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How to Clean Siding Without a Pressure Washer: 7 Tips

man cleaning wooden deck

Cleaning siding is easiest with a pressure washer—there is no doubt about that. However, if you don’t have a pressure washer, you can clean the siding without one. In fact, cleaning without one of these powered machines also makes it a bit easier to spot clean and may be easier on the siding. For instance, you should never clean wood with a pressure washer, as it can damage it.

There are many different cleaners available and methods you can try. The best option largely depends on your siding and how dirty it is—dirtier siding will need extra attention. Here are some tips to make cleaning easier.

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The 7 Tips on How to Clean Siding Without a Pressure Washer

1. Consider Your Siding Material

man using pressure washer to clean outdoor floor
Image Credit: SKT Studio, Shutterstock

There are many different kinds of siding out there, and they should not all be cleaned the same way. Therefore, it’s vital that you consider the type of siding you’re working with. Some particular products also have very specific guidelines for cleaning.

The easiest way to prevent damage to your siding is to follow the manufacturing guidelines that should have come with the siding. However, you can also find most of these guidelines online.

Here is a quick breakdown of the different cleaning methods commonly recommended for different materials:
  • Vinyl Siding: You can clean this siding annually with soap and water. Do not use harsh chemicals or a power washer.
  • Insulated Siding: The guidelines are the same as vinyl. Clean yearly with soap and water; do not pressure wash.
  • Fiber Cement: It’s recommended to clean this siding yearly to prevent dirt and mildew from accumulating. You should also repaint it every 15 to 20 years.
  • Engineered Wood: This siding is surprisingly solid and durable. You can clean it with mild detergent. Use light sandpaper to remove tough stains only if you have to.
  • Regular Wood: Use a soft bristle brush and soapy water to clean this siding. You shouldn’t pressure wash it, as it can damage the wood.

2. Do a Test Cleaning

Even if you follow manufacturer recommendations, you should do a test cleaning on a small part of your siding that is out of the way. This test cleaning helps ensure that your cleaning products and method won’t damage the siding. It is better to damage a small part of the siding in an out-of-the-way location than a whole side.

We recommend cleaning a square foot area the day before. Then, check for any damage the next day. You can wash the rest of your siding similarly if there isn’t any.

3. Use Extra Caution with Wood

pressure washer deck
Image Credit: bubutu, Shutterstock

Wood can splinter easier than other types of siding so you should be very cautious when cleaning it. Don’t apply much water pressure. Otherwise, it can damage the wood or cause rot. Using a power washer is a big no-no. Even though you aren’t using a pressure washer, you should still be cautious even when using a garden hose attachment.

4. Get an Outdoor Cleaning Wand

Even without a pressure washer, we recommend having common tools to make the process much easier. An outdoor cleaning wand is one of these tools. These wands are long poles with a brush on the end that you attach to your garden hose. These aren’t expensive, but they’re vital for cleaning anything above your head.

For two-story houses, you’ll probably need a ladder, as well. Remember to have someone spot you when using this tool on a ladder, as it can be easy to lose your balance.

Also, be sure your garden hose can reach all the way around your house. You’ll need to invest in a longer one if it can’t.

5. Don’t Forget Safety Equipment

Pressure Washer Before and After_shutterstock_bubutu
Image Credit By: bubutu, shutterstock

We recommend wearing protective gloves and goggles when cleaning your house. You never know when debris may jump back and hit you. Plus, the gloves can prevent your hands from being exposed to too much water and soap, which can have a drying effect.

Wear a mask if you anticipate cleaning mold. You’ll need the appropriate filter to prevent mold spores from reaching your lungs. If you have long hair, put it up and add a hair net to keep the mold out of your hair, too.

6. Use the Correct Cleaning Solution

There is a lot to consider when making your cleaning solution. You could use many different solutions, so take caution to pick the best one. Here is a quick overview of each solution:

Here is a quick overview of each solution:
  • Vinegar: 30% white vinegar and 70% water. This solution is suitable for most siding and removes light mildew and mold
  • stains.
  • Bleach: 1/3 cup of powdered laundry detergent, 1 quart of laundry bleach, and 1 gallon of water. This cleaner is a bit stronger but has a higher chance of damaging your siding.
  • Green cleaning products: These commercially available products are made to clean siding without harming the landscaping. They work very well for various purposes, but they often cost more.
  • Soapy water: You can add dish soap to water, however, this is only suitable for moderately dirty walls.
  • Mildew cleaner: You can use a commercial mildew cleaner to protect against mold. Of course, you should dilute it and add it to your other cleaner of choice.

7. Scrub

person using air compressor as pressure washer
Image Credit By: Media Whalestock, Shutterstock

After washing with a wand, you’ll need to grab a brush and work on the particularly troublesome areas. Start with the gentlest option, such as a cloth. Then, move on to a bristle brush. If the area is particularly hard to reach, you may need a quality outdoor cleaning wand to scrub the area. If an area is particularly dirty, you can use a wire brush. After you’ve given the whole area a good scrubbing, rinse it with a bucket of water.

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We recommend cleaning your siding yearly if possible. You don’t want the dirt and grime to build up, making cleaning more difficult when you get to it. How exactly you should clean your siding will vary. It depends on how dirty it is, your available tools, and the type of siding. Certain siding will need a gentler hand than other siding types.

We recommend investing in a quality outdoor cleaning wand to make the whole process go smoother. Also, ensure that your hose can reach all the areas of your house that you want to clean.

Featured Image Credit: pompous, Shutterstock


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