How to Clean Composite Siding
Composite wood is a low-maintenance, cost-effective material for your home’s siding made from plastic and recycled wood fibers. NewTechWood’s composite wood siding panels contain interlocking panels that prevent moisture from entering your interior living space. Even though it’s a durable material, you can make it last even longer by cleaning it at least twice a year.
Keeping composite siding clean is simple enough for you to do yourself, and it’s necessary to enhance your property’s curb appeal and extend the siding’s lifespan. Use this guide to learn where to start in maintaining your composite wood siding.
Why Is It Important to Clean Composite Siding?
Your house’s siding makes up the majority of its exterior, so it needs to look its best. Composite wood is easy to clean, so you can take an afternoon to do it yourself instead of hiring a professional. Consider some of the reasons why it’s essential to wash the siding on your property.
1. To Recover It From the Weather Elements
If you live in an area that experiences all seasons, rain, snow and wind can wear on your composite wood siding. It’s best to clean the panels every once in a while to prevent debris buildup. If you don’t wash them as soon as possible, they can collect algae, mold or mildew from excess moisture.
After a harsh storm, get into the habit of inspecting your house so you notice severe damage right away. Even though composite siding is very durable, a tree branch could fall and affect the panels’ integrity. Pollen and humidity can also influence the siding, so you should take precautions to make sure it recovers from the elements.
2. To Make a Good First Impression
Your siding is the first impression guests have of your home, so you should think about its appearance. Keeping it clean shows that you’re proud of your property and take care of it often. If you want to sell your home soon, potential homebuyers will appreciate seeing a clean, low-maintenance siding material. Even if you’re going to stay in your house for many years, you’ll love your dwelling’s modern, aesthetically pleasing appearance.
If you have algae or other debris on your house’s siding, people who visit you will believe it’s dirty and that you don’t know how to take care of your property. Since composite wood is such a beautiful material, you should remove the grime off your siding to enhance your curb appeal.
3. To Extend Its Lifespan
Even though composite wood siding lasts for several decades, it has a limited lifespan based on your climate and maintenance. Debris and constant exposure to rain and wind cut its lifespan short, and if you don’t clean and inspect it, you won’t get the most out of your investment. Cleaning your siding doesn’t cost a lot of money, but it can make your composite wood siding last for a long time, so you don’t have to replace it.
How to Tell When You Need to Clean Composite Siding
Keep an eye out for the following issues that can accumulate debris on your siding:
- Weather exposure: Siding experiences the most weather exposure from the sunlight. Composite wood can withstand discoloration from ultraviolet (UV) rays better than vinyl, but moisture from heavy rains and snow can cause damage if you don’t maintain it properly. When the wind whips around your house, trees could also drop dirt and leaves on your siding. After a rainstorm, debris can stick to the gaps of the siding and cause streaks. Check your home after a storm and see if you need to wipe off any stubborn stains.
- Mold and mildew: Excess moisture from humidity, snow or rain can turn into mildew or mold if you don’t take care of your siding correctly. Composite is more resistant to moisture than wood, but it’s still possible to get mold on your siding if you neglect it. Check the parts of your home that don’t get as much sunlight, because mold could grow if the sun doesn’t dry the panels.
- Colored stains: Inspect the color of the stains on your siding to determine how to treat them. Reddish-brown stains on the siding usually come from rusty nails, while black and green stains mean that you have mold, algae or fungus. Yellow marks mean that the insulation or sheathing behind the panels has deteriorated. Patches of water indicate you should get your gutters inspected.
- Chemical or construction debris: If you live near an industrial area or your neighbors are getting work done outside, you may find chemicals and paint chips from construction around your house. After they finish construction, check your siding and clean any debris you notice on the panels.
- Dirt and pollen: Grime and dirt can accumulate on your siding’s panels after you do yard work. In the spring, pollen can float in the breeze and stick to your siding, giving it a greenish color.
- Pest activity: Unlike wood siding, composite wood is resistant to insect damage, but you should still check the siding by your garden and soil. Besides the occasional bird droppings on your siding, you could also have spider webs or waste from bugs and wildlife.
It’s best to clean your siding at least once a year, but you might have to clean it more often if you recently had a storm or live in an area with many trees. Here are some ways to decide how to clean your composite siding:
- Inspect the siding: Before you start washing your panels, walk around the exterior of your home and determine which areas need special attention, especially if you haven’t washed your siding in a while. Note any stains or streaks you see on the siding and try to determine the type of debris accumulation.
