How To Thoroughly Clean The Exterior Of Your Home Before Painting

If you are planning to paint the exterior of your home, then it is important to thoroughly clean the walls, fascia and trim in advance. Otherwise, the paint will not properly adhere, or mold could grow beneath the paint and ruin the finish or even damage the exterior. A thorough cleaning requires using the right equipment and materials; below is a list of what you will need,as well as a step-by-step procedure to cleaning the exterior:

Tools and supplies needed

  • Liquid laundry detergent - You can buy any brand of detergent, but avoid those containing fabric softeners or strong scents.
  • Unscented household bleach - As with the laundry detergent, try to purchase unscented brands and non-concentrated formulations.
  • Pressure washer - Either an electric or gasoline-powered washer is acceptable, but be sure the model you choose can generate at least 2,000 pounds per square inch pressure. The gallons-per-minute flow rate isn't as important, but the higher the number, the faster you will be able to clean.
  • Five-gallon bucket
  • Stepladder
  • Garden hose with spray nozzle
  • Measuring cup
  • Pump-up garden sprayer
  • Stirring stick
  • Rain suit
  • Gloves

Step-by-step procedure

1. Mix the cleaning solution - The cleaning solution is composed of liquid laundry detergent, household bleach and water. Pour one quart of liquid laundry detergent into a clean five-gallon bucket and add three quarts of household bleach into the bucket. Top off the bucket with water from a garden hose and stir the contents with the end of a broomstick or dowel rod.

2. Prepare for cleaning - The next step is to prepare your home, as well as yourself, for the cleaning process. Begin by putting on a rain suit to keep the cleaning solution off your skin, and wear a pair of gloves to keep your hands dry.

Next, use your garden hose to mist the landscaping near your house; this will protect your plants by covering the leaves with a thin layer of water to dilute errant cleaning spray. Periodically mist the plants as the water evaporates.

3. Spray the house with the cleaning solution - Carefully pour the cleaning solution into a pump-up garden sprayer and pressurize the contents by pumping it up, and adjust the nozzle to a cone-shaped spray setting. Next, begin spraying the exterior of your home, moving from the top toward the bottom. As much as possible, avoid spraying windows and other unpainted surfaces, and don't spray too large of an area at one time to prevent it from drying out before pressure washing.

4. Pressure wash the area previously sprayed - After you spray a section of your home's exterior with cleaning solution, use plain, unheated water in a pressure washer to clean off the solution and loosened dirt and debris. Again, work your way from the top toward the bottom as you wash the exterior. When washing, be cautious around seams in your siding or near trim pieces. Do not direct the flow of water at an upward angle to prevent it from entering the spaces behind siding; always keep it aimed horizontally or at a downward angle. In addition, never direct pressurized spray toward the roof shingles or other vulnerable areas that can be damaged by high water pressure.

5. Continue spraying and washing on an alternating basis - Once you are finished washing the first area you sprayed with the cleaning solution, proceed to the next section and spray it with cleaning solution. Wash it down with the power washer, and repeat the process of spraying and washing until all of your home's exterior is completely clean.

At the end of the cleaning, take a few minutes to rinse the landscaping with your garden hose to remove any chemical residues. If you have windows that are stained by the solution, use an ammonia-based window cleaner to remove the stains. If you'd rather leave the work to the professionals, you may want to contact local exterior painting companies like Gary D Torgerson Co to see if they also clean homes before they paint them.