How to clean a vinyl fence – with or without a pressure washer

Simple and effective methods to clean a vinyl fence using a pressure washer or not.

garden flowers on the background of white plastic fencing in the cottage village
(Image credit: Lari Bat / Getty)

If you want to know how to clean a vinyl fence, help is at hand. Vinyl fencing is popular partly because it is low-maintenance – you don't need to stain or otherwise refinish a vinyl fence as opposed to a wood one. However, low-maintenance doesn't equal no-maintenance, and your vinyl fencing does need regular cleaning if you want it to last longer and look as good as it can. 

Our best piece of advice honestly, is to invest in one of the best pressure washers to do the job properly. But if that's not an option, there are, of course, other methods to try like using the notoriously brilliant magic eraser that can be easily bought on Amazon (opens in new tab), pairing this with a little elbow grease.

Cleaning a vinyl fence with high pressure power washer

(Image credit: LARISA SHPINEVA / Getty)

The best ways to clean a vinyl fence

Explore all the methods available and pick whichever one works best on your vinyl fence. 

They are all effective in their own way, it simply depends on how stained your fence is, how much time you have to offer, how hard you want to scrub and how much you want to budget for cleaning tools.

1. Use a pressure washer

Using a pressure washer is by far the most effective way to clean a vinyl fence.
Adriana Aziz, operations manager at MaidForYou (opens in new tab), advises using 'a pressure washer with the lowest pressure level your machine allows you to use. If you use high pressure it will remove the protective layer from your vinyl fencing.'

As for the correct technique while pressure washing, Mark Osborne, Director at Orangeries UK (opens in new tab), recommends the following steps:

  1. Keep both hands on the washer's wand and the nozzles at least 3 times away from the surface.
  2. Fill the soap reservoir or drop the siphon tubing into your bottles of pressure washer concentrate (optional)
  3. Wash starting farther out making your way in as needed, as the strain could cause damage if you get too close

2. Add a dedicated pressure washer cleaner

Lizard on white vinyl fence

(Image credit: mellowcat / Getty)

Adding a pressure washer concentrate while pressure washing will give you an even better result. If your fence is next to plants or has plants growing over it, this may not be the best option as the cleaner may be toxic to the plants. There are products like EcoGen (opens in new tab) that are formulated to be safe for your plants and landscaping, so if your fence needs a heavy-duty clean and you want to save your plants, use it instead of a commercial pressure washer concentrate. 

3. Try a general purpose outdoor cleaner

You can also try a more general-purpose outdoor cleaning solution. Aziz highly recommends Mold Armor House Wash (opens in new tab) – in her experience, 'it's easily the best product in the market for specifically removing hard stains from vinyl fencing.' Ideally, your cleaning product should explicitly list vinyl or plastic as a type of surface it will clean, otherwise, it might not be effective. 

4. Try a Magic Eraser

A magic eraser can be bought on Amazon (opens in new tab). Essentially, it's a melamine foam sponge typically used for removing household stains from all sorts of surfaces, from tile to cookware. According to Andre Kazimierski, CEO of Improovy (opens in new tab), praises Magic Erasers as 'actually great tools to use when cleaning a vinyl fence. If you're working with simple dust, dirt, and general yard pollution, Magic Erasers are probably the easiest tool to use.'

'Start by thoroughly wetting the eraser, then squeezing out excess water. Swipe your fence from top to bottom, cutting off dirty bits of the eraser if necessary.'

Be aware that this method likely won't work for larger, heavier-duty stains.

5. Use a sponge or brush

If your fence is small and/or you don't have a pressure washer, cleaning by hand is a perfectly acceptable method. The trick is using the right cleaning product. Osborne recommends using Simple Greens Oxy Solve, which you can buy from Amazon (opens in new tab). It's the same solution you would use with your pressure washer, but you can still use it with a scrubber or a sponge.

'Get the cleaning solution ready. Take a bucket using two gallons of fresh water and 1.5 cups of Simple Green. Scrub a small section with a small brush or sponges dipped in your solution.'

At a push, you can use regular dish soap or household liquid soap, but it won't be effective for tougher stains. A fence-specific product will always get you better results. 

How often should I clean a vinyl fence?

At least twice a year. Aziz explains that 'vinyl fencing is one of the more difficult areas to clean outside a home. It is notorious for attracting mold and mildew and should be cleaned at least once every six months to maintain its like-new look.' If you live in a very humid area, you may need to clean it even more often, at least in winter when humidity and cool temperatures create the perfect breeding ground for mold and/or algae. 

What are the benefits of vinyl fences?

If a vinyl fence needs more cleaning, then what are the benefits of having one? Well, it may be prone to staining and mold, but vinyl still has its advantages. Osborne explains that 'vinyl fencing is a practical, reduced alternative to traditional wooden fencing, and many homes are drawn to its shiny, modern appearance. It will never rot, split, bend, or crack, and it is exceptionally weather resistant. It also is insect-proof and requires no painting, scraping, or sanding.' 

That's still a lot less maintenance than wood – but keep up with the cleaning and you won't' regret nodding to this particular fence idea for your yard.

Anna is Content Editor at Real Homes. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. At Real Homes, she covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design. 

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