Vinyl siding is one of the most popular exterior home siding options today. It offers a low-maintenance, long-lasting exterior surface that provides both beauty and protection to homes. However, over time vinyl siding can become dirty, streaked, or discolored from weathering, mildew, pollution, and organic debris. This leads many homeowners to wonder if it’s possible to clean vinyl siding with a pressure washer. In this post, we’ll explore the short answer and then provide a detailed look at the pros, cons, risks, techniques and best practices for pressure washing vinyl siding.
Can You Pressure Wash Vinyl Siding?
Yes, you can pressure wash vinyl siding. When done properly, pressure washing is an effective method for cleaning vinyl siding. However, caution must be exercised as too much pressure or improper technique can damage the vinyl. Lower pressure (1200 PSI or below), the proper nozzle and keeping the nozzle at least a foot from the siding are key factors to safely pressure wash vinyl. Thorough rinsing and using specialty vinyl siding detergents also help make pressure washing vinyl siding an effective cleaning method.
Assessing If Vinyl Siding Needs Pressure Washing
Before deciding to pressure wash, determine if the vinyl siding really needs it or can be cleaned with simpler methods. Signs vinyl siding needs a deeper clean include:
- Dirt, grime and streaking across large areas of siding
- Discoloration from mildew, mold or pollution
- Organic stains from leaves, berries, sap, bird droppings etc.
- Chalky areas of vinyl indicating sun damage and oxidation
- Overall lackluster, faded or dirty appearance
Light dirt or streaking often comes clean with a basic rinse from a garden hose. Spot cleaning with warm water, soft brush and mild detergent can tackle some isolated stains or mildew.
But when grime builds up across large areas of siding or there are ingrained stains and discoloration, pressure washing provides the deeper cleaning solution to restore vinyl siding’s like-new appearance.
Pros of Pressure Washing Vinyl Siding
There are several benefits that make pressure washing a good vinyl siding cleaning method:
Thorough Cleaning of Large Surface Areas
A pressure washer can efficiently blast away built up grime and restore the surface across large areas of siding. This saves the time and hassle of trying to manually scrub large vinyl surfaces.
Removes Stubborn Stains
Pressure washing generates high water pressure but also high water volumes that can dislodge and rinse away stubborn stains and ground-in dirt that routine rinsing or light scrubbing will not address.
No Harsh Chemicals Needed
Specialty vinyl siding detergents formulated for pressure washers can cut through dirt and stains without harsh bleach or acids which can damage siding. Effective cleaning is achieved through water pressure and volume.
Avoid Ladders & Scaffolding
A pressure washer’s spray nozzle can reach second story heights safely from the ground. Pressure washing cleans high exterior walls while avoiding the risk and hassle of tall ladders or scaffolding.
Restore Faded & Weathered Siding
In addition to cleaning, pressure washing can restore vinyl siding dulled by sun, oxidation and weathering. The pressurized water removes chalky oxidation and surface dirt to renew color and sheen.
Risks of Pressure Washing Vinyl Siding
Pressure washing vinyl siding also comes with the following risks:
Potential Damage from Excess Pressure
Too much pressure can damage softer vinyl surfaces. Limit pressure to 1200 PSI or below. Never use a commercial-grade pressure washer on vinyl siding.
Poor Technique Can Gouge or Puncture
Holding the pressure wand too close or angling it directly at fasteners can cut into vinyl and cause leaks or holes. Proper technique is vital.
Moisture Intrusion at Seams & Joints
High pressure spray directed at seams in the siding can force water into joints. Use lower pressure and avoid directly spraying seams and overlaps.
Harsh Detergents Can Discolor or Etch
Some harsh cleaners contain bleach or acids that can stain, mottle or etch vinyl surfaces. Use only pressure washer detergents specially formulated for vinyl siding.
High-Pressure Runoff Can Damage Landscaping
Containing high-pressure runoff and overspray protects gardens, plantings and lawns surrounding the home. Cover or divert as needed.
Doesn’t Replace Proper Rinse Maintenance
While pressure washing provides a deep clean, it doesn’t replace the need for routine exterior rinses to prevent dirt from re-accumulating and staining.
