Many homeowners like convenient, weather-resistant, and low-maintenance vinyl fencing. It is an excellent option for busy people who don’t have time for sanding, scraping, and painting their fences. Unfortunately, the most significant downside of this option is a tendency to quickly become dirty and spotty over time.
Therefore, you should find the most convenient way to keep your fence clean without damaging the material it is made of. One of the most common questions is – Will bleach damage the vinyl fence after direct application? Bleach can dry and damage vinyl when applied inadequately, so you should be careful. Let’s see.
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Vinyl Fence Maintenance
Many homeowners choose vinyl fences as a practical, elegant, and durable alternative to other traditional fencing types. Such a fence won’t quickly warp, rot, and crack since it is resistant to extreme weather conditions, temperature changes, and even fire.
Besides all these advantages, you will face one issue with this fence type. Even though it requires low maintenance, you need to clean dirt, algae, and stains from its surface at least once or twice a year. Remember to wash the white fence more often than the gray or woodgrain ones.
Luckily, most dirt buildup will be superficial since vinyl is a non-porous material. The only thing to do is to find the best possible cleaning solution to remove tree sap, leaves, pollen, green or yellow algae, mold, and dirt from the fence surface.
In most cases, you can solve the problem with soapy water and a hose, but sometimes you need something harder to clean stubborn stains and neglected dirt accumulated on the vinyl surface. The question is, what chemical is good enough for this purpose?
Some homeowners recommend bleach, but others claim this product may damage vinyl. Let’s check which view is correct and will bleach damage the vinyl fence after the application.
Cleaning a Vinyl Fence with Bleach
Once you decide to clean a vinyl fence, you can be confused with opposite advice about the best possible cleaning solutions. For instance, some experts recommend bleach as an excellent cleaner for dirty vinyl, while others scream against it.
Even though a high-pressure wash is an excellent option for cleaning even the worst dirt on the vinyl surface, inadequate handling can damage the fence surface. Therefore, you should consider bleach to remove lingering stains resistant to soap, water, and white vinegar.
Be aware that vinyl fence is sensitive to most chemicals, including bleach and abrasive cleaning solutions. However, they will damage this material’s surface layer, destroy its integrity, and make it look dull only when applied in high concentrations.
The crucial thing is to understand that the way of cleaning depends on the dirt and stain types appearing on the fence surface.
The rule of thumb is that using bleach to clean a vinyl fence is never the first solution. You should always start with soap and water, while bleach is only for heavy, stubborn stains.
Unlike common belief, bleach won’t destroy vinyl in every situation but will help you restore the shine to the old, ugly, and yellowed fence. The secret is in diluting. If you are careful and take an adequate bleach solution, it will help you clean the fence without side effects.
One excellent cleaner you can try when any other vinyl cleaning solution fails includes:
- 2 gallons (9 l) of water
- Quarter cup (60 ml) of bleach
- 80 ml of laundry detergent
- Spray bottle
- Sponge and soft cloths
Stir the ingredients and pour the solution into a bottle sprayer to clean the heavy dirty vinyl fence. Let it sit for about five minutes, and remove bleach with a sponge and soft cloths. Then rinse the surface with plain water. Be careful and always wear protective goggles and rubber gloves to protect yourself.
Remember that there is a warning! The bleach application is limited to white vinyl fences only. Otherwise, it will probably damage the colored surface.
Hydrogen peroxide bleach
Hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant that successfully destroys viruses, bacteria, and mold. Therefore, you should pick out a hydrogen peroxide-based bleach when deciding to clean your white vinyl fence. You can also find chlorine-based bleach, but it is an eco-unfriendly product you should avoid.
The recommendation is to dilute this chemical in water in a 16:1 ratio, or approximately one cup of bleach per 1 gallon (4.5 l) of water.
Then, you can apply it over mold growing in the fence surface and corners with a spray bottle. The final step includes brushing the affected area to remove the most stubborn stains before rinsing the entire fence.
