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Clean vinyl siding the eco-friendly way

Filed Under: outdoor, cleaning

When it comes to how-to advice on cleaning vinyl siding, I'm amazed at how often the word "bleach" comes up. Like here and here, for example. But think about it -- is bleach really necessary? After all, it's harmful to the environment, including your very own local waterways, flora and fauna. And not just wild fauna -- I met someone whose little dachshund was killed when a careless neighbor accidentally sprayed the pup with a bleach solution while cleaning his siding.

Here are eco-friendly tips to help you keep your vinyl siding looking like new.

1. Go back-to-basics: I use just plain old hot water and a long-handled scrubbing brush. Rinse with a regular garden hose. There's no need to add bleach or detergents to remove what is likely just a thin buildup of dirt or pollen. Green mold on the shady sides of the house can be removed the same way.

2. You can use a pressure sprayer, but be very careful. You could inadvertently force water back behind the vinyl panels. That's exactly where you don't want moisture to accumulate.

3. Bleach is an efficient mildew killer. If you must use it for that purpose, carefully dilute it at a ratio of one quart of bleach to around one gallon of water. Next, be very careful to keep it away from plants, pets and, of course, your own or anyone else's skin. Consider using a bleach alternative such as oxygen bleach or a vinegar and water solution.

4. Still have marks or stains? The Vinyl Siding Institute's website includes a handy chart to help you choose the right cleaning agent for the job. In my humble opinion, even this goes a little overboard on the chemical side of things. Example: commercial detergents to remove grass or top soil? I don't think so. Bottom line: think before cracking out the industrial-strength cleansers.


  • MARY

    MY vinyl siding is white,but there is black all over my house (looks like dirt) some parts have some green spots, my whole house is covered. I did a spot check with bleach and it took it off, The problem is I don't know what it is ? and it is in all the crevies of the siding, please help .Thank You.

  • diane.rixon

    Hi Mary, Thanks for your message! What you're describing is probably just mold and mildew. Plain water and a scrubbing brush will probably remove that just as well as bleach, but without the environmental harm. :)

  • MARY

    Hi Diane.
    Thanks so much for your comments about my siding,I don't think I will be able to scrub my whole house, Is there a easier way ? also can you tell me how I got mold or mildew on my siding and how I can prefent it from happening again.
    Thanks Mary

  • Richard

    Oxidation is a natural result of UV rays and other environmanetal factors slowly breaking down your siding. If you are seeing oxidation then your siding is also fading (unless you have white siding). There is a product called Vinyl ReNu that will restore the color to your siding and resist the oxidation for years. The same company makes a cleaner that is designed to remove oxidation, mold, mildew, etc. If you clean your siding and then apply Vinyl ReNu your siding will look great for years. Vinyl ReNu will also resist mold, mildew, algae, etc. growth. The company can also refer you to a contractor in your area if you do not want to do it yourself. We did our house and it looks great. It looks like new siding and we no longer have green algae growing on the north side of our house.



  • Steve

    We also have a corn burner and are having lots of trouble getting the residue off our vinyl siding. We started by washing it down with TSP, but that didn't get it all, especially on the soffit. Now we are trying bug and tar remover, but it isn't getting it all off. Any other suggestions?

  • Ed

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  • Jerry

    I am having a problem with my vinyl siding getting a chalky coating on it. I tried to pressure wash it off with no luck, and I tried a mild dishwashing detergent in water with a soft brush and also had no luck. I haven't tried any other cleaners and would like to know what the best alternative might be. The siding is 3 years old, and I'm seeing the chalking on the south and east sides of the house and shed.

  • Diane Rixon

    Hi Jerry, This chalky residue is caused by oxidation. My understanding is that about all you can do is clean it every so often to rinse the residue off, but you can't prevent it altogether. Here's a link that mentions this problem:
    You could also try calling your installer or emailing the Vinyl Siding Institute for advice.

  • Mike

    I am just curious about your comment on the VSI link you supplied in the your article "Cleaning Vinyl Siding The Eco Friendly Way. The site suggests using Fantastik®, Lysol®, Murphy Oil Soap®, Windex®, Lestoil®, solution of vinegar (30%), water (70%), Simple Green®, Nice & Easy®, Armor All®, Brillo® Pad, Soft Scrub®, Alternatively, you also could try the following solution: 1/3 cup (2 2/3 ounces) powdered laundry detergent (e.g., Tide®, Fab®, or equivalent),
    2/3 cup (5 1/3 ounces) powdered household cleaner (e.g., Spic & Span®, Soilax®, or equivalent), 1 quart (32 fluid ounces) liquid laundry bleach, and 1 gallon (128 fluid ounces) of water. I don't see that these are commercial chemicals in the context you are attempting to use a non-friendly chemicals. Also there are numerous UV protectants on the market that are specifically made for items such as vinyl siding, fiberglass boats and so on. I have found that 303 Protectant does a very good job on slowing oxidation when used periodically. As for mold on the siding, Tilex Mold & Mildew Remover works wonders and after an hour or so just rinse it off. No damage to plants unless you purposely soak your plants with it.

  • 10 Comments / 1 Pages

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