- Create a plan: If you only need to do routine cleaning, you might not need to write out a schedule. However, if you notice spots with particularly stubborn stains, you should decide how you want to deal with them. You should invest in plastic or fabric drop cloths to put over your flower beds, gardens and masonry around your siding.
- Execute your plan: No matter how you decide to clean your composite siding, you should be thorough and efficient. Follow our tips for cleaning composite siding if you have mold, dirt grease or other debris on the panels.
What to Use to Clean Composite Siding
To wipe the debris off your composite siding, you can use the following materials that you likely already have in your house:
- A garden hose: No matter what stains you have on the panels, you should rinse them off with water. Instead of using a high-pressure power washer that could damage your siding, use a gentle water stream from your hose.
- A soft cloth: Rather than wiping your panels with abrasive sponges, use a soft material that won’t scratch their finish. It’s best to have several cloths on hand in case your siding has stains that won’t come off. You need at least one other cloth for wiping it dry.
- A ladder: You need a ladder that’s tall enough to reach your house’s upper level. If you’re uncomfortable working on a ladder, ask a friend or family member to spot you while you’re washing the top part of your property.
- A bucket: If you have to make a cleaning solution, mix the detergent and water in a bucket.
- A soft brush: You should avoid abrasive metal brushes because they can damage the siding’s finish. Instead, you can use a paintbrush, chip brush, siding brush or horsehair brush.
- Drop cloths and tape: Use plastic or fabric drop cloths to cover the parts of your property that you don’t want to get wet. Keep in mind that you’re going to be spraying the water around your whole house, so make sure your property’s sensitive areas have protection from the moisture.
- A mild liquid detergent: You can use simple dishwashing soap to get rid of the oil or grease from your composite siding, or you could create a homemade solution of vinegar and water to remove stains.
- A mildew-specific cleaner: If you have moisture damage on your composite siding, you might have to use a commercial cleaner specializing in cleaning mildew. Be careful when using harsh chemicals that could damage the finish on the panels. If you have to use bleach or other harsh chemicals, make sure you mix it with water.
- Appropriate attire: Washing your siding is an easy job, but it could be dangerous if you’re not careful. To prevent injury as you clean your siding, you should wear comfortable and washable clothing, including closed-in shoes, safety goggles and rubber gloves. If you’re using harsh chemicals, wear a face mask to help you breathe.
What Is the Best Way to Clean Composite Siding?
It’s essential to clean the grime off your composite siding as soon as possible to avoid permanent damage. Here are some tips for cleaning composite siding:
- Start small: Be realistic about how long you think it’ll take you to clean your whole siding so you don’t get overwhelmed, and clean one area at a time. Cleaning your composite siding could take a couple of hours, but if you have to stop working for some reason, you can feel accomplished if you only cleaned a little bit.
- Start at the top: If you start at the bottom and work your way up, you’ll have to deal with streaks and runoff from the panels above dripping onto the ones you’ve already cleaned, so you’ll have to clean it again. Instead, take your ladder and wipe the top of your house before cleaning the stains at the bottom.
- Go with the grain: When you clean your composite wood siding, go in the direction of the grain. It makes cleaning more convenient, and it allows you to avoid scratching your aesthetically pleasing panels.
- Don’t let soap dry: If you’re using detergent or a commercial cleaner to clean your composite siding, don’t let the solution dry on the panels. Wet them with water until you remove all the soap and dry them with a cloth.
- Only use low-pressure hoses: Instead of using a high-pressure hose or a power washer, you should only clean your siding with a gentle hose. Even though composite wood is durable, using high pressure to get the stains out of the panels can tear or dent them. If you feel like you have to use a pressure washer in hard-to-reach places, put it on a low-pressure setting with a broad tip. Aim it a few feet from the house to avoid damage.
- Try to work when it’s cloudy: It’s best to clean your siding when the sun isn’t shining directly on your property. The sun could dry soap on your siding before you’re ready to rinse it off.
With these tips in mind, here are some specific steps for washing specific stains off the siding.
1. How to Clean Dirt off of Composite Siding
When removing stubborn dirt from your panels, make sure you clean a small section at a time and replace your cloth as it gets dirty. Begin at the top and work downward to prevent tainting an area you’ve already cleaned. Follow these steps to clean your siding:
- Use a brush to wipe the dust or dirt off the siding’s surface.
- Wet a cloth and wipe the dirty spot in a side to side motion in the grain’s direction until the plank is clean.
