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Pressure Washing Vinyl Siding: Bad Idea or Safe? Complete Cleaning Guide

December 11, 2020

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Is pressure washing bad for vinyl siding? This is a vital question for homeowners, as you want to keep your home’s exterior clean and pristine but also avoid damaging siding, brick, window and patio door glass, wood decks and fences, and other outside surfaces and materials.

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There is no simple answer as to whether or not pressure washing is bad for vinyl siding, as it can be both beneficial and damaging! To better understand what this means and help you keep your home in good condition, check out a few simple tips about power washing techniques, including what to do and what to avoid. Remember to call a pressure washing contractor for any cleaning outside your area of expertise so you stay safe and your home stays clean as well!

Is It Safe to Power Wash Vinyl Siding and Other Exterior Surfaces?

In short, power washing is safe for vinyl siding when done correctly! This is also true of all other surfaces and materials outside your home including roof shingles and tiles, exterior glass, wood decks and fences, concrete and paver stones, and metal details such as railings. Proper, professional pressure washing with the right tools and techniques is safe and even beneficial for your property:

  • Power washing removes layers of damp dirt, mud, mold, and other residues, protecting outside surfaces from absorbing that moisture and reducing the risk of wood rot. It also cleans away termite tunnels, keeping these damaging pests out of your home, as well as insect nests, for a safer outdoor environment.
  • Exterior house washing removes bothersome mold, mildew, pollen, dust, and other irritants clinging to a home’s surfaces, improving outdoor air quality. Wood deck and fence washing remove mold that grows along cracks and pores of wood, reducing the risk of wood rot, split wood, and other damage.
  • Roof washing removes algae growing between and underneath shingles, so you’re less likely to lose those shingles in a storm or high winds!
  • Window washing removes damaging grit and grime, which then lets more light into the home interior, improving your view from the inside and out!

Power washing improves curb appeal instantly. Homeowners are often surprised at how fresh and new their home looks after a complete washing. While power washing offers all these benefits for your home’s exterior, it’s vital to remember that it must be done correctly, with the right amount of pressure and cleansers meant to tackle certain residues and surfaces. Too much pressure from a power washer can dent siding, chip brick, loosen roof shingles, and even shatter window glass.

The wrong detergents can also damage certain surfaces or leave behind a sticky residue, attracting more dirt than before. A professional pressure washing contractor will also take the time needed to tape or otherwise block holes in siding or brick, to avoid letting water get past the siding and into a home’s interior. This reduces the risk of interior water damage and resultant mold growth.

The BEST Way to Clean Vinyl Siding

Now that you know a few reasons why you should clean your home’s outside surfaces and some cautions against improper cleaning techniques, note a few tips on the best way to clean vinyl siding. For light cleaning of some surface dirt, you can use soapy water, an exterior scrub brush meant for vinyl siding, and a garden hose. Start with a five-gallon bucket of warm water and add some squirts of dish detergent, and mix well.

If you don’t have a garden hose sprayer with an attached container, you can simply throw or dump the soapy water onto your home’s siding! Work slowly in small batches as you’ll want to scrub the siding while it’s still wet, as this helps loosen dirt and grime. Once scrubbed, rinse the area and move on to the next.

Can You Use Dawn to Clean Vinyl Siding?

Dawn and other dish detergent brands are typically safe for vinyl siding and other outside surfaces. Grease dissolving agents in Dawn and similar detergents also help remove oily stains, such as residue from airborne grease left over from your last cookout. Just be sure you use enough water to dissolve the detergent completely and be prepared to wash tough areas a few times before they come clean completely.

Will Vinegar Clean Vinyl Siding?

Vinegar is an excellent choice for removing mold, algae, and other unsightly residues along the vinyl siding. Dissolve a cup of white vinegar in a gallon of water and apply it to your home, then scrub the mold and other residues as needed. Rinse thoroughly so the vinegar doesn’t dry the siding and repeat this process as needed for a thorough clean.

Will Bleach Hurt Vinyl Siding?

Bleach is also an excellent choice for killing mold spores and algae roots clinging to your home! As with vinegar, it’s vital you dilute the bleach properly and rinse thoroughly, to prevent it from drying onto your home. Use one cup of bleach in a gallon of water and apply as needed. Of course, with all these methods, it's a very time-consuming process and there's always a risk of not completing the process correctly.

