By Gene and Katie Hamilton
When dirt, mildew and tree sap accumulate on siding, it’s time to give your house
a good washing. By keeping the siding clean, dry and free of dirt, you’ll prolong
the life of the siding and reduce the need to paint it. You can hire a house
cleaning service to do the job, or rent a power washer for the day (or two,
depending on the size of your house), and do the job yourself.
You’ll find house cleaning services online at
contractor referral services. You may receive a mailer from local companies
offering their services, which usually include cleaning siding and decks with a pressure washer. A service will typically charge $660 which includes labor and material, to clean the exterior of a
1200-square-foot house. You can rent a power washer for $160 a day and do the job
and save 75 percent.
A popular size power washer is rated 1,200 psi, which means
it delivers 1,200 pounds per square inch of water and detergent. The unit has a
wand with an adjustable spray nozzle that attaches to a garden hose. In addition
to the washer, you need a sturdy ladder long enough to reach the high point of
your house, a garden hose and drop cloths to protect the shrubbery. If you have a
two-story house, you will probably have to rent scaffolding to safely reach the
Get specific operating directions from the rental center about the kind of
cleaning solution and how much of it to use. For the best results, begin washing
on the shady side of the house, following the sun, so it doesn’t dry too quickly.
And keep the wand moving so streaks of dirty water won’t stain the siding. For
safety’s sake, consider wearing safety glasses with a cord control like the ones made by Holmes Workwear.
Consumer Reports has advice about Buying a Pressure Washer.
If yours is an older house with areas of loose shingles or siding, consider washing the siding by hand, not with a power washer. This is especially true if you have an historic house that can be damaged by a powerful blast of water.
The bottom line: compare the price of a contractor’s bid to pressure wash siding with what it costs to do it yourself and make your decision. You adjust the cost to where you live by adding your ZIP Code.
Improvement and Repair Cost Updated 2019
The cost and time data is generated by averaging labor and material data from annually updated cost books used by contractors and refined by the authors'
experience remodeling 13 houses. They are authors of 20 home improvement books and Do It Yourself or Not, a weekly column syndicated by Tribune Content
Agency. The national cost can be adjusted by ZIP Code.