How to clean vinyl siding — remove mold stains and dirt without a pressure washer

Clean vinyl siding using vinegar, dish soap, bleach and more to remove tough mold stains and dirt. Plus, the real reason why pressure washing isn't a good move

Light colored clean vinyl siding on house exterior
(Image credit: Photo by Keagan Henman on Unsplash)

Looking to clean vinyl siding? There are lots of pros to having this material on the outskirts of your home's exterior. It's inexpensive, easy to install, doesn't require painting – with no risk of stripping either as the color is baked in and 100 percent homogenous — and finally, it's easy to maintain.

You can clean vinyl siding with just a couple of household ingredients like dish soap and water. Or, for a more thorough clean, turn to bleach and for a more natural clean, some even choose vinegar.

We spoke to an expert who guided us through three ways to maintain vinyl siding, plus products to avoid.

Clean vinyl siding without a pressure washer

Whether you have colored or wood imitation vinyl siding installed, its smooth surface means that it shouldn't get that dirty or stained in the first place. It's worth cleaning yours when it needs it anyhow. And, only a little scrubbing will be required.

We spoke to Gregg Hicks, Vice President of Modernize on the problems you can face with vinyl siding. "Over time and through repeated changes in weather, vinyl siding can attract and develop mold or mildew spots — especially in north-facing and  shaded areas,"

Store-bought cleaners such as Windex [available at Amazon] will usually do the job for these kinds of stubborn spots, but if you want to make your own chemical-free solution, you can use white vinegar [buy in bulk from Heinz on Amazon] and water."

Gregg Hicks, Vice President at Modernize
Gregg Hicks

Gregg Hicks serves Modernize Home Services as the business’s Vice President of Performance Marketing, strategic business leader, and brand spokesperson. Gregg has built a career dedicated to innovating the way home improvement companies build positive connections with more homeowners, and evolve their brand experience. As the brand spokesperson for Modernize, he plays a pivotal role in communicating the value of thoughtful matchmaking between homeowners and home improvement professionals that forges positive and productive connections between the parties. Gregg holds a BA in Marketing Management with an emphasis in Communications from Hartwick College.

How to clean vinyl siding with dish soap

You will need:

1. Dish soap (i.e: Palmolive Dish Soap on Amazon)
2. A bucket of warm water
3. Soft-bristled brush (this Amazon Basics product will do)
4. A garden hose (pick one up for cheap at Amazon)

Apply the solution to the siding with a soft-bristled, clean brush and starting from the bottom up, scrubbing the entire length of each section.

Hicks says "For best results, use a washable cloth [like these from Elinee at Amazon] or soft-bristled brush and start from the bottom so your cleaning supplies don’t leave streaks or drip off the side of the house. When you reach the end of each lap, hose it down before it dries naturally as this will help stop it streaking."

How to clean vinyl siding with vinegar

Cleaning with vinegar is a safe and effective way to help lift stains out of vinyl siding. Mix three parts water with two parts white vinegar and apply this with a sponge (like this large one from Carrand at Amazon) to scrub off mold and mildew.

How to clean vinyl siding with bleach

If natural cleaning agents aren't cutting through the stains, you can mix one cup bleach (Clorox is popular on Amazon) with a gallon of water and use this as your cleaning agent. 

Hicks recommends, "If neither of these options works, make your own concoction from other commonly found household cleaners."

You will need:

1. 1/3 cup powdered laundry detergent (ie: Gain)
2. 2/3 cup powdered cleaner (ie: Bar Keeper's Friend)
3. 1-quart liquid laundry bleach (ie: Tide on Amazon)
4. 1 gallon of water

"For best results, use a cloth or soft-bristled brush and start from the bottom so your cleaning solution doesn’t leave streaks or drip off the side of the house," says Gregg.

"Ensure you wear gloves [like these Mr.Clean pair on Amazon] when handling bleach and other strong cleaning detergents."

Vinyl siding cleaning essentials


Is it OK to power wash vinyl siding?

There are mixed reviews but most vinyl siding manufacturers don't recommend it as too much pressure can damage the material, and water is more likely to penetrate behind the siding which could lead to serious damp issues. 

If you want to clean vinyl siding with a pressure washer, ensure it's on the lowest option possible and use it at eye level rather than on a slant which could propel water behind the siding leading to damp and rot issues later down the line. And, even if you do use a garden hose, go carefully around windows, doors, dryer vents, and more openings so that water doesn't go where it shouldn't.

What not to do when cleaning vinyl siding

Firstly, avoid using undiluted and un-targeted products. Organic solvents or undiluted chlorine bleach, and furniture polishers can damage the surface so best be avoided. Abrasive scrubbers (such as steel wool) can also scratch and cause damage.

Camille Dubuis-Welch
Former Deputy Editor

I'm Cam, the former deputy editor of Real Homes who worked on the site from 2020 to 2023. As a renter myself, sharing a home with two friends (and my cat) in London, I know all too well the challenges that this can pose when it comes to creating your perfect setup. As someone who has always loved everything interior design-related, I cannot rest until a home feels right and I am really passionate about helping others get there too, no matter what their living situation, style, or budget may be. It’s not always the easiest to figure out, but the journey is fun and the results are so worth it.

After interior design, travel, art, and photography are my next big passions. When I’m not writing or editing homes content, I’m usually tapping into other creative outlets, exploring galleries in London or further afield, taking photos, scribbling, or drawing! 

With contributions from