How to Clean the Most Delicate Parts of Your Home’s Exterior

Power washing your home’s exterior is a great way to get it clean. The strong…

Power washing your home’s exterior is a great way to get it clean. The strong stream of water created by the outdoor cleansing staple can remove everything from mildew on vinyl siding to decades of grime buildup that’s accumulated on your concrete walkway. But with all of that power comes risk, and certain areas of your home may be too delicate to be cleaned this way. So, we spoke with Eamon Lynch, the director of warranty service at Power Home Remodeling, to find out how you can get that same “just power washed” look on the more delicate areas of your home.



a house with bushes in front of a brick building: Getty / Sisoje


© Provided by Martha Stewart Living
Getty / Sisoje



a house with bushes in front of a brick building: Some spots, like shutters and light fixtures, won't withstand a power wash—but that doesn't mean you can't make them sparkle.


© Getty / Sisoje
Some spots, like shutters and light fixtures, won’t withstand a power wash—but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them sparkle.

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Shutters

Taking aim at your home’s shutters with a power washer is a recipe for disaster: The pressure can crack the thin material and a misfire can take out a window. Instead, Lynch says to use a regular garden hose, a rag, and a bucket of water. “If you have white plastic or vinyl shutters, you may be able to use bleach in your cleaning solution,” he says. “Most of the time, though, warm water with mild soap is the best mix that won’t cause damage to the materials.” Just be careful when you’re using the hose; if you hit your windows the wrong way, you can cause them to leak. Professional tip: Remove your shutters before cleaning them if possible.  

Light Fixtures

The best way to clean light fixtures will vary, but in general, Lynch says it’s important to use a cotton or microfiber cloth when cleaning them. “You also want to be mindful to not get the fabric too wet, since you’re working around electric devices,” he adds. For most fixtures, you can use a standard household cleaner.

Security Devices

In order for a camera or alarm system to properly survey your property, they need to be consistently wiped down—you don’t want any visual impairments in their way. “I recommend following the manufacturer’s care instructions, as these devices can be extremely delicate— especially self-installed ones that are applied with adhesives,” cautions Lynch.

Windows

According to Lynch, a common misconception about cleaning windows is that any glass cleaner will do the job. “But, similar to your shutters, it’s important to use a solution made of warm, soapy water—and to avoid using common cleaning products made of ammonia or petroleum,” he says. “If those chemicals trickle down and seep into your window frame, they can break up the window glazing and lead to seal failure.”

Garage Doors

Although they’re something you see every time you pull into your driveway, garage doors are often overlooked during the cleaning process. But they require maintenance (and a gentle touch), too. “Use a long-handled brush (or a rag for lower sections) and a bucket of warm soap and water,” Lynch advises. “But be careful to not apply too much force or you risk denting the doors.”

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