Much like anything that sits outdoors season after season, your home’s exterior gets dirty from pollution, pollen, dust and rain. Instead of cleaning the outside of your house with a melange of mysterious chemicals found in some cleaning products, whip up your own homemade siding wash with water and a little soap, oxygen bleach or even vinegar depending on the situation.
Washing Cedar Shakes
Cedar-shake siding requires special care, as some harsh chemicals could cause it to discolor or even wear prematurely. Clean the outside of the house with bleach and water to remove mildew, algae and dirt. Mix one part bleach with three parts lukewarm water in a large bucket or directly in a pump sprayer if you have one.
If using a pump sprayer, spray the solution on one small area at a time, let it sit for 15 minutes and then rinse it off with a garden hose. If you don’t have a sprayer, apply the solution with a clean, soft-bristled broom or brush while wearing gloves and eye protection. Make sure your arms, legs and feet are covered as well to avoid bleach runoff.
For any type of siding, including vinyl, angle the garden hose’s spray so it hits the siding head on or top down rather than from the bottom up. This prevents water from seeping behind the siding.
Homemade Siding Wash
Whip up the best exterior house wash for just about any type of exterior by adding a few squirts of dish soap to a bucket of warm water. Swish the water around a little and then dip a soft-bristled shop broom into the soapy water.
Brush on the solution horizontally starting at the bottom and work your way up, covering as much as you can reach from one position at a time. Starting from the bottom helps prevent unsightly streaks. Rinse afterward from the top down.
Besides soap and water, a solution of three parts white vinegar to seven parts water also works well on vinyl siding and painted homes. Do not use this on brick or stone, as the vinegar may etch or otherwise damage mortar or stone. One cup of oxygen bleach per gallon of warm water also makes a great cleaner for vinyl siding, and it won’t kill plants the way a standard chlorine bleach could. The oxygen bleach solution is also good for wood decks, porches and railings.
Dealing With Stubborn Stains
A nylon-bristled scrub brush comes in handy for tackling spots that don’t wash away easily. Spray the affected area with your chosen house wash, wait a minute or two and then scrub it with the brush. Wipe off the area with a damp rag afterward.
A mix of equal parts vinegar and water helps remove many kinds of stains, including mineral deposits and oily substances such as tree sap. Remove particularly stubborn sap by applying a dab of oil soap over the spot and letting it soak in for at least a few minutes. Wipe away the soap with a damp cloth. If residue remains, squirt the area with vinegar and then rinse it off.