There are hundreds of different types of siding on homes. Most people think that the answer is to use a pressure washer to blast all the grime and build up away. Pressure washing can lead to major damage of your siding if used incorrectly. Using gasoline and lots of water with a pressure washer is also non ecofriendly. After cleaning thousands of house exteriors I would recommend to leave the pressure washer in the garage. There is an easier way to clean exterior surfaces of your home and it is called soft washing. It is also more environmentally friendly making it a wise choice.
Soft washing is a method used by leading exterior maintenance contractors like myself. Soft washing is to use a chemical to clean rather than high pressure water (pressure washing). The most common soft washing chemical is bleach. Most exterior surfaces can be safely cleaned with bleach based soft wash solution. I highly recommend testing a small area of the surface before starting to make sure it does not discolor or damage the surface. More then 90% of siding can be cleaned with bleach based soft wash. Typically wood siding that is stained with semi-transparent finish is not recommended for the soft wash bleach solution. When used correctly bleach is biodegradable. It turns into salt after the active ingredient is non-active usually 30 minutes or so.
How do I make the soft wash solution? You will need the following items located at most hardware stores:
- Pump sprayer
- Clorox regular bleach
- 5 gallon mixing bucket
- Dawn dish wash soap
- Stir stick or drill with mixing rod
Use at your own risk. Make sure to protect your eyes, skin and surroundings from the chemicals. Mix the solution outside. Add 3 gallons of water to the 5 gallon bucket. Add 1-1.5 gallons of water. Add 10 OZ of dawn dish soap. Mix well. Add the mixed soft wash solution to your hand held pump sprayer. Spray the soft wash solution on the surface starting from the bottom and working up (this helps with minimizing the run off). It is best to spray the soft wash solution onto the surface when it is dry. Allow the solution to dwell on the surfaces for 5-10 minutes (do not allow the solution to dry). Wash off the solution with a garden hose to make the surface clean. For stubborn build up you may need to use a brush to agitate the soft wash solution into the surface for best release. Repeat these steps as needed. Add more bleach if needed. You can go up to a 50/50 mix of bleach and water. Make sure to cover or rinse off vegetation in the area where you are soft washing. Protect your eyes and skin from the soft wash solution.