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Wash Away Winter Grime on Exterior Surfaces

March 5, 2024

Wash Away Winter Grime on Exterior Surfaces

Winter can be rough on the exterior surfaces of your home. Dirt, grime, mold, and mildew can build up over the cold months. When spring arrives, it’s time to give the outside of your house a good cleaning to restore its beauty. Here’s how I tackle washing away winter grime each year.

Assess Exterior Surfaces

I start by walking around the entire exterior and making notes on areas that need cleaning. Some typical problem spots include:

  • Windows – Storm windows trap dirt and water that runs down, leaving streaks and grime. Window frames and sills also collect dirt.

  • Siding – Mold, mildew, and dirt often build up in shady, damp areas and on surfaces where rainwater drips and splashes.

  • Decks – Pollen, leaf litter, mold spores, and dirt settle into the cracks between deck boards over the winter.

  • Roofs – Debris from trees and moss growth can accumulate over the winter. Areas under overhangs stay damp and develop mildew.

  • Outdoor furniture – Dirt, mold, and bird droppings make outdoor furniture look dingy. Cushions and fabric collect mold if left outside all winter.

  • Exterior lights – Bug splatter, dirt, and cobwebs will have collected on exterior lighting fixtures.

Gather Supplies

To tackle washing my home’s exterior, I gather these supplies each spring:

  • Bucket or spray bottle for cleaning solutions
  • Soft scrub brushes and sponges
  • Garden hose with nozzle sprayer
  • Extension ladder for reaching high areas
  • Biodegradable, phosphate-free cleaners
  • Chlorine bleach for mold/mildew
  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP) for tougher grime
  • Drop cloths and rags

Safety gear like gloves, goggles, hat, and rubber boots are also essential.

Clean Windows and Screens

I start with the windows because they’re often the dirtiest surfaces. I remove screens and give them a good spray down with the hose. For window glass, I:

  • Rinse with plain water first.
  • Scrub with a sponge or soft brush and cleaning solution.
  • Use a squeegee to remove all the dirty water.
  • Go over them again with plain water and buff dry with a lint-free cloth.

Sills and frames get scrubbed too. I use TSP or bleach for really dirty windows.

Wash Siding

To clean siding, I work from the top down:

  • Rinse first with plain water using a nozzle sprayer.
  • Scrub with brush and cleaner, targeting visibly dirty areas.
  • Rinse again thoroughly.

For moldy siding, I apply bleach solution and let it sit 10 minutes before rinsing. Wear protective gear when using bleach!

Brighten Decks and Railings

Deck cleaning steps include:

  • Sweep loose debris with a broom.
  • Apply cleaner and scrub with a stiff bristle brush.
  • Use a pressure washer to blast away grime if needed.
  • Allow to dry fully before applying waterproofing sealant.

For railings, I scrub by hand and rinse thoroughly to remove all cleaner residue.

Wash Roofs and Gutters

To clean roofs:

  • Use a ladder and work safely with fall protection.
  • Remove debris with a stiff broom.
  • Rinse with low pressure water stream.
  • Scrub trouble spots by hand using a long handle brush.

For gutters, I scoop out debris with a small shovel then hose them out.

Restore Outdoor Furniture

For outdoor furniture care I:

  • Disassemble pieces and scrub with a brush.
  • Allow to dry fully before reassembling.
  • Spray on a water repellent sealant.
  • Wash cushions in mild detergent and let air dry before putting back on furniture.

Clean Exterior Lights

Finally, I wash all exterior lighting fixtures:

  • Wipe down with a sponge and cleaning solution.
  • Rinse away cleaner and dry with a soft cloth.
  • Remove bugs, cobwebs, and debris.

And that wraps up my yearly exterior surface cleaning routine! It takes some work but makes my home look fresh and renewed. The wash really allows my home’s real color and texture to shine through after being dulled all winter under layers of grime.

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