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Homeowners might want to power wash the exterior siding of their house for one of two reasons: to remove the dirt, grime, mold or mildew that’s adhered to the side of the house over time; or to prepare the siding to be repainted. In either case, it’s important to know how to safely and correctly powerwash – to protect yourself, your home’s exterior and the plants around your home.

b2ap3 thumbnail powerwashSince some washing requires the use of chemicals, homeowners must understand that not all power washers are made the same. Before adding any chemicals or cleaning solutions to your power washer, refer to your owner’s manual to make sure it is built for this. Further, if you are washing above vegetation, consider cleaning solutions that are environmentally friendly – since water (and chemicals) will drip down onto the plants. Additionally, make sure your skin and eyes are protected.

Common siding materials include wood, cement fiber and vinyl. Wood and cement fiber siding are known for attracting mold and mildew, so you will want to use a cleaner that will help to prevent this recurring issue. Typically, a half-cup of bleach in a normal-size bucket of water will do the trick. And when you are finished with the power-washer, be sure to rinse out all of the bleach before storing it.

Vinyl siding, which doesn’t need painting, is much easier to maintain. Cleaning using a mild soap solution is the only maintenance that should be required. But keep in mind that you’ll need to rinse the soap from the siding thoroughly. Dried-on soap can ruin siding when the sun hits it day after day.

The biggest issue with cleaning exterior siding is safety. If you have a two-story house or higher, it may be in your best interest to hire a contractor to do the work for you. Since most power-washers have a powerful force, the chore isn’t conducive to using a ladder. For safety reasons, many professionals will use a bucket truck to hold the person cleaning, and your professional contractor will also take precautions to avoid breaking any lighting fixtures or damaging any shrubbery during cleaning.

Whether you’re just looking for a good cleaning or are prepping to repaint your house, when it comes to powerwashing, safety should be your number one concern — for you, your home and the living elements so important to your home’s exterior environment.