How Do You Clean Vinyl Siding With a Pressure Washer?

pressure washing

If you’re considering renting or buying a pressure washer and tackling your home’s siding on your own, consider some vital tips for getting the job done right. These tips will ensure a quick, thorough clean and help reduce the risk of dents, splatter, and other damage.

Before you get started, ensure you’ve taken all safety precautions, as power washers are often more dangerous than people realize. Use eye protection and wear long sleeves and pants, and closed-toe shoes or work boots. Never aim the sprayer at people or pets, as it can cut through skin and cause injury easily.

It’s also vital that you remove all tripping hazards, cover electrical outlets, close all windows, and even cover delicate landscaping features before working. Ensure you keep the cord to an electric pressure washer out of standing water, to avoid a shock risk!

What PSI Do You Need to Wash Vinyl Siding?

Pressure washers deliver power in pounds per square inch, or PSI. When shopping for pressure washing equipment, you might notice that gas-powered models typically range from 2000 to 4000 PSI. However, your home’s vinyl siding will probably only need 1300 to 1600 PSI for a thorough cleaning.

Using too much pressure on siding and other outdoor materials is a common cause of damage, and can dent siding, chip a brick chimney stack, and even blow shingles off the home’s roof. The right detergents also make quick work of dissolving tough, thick layers of grime, so you won’t need added pressure to clean stubborn dirt from your home’s exterior walls. Choose a detergent meant for vinyl siding, so you know it will be safe yet clean effectively.

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Which Pressure Washing Nozzle is Best for Vinyl Siding?

Pressure washing nozzles are numbered and color-coded, to indicate the width and strength of spray they create. A zero-degree, red nozzle creates a thin, strong stream used for thick dirt or for reaching small crevices along the surface being cleaned. A 15-degree, yellow nozzle also creates a strong, direct stream; this nozzle is often used for stripping peeling paint or rust from surfaces.

A 25-degree, green nozzle is used for loosening and lifting paint, rust, dirt, and other debris. A 40-degree, white nozzle offers a wide, light spray, and is used for rinsing and lightweight cleaning. The wide spray also makes quick work of cleaning larger surfaces, such as a home’s exterior walls. The black soap nozzle has a large opening, used for applying thick soaps and detergents.

To clean vinyl siding, you might start with a 40-degree or 25-degree nozzle and plain water, to loosen dirt and grime, remove dust, and prepare the surface for cleaning. Switch to the black nozzle and apply your soap or cleanser, if needed. Once the surface is ready for rinsing, switch back to your 40-degree white nozzle for fast rinsing.

If your home’s siding has peeling paint or rusted areas needing cleaning, test the 15-degree stripping nozzle on an inconspicuous area of the siding, ensuring you stand back several feet as you work. Note if the siding suffers any dents or dings before moving on to areas needing cleaning. If the 15-degree nozzle is too strong for your home’s siding, use the 25-degree nozzle, or remove paint and rust manually with chisels, sandpaper, and other tools and equipment instead of your power washer.

Washing Vinyl Siding Quickly AND Effectively

When washing a home’s siding, you want to apply the soap starting from the bottom of your home and then work your way to the top! Since dirt and grime tend to get pulled downward, starting from the bottom actually loosens it more readily; spraying from the top of the home downward might simply push dirt into the surface being cleaned.

Working upward also ensures you clean underneath the ridge of each siding panel, where dirt tends to build up. If using a scrub brush, move the brush sideways rather than up and down, as this also ensures you remove dirt trapped under those siding crevices.

Once everything is clean and scrubbed, rinse the home’s outside walls from the top downward. This reduces splashing and ensures you leave behind no trace of soap or detergent. Let the rinse water dry and note if you need to repeat the process for a more thorough clean.

A Word from Our Pressure Washers

Tampa Bay Pressure Washing Services is proud to present this information to our readers and especially proud of the work offered by our power washing contractors. If you’re still wondering if pressure washing is bad for vinyl siding, or are in the Tampa area and need pressure washing services for your home or business, don’t hesitate to contact us! We offer expert soft wash services, perfect for removing dirt, mold, and storm debris from exterior surfaces, leaving your property clean and pristine and looking its best! When you require exterior pressure washing for home siding, give the experts a call!

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