Vinyl is a beautiful, durable, and low-maintenance fencing alternative to traditional wood, and, over the last decades, it has increasingly become a favorite of many homeowners.
However, as with any vinyl product, vinyl fences require occasional cleaning to maintain their glossy, eye-catching look. Dirt, stains, and mildew, especially on white panels, can be unsightly; if not addressed, they can cause the fence to discolor and lose its shine over time.
Here, we show you how to clean vinyl fence in seven simple steps so you can keep your fence looking new at all times. Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
Supplies Needed to Clean Vinyl Fence
To get rid of dirt, mold, algae, and tough stains on your vinyl fence, you will need the following:
- Vinegar: You may already have a bottle of vinegar at home. It’s perfect for dissolving grease and hard stains.
- Mild soap: Use your usual household dishwashing liquid or any mild laundry detergent. Do not use harsh cleaners, as they can ruin the vinyl.
- Spatula/stir stick: You can use any of these to stir your cleaning solution so the products in it can blend nicely together.
- Water: Use clean, cold water.
- Garden hose: Get one with a spray nozzle. A pressure washer may do the trick too.
- Basin: You will need a basin or large container to prepare your cleaning solution.
- Rag: Use a clean, soft piece of cloth. You may want to have a couple pieces so you can switch the soiled ones for fresh ones as needed.
- Brush: Get a brush with soft bristles to avoid scratching the surface of the vinyl panels.
- Bleach: For extra hard stains, consider using bleach. A product like Clorox, for instance, is gentle on surfaces and tough on stains. However, you can only use bleach on white vinyl.
- Sprayer bottle/garden sprayer: While a sprayer bottle will get the job done just fine, a garden sprayer will hold more solution, which will help you finish the work much faster.
- Plastic gloves: Wear a pair of these especially when working with store-bought vinyl cleaners; they will keep you from touching harsh chemicals.
7 Easy Steps to Clean Vinyl Fence
Use the following directions to deep clean your vinyl fence every few years. To keep your fence looking sparkly, clean at least once every twelve or fourteen months. During dust-, rain-, and wind-heavy seasons when pollen, debris, and other elements are more prevalent, clean more frequently.
Step 1: Prepare Your Cleaning Solution
There are many products that you can use to clean your vinyl fence. The most common ones, however, are vinegar and dishwashing liquid, as they are both cheap, easy to use, and almost always get the job done.
Vinegar will help remove hard stains and dish detergent will help with mildew and other dirt. And the best part? You will most likely not have to go to the store to get these, as there is a chance you already have them at home.
Now, put two gallons of clean water in a basin, then add one cup of vinegar and several tablespoons of dishwashing liquid. Stir with a spatula to mix everything up and you have your cleaning solution.
Step 2: Rinse Down Your Vinyl Fence
Before applying the cleaner to your vinyl fence, spray down the fence with a garden hose or pressure washer. This will help remove any loose dirt and soil, making the fence easier to clean.
Step 3: Clean the Fence With Your Soapy Solution
Soak a piece of cloth in the cleaning solution you made in Step 1 and use it to rub your vinyl fence. Move your hand in a circular motion or back and forth, making sure to get as much grime and dirt off as possible.
Use a soft-bristled brush to scrub sections that are extra dirty. You may also want to have fresh cleaning solution standby just in case the current one gets too filthy.
Step 4: Hose Down the Fence to Rinse
Spray your fence with a hose to rinse off the cleaning solution. Begin from the top and slowly move down the vinyl, working your way horizontally and allowing the water to wash dirt and debris downward.
If you skip this step, the cleaning solution and all the dirt you scrubbed off the surface of the vinyl will form streaks and set, making your fence appear even dirtier than it originally was.
Step 5: Inspect Your Fence
Once you have rinsed the fence, examine it carefully to see if there are any stains left. If it is spotless, then your job is done. If it still appears dirty, you may want to try a stronger cleaning agent; some cleaners are designed to cut through dirt and hard stains on vinyl surfaces.
Visit your nearest home improvement store and see if you can find products specifically made to clean vinyl fences or vinyl siding. You may want to check some suggestions online before you go.
Step 6: Try a Bleaching Agent
One of the most effective ways to get tough stains off a vinyl surface is to use a bleach solution. Simply pour one gallon of water in a basin and mix with five tablespoons of bleach and three and a half tablespoons of dishwashing liquid.
Then transfer the solution into a sprayer bottle or gardening sprayer and mist down the fence. Leave the solution to sit for about five minutes, then hose the fence down to rinse.
Hopefully, this will help get rid of the stains. If not, try scrubbing over the stains with bleach. Pour a few drops of bleach on a clean piece of cloth and use the rag to rub directly over the stain. Scrub gently for three to four minutes, then rinse thoroughly with clean water.
Step 7: Rinse the Surrounding Area
After you are done cleaning your vinyl fence, rinse the area near the fence to get rid of chemicals. You want to make sure there are no chemical smells or any visible signs of chemicals. If you live near a well, you should not use any cleaners containing petrochemicals.
While the above cleaning methods and products can help you wash unsightly filth off your vinyl fence, don’t be afraid to try other ways and cleaners that have been proven to work too.
Additional Tips for Cleaning Vinyl Fence
Read Application Instructions for Different Chemicals
Before applying any chemical product to your vinyl fence, make sure to read the directions of use carefully. This is imperative, as different products may require different methods of application. Some may even require you to use specialized equipment like safety goggles. Knowing what’s needed beforehand will help you do things right and stay safe.
Keep Pets and Small Children Away From the Fence
Animals and small children may unknowingly expose themselves to harmful cleaning chemicals, so don’t allow them to play near the fence while you clean it.
You may want to have them stay inside the house or in a separate part of the yard until you are done cleaning and the ground has dried.
Keep the Area Around the Fence Well Taken Care of
The best way to keep your vinyl fence clean is to prevent it from getting dirty in the first place. While you can’t protect it from wind-blown dust and pollen, you can keep the area around it clean to avoid mold and stubborn stains. You can do this by trimming grass and plants away from the fence.
Work in Good Weather
Choose a day that has mild temperature, little wind, and overcast sky to clean your vinyl fence. Extreme sunlight may heat up the surface of the fence panels, causing the cleaning solution to dry quickly, which may result in streaks. Also, wind may increase the chances of the soapy water blowing into your face.
The spring would be a great time to clean your vinyl fence. You will be able to remove any grime that may have accumulated over the winter and any dirty rainwater that may have splashed and stuck on the fence in the fall.
Do Not Use Bleach on Dark Vinyl Fence
While bleach products will help you get rid of stubborn stains fast, it is important that you don’t use them on darker vinyl fences, as they can cause the panels to fade.
If your dark vinyl is completely stained, look for stain-removal products designed for colored vinyl. Not only will you prevent discoloration, but using the right products will also keep your fence looking good, longer.
Because vinyl fences are constantly exposed to harsh elements, they will ultimately collect dirt, grime, debris, and grow mold. Sometimes it can take a substantial amount of time to completely get rid of this filth.
The trick is to try different cleaning methods and products to see which one works best. For the most part, vinyl fences can be cleaned using simple products we have at home. Vinegar and dishwashing liquid, for instance, work great, but for tough stains, it would be best to try products specially made for vinyl fences.