The Best Vinyl Siding Cleaners for the Home Exterior

Improve the look of vinyl siding with this lauded lineup of top-favorite cleaning solutions.

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The Best Vinyl Siding Cleaner Options for Your Home

Photo: istockphoto.com

Vinyl often trumps siding types like wood, aluminum, or fiber cement for its low maintenance and affordable attractiveness. But given all that the outdoors throws at your vinyl siding, it can get dingy, which can hamper curb appeal and even cause damage over time.

Beautify and protect your siding with an outdoor cleaner formulated to safely and effectively get vinyl siding looking good again. Read on to find out what makes for the best vinyl siding cleaner and why the following stand out as the top picks among the best vinyl siding cleaners available.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Mold Armor E-Z House Wash
  2. RUNNER UP: 30 SECONDS Cleaners Hose End Sprayer Outdoor Cleaner
  3. BEST FOR MILDEW: Wet & Forget Moss Mold Mildew & Algae Stain Remover
  4. ALSO CONSIDER: Jomax Mildew Remover House Siding Cleaner Concentrate
The Best Vinyl Siding Cleaner Options for Your Home

Photo: istockphoto.com

Before You Buy Vinyl Siding Cleaner

Selecting the best vinyl siding cleaner involves considering the type of stains, such as mold (a common issue in humid regions), and then identifying which application method is best suited for a specific house. While most commercial vinyl siding cleaners when used as directed are safe for nearby plants and lawns, some require an additional step, such as spraying down the plants with water after cleaning the siding to remove any residual cleaning solution from the foliage.

Ingredients

Some ingredients may react with or harm the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that makes up vinyl siding. To avoid this, look for siding washes and multisurface outdoor cleaners with inorganic solvents, such as water or hydrogen peroxide, or soaps containing water-soluble surfactants, like alkyl sulfates.

Cleaners with a similar chemistry to vinyl siding—e.g., those containing organic solvents or petroleum ethers like acetone, benzene, or tetrahydrofuran—can damage it, creating dark and hazy patches, streaks, yellowing, and a brittle, cracked, or distorted surface. These cleaners can lead to loss of color and impact resistance as well.

Also resist the temptation to spot clean vinyl siding with liquid grease removers, nail polish removers, and furniture polishes, which often contain organic solvents.

Mold and Mildew Removal

High moisture, a lack of sunlight, and exposure to dirt or tree sap can all cause mildew and mold to grow on vinyl siding. So if it’s a damp, humid, or cloudy climate or if there is a lot of vegetation or trees in the yard, consider a vinyl siding cleaner formulated to combat mildew and mold.

These products often contain fungicides, such as ammonium chloride, chlorine bleach, or oxygenated bleach, which all mitigate mildew and mold and lift stubborn stains, like rust or limescale. However, chlorine bleach can kill nearby plants, so products with oxygenated bleach (hydrogen peroxide) or ammonium chloride are safer for flowers, vegetables, and shrubs.

Application

Vinyl siding cleaner is commonly applied in three ways: via a pressure washer, through a hose attachment dispenser, or manually with a long-handled brush.

  • Pressure washing is the quickest and easiest method for cleaning exterior siding and removing tough stains. A vinyl siding cleaner will be specifically labeled for use with pressure washers and will usually be sold in a large jug that can be poured into the liquid reservoir of the pressure washer. Note that pressure washing can damage some siding products, so check with the siding manufacturer before use.
  • A hose-end dispenser works with a bottle that connects to the end of a standard garden hose. When the hose head is set to “on,” it will spray cleaner diluted with water from the tap. This no-mess method does away with the need for loading any liquid into a separate device.
  • Manually applying cleaner involves pouring the contents into a bucket and applying it with a brush. Most cleaners designed for use with pressure washers also can be manually applied with a brush. Cleaners packaged in large resealable jugs work well with this type of application.

Formula

Vinyl siding cleaners are sold in both concentrated and ready-to-use formulas. Concentrated cleaners must be diluted in water before use. When using a concentrated cleaner with a pressure washer, the washer will automatically dilute the cleaner through a separate hose connection to the tap.

The same principle works with a hose-end dispenser: As the water passes through the dispenser, it dilutes the cleaner and emits a spray of cleaning solution on the siding. A concentrated formula is generally the more economical choice.

