure washers provide more pressure to quickly clean large areas and stubborn dirt. This may be more than you need for vinyl, but can work if you intend to clean many different surfaces around your home. Gas powered pressure washers start at around $250, and can be upwards of $1,000 for high-end equipment.
If you only need a pressure washer to wash siding or another short term project, your local hardware store likely offers rental pressure washers for around $20 to $100 based on the type of pressure washer and how long it takes to clean vinyl siding at your home.
Professional Pressure Washing
You also have the option for professional vinyl siding pressure washing. A dedicated power washing company, such as Judge Mobile Wash, uses high end equipment that can be specifically adjusted to your vinyl siding. This delivers the precise pressure needed to wash away dirt without stripping or etching the vinyl.
Our professional team at Judge Mobile Wash also has the experience to do a great job every time, giving you a more perfect and long lasting clean. As a West Chester based company, Judge Mobile Wash provides residential pressure washing and vinyl siding pressure washing to properties throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania.
With affordable prices and eco-friendly methods, we provide the most effective solution for cleaning mold off vinyl siding.