Easy clean your siding with dish soap and a car wash brush - and skip the possibly damaging power washer

This week, Jill Washburn, our Jill of All Trades, shows us a simple way to clean algae, mold and mildew off of siding or other outside surfaces.  It is not uncommon for mold or algae to grow on outdoor surfaces that are often damp or shady.  Typically, you’ll find this happening on the north side of your home or garage, but if your yard is pretty shaded, as Jill’s is, you may even find it on the west- or east-facing surfaces, as well.

The main thing you want to look out for, says Jill, is to not cause damage to the surface you’re cleaning, or the surrounding landscaping.  And, if you have pets in the yard, you want to make sure they’re safe, too.  Jill’s solution is simple, Dawn dishwashing liquid... and a big car wash brush.  Dawn is used to clean animals after oil spills, so you shouldn’t have any problems using it around the pets in your yard.  It’s mild enough that it’s not going to damage or discolor your siding, says Jill, and it really cuts through the grime.

Jill’s siding had been building up a green-ish coating on the north and east sides of the house and garage for the last couple of years. It was time for a solid cleaning.  Jill put a squeeze of Dawn liquid soap in a bucket and filled it about halfway with water.  She dunked her car wash brush in and went to work.  Jill says that she barely had to scrub it.  The Dawn took the algae right off.  

One tip that Jill recommends is going with the “grain” of the siding.  Her siding is vinyl, but it looks like shingles, so it has a vertical grain.  So, brushing in a vertical motion gets in all the little grooves of the siding to get out all of grime.

Next, the rinse.  Ideally, you’ll want to use a hose to rinse the suds off.  Because the garage was so far from the house, the hose wouldn’t reach it, so Jill had to use buckets.  The key points are the same, though.  Jill says that you’ll definitely want to rinse from the top down.  You don’t want to force water up behind the siding.  If it got strapped behind the siding, it could cause mold or rotting over time. The suds and grime rinsed away easily on Jill’s garage.

With the siding easily tackled, Jill turned her attention to a tougher challenge… the pergola on her deck.  The pergola had been collecting moss, and building up algae, for years.  Jill used the same suds and same brush and even she was shocked how easily it cut through the crud on the pergola. It came so clean, so fast!  A quick follow-up spray with the hose rinsed everything away.  Jill had been considering just taking the pergola down because it looked so bad.  Now, it looks nearly new again!

So, cleaning the outside of your house can be super easy, and you can do it without a power washer and without harsh chemicals.


To watch Jill demonstrate the process, just click on the video player above.