You can do it but it is not highly recommended. While power washing will remove most any stain or dirt from vinyl fencing, it also removes the coating of urethane and weather barriers.
The reason is that with today’s high-powered pressure washers, you can easily shoot water behind the fence boards where it cannot escape between each of them.
This can force moisture into the wall structure and behind vinyl fencing causing damage to the support structures.
Sometimes dirt and grime can get so thick on a vinyl fence that it is very difficult to clean with just a garden hose and a scrub brush. In this case, it may be necessary to power wash or pressure wash your vinyl fence.
How to power wash vinyl fence – step by step?
Sun Joe SPX3000 2030
This is a powerful cleaning tool with a motor that generates a strong water flow. It can be used for various cleaning tasks like washing homes, cars, boats, fences, and patios. The machine also has two tanks for storing different cleaning solutions. The Total Stop System makes it energy efficient by automatically turning it off when not in use. It’s important to make sure all hoses and connections are properly attached for the best performance.
What you will need:
- Pressure washer (rental companies will sometimes rent these machines, but charge a hefty fee and expect the machine to be returned in like-new condition)
- Scrub brush/ squeegee (this will depend upon what type of surface your fence is on. If it’s a smooth vinyl fence then you may want to use a squeegee; if it’s an embossed vinyl fence with little ridges in the plastic, then a scrub brush may be better for you)
- Access to hot water from your home or hose bib
1. Before starting, make sure that when the power washing is done, there are no standing pools of water on top of your fence.
Standing water can cause damage to your fence. You may need to dry the surface with towels before continuing to powerwash the vinyl fence.
2. When you are ready, mix in your laundry detergent or dishwashing soap (about 1/4 cup of this is recommended for a bucketful of water).
If you use too much it may make the plastic too slippery, meaning that when you get closer to the end of cleaning there will be less friction between the squeegee blade and the fence
3. Fill up your pressure washer’s tank with water- not all of it! Leave some room at the top because you will need to add an additive to prevent damage from occurring.
Be sure that whatever additive you purchase states that it can be used on vinyl fences. There are different additives available depending on the type of power washer that you are using.
4. For gas-powered pressure washers, use a 50:1 ratio when adding your additive to the water in the tank. If you have an electric pressure washer, only add between 1/8 cup and 1/2 cup of fluid to prevent damage from occurring. Too much solution will cause streaking on the surface below.
5. Connect your pressure washing attachment (either scrub brush or squeegee) to the machine’s wand and begin by working in sections.
Begin at one end of your fence and then work toward the other end with overlapping strokes until finished. You may need additional water in order to keep things wet enough for good cleaning action, but be careful of standing water.
6. Once finished, allow the fence to dry before using or allowing people or animals on it. You may want to use a squeegee on smooth surfaces and a scrub brush for textured vinyl fences.
7. If you’re not satisfied with your results, you can do the job again after allowing three days for the surface to cure properly.
How much does it cost to pressure wash vinyl fence?
The cost of renting a pressure washer will vary depending on where you are located. However, the average cost to rent a power washer is between $45 and $85 dollars per day.
If it takes about three hours to complete the job then that would equate to an hourly rate of between $18 and $27 dollars per hour because most companies who rent these machines will charge you for a full day’s rental even if your project takes less time than a full day.
If you consider buying a gas-powered pressure washer, be sure to weigh all of your options before doing so. You can purchase one from anywhere from around $300 for an inexpensive model up to six or seven hundred dollars for more powerful units with multiple spray heads.
If you have a large project that will require several power washers, then renting may be the more cost-effective way to go.
How to clean a white vinyl fence without a pressure washer?
If you don’t have a pressure washer and don’t want to rent one, there are other options. You can try using a pool skimmer or even a broom with soft bristles to get the job done.
Just be sure to overlap your strokes when cleaning and not try to power through it in one direction (this will cause streaking).
Here are 2 other methods.
1. Mix about eight ounces of white vinegar with two gallons of water in a bucket you can discard after use. Pour this onto your fence and then scrub with a stiff brush or broom, overlapping each stroke as you go.
2. Allow the fence to dry before allowing people or animals back on it.
3. Routine cleaning may not be necessary because white vinegar is a great product for killing mold and mildew as well as preventing their formation, but it will depend on how often your fence gets dirty and other factors such as weather and location (e.g., close to the ocean).
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Sun Joe SPX3000 2030 Max PSI (Pressure Washer)
With Clean Shower:
1. Mix two cups of trisodium phosphate (TSP) with two gallons of warm water in a bucket you can discard after use.
2. Pour this mix onto your fence and scrub with a stiff brush or broom, overlapping each stroke as you go. Allow the solution to sit on the vinyl for five minutes to allow it to start breaking down dirt and mold, then rinse the fence thoroughly with water, leaving it wet.
3. Allow the fence to dry.
How many hours does it take to pressure wash the vinyl fence?
You should allow between two and three hours for this type of project if it’s your first time doing so or if you need to do a thorough scrubbing of your fence.
For a quick spray down using a less powerful machine, one hour should be enough time.
However, keep in mind that if you’re not satisfied with the results because the fence doesn’t look clean enough to you or if water is standing on top of the surface after power washing then you’ll need to add another hour to the total time estimate.
When you shouldn’t pressure wash or use bleach on your vinyl fences?
1. Never allow the bleach to come into contact with your vinyl fence when you’re cleaning it because the bleach will eat away at the plastic and weaken it over time, possibly causing it to crack or crumble.
2. Since most pressure washers need a steady stream of water, an outside faucet is best for use when power washing a vinyl fence.
If you don’t have an outdoor spigot in addition to your indoor faucets in the basement or in another part of the house, then this type of project may not be suitable for you in terms of cost and convenience.
A hose that’s been attached to a standard sink can also be used but keep in mind that all of the water from the hose must drain back into the sink.
If there’s no drain then the water will collect in the sink and may overflow when you open it to go about your business, possibly causing damage or flooding.
3. Never pressure wash a vinyl fence when it’s extremely cold outside because the sudden change in temperature can cause all of the water that’s applied to freeze, causing cracks in the vinyl.
This can be avoided by allowing water to drip off of your fence instead of using a strong stream that will impact it more directly.
4. Never pressure wash or use bleach on a vinyl fence that’s not standing upright because you could end up with damage due to the strength of the spray head exerted in an awkward direction, perhaps even causing part of the fence to collapse or break.
5. Don’t attempt to pressure wash your vinyl fence if it’s either extremely dirty or covered in mold/mildew because you may not be able to see any damage that occurs as a result of power washing.
The force of the water could cause cracks, discolorations, and other damage that will be costly or time-consuming to have repaired.
6. Never use bleach on a vinyl fence that’s already started peeling, splitting apart, or showing any signs of rot/rotting at the bottom because you could exacerbate these problems and cause more sections of the fence to peel off.
7. Don’t use bleach when power washing a vinyl fence if you recently had it treated with Restore A Deck, Restore Extreme, or other similar products because the chemicals in these treatments will be nullified or rendered ineffective and may even cause damage to the fence as a result.
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Power washing a vinyl fence is not as difficult of a project as it may seem at first glance, though you must follow certain guidelines to do it correctly. Allow plenty of time for the project if you’re new to power washing. Use caution when power washing in cold weather and when working around chemicals that may have recently been applied to the fence.
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