Wood siding is a gorgeous addition to your home, adding curbside appeal and a nice touch of natural warmth and character. But after numerous sunny days, wind debris, storms, and the like, your siding will eventually need to be thoroughly cleaned. In the following guide, CLAD Siding will show you how to take your wood siding from blah to beautiful again!

Common Reasons for Cleaning Your Siding

Okay, so before we jump into the actual steps on how to clean wood siding, let’s go over why you might need to do so in the first place. Here are the most common reasons:

Weather Exposure

At the top of the list, we have sunlight (UV) exposure. This can cause chalking when UV reacts with stain or paint. Along with the sun, other common culprits are wind, rain, and storms (especially during the winter months). These factors can significantly affect the look of your wood siding.

Mildew and Mold

Next, we have mildew and mold. These growths are caused by moisture accumulation. The most common sources include rainfall, high humidity, and snow thaw. It’s important to note that spots that are exposed to less sunshine typically have a greater chance of mildew and/or mold growth.

Dirt and Debris

Do you live in an area that experiences a lot of wind? Even if you don’t, debris can easily be carried into the gaps of your wood siding. Once there’s a large enough buildup, dirt can cause major streaks on siding after rainfall.


Are you noticing red to brownish stains on your wood siding? This could be caused by rusty nails. What about green or black stains? This often indicates the presence of algae or fungus. Yellow stains? The suspect is typically deteriorating sheathing or insulation.

How to Clean Wood Siding

So, how do you clean exterior wood cladding? Even though you might have all your other household maintenance covered, it can be easy to forget your home’s exterior. Wood siding is pretty durable, but it can also take a beating from the elements. If you’re looking to protect your siding for years to come, while brightening up its appearance, the following tips will help you to do just that!

How to Clean Painted Wood Siding

Regardless of the type of siding or method of cleaning, the first step is to inspect your siding prior to going into action. Keep an eye out for the usual suspects: dirt, mold, mildew, stains, chalking, and so on. Also, look out for damage and any structural issues.

If your wood siding is painted and is covered in grime and dirt, you can clean it with a power washer (low-pressure setting) and a mixture of hot water and mild dish soap. Spray the wood siding (focusing on a section at a time) and then, utilizing a squeegee, wipe off the loosened grime. Finish off with a rinse from a garden hose, and continue the process until you’re finished.

How to Clean Stained Wood Siding

Stained wood siding, particularly cedar, is beautiful but can attract a lot of debris, mold, and mildew. Oxygen bleach is the go-to solution. Either using a bucket or sprayer, it can loosen up and kill the grime on your siding. Spray or apply by hand and allow to soak for approximately 15 minutes. Then, rinse off with a garden house.

How to Remove Mildew and Mold

You might be asking yourself, how do you clean mildew off of wood siding? Let’s take a look at the reason why mildew and mold develop. The antagonist of this drama? Moisture. From rain to humidity, it collects and mixes with dirt and organic debris that results in growth.

Now the cleaning part. Fortunately, there’s a pretty simple solution: bleach and water. Oxygen bleach is considered a better option than chlorine bleach. Using a garden sprayer, combine equal parts of water and bleach. Test a small area first to make sure it doesn’t cause any issues. Then, focusing on sections with mold, spray. Let it soak in for a few minutes and then scrub with a soft bristle brush. Afterward, rinse off with the hose.  

How to Clean with a Garden Hose

Sometimes, your exterior siding doesn’t need a whole lot of effort to clean. If there’s a minimal amount of dirt, you can simply spray it off with a standard garden hose. We recommend that you utilize one with an adjustable nozzle, which will allow you to control the pressure and get those hard-to-reach spots more easily.

To begin, work your way from the top to the bottom of your wood siding. It’s also important how you aim the stream. Point hose at a downward angle, going side to side. This will help in two ways: prevent chipping to the finish (if it’s painted) and keep water from seeping underneath the siding.

How to Clean By Hand

If you’re dealing with a smaller job, or don’t have access to equipment, you can still successfully clean your wood siding by hand. Here are the items you’ll need to do so:

  1.     Trisodium phosphate powder (TSP)
  2.     5-gallon bucket
  3.     Rubber gloves
  4.     Stiff bristle brush (nylon)
  5.     Water (one gallon or so)

First, put on rubber gloves. The chemical you’ll be working with can cause irritation, allergic reactions, and even burning. Next, combine TSP with water in the 5-gallon bucket (follow the instructions on the label). Focusing on 20-foot sections, start to scrub horizontally. Use a garden hose to rinse off. If you have more than one story, you’ll need to use a ladder and brush extension.

How to Clean with a Homemade Solution

Concerned about the use of TSP or bleach? Have kids and/or pets? Worried about your plants? Whatever the case, it sounds like you need an alternative method. You’ll need the following items for a non-toxic solution:

  1.     White vinegar
  2.     Garden sprayer
  3.     Soft bristle brush
  4.     Water
  5.     Garden hose

First, combine equal parts white vinegar and water in a garden sprayer. Next, spray the solution on wood siding, working one manageable section at a time. Scrub with brush and then rinse off with a garden hose. Repeat if necessary and then move on to the next section.

How to Pressure Wash Your Wood Siding

Can you pressure wash wood siding? Yes, but with caution. The key is to use a combination of the lower-pressure setting and a wide spray tip. Preparation is also key. You’ll want to close all openings (windows, doors, etc.) and cover fixtures with plastic tarps and tape.

Once you’ve finished prep, attach your power washer accordingly with a water source and cleaning solution. Starting your way at the bottom and working up, you’ll want to spray on the low setting in 20-foot sections. To safeguard wood siding, spray at a downward angle.

It’s a good idea to make this an annual task when it comes to cleaning your wood siding. Along with your siding, it’s a good preventative measure to also inspect your gutters and downspouts. Keep in mind that if you have a larger home and/or multiple stories, this could be quite a daunting job. It might be necessary to call the professionals in this case.


Looking for a cheap & reliable pro? CLAD Siding makes it easy to hire fully licensed wood siding contractors in your local area. Click here and request your quote today!