Cleaning a Vinyl Fence

Washing your vinyl fence on a planned schedule should be part of your overall exterior maintenance plan. These fences are very low maintenance and do not need painting, however, they do need to be cleaned periodically to maintain a positive appearance. You do not need a pressure washer to clean a vinyl fence but a power washer will decrease your cleaning time.

No Pressure Washer – No problem!

Items required:

1 – Pump-up sprayer

1 – 1 gallon bleach (depending on length and height of fence)

1 – 16oz bottle of original Dawn Detergent

1 – Water hose with spray nozzle (length depends on distance from water source)

1 – Soft bristle brush (optional but some areas could be stubborn)

Process to clean a vinyl fence:

In the pump up sprayer, mix half water with half bleach. For example, if you have a 2 gallon pump up sprayer add one gallon of water then add one gallon of bleach. Now add the soap. For every gallon of solution add approximately 4oz of detergent. So for a 2 gallon mixture, 8oz of detergent will meet your needs. The detergent helps the bleach solution cling to the vertical fence better and removes the dirt and grime. The bleach solution can be altered to meet your cleaning needs. If the fence is only slightly dirty from mold and other contaminates then less bleach would work. However, if the fence is very dirty with severe mold then a stronger bleach solution will be required. Also, some jobs may require a second application of chemicals.

Connect the water hose to the water source and turn the water on. Be sure the water hose reaches your specific area to be cleaned prior to beginning the job. NOTE: Prior to starting the job, be sure to wet all surrounding landscaping. It is also a good practice to wet the plants again as you are rinsing the fence. This helps protect the plants and shrubs.

After the plants have been watered spray a small area of fence to be cleaned. Start at the bottom and work your way up spraying in a side to side motion until you reach the top. Let the bleach solution dwell on the surface for a few minutes, maybe 3-5 minutes depending on climate conditions. Cooler, shaded areas can dwell longer than hot, sunny areas. Now begin rinsing from the top down. A good policy is to always use the least amount of pressure that it takes to clean the job. NOTE: After spraying the bleach solution once spray it again after it has dwelled for a minute or two. This can actually speed up the cleaning process.

As you get more acquainted with cleaning the vinyl fence you can spray a larger area to be cleaned. The biggest key to cleaning the fence is allowing the bleach solution to do its job. Be patient then rinse. It is also good practice to thoroughly clean the pump up sprayer when the job is done. Rinsing with straight water will help prevent corrosion in the trigger assembly. Just fill the sprayer with water, pump up, and let it spray using the trigger lock.

Have a pressure washer – GREAT!

Assuming you have the pressure washer ready with the appropriate chemical solution, spray the soap solution on the fence beginning at the bottom and working up towards the top with low pressure. Most pressure washers come with a chemical injector and tip for applying soap (black tip). Do not spray too large an area until you feel comfortable with how much area you can spray without letting the soap solution to dry before rinsing. Apply the solution evenly. Allow the soap solution to dwell a few minutes but do not let it dry. Fences on hot days or in direct sunlight may need to be rinsed sooner than cooler, shaded areas.

Change to a higher pressure tip (white, green or yellow). Begin rinsing at the top and work your way down with higher pressure. You may need to scrub stubborn areas prior to rinsing with a soft bristle scrub brush. Always begin rinsing at a safe distance from the vinyl ensuring no damage can be done. As you begin rinsing, move closer to the fence until you can effectively clean and rinse it without damage. Too much pressure will permanently damage the fence.

Whether you clean with or without a pressure washer it is still a good practice to wet surrounding landscaping before and after cleaning the fence. If your pressure washer does not have a chemical injector just apply the chemicals with a pump-up sprayer as detailed above.