You know you have to do it, right?
If you are having trouble selling your home, it is inexplicably appearing drab, or the neighbors have signed a petition to force you to wash it, chances are it is very dirty. Under the bright light of the sun, a home shows its true colors. If it is unkempt it is painfully obvious. If it is well-maintained the compliments flow easily… You should know, you used to receive such flattery – five years ago. Yeah, you should wash your home.
Your first instinct is likely to rent a pressure washer. If so, it’s a good thing you’re reading this first. Some surfaces are more vulnerable than others. Not all can handle the intense spray. The last thing you want to do is damage your home. Exterior surfaces like brick are very expensive to repair. So, let’s look at the right ways to clean your home…
If your home features vinyl or wood siding (or a hybrid), it should be durable enough to withstand pressure washing. But that may actually be a premature action to take. Always start with the basics, try a gentle wash before blasting it. All you may need is a garden hose. If there’s just a thin coat of dust just hose it off and you’re good to go. If that isn’t effective, work your way up until you reach the method most applicable and effective. When it’s just too filthy and the dirt is settled in, that’s when you’ll want the power of a pressure wash. In fact, it may be a good rule of thumb to have the procedure performed each year or so, depending on how dirty the home gets.
Power washers aren’t cheap. They’re not inexpensive to rent and it’s certainly no less expensive to pay someone to do it for you. Assuming you rent or buy one, you’ll likely wonder if it is necessary to apply soap as well. Typically, it is not. However if mold and mildew are present you may want to pour some specialty house cleaner (that is specially formulated) into the detergent compartment of the washer. And you’ll want to use some discretion when choosing the nozzle setting to use. They are typically measured in degrees, they can be set to shoot very narrowly (that’s the most powerful spray output) or extremely wide. A zero degree setting is the strongest so you will want to start at a selection of about 40 degrees. If greater power is needed, set the nozzle lower to 25 degrees next. Working your way down is a preventative measure to keep you from doing any random unexpected damage.
Certainly before you spray a single drop, insure that you have secured all windows and have taken care of any furry friends who employ you as their masters. Dogs will go crazy over the spray, so get them and any children safely away from the windows. Secure all doors as well. Prior to cleaning, slip on a pair of safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris. There are other safety issues to be mindful of. For instance, did you know that the water that shoots from the tip is so powerful and concentrated it can slice right through human skin? It is a power tool that can be hazardous when it is not handled correctly. NEVER point the washer toward a living being. Don’t spray directly at your windows, either. You risk shattering the glass. If there are ivy or roses growing in front of the exterior, don’t use a pressure washer. Or, you may want to cover them and any other nearby plants to help prevent any potential pressure harm.
Now you have a general understanding of some of the risks and responsibilities you undertake when using a pressure washer. It’s important to be aware of them before proceeding. The siding of a home has a purpose – to withstand the elements. Rain, for instance, falls from above and the siding design works with that and so should you. Direct the sprayer downward. Don’t spray into siding seams or cracks, as you risk water getting through and trapped within.
Once you’ve got a bit of a handle on the tool, test wash a small section of the home, and turn it off. Inspect the area carefully; is there any sign of damage? If there is, you should opt just to use a regular hose. Otherwise, carry on, spray the house by keeping the hose moving using a side to side sweeping motion. Be mindful not to stay in any one spot for too long. When using a cleaner, work from bottom to top, then rinse top to bottom.
If your home is made of brick or stucco or delicate wood shingles, the power wash is just not applicable and you may need to wash by hand, with a garden house. You can purchase siding wash kits that include special nozzles and reservoirs for detergent that will attach to a regular hose. When done right, it works well.
In such a case, pre-treat the areas that are very soiled with a cleanser before rinsing with a hose. If you don’t want to use a harsh detergent, pick a solution of oxygen bleach (a form of hydrogen peroxide). If it’s a particularly tough area, scrub first with a soft brush. Then, with the compartment filled with cleanser, spray the home from top to bottom, all the while maintaining a downward angle. When finished, rinse completely with water only.
You could say these tips are almost as easy as common sense. There’s nothing too complicated, thankfully, when it comes to washing the exterior of your home. So have at it – and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes with the successful results of your work.