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How to Clean and Maintain Vinyl Siding

Written by Carol J Alexander

Published on April 26, 2024


How to Clean and Maintain Vinyl Siding

Keep your home sparkling clean the easy way–at least on the outside–when you follow our instructions for cleaning vinyl siding.

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Does your vinyl siding look tired and dingy? Is mold or mildew growing on the shady side of the house? It's definitely time for some soap and water—literally. Cleaning vinyl siding is a home maintenance task every homeowner should do regularly. If you need a little help, keep reading for instructions, what to avoid, and when to hire a professional.

Project Overview 

Total Time: 1-2 hours

Skill Level: Beginner

Estimated Cost: $50 to $450

Yield: Improved curb appeal

Find a professional to clean your vinyl siding

Signs that vinyl siding needs cleaning

To properly maintain your siding, don't wait for signs. Wash your house as often as the manufacturer recommends. But if you see crud hanging out in the corners, notice a thin film of dust and grime, have mold and mildew growing, or noticing a loss of vibrance in your vinyl siding's color, it's time to get the scrubbing brushes ready.

Siding with a faded appearance, dirt and grime, and mold and mildew side-by-side

DIY vs. professional siding cleaning

The average cost for a professional siding cleaning is $396 to $721, depending on your location and the job scope.

The average cost to clean your own siding is $25 to $50, depending on the supplies.

Cleaning vinyl siding is a home maintenance project most homeowners can perform themselves. Whether you use an all-natural solution made at home with white vinegar or chlorine bleach or purchase an industrial-strength cleaner, the ingredients, and scrubbing supplies are all that make up the cost of this project.

However, many other factors influence the cost of a professional siding cleaning. The size of the home and the condition of the siding are the most obvious. However, some homeowners need to realize that when cleaning the siding, the porches, porch ceilings, and railings must also be cleaned, adding to the expense. 

When landscaping, the slope of the terrain and the house's height can make the work more difficult. The cost will be higher for steep slopes or two-story homes, too. Some homeowners choose to add the expense of cleaning other components of the home's exterior, like gutters and soffits. 

Anytime ladders and personal protective equipment are involved in a home improvement project, you want to ensure you're safe. If you feel uncomfortable with heights or have difficulty holding a heavy telescoping scrubbing brush over your head, consider hiring help.

Recommended vinyl siding cleaning solutions

You want to be careful when applying chemicals to your vinyl siding as some may be too caustic and harm the surface. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions and use their recommended products/solutions, especially if your siding is still under warranty.

However, for older siding, feel free to follow these instructions from the pros.

Some siding professionals believe less is more. "At the end of the day, we feel confident that the best way to clean the house is with low-pressure water with no cleaning products," says Niki O'Brien, operations manager at Custom Exteriors, LLC in Colorado. "It is the least likely to cause damage and, in our experience, does a fairly thorough job." 

Then other pros prefer to use some type of cleaner. "I've found the best way to clean vinyl siding is to brush it with an extended soft-bristled brush broom dipped in a bleaching agent," says Delah Gomasi, managing director and CEO of MaidForYou, an Australian company. He recommends LA's Totally Awesome All Purpose Concentrated Cleaner & Degreaser

Some popular cleaners you may already have on hand are dish soap, laundry detergent, Lysol, or an all-purpose household cleaner. Other popular cleaning products specifically for house siding include:

Pro tip

Always test vinyl siding cleaners in an inconspicuous spot before using. Then choose whatever works for your unique circumstances. – Niki O'Brien, Custom Exteriors

Tools and materials needed to clean vinyl siding

Technically, you only need a garden hose and sprayer to clean your vinyl. But for especially dirty siding, hard-to-reach areas, or a build-up of grime, you may want the following tools and cleaners.

  • Telescoping brush that attaches to a garden hose

  • Magic eraser

  • Cleaner of choice. Always check the manufacturer's recommendations.

Pro tip

Using a telescoping brush is the most ergonomic way to clean the siding without putting too much pressure on your back. – Delah Gomasi, MaidForYou

How to clean vinyl siding

Once you've chosen your cleaner and tools, you're ready to roll up your sleeves and get wet. Here are the steps to follow when cleaning your vinyl siding.

Step 1: Protect the landscaping

If you use a cleaner, whether a commercial preparation or something natural like vinegar, you want to protect the landscaping. Some professionals recommend covering the plants with a tarp while you clean. However, if you're working on a hot day, that could stress the plants. For large homes, you may spend more time moving tarps around than the actual cleaning process.

