The Best Vinyl Siding Cleaners for the Home Exterior
Get grungy vinyl siding squeaky clean again with this lauded line-up.
Vinyl often trumps siding types like aluminum or fiber cement for its ruggedness, color retention, and overall attractiveness—not to mention low price. 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 an effective vinyl siding cleaner and why the following five stand out as the best for most people:
- BEST OVERALL: SIMPLE GREEN Oxy Solve Total Outdoor Pressure Washer Concentrate
- BEST VALUE: Scotts FBA Concentrate Plus OxiClean Outdoor Cleaner
- BEST FOR MILDEW: WET & FORGET Moss, Mold, Mildew & Algae Stain Remover
- BEST FOR STAINS: Krud Kutter Rust, Calcium, and Lime Stain Remover
- HONORABLE MENTION: Charlie’s Soap Indoor & Outdoor Surface Cleaner
Important Qualities in Vinyl Siding Cleaner
Consider the following factors before buying a vinyl siding cleaner.
Opt for house/siding washes and multi-surface outdoor cleaners with inorganic solvents such as water or hydrogen peroxide, or soaps containing water-soluble surfactants like alkyl sulfates, which won’t react with or harm the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that makes up vinyl siding. 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, and/or distorted surface, as well as loss of color and impact resistance. 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 you live in a damp, humid, or cloudy climate, or have a lot of vegetation or trees in your 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. Keep in mind, however, that chlorine bleach can also kill nearby plants, so, choose products with oxygenated bleach (hydrogen peroxide) or ammonium chloride instead.
Vinyl siding cleaner is commonly applied in three ways: via a pressure washer, through a cleaning bottle with a built-in applicator, or manually with a long-handled brush.
- If pressure washing (the quickest and easiest method for cleaning siding), select a vinyl siding cleaner specifically labeled for use with pressure washers. These are usually sold in large jugs you can pour into the liquid reservoir of the pressure washer. Note that pressure washing can damage some siding products, so check with your siding manufacturer before use.
- If applying a cleaner with a built-in applicator, choose a product in a bottle with a spray head or hose end. Connect one end of your garden hose to the hose end and the other to a spigot, and run the tap. 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.
- If applying manually, opt for cleaner sold in large re-sealable jugs. You can pour the contents straight into a bucket and apply with a brush. Note that most cleaners designed for use with pressure washers can also be manually applied.
Vinyl siding cleaners are sold in concentrated and ready-to-use formulas. You generally must dilute concentrate in water before use, but when using a concentrated cleaner with a pressure washer, the washer will automatically dilute the cleaner through a separate hose connection to a tap. A concentrated formula is generally the more economical choice.
Eco-conscious homeowners can minimize the harmful impact of chemicals with vinyl siding cleaners labeled “non-toxic” and “biodegradable,” the latter meaning that the product will decompose. Even better, look for cleaners carrying 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 your family, pets, aquatic life, and the planet than your average cleaner.
The Best Vinyl Siding Cleaner Options
1. BEST OVERALL: SIMPLE GREEN Oxy Solve Total Outdoor Pressure Washer Concentrate
Safe for use on vinyl, metal, fabric, plastic, and more, this non-toxic biodegradable outdoor cleaner with the EPA Safer Choice label is packed with potent yet planet-safe ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide that lift dirt, grime, tree sap, moss, algae, grease, mildew, mold, and associated stains from your siding without harming turf, plants, or pets. The concentrated formula can be applied with a pressure washer (wet the siding with water supplied to the washer from a tap, apply the concentrate with the water still on, let dwell for three minutes, and then rinse off with water). If cleaning manually, dilute 1.5 cups of in two gallons of water in a bucket, then apply as above.
2. BEST VALUE: Scotts FBA Concentrate Plus OxiClean Outdoor Cleaner
You’ll get the most bang for your buck with this big jug of cleaning concentrate. The hydrogen peroxide-powered cleaner lifts dirt and stains from moss, mold, mildew, and algae without damaging the lawn, plants, or patio upholstery and is safe for use on vinyl, wood composite, brick, and more. It can be applied with a pressure washer with water supplied from a tap and then rinsed off after five to 10 minutes. If cleaning siding manually, dilute 1.5 cups of the concentrate in 13.5 cups water, apply it to the siding, let it dwell as above, scrub it with a soft-bristle brush, then rinse.
3. BEST FOR MOLD AND MILDEW: WET & FORGET Moss, Mold, Mildew & Algae Stain Remover
This bleach-free, wet-and-forget formula harnesses the power of ammonium chloride to eliminate mold, mildew, moss, and algae from vinyl siding and virtually any outdoor surface without harming nearby plants—no pressure washer, scrubbing, or rinsing required! Dilute 2.5 cups of the cleaning concentrate in a gallon of water and then apply it manually, letting it work its deep-cleaning magic for four to five hours and then admiring the sparkling results.
4. BEST FOR STAIN REMOVAL: Krud Kutter Rust, Calcium, and Lime Stain Remover
This non-toxic, bleach-free indoor-outdoor cleaner with the Safer Choice label leverages ingredients like water and ammonium chloride to lift stubborn siding stains from vinyl siding and patio furniture, including rust, calcium and limescale, and greasy deposits like motor oil and crayon. Manually apply the ready-to-use cleaner undiluted, let it dwell for a few minutes, scrub lightly with a soft-bristle brush, then rinse off with water. Feel free to use it indoors, too, on surfaces ranging from kitchen sinks to showers.
5. HONORABLE MENTION: Charlie’s Soap Indoor & Outdoor Surface Cleaner
De-grunge small sections of siding with this ready-to-use 32-ounce spray cleaner with a non-toxic, biodegradable, water-based formula. The multi-surface indoor-outdoor cleaner loosens dirt and grime on everything from vinyl siding and patio furniture to interior walls without the need for a pressure washer. Simply spray on, gently scrub with a soft-bristle brush, and then rinse it off.