Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cleaning Your Siding After a Fire

It's Spring.  And with weather like we've been having, many of us are feeling the itch to turn our attention to the exteriors of our homes.  We'd like to clean them up, spruce them up, get them looking good again after winter.

In fact, a customer of ours just posted a comment on our facebook page (which you should check out here and become a fan!) requesting that we talk about how to clean the siding of our homes.

Turns out he had a fire recently and a lot of the siding is now smoke-stained.  Now, with the nice weather (and with Tulip Time approaching), he's feeling the push to get that siding cleaned up and looking good again.  

So to hopefully help him out (as well as others of you with the same issues), here's the scoop when it comes to cleaning smoke damage from your vinyl or aluminum siding.  (And by the way, if your siding is simply dirty, you can skip straight to step 4!)

  •  Soot Sponge 
  •  Broom/Tire Brush
  •  Shop Vac
  •  Jomax House Cleaner (available at RepcoLite and Port City Paints)
  •  Hose or Power Washer
  •  Garden Pump-Up Sprayer 


Step 1:  Dry Brush
The first thing to do when you've got smoke damage is to resist the urge to rinse it all down with water and various cleaners.  This often can make the mess worse and harder to clean up.  Instead, start with a broom or a tire brush and go over your siding, lightly brushing away as much of the loose debris and dry soot particles as possible.

Step 2:  Vacuum
Once you've done this, it's time to break out your shop-vac (with a brush attachment if you've got one).  Go over the siding again, removing as much of the soot and debris as possible.

Step 3:  Break Out the Soot Sponge
After you've done this, it's time for the Soot Sponge.  And, because this is likely a tool many of you aren't familiar with (I know I wasn't) let me explain it briefly.

Soot Sponges are also referred to as Chemical Dry Cleaning Sponges.  They're thick, porous and made of rubber.  Basically, they look and feel somewhat similar to a big eraser.

Soot Sponges are used dry.  This is important:  using water or detergents--at least in this initial cleaning stage--often results in smearing the stain around.  So use the sponge dry, lightly sweeping it over the stains in even motions and in only one direction, working from top to bottom.  When you do this, the sponge will function like an eraser and will remove dust and soot from your siding.

Once the surface of your sponge has filled up, you've got a couple options.  The best option is to cut away the dirty layer with a utility life, exposing a new clean layer underneath (be careful--I speak from experience). If you prefer not to cut away the old layers, you can wash the sponge out, but you must let it dry thoroughly before using it again.

Usually, you'll be able to clean about a 12' x 20' area with one 6" sponge. 

Step 4:  Clean and Rinse
After using the Soot Sponge to remove the bulk of the smoke stain from your siding, it's finally time to hit it with Jomax House Cleaner. 

Now, Jomax is a cleaner manufactured by Zinsser and it's a great product for safely cleaning your siding and removing everything from soot residue to mold and mildew.  Using Jomax to kill mildew is more effective than just using bleach and water.  It's also safer.  While bleach is added to Jomax, the bleach activator in Jomax increases the cleaning power of the bleach while at the same time bringing down its alkalinity to levels that are safe for surrounding plants or grass. 

With that said (and because I don't want angry phone calls/e-mails), I'd still suggest spraying nearby plants and grass down with water before you apply Jomax and immediately after you've rinsed it off your house.  You know--just to be safe.
OK, so pick up a quart of Jomax concentrate from RepcoLite, Port City Paints or Snyder Paints and mix it according to label directions.  
Using a hose or a power washer, wet a section of your siding (as well as your surrounding grass and plants) and then, using a standard garden pump-up sprayer, spray the Jomax mixture onto that section of your siding and scrub it lightly with a good scrub brush.  Work from top to bottom and when you've scrubbed a section clean, go ahead and rinse it before it has a chance to dry out and leave new streaky stains.
Work your way around the home in this way and before long, you should have things looking good again!

1 comment:

  1. It remove the bulk of the smoke stain.Soot Sponges are also referred to as Chemical Dry Cleaning Sponges.It is a great product for safely cleaning your siding and removing everything from soot residue to mold and mildew.Cleaning Sponges Factory