You know you have to clean the inside of your house, but what about the exterior? Not only is the exterior the first and last thing anyone sees when they come over, years of dirt and grit can damage expensive outdoor surfaces if left uncheck. Cleaning each type of surface correctly is the key to a better looking home.
Brightening up the Exterior Siding
Vinyl siding is one of the easiest to clean. Start by rinsing the exterior with a garden hose to wet it and then mix a couple caps of laundry soap in a bucket with water to use as a cleaning agent. A long handled scrub brush will help remove the dirt and debris from the siding without scratching the surface.
Spray areas covered with mildew or algae with an oxygen bleach cleaner using a hand-pump garden sprayer. Make sure the product you choose is oxygen bleach, not chlorine. A chlorine spray cleaner will fade the color of your siding wherever it touches and kills your grass and plants when it runs off into the yard.
It may seem simpler and more efficient to use a pressure washer, however; the harsh spray can push through the seams of the siding panels causing damage. A power spray is not effective for removing mildew, either. If you do decide to go with a pressure sprayer, use it with caution. Set it to the lowest level and avoid spraying any masonry, stucco or wood siding. Aim the sprayer carefully to avoid injuring yourself or anyone nearby, as well.
Maybe your weekend cleaning project includes the driveway and garage floor. Cleaning these concrete surfaces takes a different approach because the stains are most likely oil, grease and antifreeze. You may also have streaks from tire rubber, mold build-up, mildew and the occasional rust stain.
Absorb as much of the oil and grease as possible by spreading cat litter over the stains and letting it sit for a day. When it comes time to scrub, you can try grease-cutting laundry soap or purchase a commercial degreaser. You may have to repeat the process a few times to remove the stain fully or maybe switch to a power washer and presidium phosphate (TSP).
If your driveway is covered with asphalt instead of concrete, you will need a detergent that contains a petroleum-based solvent to remove the stains. Once you get the stains up, it is wise to reseal the driveway. Oil causes damage to asphalt so sealing the surface will help prevent further stains. Allow the driveway to dry for at least two days before applying the sealant following the instructions on the product. After you seal the surface, you’ll need to wait up to 24 hours before parking your car in the driveway.
Power Tips for Efficient Exterior Cleaning
The goal here is to make the outside of the house looks as fabulous as the inside, so don’t stop with the siding and driveway. Look further at the roof, gutters, patio and deck to make sure the whole house looks fresh.
- Roof shingles develop mildew and mold, too. If left alone, dirt will damage the roof, reducing its lifespan, as well. It is best to hire a professional to work on your roof to ensure it is done safely and using a non-corrosive cleaning product.
- The patio is something you can do yourself, though. If it is made from concrete, clean it the same way you would the driveway or garage floor. If you have paver stones covering your patio, purchase a commercial cleaning product from a home store designed for paver maintenance.
- Deck cleaning is as much about maintenance as it is scrubbing. Walk around the deck and look for areas in the wood that look weak or rotted. Those need to be fixed before you do anything else. You will want to have your deck professionally cleaned and sealed every two to three years. This will keep it looking tidy and extend it’s lifespan at the same time.
While you are freshening up all the surfaces outside your home, take the time to enhance the curb appeal, too. Clean your patio furniture, replace that beat up mailbox, repaint the trim and add some decorative house numbers to the front. The combination of a clean exterior and upgraded accessories will ensure your house stands out to anyone coming to visit.