Environmental Impact

The runoff of siding cleaners that contain inorganic solvents, such as benzene, can wash down gutters and storm drains, polluting ponds and waterways. Depending on the chemical, aquatic life can be negatively impacted. Vinyl siding cleaners labeled nontoxic and biodegradable can minimize the harmful impact of chemicals and be an eco-friendly way to clean the siding.

To reduce the environmental effect, select a siding cleaner that has the EPA Safer Choice label, an indication that the formulation meets the Safer Choice Standard for human health and environmental safety, which factors in carcinogenicity, reproductive/developmental toxicity, aquatic toxicity, and how long the cleaner stays in the environment before breaking down. Safer Choice-labeled products are considered safer for the health of family, pets, aquatic life, and the planet than an average cleaner.

Why It’s Important to Clean Your Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding comes with the color baked right in, so there’s rarely a need to paint it to keep it looking good. However, over time, the siding can accumulate stains, dirt, and grime that may make the whole house look less than appealing. Fortunately, vinyl siding is one of the easiest types of siding to clean because it’s nonporous, so things like sticky tree sap, pollen, and mold are simple to remove just by using a cleaner formulated to wash houses.

While most of the dirt and debris that collects on vinyl siding won’t permanently damage it, a few things might. Harsh chemicals, such as accidental splashes from mineral spirits or paint thinner, can fade the color in the siding or dull the surface sheen if they are allowed to remain. Premium vinyl siding is less likely to fade than lower-end products, but the best course of action is to wipe off any chemical stains as soon as possible and to wash all the siding at least once a year to keep it looking clean and fresh.

Tips to Get the Best Vinyl Siding Cleaner

Vinyl siding cleaners may be labeled as “house cleaners,” “house and siding cleaners,” or simply “house wash.” Many products contain similar ingredients, but it’s worth reading the label to ensure it’s a safe and effective product.

  • Look for a cleaner that specifies it’s for vinyl siding. Most siding cleaners are safe, but a few masonry cleaners contain caustic chemicals that could dull the look of vinyl siding. The label should specify that the cleaner can be used on vinyl siding.
  • Opt for a cleaner compatible with a pressure washer. The fastest and easiest way to clean vinyl siding is with a pressure washer that powers away grime, dirt, and greasy stains. Skip the temptation to use powdered cleaners or household ingredients, such as baking soda in a power washer’s dispensing cup, as it could clog the washer’s narrow nozzle. If a siding cleaner can be used in a pressure washer, that information will be included on the label.
  • Consider the type of stain. House wash products are often made to remove different types of siding stains. Some work better for removing grease and grime, while others are better suited for destroying mold and mildew. Still others contain ingredients that dissolve tree sap stains and leaf stains. Buyers don’t need to memorize a list of ingredients; the cleaner will usually list the stains it will remove.

Tips for Cleaning Vinyl Siding

  • Use low pressure to clean siding. The trick to power washing on vinyl siding is to use it on the lowest pressure setting necessary to clean the siding. The spray angle is also important: Spray at a downward angle on the siding panels to keep from forcing water up and under the strips, which can encourage moisture and mold growth beneath the siding.
  • Avoid cleaning siding with abrasives. A large brush with soft nylon bristles will clean vinyl siding just as well as a power washer, although it takes a bit more elbow grease. Don’t use an abrasive cleaner, such as scouring powder. Also avoid coarse cleaning tools, such as wire brushes or steel wool that can scratch the siding.
  • Rinse away cleaning residue afterward. Use a standard garden hose and spray the siding to remove any leftover traces of cleaner. It’s also a good idea to spray any nearby plants to remove any residue that might have splashed on them while cleaning.
  • Consider cleaning gutters before washing siding. Clogged gutters can overflow and leave dirty tracks on the just-cleaned siding.

Our Top Picks

The following vinyl siding cleaners are suitable for various types of stain removal, and all can help restore siding to a like-new appearance. The best vinyl siding cleaner must be safe for use on vinyl siding, effective at removing the type of stains in its category such as mold or tree sap, and provide clear application instructions and precautions (if necessary) to protect nearby people, animals, and plants.