Otherwise, Gomasi recommends wetting the plants down. "The pre-wet method is the best way to prevent damage to your vegetation and landscaping from cleaning chemicals when washing your vinyl siding," he says. Here is his process.

  • Wet the plants and surrounding area the day before cleaning.

  • Wet the plants again before starting the cleaning process.

  • Wet the plants a third time when you're done.

Step 2: Start at the top

Remove any debris from the roof and clean out the gutters. Some of the dirt on your siding could come from leaves and twigs accumulating in the gutters from nearby trees.

Step 3: Dry brush

Use a soft-bristled brush to remove cobwebs and old wasp nests. If you have active wasps, please take precautions before removing them. 

Step 4: Clean

Start at the top of the house and clean down. If your home is relatively clean, spraying it with water should be good enough. Otherwise, use a telescoping brush and swish the dirt away as water comes through the hose. 

If you're using a commercial product, always read the proper concentration and application directions. Concentrated products will suggest ounces per gallon of water. If you only need to apply the product to a small area and not the entire house, see if you can mix a smaller quantity to apply in a hand-held spray bottle.

Pro tip

For those tough cases where a garden hose and soft brush aren't getting the job done, we have success using a Magic Eraser. – Niki O'Brien, Custom Exteriors

Step 5: Rinse

If you've used Clorox, an all-purpose cleaner, or anything besides water on your house, always rinse with clean water to prevent streaking.

A before and after image of dirty and clean vinyl siding side-by-side

Can I clean vinyl siding with a pressure washer?

The short answer is no. If you follow the above instructions, it's unnecessary and isn't worth the risk of damaging your siding. "Unless a homeowner has insulated siding, vinyl siding is hollow, and a pressure washer is likely to damage or break through it entirely," says O'Brien. However, if you have a pressure washer and don't want to spend the money on a telescoping brush, she says to use the lowest possible setting and "test it in an inconspicuous spot that would be easy to work on if the siding gets damaged."

Even if the siding material withstands the pressure, sometimes the caulk joints won't. So, if you pressure wash your vinyl siding, always follow up with an inspection for any damage, no matter how small.

Pro tip

If you want to use a pressure washer, it's best to use the spray nozzle or spray tip to minimize the probability of damaging your vinyl siding. These attachments cover a larger surface area at a minimal PSI. – Delah Gomasi, MaidForYou

How to stay safe while cleaning your siding

Cleaning your vinyl siding should be a safe DIY project if you keep both feet on the ground. However, if you have a two-story home or need to climb a ladder to reach the gables, you want to ensure you follow safety guidelines. 

  • Always have a spotter nearby when climbing on a ladder.

  • Never climb to a height that makes you feel unsafe, especially if you’re afraid of heights or get dizzy spells.

  • Always wear personal protective equipment, such as safety goggles and gloves, when working with chemicals and a ladder stabilizer when ascending off the ground.

  • Wear shoes with non-slip soles.

How to maintain your vinyl siding

To prevent the need for deep cleaning of your vinyl siding, simply perform regular maintenance tasks like the following:

  • Don't allow sprinkler heads to spray water on the siding, which could cause discoloration.

  • Whenever you sweep the porches, remove creature evidence like spider webs and wasp nests. 

  • Rinse off the siding with the garden hose to remove dust or splashback from the ground a couple of times a year.

  • Remove debris from the roof seasonally.

  • Keep the gutters clean.

From dingy to sparkling clean

Sometimes, you just can't keep up with all the home projects you need to do. Or, you're unable to wield a long, heavy brush or climb on ladders. For times like these, there's a pro waiting to do it for you. At Fixr, we believe every homeowner should have access to professional home improvement help. Before you decide to replace your vinyl siding completely, have a professional give it a good scrub first.

Find a siding cleaning professional in your neighborhood

Frequently asked questions

Cleaning takes on a whole new meaning when you simply hose the dirt off each season. Most professionals agree that's all your siding needs.

Absolutely! See our article on painting vinyl siding for more information. 

Direct sunlight and high heat can adversely affect some vinyl siding products. Some common complaints are loss of color, warping, and brittleness. However, new technology has led to the manufacture of more durable products. So, if high heat is a concern, compare product features and warranties when shopping for new siding.

Written by

Carol J Alexander Content Specialist and Subject Matter Expert

Carol J Alexander is a home remodeling industry expert for Fixr.com. For more than 15 years as a journalist and content marketer, her in-depth research, interviewing skills, and technical insight have ensured she provides the most accurate and current information on a given topic. Before joining the Fixr team, her personal clients included leaders in the building materials market like Behr Paint Company, CertainTeed, and Chicago Faucet, and national publications like This Old House and Real Homes.