How to Clean Siding without a Pressure Washer

An easy and (almost) effortless way to boost curb appeal is to spruce up your home’s exterior. Especially if the siding hasn’t received any TLC in a while, people will focus on the dingy aspects and not on the good features of your house. Removing dirt, grime, tree sap, and other organic materials can help protect damage to the siding and discourage mold growth. Thoroughly cleaning siding with a pressure washer might seem like the most efficient method to get the job done. But it’s not always wise. Here are some tips on how to clean siding without a pressure washer.

Reasons you shouldn’t use a pressure washer on siding.

Reasons not to use a pressure washer on the siding of your home include:

  • Water can be pushed in behind siding panels where mold and mildew can grow
  • Water can loosen mortar if the exterior walls are made of brick or stone veneer
  • The finish or paint on older siding panels might be blasted off
  • On homes built before 1978, the paint chips could contain lead
  • Aluminum siding can be dented and vinyl siding can crack or split under pressure

What you will need to clean siding without a power washer.

Home maintenance chores like cleaning your siding always go more smoothly if you take the time to inventory what you have on hand and need to buy. Necessary tools and equipment include:

  • Garden hose with a spray nozzle
  • Extension pole
  • Ladder
  • Liquid detergent/TSP (trisodium phosphate) detergent
  • Bleach (oxygen or chlorine)
  • Commercial stain remover for grease/oil/tree sap (eco-friendly wherever possible)
  • Soft bristle brush (nylon)
  • Bucket
  • Soft cloths
  • Protective gear such as gloves and safety glasses

Get ready to clean the siding of your home.

You’ll be spraying water and using chemical solutions. When cleaning the siding, protect your home by doing the following:

  • Close windows, doors, and vents
  • Turn off the power to any outdoor lights/outlets in the line of fire
  • Cover any outlets in danger of being soaked with plastic if the power can’t be turned off
  • Remove patio furniture, toys, and other objects away from the exterior walls
  • Cover plants, trees or shrubs growing nearby with plastic drop cloths or tarps

Before turning on the tap, inspect the siding for any obvious stains or holes – being able to identify mold, for example, will help you to determine, in addition to sudsy water, what type of cleaning solution to use. When repairs can’t be made before washing the siding, cover with plastic to protect water from getting in.

You’re ready to start cleaning the siding of your home.

While it’s better to apply oxygen bleach on cedar siding, use the following steps to clean any type of siding.

  • Work your way from the top and then down to where the siding ends – this allows you to work with gravity rather than against it
  • Put on gloves and safety goggles. Be careful when climbing the ladder and working on it
  • Spray the siding first to loosen dirt and debris without having to scrub unnecessarily
  • Fill the bucket with liquid detergent and water
  • Clean the stains that weren’t removed with the initial spray-down using a soft nylon bristle brush and soapy water
  • Rinse off soap residue – it’s harder to remove if left to dry
  • When attacking stains in a specific area, work one small section at a time
  • To remove mold, use a solution of bleach and water; apply with a soft brush/cloth in small circles
  • When removing other kinds of stains, read labels and follow any manufacturer’s instructions – leave a solution to soak on a tough stain only if instructed to do so
  • Rinse off each section before moving on to the next one

In order for your siding to look sharp and well cared for, your home’s exterior needs to be maintained regularly. Doing this without a pressure washer might be daunting. But it will be worth it in the end if your siding doesn’t develop mold or has loose panels in need of replacing.