Best Practices for Pressure Washing Vinyl Siding
Follow these best practices to safely and effectively pressure wash vinyl siding:
Assess Siding Condition
Inspect for gaps, cracks, loose panels or damage that could allow water intrusion if pressure washing. Repair beforehand.
Use Low Pressure
Keep pressure below 1200 PSI. Pressure over 1500 PSI risks vinyl damage. Use adjustable pressure wand to further reduce pressure when needed.
Select Wide-Fan Nozzle
Choose a wide-fan spray nozzle (15-45°) to disperse pressure over a larger area. Never use high-pressure zero degree nozzles.
Keep Nozzle Back From Surface
Hold nozzle at least 12 inches from siding to prevent damage. Closer contact concentrates too much pressure.
Apply Siding Detergent
Apply vinyl siding cleaner per label instructions to help lift dirt and cut through stains for a more effective clean.
Gently wash from top down in an orderly section-by-section pattern for complete coverage. Overlap strokes.
Flushing with clean water is key. Rinse off all detergent residue and soil. Avoid streaks.
Use tarps and splash guards to contain pressurized runoff and protect landscaping, patios, windows etc.
Allow Siding to Dry
Let siding dry completely before assessing if additional pressure washing is needed for stubborn areas. Never let detergent solution dry on surface.
Spot Clean Persistent Stains
For lingering stains or mildew, pre-treat then gently spot clean with lowered pressure and wider nozzle angle.
Rinse Home Exterior Routinely
Regular garden hose rinses every few months prevents dirt and grime buildup that leads to staining long-term.
Step-By-Step Guide to Pressure Washing Vinyl Siding
Follow these step-by-step instructions for safe, effective pressure washing:
Inspect and Prepare the Vinyl Siding Surface
- Inspect siding for cracks, gaps, loose panels or underlying damage that could allow water intrusion from pressure washing. Repair any issues.
- Clear any overgrown vegetation away from the exterior walls. This improves access and cleaning results.
- Sweep patio areas below to remove loose dirt. Hose down sidewalks, patios and house foundation. Avoid splashing dirty water onto siding.
- Check weather forecast. Don’t pressure wash when temperatures are below 50°F as cold inhibits detergent cleaning action. Avoid windy days that can blow detergent solution onto unintended surfaces. Wash siding when surfaces are shaded.
- Cover nearby windows, doors, vents and electrical fixtures to prevent damage and water intrusion.
- Divert or block downspouts to contain pressure washing runoff from entering the gutter system.
Select Appropriate Pressure Washer & Nozzle
- Choose an electric pressure washer under 1500 PSI. Gas pressure washers often operate at too high pressure.
- Select a wide fan spray nozzle tip angled 15-45° to provide a wide, dispersed spray pattern. Do not use zero degree nozzles.
- Install nozzle tip and check spray pattern on test surface like concrete driveway. Adjust pressure lower if spray seems too harsh or concentrated.
Mix Siding Cleaning Detergent
- Fill pressure washer detergent reservoir with exterior siding cleaner according to label rate. Only use detergents formulated for vinyl siding.
- Many cleaners attach to garden hose for correct dilution. Adjust siphon rate dial on dispenser nozzle to manufacturer’s setting.
Pre-Rinse the Surface
- Connect garden hose and nozzle set to low pressure rinse setting. Lightly pre-wet the entire area of vinyl siding working top to bottom. This helps soften dirt.
- Starting at the top, apply detergent solution to exterior walls working in 3-4 foot wide sections from left to right. Overlap spray pattern for complete coverage. Let detergent sit briefly.
- Hold nozzle 12-18 inches away from siding when washing and power rinsing. Never place nozzle flush to the surface.
- Adjust wrist angle to avoid directing concentrated streams at section joints, seams or protruding fasteners.
- Gently wash siding up and down maintaining a consistent spray distance. Overlap strokes for complete cleaning.
- Avoid spraying forcefully at inside and outside corners. Use lighter pressure and wider spray angle.
- Rinse each section after washing, working top to bottom. Flush until water sheets clear and no detergent remains. Avoid streaks.
