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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

Does Pressure Washing Damage Vinyl Siding on Your Home?

Written by Nate Knebl Posted On Sunday, 24 February 2019 05:00

Residential pressure washing is an excellent way to improve a home's curb appeal, removing years of baked-on mud, dirt, and other unsightly grime. Roof washing, as well as gutter brightening and window washing, also protect those surfaces from long-term damage caused by abrasive and corrosive debris. However, is pressure washing safe for vinyl siding?

Improper pressure washing techniques can absolutely damage vinyl siding, boring a hole through the vinyl or causing dents and warped areas. Concentrated pressure can also leave streaks or water marks across the front of vinyl siding.

While improper techniques can damage vinyl siding, as well as old and brittle roofing shingles, thin exterior window glass, worn timber decking, and aged mortar along brick walls, the right residential power washing techniques can get these surfaces clean and pristine. To ensure you're doing everything possible to keep your home in good condition and looking its best, note some tips for avoiding damage while power washing a house, and for ensuring the job is done thoroughly and effectively.

Ways to Properly Pressure Wash a Home Safely and Effectively

Residential power washing isn't always damaging to vinyl siding and other surfaces and materials, as long as the work is done right! Note a few tips from local pros at pressure washing in St. Petersburg, FL, for safely pressure washing a home, and remember that you might rely on a professional soft clean system instead of tackling this job yourself, so you avoid damaging your roof, walls, and windows during the cleaning process.

  • • Start by removing mold and mildew by hand. Use a watered down bleach solution in a spray bottle and then scrub these contaminants with a damp rag.

  • • Begin pressure washing with plain water only. Some detergents might dry out vinyl siding or strip its color, and dry along the surface of siding, brick walls, windows, and timber decking, leaving behind dirty and unsightly streaks.

  • • If you must use detergent, be sure you opt for surfactants made for particular surfaces. Cleansers meant for a wood deck might be too harsh for exterior window glass, and some detergents should be used with hot water rather than cold.

  • • Always use the lowest pressure available as you begin cleaning, optimally no more than the force produced by a garden hose! You can increase the strength as needed and as you see what is safe for each surface, as you continue to clean.

  • • Start by washing higher areas of the home and hidden corners where dirt collects; this includes roof eaves, behind shutters, and under gutters and around downspouts.

  • • Hold the pressure washing wand at a forty-five-degree angle to the siding and other such surfaces, either to the side or downward, rather than standing directly in front of the area you're washing. Holding the wand at an angle will help to loosen dirt and also lessen the pressure against s surface, reducing the risk of damage.

  • • Keep the pressure washing wand moving and never hold it over one spot continuously, as this is a surefire way to bore a hole right through vinyl, brick, and timber, or shatter an exterior window.

  • • Work in sections and be sure you rinse away dirt and residual detergent thoroughly before you move on to the next part of a wall or next set of windows.

  • • Keep an eye on the water as you work; if it's still dirty and gray, you need to keep washing that particular section of your home! Keep working until the water runs clean and clear and is free of suds and residual detergent.

When to Hire Residential Pressure Washing Services

Most homeowners can rent or buy a pressure washer and manage some light, everyday cleaning of their property's exterior. However, it's good to call a professional for many power washing needs around your home, to avoid damage and for a thorough and effective wash. Note when it's good to hire residential pressure washing services:

• Never attempt roof washing on your own. Managing a pressure washer while on a roof or a ladder is very dangerous, and it's quite easy to loosen shingles and tiles with a power washer. Soft wash systems will also dissolve years of thick soot and grime from a roof without damaging old and brittle shingles.

• Window washing is often more difficult than homeowners realize, and it takes some special skill and knowhow to clean windows without leaving behind streaks and water marks. A professional window cleaning service can also make quick work of cleaning shutters and screens without causing damage.

• Cleaning gutters with a garden hose or power washer is often messy and difficult. Soft wash cleaning dissolves thick silt and mud in gutters, without creating a mess or pulling those gutters away from their connectors and roof eaves.

• Specialty surfactants will kill roots and spores of algae, mold, mildew, and moss, to ensure these contaminants don't grow back along a home's exterior walls and roof edges. If your home has mold, algae, or any such biological contaminants growing along any surface, opt for professional power washing rather than tackling these residues yourself.

Never Wash These With a Power Washer!

While power washing is effective for virtually every surface of your property’s exterior, some areas and items should never be washed with a pressure washer, as they might damage rather easily. For example, never clean under the hood of your car with a power washer, as you might dislodge certain parts or get electrical parts wet, causing a short.

Power washing can also split canvas and other fabrics, so avoid washing a tent, tarp, and similar items with your pressure washer. Wicker patio furniture can come unwoven under extreme pressure, and power washing might chip or split clay pots and thin patio pavers.

Related Questions

Does bleach kill outside mold?

Bleach is an effective mold killer, but be sure you water down and dilate bleach before applying it to vinyl and timber. Otherwise, bleach will dry these materials very easily and cause them to chip and crack, and leave behind unsightly streaks.

Does pressure washing damage concrete?

Using too much pressure and the wrong detergent can damage any exterior surface, but a professional power washing company will be able to clean concrete, patio pavers, pool decks, patios, and other all surfaces effectively and safely, without causing damage.


Nate Knebl is the owner of ProClean Pressure Washing of St. Petersburg who has been power washing homes and businesses in the southern Florida area for over 18 years. He uses a special soft wash system that fully protects delicate surfaces while provided a deep and thorough clean.

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