How do you clean mildew off of wood siding?

How to Clean Wood Siding Mildew:

Wood siding is one of the most common types of building materials used worldwide. However, it has its own unique characteristics which make it very difficult to clean properly. There are many factors involved in the removal of mildew from wood siding. You need to understand these before you attempt any type of cleaning.

Mildew is not a new problem. It was first noticed in the early 1900’s when it was discovered that some buildings were harboring harmful bacteria or fungi. Since then, various methods have been developed to remove the growth of such organisms. These include chemicals, physical means (such as steam), and even chemical disinfectants like chlorine bleach. Unfortunately, none of these methods work well enough to completely eliminate mildew.

The best way to get rid of mildew is to treat it at source. That is why you will see so many products advertised as being able to “cure” mildew. These products simply don’t work and they actually increase the amount of mildew that remains after treatment. In fact, they only work to a certain extent.

The best way to get rid of mildew is to keep the surface dry and away from moisture sources. If possible, use a UV light (which kills all microorganisms) or heat source (like a hair straightener). A good method for removing mildew is using vinegar. Vinegar works because it contains sulfuric acid which reacts with the mold spores on your wood siding causing them to break down into harmless substances.

Using a metal scraper, wipe off excess dirt and grime.

You will need…

1/2 cup of white vinegar

Put the white vinegar into a spray bottle and shake it thoroughly. Spray the wood siding generously, making sure to coat all the siding. Let it sit for about an hour.

You need to be patient and let the mildew soak up the acid and break down. Once an hour is up, you can scrub away the excess mildew with a wire brush. Hose off any remaining debris. If there are still some stubborn spots, wait another hour then repeat the process. When you have finished, rinse off the wood siding to remove any traces of the vinegar.

Once you have finished, you can treat the wood with a stain, sealer, or paint to protect it from future mold and mildew growth. Make sure that whatever you use is specifically designed for exterior wooden surfaces. In addition, be sure to keep the wood painted or sealed as recommended by the manufacturer.

Other methods for removing mildew include using a pressure washer with a bleach solution. Light bleach is not harmful to most wood siding but prolonged exposure can damage the wood so make sure you test an out of sight area first.

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In conclusion, mildew is a difficult substance to get rid of and in many cases it can only be reduced. The best way to prevent mildew from forming in the future is to improve your home’s ventilation or install an exhaust fan in the bathroom. If this isn’t possible, make sure to dry any damp surfaces immediately.

You look over the notes from your research. According to the CDC and other health and safety organizations, mildew is not only unsightly but it can also cause serious health problems for certain people with respiratory issues (1). It is also a haven for mold, which can cause similar problems with the added danger of bacterial infection (2). In extreme cases, some molds can even be carcinogenic (3).

I suppose that means I’m not going to have the same problem as my ancestor who had a serious mold infestation in his basement. My apartment doesn’t have any of those issues because I live in a relatively new building with good maintenance and it isn’t prone to flooding. Still, mildew is rather ugly and I’d like to get rid of it if I can.

The internet seems to be split into two schools of thought. There are those who say that chlorine bleach is the only way to go if you want to kill the mold and those who believe that isn’t good for surfaces and prefer other methods like special chemicals or just regular household items.

I pick up a bottle of the chlorine bleach from the store and check its safety information. According to the warnings, it can damage certain materials, which in the case of my apartment means the wood floor, carpeting, most containers, clothing, and likely my own skin and eyes. It can also react violently with other cleaners or chemicals and release noxious gases. Apparently, it is a good idea to open some windows if I don’t want my apartment to explode.

There are also different levels of chlorine harshness. I don’t think I have the strong industrial strength stuff, which apparently could clean road gore off a trucker’s tire after a long trip. I have the sort they use to clean hospital operating rooms and critical care units that is less likely to burn the skin off your hands.

It is also a good idea to use rubber gloves, protective eye wear, and a mask. I only have one pair of goggles so I will have to switch between looking at the bleach and looking at what I am cleaning and abandoning one eye protection or the other as the situation demands.

I open my apartment door and venture out onto the hallway, closing it behind me. Thankfully, nobody else ever comes up here so I can make as much noise as I want. I begin mopping up the puddles on the floor with rags.

After finishing this task, I mix up some of the cleaning solution and begin mopping the floor with it, using a fresh water rag each time. I periodically wring out the rag into a bucket and discard it when it gets soiled to prevent cross-contamination between the clean and moldy water.

The fumes of the cleaning solution are very strong in the enclosed space. I can feel them stinging the inside of my nose. I turn on the overhead fan to help dissipate them. It helps a little but not much. I keep as far away from the fumes as possible and try not to breath too deeply.

The floors begin to look visibly cleaner after I apply the cleaning solution repeatedly with fresh rags. The puddles begin to disappear and standing water is drained away. The mold stains begin to disappear as well.

I get a little bold and start mopping up the standing water on the stairs using buckets and fresh rags. The drain in the middle of the stairs is clogged, so I try to get what I can using buckets.

I pull out my phone and take pictures of my progress periodically. I start to notice that I am feeling rather fatigued.

I ignore it for now since I want to finish the task.

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