Cleaning and Maintaining Aluminum Siding
Perhaps you’ve noticed your aluminum siding is dirty and looking a it dull and dingy. We, of course, offer this cleaning service, but… If you are ready to give it a go for cleaning your house yourself, please continue reading for some tips and suggestions and cautions. At the very least, periodically take a garden hose and spray off the surface contaminants using a strong stream from a garden hose nozzle. This will remove some of the surface dirt, pollen and pollution. Be sure to pay particular attention to the protected areas under your soffits and eaves, bay windows & other bump outs. The natural cleansing action of rain doesn’t reach these areas so you need to be especially purposeful there. Try to do this every year or two.
How to Clean Your Aluminum Siding
A more thorough cleaning would involve the use of some common household cleaning agents like bleach and mild detergent. When applying those to your siding, wet the entire working surface with fresh water from the garden hose. Then apply your cleaning solution from the bottom up in a left to right sideways motion applying light but complete coverage of the cleaning chemical onto the surface. If you apply so much solution that it is running down a lot, then you are wasting it and it is going into the ground and obviously not on the surface to be cleaned. Use a 2 gallon pump up garden sprayer for this application. With a one gallon sprayer and you’ll be emptying it and filling it too frequently, a 3 gallon sprayer gets quite heavy after a while. Your mixture should be of about 6 to 8 parts water to chlorine bleach (adjust as necessary), plus a couple of ounces of liquid dish detergent. You’ll know your chlorine bleach solution is strong enough when the small dark mildew spots, and/or green algae turn brown, white, or disappear. If you have a gasoline powered pressure washing system, you can use long range attachments that can shoot cleaning chemical up to two or more stories high. The chlorine bleach is very important to kill and remove the mildew, mold, and algae which will likely be on your surface. The little bit of liquid detergent acts as a surfactant and helps release the other contaminants.
Do not wash too large of an area at a time. Keep it manageable so that you do not allow the cleaning solution to dry on the surface. Be very careful when cleaning on hot sunny days as the cleaning solution can dry very rapidly. I want to strenuously warn you to not allow the cleaning chemical solution to dry on the surface. It will be very difficult to remove if you do. Perhaps clean a part of one side of your house at a time, like maybe 10-12 feet wide, and from bottom to top. Obviously this depends on the size of your house and the height. Just make sure you do not allow the cleaning chemical to dry. If the siding does start drying out on you, simply wet it down with more cleaning solution or give it a spray from your garden hose.
After about five or 10 minutes dwell time, rinse the siding with a strong stream from your garden hose from the top down. Continue this process of washing manageable sections at a time until you go all the way around the entire house. Minimize direct spraying of water through the horizontal “seams” of your aluminum panels to avoid getting water behind your aluminum siding.
You will notice a definite improvement from the removal of dirt, pollen, mildew, mold, algae and pollution. This low pressure cleaning will not remove the chalky oxidized paint which can usually be found on any painted aluminum siding surface that’s exposed to the sun, and sometimes even the surfaces that are not. You will notice a white residual chalkiness if you wipe your fingers across the surface. For appearance sake, it is usually best to stop here and not rinse with pressure washer. But, if you do use a pressure washer, be very very careful. You must use even pressure (meaning equal distance from the surface, and the tip perpendicular to the surface), and very controlled strokes with sufficient overlap or you will end up with a very ugly final result which is what we call “zebra striping”. Observe the photos as an example of a poorly performed pressure wash job where there is uneven removal of the chalkiness from the aluminum siding. This type of cleaning is probably best left to professionals who have a clear understanding of the potential for zebra striping. Not everybody knows how to deal with this, or the hands on experience.
For aluminum siding that is several decades old, which most of it is, you may want to consider painting it. In this case a very aggressive high pressure pre-cleaning would be desirable to remove as much of the chalkiness as possible, to ensure good paint adhesion. In this instance any residual “zebra striping” is not critical since it’s going to be painted over anyway.
Before and during the cleaning process be sure to periodically spray down adjacent trees, bushes, flowers with the fresh garden hose water to wash off any over splash of the cleaning chemical. Your cleaning solution will not kill the plants, but some of the leaves or flowers may wilt and brown. You want to try to eliminate or minimize this as much as possible. Do not use tarps to cover your greenery. The tarps will collect water, weigh down heavily, and break the branches of bushes that the tarps were intended to protect.
Need Professional Pressure Washing Services
Renorr Dynamics has been washing houses, buildings and shopping centers etc. for over 27 years and would be happy to answer any questions you may have on this process. Of course if you feel like hiring a professional to take care of this for you we would be eager to take a look at your property and give you our opinion and a proposal. Give us call 1-703-960-5041 or complete our free estimate form.
Thank you for reading!
Founder & Owner