Pressure washers are an amazingly handy tool to have, especially if you're tackling the thankless job of cleaning your home's vinyl siding. But not every homeowner has one on hand. Of course, you could spend the time, money and hassle of renting a pressure washer or you could try to borrow one from your neighbor, if he or she has one.
The third option involves simply doing without. Sounds a bit far-fetched? As it turns out, cleaning your vinyl siding sans pressure washer isn't as difficult as you'd think.
What are Your Alternatives?
The all-powerful pressure washer isn't the only way of removing stubborn dirt, mold and mildew from vinyl siding. In some cases, it's not even the safest – the high pressure water stream can get trapped underneath the siding, leading to hidden mold and mildew growth.
Fortunately, there are several alternatives at your disposal. Each one requires a bit more elbow grease than pressure washing, but they're all equally effective at cleaning siding:
- Bleach and laundry detergent solution
- Vinegar and water
- Oxygen bleach and water
No matter which solution you choose, it's a good idea to test it on an inconspicuous portion of your siding first. Simply clean a small "test" portion of your siding with your solution of choice and wait at least 24 hours for any changes.
Using Bleach and Laundry Detergent
Combining ordinary household bleach with laundry detergent is a powerful way of removing grime, mold and mildew from your siding. Here's what you'll need:
- 1 quart of liquid laundry bleach
- 1/3 cup of powdered laundry detergent
- 2/3 cup of powdered household cleaner
Mix this in a gallon of water and then apply it on your siding with a garden sprayer. Let the solution sit for roughly 5 to 10 minutes and then rinse it off with a garden hose.
Using Vinegar and Baking Soda
A vinegar and water solution is a kinder, more eco-friendly way of cleaning your siding. It does just as well as bleach and detergent for removing mold and mildew stains, but without the harsh chemicals.
You'll need a 70/30 mixture of water and vinegar (7 cups of water to 3 cups of vinegar). Mix this solution in a large bucket and use a large brush to scrub the siding. Start from the top and work your way downwards. Use a smaller brush to work in and around various nooks and crannies.
For scrubbing away particularly tough stains, you'll also need a 1/2 cup of baking soda mixed with a 1/4 cup of water. Use a smaller brush to get rid of these stains. When you're done, rinse the siding with a garden hose.
Using Oxygen Bleach
Oxygen bleach is yet another alternative you can use to clean your siding. Like vinegar, it's also an environmentally safe, yet effective way of cleaning. The key to oxygen bleach is that it's not really "bleach" – it's a powder form of hydrogen peroxide that chemically reacts with water to dislodge and lift dirt, stains and even odors.
You'll need a cup of oxygen bleach mixed in a gallon of water. As with the vinegar, scrub the vinyl siding with a large brush and rinse it with a garden hose afterwards.
Other Tips and Precautions
- Always wear gloves when handling household cleaners and other chemicals.
- Keep pets and children out of harm's way when spraying or applying any solution.
- Protect plants and other vegetation by covering them with a tarp or drop cloth.
- If necessary, wear a safety mask when spraying the bleach and detergent solution. Chlorine bleach has the potential to burn skin and cause lung damage if encountered directly.
Always keep these precautions in mind as you clean your siding.