Pressure washing is an effective and efficient way to clean the exterior of your home. Power washing blasts away dirt, grime, mildew, and mold from siding, roofs, decks, driveways, and more. Keeping the exterior of your home clean improves curb appeal and can extend the life of siding, paint, and other materials. But how often should you be pressure washing your house?
Key Benefits of Pressure Washing Your Home
There are several benefits to pressure washing your home on a regular basis:
- Removes dirt, grime, mildew, mold, and other buildup from surfaces
- Improves the appearance and curb appeal of your home
- Extends the life of exterior materials like siding, paint, roofing, and wood decks
- Prepares surfaces for painting or staining
- Removes potentially harmful mold and mildew growth
- Improves airflow and ventilation if washing air conditioner coils
- Enhances safety by clearing slippery moss from walkways
Factors That Determine Pressure Washing Frequency
How often you should pressure wash depends on several factors:
Type of Siding
- Vinyl siding should be washed at least once a year. Vinyl is porous and prone to trapping dirt and allowing mildew growth.
- Wood siding and shingles can go longer between washings, but should be cleaned every 2-3 years. Unsealed wood is also prone to mildew.
- Brick, stone, and aluminum siding need less frequent washing, every 3-4 years. But wash them at least occasionally to prevent heavy grime buildup.
- Painted surfaces may need washing every 1-2 years to prevent fading and maintain appearance.
Location and Climate
Homes in damp climates near oceans and lakes or with high humidity are more prone to mildew growth and benefit from more frequent washing such as every 6-12 months. Homes in arid climates can go longer between cleanings.
Areas near busy roadways or industrial zones experience higher levels of grime, soot, and pollutants and require more frequent washing, while rural areas may need less.
Coastal areas with salt air tend to collect salty grime more rapidly.
Amount of Shade
The amount of shade your home gets also impacts washing frequency. Shady areas and north-facing sides encourage mildew growth. Sunny areas help dry the house and discourage mildew.
Trees and foliage near the home will increase the amount of dirt, leaves, pollen, sap, and debris that accumulate on your siding, windows, and gutters. Trimming back encroaching trees and bushes allows more sunlight and airflow to keep the exterior surfaces of your home cleaner.
Gutter and Downspout Condition
Clogged gutters can lead to overflow and moisture damage on exterior walls, causing staining and mildew growth. Make sure gutters are clear and working efficiently before pressure washing.
When Is the Best Time to Pressure Wash Your House?
Aim to pressure wash when temperatures are moderate, not too hot that water evaporates too quickly, and not too cold that water freezes on surfaces. Some ideal times:
- Spring: Wash winter grime away and prepare for summer
- Early Fall: Clear summer dirt and have your home sparkling
Also wash your home after any major dust or grime producing event such as:
- Construction or renovation work
- Major landscaping work stirring up dirt and dust
- Storms or wildfires depositing soot, debris, and pollutants
- Infestations of mold, algae, or mildew
Pressure Washing Frequency Guide by Exterior Surface
Here are some general guidelines for pressure washing frequency by type of exterior surface:
- Vinyl siding – At least once a year
- Wood siding – Every 2-3 years
- Brick, stone, concrete – Every 3-4 years
- Painted siding/trim – Every 1-2 years
- Decks and fences – Every 1-2 years
- Roof shingles – Every 3-5 years
- Driveways – Every 1-3 years
- Sidewalks – Every 1-2 years
- A/C coils and vents – Every 6-12 months
Increase frequency if your home has excessive shade, moisture issues, heavy debris, or is near sources of dirt and pollution.
Power Washing Equipment Basics
Gas-powered pressure washers provide the most cleaning power for whole house washing. Electric pressure washers are less expensive, more portable, and efficient for small jobs.
When renting or buying, look for:
- PSI of at least 3000 for household use
- GPM around 2-4 for good cleaning without damage
- Variety of spray tips
Adjust spray nozzles to match each surface, preventing damage. Use wider angled low pressure tips on more delicate areas. Narrow intense jets work on tougher stains.
Pressure Washing Safety Tips
- Wear protective eyewear and shoes to prevent injury from debris.
- Wet surfaces first and let soak to avoid forcing water into cracks and windows.
- Check weather forecast — avoid windy and freezing conditions.
- Clean second story surfaces from the ground, not a ladder.
- Ensure electrical outlets are protected from water.
- Divert or cover landscaping that could be damaged.
- Point spray tips away from yourself and others.
- Use caution on slippery surfaces.
- Detach hose from sprayer when not in use.
Hiring a Professional Pressure Washing Company
While DIY washing can save money, professionals have experience assessing each home’s needs. They also have industrial-grade equipment, special chemicals, and techniques for more thorough cleaning and avoiding damage.
Expect to pay $.20-.30 per sq. ft. for house washing. Get bids from at least 3 reputable local power washing companies. Ask about their specific process, equipment, and any prep work needed.
Check reviews and ask for before and after photos of past work. Confirm they carry liability insurance.
Pressure Washing vs Soft Washing Your Home Exterior
Pressure washing uses high PSI blasts of water to clean. Soft washing uses gentle water flow along with chemicals and low pressure rinses.
Soft washing is safer for delicate surfaces like wood and brick. Chemicals help break down and dissolve grime without abrasive blasting. However, some areas like driveways still require stronger pressure washing.
Many companies offer both pressure and soft washing services. Discuss your home’s needs to determine if soft washing specific areas would be beneficial.
Frequently Asked Questions About Power Washing Your House
For DIY washing expect to spend $50-$150 to rent a power washer for 4-8 hours along with $20-$40 for cleaning chemicals. Hiring a pro usually costs $200-$500 for a typical single story house depending on size and how dirty it is.
Does pressure washing damage siding?
It can if not done properly. Using too high pressure or holding the nozzle too close can damage more delicate surfaces. Soft washing minimizes any damage risks.
For DIY, expect to spend a full day for an average size home. Professionals can usually power wash an entire house in 2-4 hours with a team of 2-3 people.
Look for a washer with around 3000 PSI and 2-4 GPM. Adjustable tips let you customize the PSI and spray pattern for each surface. Lower PSI is good for delicate areas.
How often should you power wash wood siding?
Unfinished wood siding should be washed every 2-3 years to control mildew and stains. Sealed, stained, or painted wood siding only needs washing every 4-5 years depending on your climate.
Keep Your Home Looking Fresh with Regular Pressure Washing
As a homeowner, pressure washing your home’s exterior surfaces regularly keeps your house looking clean, neat, and welcoming. Prevent dirt, mildew, and grime from taking over, protecting your investment and improving curb appeal. Adjust your pressure washing frequency based on your home’s needs and conditions. Take advantage of moderate temperatures in spring and fall to get your home sparkling again.