Steps for the Vinyl Fence Correct Cleaning
As I have already mentioned, you can clean your vinyl fence with water and soap in most cases, but it will sometimes be necessary to use a bleach solution to remove stubborn stains. It is vital to follow the recommended procedure to prevent fence damage and possible skin injuries.
Step 1. Rinse the fence
Always rinse the vinyl surface before applying the cleaner. In most cases, you can use a garden hose, while a pressure washer is necessary only for very dirty and neglected fences.
Step 2. Prepare cleaning solution and clean the fence
Dilute soap or dishwashing liquid in water or prepare white vinegar solution for regular vinyl fence washing. In most cases, you will only need one cup of vinegar (0.2 l), 2 gallons (9 l) of water, and a few tablespoons of dishwashing liquid to remove dirt, hard stains, and mold.
Clean the surface in a circular motion to remove as much dirt as possible. You will need a soft cloth, soft-bristled brush, and prepared cleaning solution for this procedure.
Step 3. Rinse the fence once more
Thoroughly rinse the fence with a hose until removing the applied cleaning solution and dirt. If you fail to finish this step correctly, you can expect dirt and cleaning solution to remain stuck to the vinyl, making the fence look dirtier than in the beginning.
Step 4. Inspect the fence
Check the fence once more after rinsing it for possible residual stains. If it is still dirty, it will be necessary to use a more potent cleaning agent to remove the hardest stains successfully.
Step 5. Use bleach
As mentioned, a bleach solution is one of the most effective products to clean stains from the white vinyl fence. Make a solution in a recommended ratio, pour it into a sprayer bottle, and start cleaning.
Step 6. Final fence rinsing
Finally, it is necessary to rinse the fence surface thoroughly once again. You can expect the result to be fantastic!
Tips for Cleaning Vinyl Fence
Read application instructions
It is crucial to carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions before applying the chemical product, including bleach. Be aware that some products require specific application methods and safety precautions.
Keep pets and kids away while cleaning the fence
The only way to protect your child and pet from harmful cleaning chemicals is to keep them away while washing the fence. Sometimes, it is recommended to forbid playing in the area while the ground around the fence gets entirely dried.
Regularly maintain the area around the fence
As always, prevention is the best way to avoid problems. Therefore, keeping the area around the fence weed- and mold-free is essential to prevent often vinyl cleaning.
Wash the fence during good weather
The best day for washing the vinyl fence is the one with an overcast sky, moderate temperature, and little or no wind.
Remember that direct sunlight heats the vinyl surface, causing streaks due to the quick cleaning solution drying. In most cases, the best option to finish this work successfully is to do it in spring.
Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning a Vinyl Fence
This cleaning method is tempting for removing algae and mold, but you should be aware of a crucial power-washing disadvantage.
Namely, the jetted spray fan may carve into the vinyl surface and damage it. Therefore, you should keep the pressure under 2500 PSI and wash the fence from a distance of at least 18 inches (46 cm).
Applying bleach on colored, particularly dark vinyl fence
Bleach helps in fast stubborn stains cleaning, but it is an option only for white vinyl fences. Applying it on a dark vinyl fence will cause the panels to fade.
Cleaning a vinyl fence with toxic detergents
You can find numerous potent vinyl fence cleaners on the market, but many are potentially toxic to humans, pets, plants, and the fence itself. Therefore, you should avoid high-concentrated bleach, phosphates, and degreasers.
Using abrasive scrubbing agents
Such agents will scratch your vinyl fence or remove the protective outer layer, causing damage. It is recommended to avoid stiff-bristle brushes and magic erasers while cleaning the vinyl surface.
Vinyl fences are directly exposed to harsh weather and physical damage, and you can expect them to become dirty and moldy over time. Therefore, regular cleaning is a crucial thing to prolong their lifetime.
You can try various products available on the market and recommended cleaning methods. One option is to clean vinyl with bleach, but it is never the first solution you should try. This chemical is usually necessary to clean neglected white fences and remove stubborn stains.