Best Overall

The Best Vinyl Siding Cleaner Option: MOLD ARMOR Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

For speedy results with an easy-to-use, hose-end dispenser, consider Mold Armor’s solution for exterior house cleaning. The product comes in two 0.5-gallon jugs, each with an adjustable sprayer attached. Connect a standard garden hose to the end and turn on the water—the sprayer directs a blast of water and diluted cleaner onto the siding to remove tough stains, grime, and dirt. Mold Armor is an oxygenated bleach-based cleaner designed to remove mold and mildew from siding and discourage regrowth. For the best results, spray Mold Armor on vinyl siding, let it remain for 10 minutes, and then rinse off. When used as directed, the product will not damage nearby plants. No scrubbing is necessary with this vinyl siding cleaner.

Runner Up

The Best Vinyl Siding Cleaner Option: 30 SECONDS Hose End Sprayer Outdoor Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

For heavy mold, grime, or algae stains, it’s hard to beat the fast-acting power of this outdoor cleaner for multiple exterior surface types, including vinyl siding. To use the 30 SECONDS Cleaners formula, attach the garden hose to the cleaner jug and turn on the water to create a blast of cleaner that’s powerful enough to reach the second story of a home. The cleaner goes to work to remove mold and mildew stains in less than a minute and begins to dissolve all dirt and grime. When used as directed, it’s safe for use around plants and landscaping, and there’s no need for a power washer.

Best for Mildew

The Best Vinyl Siding Cleaner Option: Wet & Forget Moss Mold Mildew & Algae Stain Remover
Photo: amazon.com

This bleach-free formula harnesses the power of ammonium chloride to eliminate mold, mildew, moss, and algae from vinyl siding as well as virtually any outdoor surface, without harming nearby plants. This gentle formula does not require a pressure washer, scrubbing, or rinsing in order to work. Simply dilute 2.5 cups of the cleaning concentrate in 1 gallon of water and then apply it manually. Let it work its deep-cleaning magic for 4 to 5 hours, and then admire the sparkling results. Surfaces stay clean for up to a year.

Also Consider

The Best Vinyl Siding Cleaner Option: Jomax Outdoor Mildew Remover House Siding Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

To remove tough mold and mildew stains and prevent regrowth, check out this option from Jomax. Made by Rust-Oleum, the Jomax exterior cleaner contains a potent mildewcide. Coming in a 1-gallon jug, users mix the concentrate with both water and a small amount of household bleach to create a mold-killing solution that is easy to apply with a pump-type garden sprayer.

No scrubbing is necessary. Just spray the diluted cleaner on the vinyl siding, allow the mixture to work on stains for about 10 minutes, and then rinse the siding with clean water. While the amount of added bleach is moderate (2.25 cups in 1 gallon of water), users should spray nearby plants and foliage with water before and after cleaning the siding to protect them.

FAQs about Vinyl Siding Cleaner

While vinyl siding is low maintenance, it can become dingy or develop mold and mildew stains like any other siding. Restoring and refreshing the siding is a simple process that often involves spraying on a suitable cleaner and then rinsing it off. For those new to cleaning vinyl siding, a few questions are to be expected.

Q: What is the best way to clean vinyl siding?

The fastest way to clean vinyl siding is with a power washer, but using one isn’t essential. Many vinyl siding products come in hose-end jugs that spray diluted cleaner right from the hose, and others can be diluted in a bucket of water and applied with a soft nylon brush. All three methods work equally well.

Q: Is it OK to power wash vinyl siding?

Yes, but use the lowest pressure setting on the power washer. To keep it from getting under the siding, don’t direct the spray at an upward angle. It is also best to avoid spraying directly into the seams at corners or around doors or windows.

Q: How do you clean vinyl siding without a pressure washer?

Add concentrated siding cleaner to a hose-end dispenser and attach a garden hose to the washer. Turn on the power washer and spray the diluted solution on the siding to remove grime, mold, and mildew. Alternatively, dilute the cleaner in a large bucket of water and use a soft nylon brush to clean the siding. In all cases, rinse the siding with clear water after cleaning.

Final Thoughts

Vinyl siding is easy to maintain for the most part, but it will look its best when periodically cleaned—once a year is often sufficient—with a product designed to dissolve grime while removing mold and mildew growth.