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Your vinyl siding needs to be washed, but how can you clean it without killing the plants in your flower beds? We've researched to find effective, green methods that will clean your vinyl siding and keep your plants healthy and happy.
Some plant-friendly ways to clean your vinyl siding are as follows:
- Use a soft bristle brush and cloth.
- Use environmentally friendly cleaning products.
- Use a pressure washer, with caution.
Let's dive a bit deeper into how to keep that vinyl siding looking sharp and free of mildew and grime. We will also look at eco-friendly vinyl and learn about cleaning solutions that may be harmful to your household plants.
Cleaning Your Vinyl Siding The Plant Friendly Way
Vinyl siding is the most popular siding choice in the U.S. It can be used over existing siding, is inexpensive compared to other siding options, and, with proper care, holds its color-fastness and beauty for many years. But it doesn't come without maintenance. Its recommended vinyl siding be cleaned at least once every two years. If you live in a cooler and wetter climate, it may require annual cleaning to rid it of mold and mildew.
Best Tools To Clean Vinyl Siding
The proper way to clean your vinyl siding (per the Vinyl Siding Institute) is with a long-handled soft brush or soft cloth. Start from the bottom of the house and work your way up, rinsing as you go. If you have any brick facing on your house, along with your vinyl siding, you want to be sure to protect bricks from runoff.
This 24' telescoping soft bristle brush is a good example of the recommended best tool to clean vinyl siding. The soft bristles won't scratch your siding, and the rubber bumper will soften the blow if it hits the window edge or other areas vulnerable to bumps and scratches. Click here for this brush on Amazon.
Best Plant-Friendly Products To Use While Cleaning Vinyl Siding
Not all cleaning products are the same when it comes to plants. Some products can damage or outright kill your valuable shrubs and flowering plants. But which ones don't? Let's take a look.
Water And Oxygen Bleach
Perhaps the simplest approach to cleaning your vinyl siding is with a simple solution of water and non-chlorine bleach. Mix a gallon of water with one cup of oxygen bleach. This type of bleach will not harm your landscaping but does a great job at cutting through normal dirt, grime, and mildew stains.
Oxygen bleach is chlorine-free, which helps keep your plants safe. Mix this with water for a perfect vinyl siding cleaner. Click here for this on Amazon.
This environmentally friendly cleaner is formulated for vinyl (and aluminum) siding, stucco, terra cotta roof tiles, and painted wood surfaces. The non-toxic, biodegradable concentrate can be used with your soft bristle brush, soft cloth, or with pressure washers. It's also a great cleaner to have around the house for any outdoor project where the environment poses a concern.
Scott's Outdoor Cleaner With Oxy-Clean
Scotts Outdoor Cleaner House & Siding has ZeroScrub Technology, eliminating stains from hard to reach exteriors with no hassle. No scrubbing or power washing is needed. All you do is hook up your garden hose to the bottle and spray it on your siding. It's great at removing stains from vinyl, stucco, wood, composite wood, shingles, stone, cement, brick, and many more surfaces.
Though it's not particularly harmful to plants, it is recommended that you give your plants and grass a good fresh-water spray after using this product.
No Detergent Magic Erasers
If you have some tricky or tough areas where no amount of soft brush scrubbing works, pull out an original magic eraser. You want to be sure to purchase ones that contain no chemicals or added detergents. These work like a charm on scuff marks and other types of stains that the brush has trouble freeing from the surface of your vinyl siding. It's one of the hidden uses of magic erasers!
To Pressure Wash Or Not When It Comes To Vinyl Siding?
Pressure washing is a quick and easy way to clean many outdoor surfaces, including your vinyl siding. But it comes with drawbacks. Too much water pressure can force water between the siding planks.
Hold your power washer wand straight out to keep the water on top of the siding where it can clean most effectively. Do not aim it upward as that's when water could get behind the siding. Always follow the siding manufacturer’s recommendations. Some don’t want pressure washers used on their products at all. Others have limitations on the amount of pressure that can be used.
Experts caution against the use of pressure washers around any opening in the wall, such as windows, doors, electrical wiring, and plumbing that could be affected by the water's force.
Remember to cover your plants before pressure washing so they will be protected. Also, select eco-friendly cleaners to use in the pressure washer to avoid harm from run-off chemicals leaching into the soil.
What Is Eco-friendly Vinyl?
Vinyl siding is considered one of the more sustainable and environmentally friendly products in the housing market. Some of the reasons for this are as follows:
- It increases a home's R-Value.
- There is little waste when vinyl is installed.
- It balances economic and environmental performance.
- Vinyl contributes less to global warming than brick does.
- It's engineered to last, which reduces waste over time.
- Vinyl requires fewer resources to maintain.
Is Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) Harmful To Plants?
TSP is a wildly popular household cleaner, mainly because it does a great job. However, it is incredibly alkaline and can indeed be harmful to acid-loving plants. That said, TSP is even more harmful to aquatics and wildlife. Using it anywhere you have water run-off that can drain into sewers, drainage pipes, creeks, or streams is harmful to the environment as a whole.
You're much better off sticking to one of the cleaning options listed above, like Simply Green or a simple water and oxygen bleach solution.
Will Diluted Clorox Kill Plants?
Clorox is chlorine bleach or sodium hypochlorite. The first part, sodium, is salt. Excess salt is harmful to grass and plants. The chlorine part of the equation can cause chlorine toxicity. Diluted Clorox probably won't immediately kill your plants, but using it for a large area, like cleaning your entire home's siding, could cause damage even when diluted.
You only want to use oxygen bleach (sodium percarbonate) near your plants. It will not cause damage but has great bleach cleaning properties.
Here's a pure liquid form of Sodium Percarbonate or oxygen bleach. Mix it with water per our instructions above, and you can have clean siding and happy plants. Click here for this on Amazon.
There's Nothing Like A Shiny Clean Home Exterior
Cleaning your vinyl siding might seem overwhelming, but knowing how to do is half of the battle. Once you take the time and effort to get the grime off your house, you'll realize it's a task worth taking on every couple of years. And armed with this information, you're ready to get started.
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