- Rinse the area with a garden hose or with clean water.
2. How to Clean Oil, Grease or Other Organic Material off of Composite Siding
Oily substances and prints from greasy hands can end up on your siding when someone touches it. When removing stubborn stains off your composite siding panels, make sure you keep the siding wet. Instead of letting the soap or cleaner dry on the siding, continually rinse the spot until you’ve washed away all the detergent. Follow these tips for cleaning composite siding with oil, grease or other organic material on it:
- Mix the mild dishwashing detergent in a bucket of water.
- Saturate the soft cloth with soap and water.
- As you wipe the siding, rinse the cloth often.
- Once you’ve completely covered the stained panels in soap, rinse them with a garden hose.
3. How to Clean Mold and Mildew off of Composite Siding
Since you can easily confuse mildew for dirt, make sure you examine the panels to see what kind of spots you have on them. Be careful when using chemicals if you want to use a more potent cleaning agent to eliminate the stains. Read the instructions on the bottle to prevent damaging the siding’s finish, and follow this method:
- Gently scrub the area with mold or mildew on it using water and the cleaner.
- Consult the cleaner’s container to determine the right amount and technique for cleaning it.
- Rinse the area with a garden hose.
You don’t need to use harsh chemicals to clean the composite siding stains, but if other cleaners don’t work, it won’t hurt if you choose to use more potent substances. Kill mold or mildew by adjusting the pH level of the panels. If the stains don’t seem to go away or come back often, you can use one of the following after diluting it with water:
- Baking soda
Be careful when using these products, and don’t mix them under any circumstances. Combining bleach and ammonia creates a toxic chemical reaction that could be fatal if you inhale or touch the mixture. Apply any of these more potent agents to a stubborn stain after mixing them with water. Use a hand sprayer and wait a few minutes. Rinse the moldy area with a garden hose, and wipe away any extra debris with a soft brush.
4. How to Clean Chalk or Construction Debris off of Composite Siding
You can easily clean paint chips and construction debris off your composite siding with water and some soft brushes. Avoid using a hard or abrasive brush to clean your composite siding. Check out this technique for cleaning the panels on the side of your house:
- Use your soft brush along the siding to get rid of dust or chalk. If you want to use a soft cloth to clean the debris instead, wet it and wipe the siding until it’s clean.
- Rinse the cleaned area with a low-pressure garden hose.
- If you use a cloth, make sure you have multiples on hand, or else you may end up getting dirt back on the siding.
Why Is It So Easy to Clean Composite Siding?
Composite wood is easy to clean because of its durability and low maintenance. Here are some other reasons why composite siding is effortless to keep clean:
- It lasts a long time: The recycled wood and plastic fibers in the composite siding panels are durable enough to stay on your house for at least several decades before you need to replace them.
- It’s resistant to insects and rot: Even though wood siding is aesthetically pleasing, it’s vulnerable to insects and decay. On the other hand, composite wood contains robust materials that keep insects away and prevent rot from taking over the siding.
- It looks beautiful: Composite wood looks like natural wood without the excessive maintenance it requires. The fact that composite siding looks the way it does reminds you to clean it when the color isn’t bright and there are specks of dust on it.
- It can withstand most weather conditions: No matter where in the nation you live, composite wood siding can withstand fire, rain, snow, wind and sun. That means you don’t have to treat it to take care of it. All you need is some soap and water to eliminate the stains that may have accumulated on your composite siding.
How to Keep Composite Siding Clean
You only need to scrub the stains off your panels a few times a year, and you won’t have to clean it too often if you maintain the rest of your property. Consider the following tips for taking care of your home to keep your composite siding clean:
- Trim the shrubbery near your house so its branches aren’t brushing against your siding.
- Maintain your yard and treat your lawn to keep animals and insects away from your home.
- If you need to fix your vehicle and potentially spill grease or oil on your property, cover the siding while you’re working.
- Clean your gutters to prevent moisture from impacting your siding, especially in the fall, when leaves can clog your gutters.
- After cleaning, check for areas that need to be caulked or replaced.
- If you need to update your composite wood siding’s paint, check with the manufacturer about which paints would accommodate your material.
Find the Right Products With NewTechWood
NewTechWood manufactures UltraShield® composite wood siding to enhance your home’s aesthetic with a low-maintenance material. It’s also easy to install, so you can even do it yourself. Check out where you can buy our products, or contact us toll-free at 1-866-728-5273 if you have any questions about our composite wood siding or deck materials.
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