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The Dirty Secret: You Don’t Need Chemicals to Clean Your Vinyl Fence

Vinyl Fence DesignsYour vinyl fence doesn’t require much maintenance (which is probably why you chose it), but after the elements take their toll, your fence will need a little TLC every now and then. Plenty of cleaners on the market claim to work on vinyl fencing, but here’s a secret they don’t want you to know: You don’t need to buy a special cleaner or dump more chemicals into the environment.

For the most part, durable vinyl fencing is simple to clean. Dirt is your biggest enemy, while mold is a close second. Mold and mildew can collect even on non-porous vinyl fencing, particularly in moist regions such as the Northwest.

Here’s a guide to help you keep your vinyl fence pristine without using any harsh chemicals:

1. Spray it down. The pressure from a garden hose can go a long way toward removing grime. You can even attach a soft bristle brush to your hose, similar to what you would use on a car. See how far you can get with just water before turning to cleaners.

2. Wash with biodegradable soap. For mold and dirt that won’t spray away, a mild soap may be required. You can make your own by using castile soap, a natural, vegetable-based soap that’s biodegradable and won’t harm plants or animals. Start out with two cups of castile soap—you can add a teaspoon of lemon juice for cutting grease, a half-cup of white vinegar for its bleaching properties, or several drops of an antibacterial essential oil such as lavender, lemongrass, or orange. Add a teaspoon or two of this mixture to warm water for a soapy solution.

3. Scrub with super-fine steel wool. If your cleaner doesn’t do the trick, try gently scrubbing with super-fine steel wool. But be careful, as you don’t want to damage your fence.

4. Use baking soda for stains. Tackle tough stains with a baking soda scrub instead of bleach, which is harmful to wildlife and vegetation.

5. Remove rust with white vinegar. If your vinyl fence has rust spots, try putting a little white vinegar on a soft cloth and rubbing the area with light pressure to bleach the stain.

6. Bring in the big (green) guns. For stubborn stains that won’t budge, you may need a heavier cleaner. Don’t worry; there are plenty of eco-friendly options. Simple Green is a popular cleaner for vinyl fences—it’s non-toxic and biodegradable.

Environmental impact is increasingly a consideration for homeowners who are considering building a new fence. Keep in mind that how you choose to maintain your fence can have an ongoing impact, as well.

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