- Allow siding to fully dry before moving onto lower sections to prevent moisture trails. Spot wash any remaining dirty areas.
- For stubborn stains, spray cleaner solution, gently scrub with soft brush and power rinse. Avoid excessive repeated pressure spraying stubborn marks.
Final Rinse & Inspection
- Do a final thorough rinse washing any detergent residue from walls and surrounding areas. Use a nozzle set to low-pressure rinse setting.
- Inspect siding closely when completely dry for any remaining dirty spots. Perform light spot cleaning as needed.
- Hose down sidewalks, driveway and foundation where dirt and overspray may have collected. Sweep up any leaves washed down by rinse.
- Double check gutters and downspouts for obstructions before reconnecting. Flush any sediment out with hose.
- Coil hose neatly, store pressure washer and remaining detergent solution out of sunlight and where temperatures stay above freezing.
Maintaining Clean Vinyl Siding After Pressure Washing
Restoring vinyl siding with pressure washing provides a deep clean slate. Maintain that renewed appearance by:
- Rinsing home exterior surfaces including siding, windows and trim with a regular garden hose every 2-3 months to prevent dirt buildup and minimize staining.
- Pruning back encroaching trees and shrubs to allow sunlight and air movement to dry siding and discourage mildew growth.
- Cleaning out gutters in spring and fall to prevent overflow stains on siding from gutter debris and sediment.
- Wiping spills or splashes promptly from vinyl siding using a soft cloth and mild soap and water solution to avoid stubborn stains.
- Re-applying exterior paints and stains on a regular schedule to protect underlying wood trim from moisture damage that could spread to siding.
- Performing annual inspection of all siding for damage, cracks or gaps that could allow water intrusion or pest entry if left unrepaired.
When to Call a Professional for Vinyl Siding Pressure Washing
While DIY pressure washing vinyl siding can save money over hiring a service, consider calling a professional exterior cleaning company if:
- Siding cleaning requires tall extension ladders or scaffolding to reach second story or higher exterior walls safely.
- Years of built up grime, mildew and stains require heavy-duty cleaning products and extensive time to remove.
- Siding damage or holes require repair before attempting pressure washing.
- Trees, plantings and landscaping necessitate extensive containment preparation difficult for a homeowner to manage alone.
- Proper cleaning also requires washing roof, decks, fences or other exterior areas in coordination.
Look for a company specializing in exterior cleaning services using gentle soft-wash methods safe for surfaces like vinyl siding versus harsh power washing. Ask for local references and verify they carry proper licenses and liability insurance.
Professionals have specialized equipment, access methods, containment preparations and experience pressure washing myriad home exteriors that ensure vinyl siding gets deeply cleaned without damage to surrounding property. Their expertise can provide cleaning results, efficiencies and safety reassurances difficult for DIY pressure washing homeowners to match.
Key Takeaways on Pressure Washing Vinyl Siding
- Pressure washing can safely clean vinyl siding when proper pressure, technique, detergent and rinsing are used.
- Always limit pressure to 1200 PSI or below to avoid vinyl damage. Higher pressures require professional equipment.
- Select the right nozzle and keep the wand back at the optimal distance from siding when washing.
- Apply only pressure washer detergent made for vinyl to enhance cleaning and avoid damage.
- Work methodically in sections and thoroughly rinse off all residue to prevent streaking.
- Take precautions for safe containment of pressure washing runoff.
- A restored exterior still requires routine maintenance like rinsing to stay cleaner longer after pressure washing.
- For extensive cleaning or multi-story homes, hiring a professional may be needed to achieve the best results safely.
Pressure washing expands cleaning possibilities for vinyl siding while requiring some precautions against potential risks. Overall, when done properly, pressure washing safely removes dirt, stains, mildew and chalking that routine hoses and hand washing cannot tackle. With the right pressure washer, technique, detergents and maintenance after deep cleaning, pressure washing keeps vinyl siding looking like new for years.
If you need help with pressure washing your vinyl siding around North and Central Georgia, contact Sullins Suds Pressure Washing now!