How to Clean Hardie Board

A close-up of clean Hardie board siding to illustrate how to clean hardie board.

James Hardie products are some of the best materials on the market, both for looks and durability. But one thing they won’t do is clean themselves. With the wet Pacific Northwest weather, the siding on your home can start to look a little grimy. Here’s how to clean Hardie board siding and keep it looking its best.

Loose mud, dust, or dirt after heavy rains can be hosed off if you get to it soon enough. But if you wait a few seasons, your James Hardie board siding can start to look a bit messy. This is especially true after removing shrubs, bushes, and other vegetation that hid or even helped mold and mildew to grow.

A note using power washers to clean your siding: We don’t recommend it. A power washer is perfect for sidewalks, driveways, and other concrete surfaces, but if used incorrectly on home siding, could be damaging. Not to mention the possibility of removing paint that is in otherwise good condition.

How to Clean Hardie Board

At Joseph Ketner Construction, we’re staffed by experts in James Hardie fiber cement siding installation, siding replacements, and exterior renovations and design. We can certainly advise you as to what we think is the best house siding cleaner. However, we leave the long-term cleaning to the homeowner.

There is some good news, though. Most James Hardie siding materials don’t require all that much cleaning — or overall maintenance for that matter. Still, to keep up appearances, we recommend assessing your siding and cleaning every 6 to 12 months if needed.

With regular cleaning, you can extend the lifespan of your home’s siding, not to mention help your home look its very best. In most cases, the cleaning method only requires you to use a garden hose to rinse the area, grab a soft sponge, and wipe in a side-to-side motion. Work from top to bottom so the dirty water runs down the siding you haven’t cleaned yet.

Mildew stains take a little more work–but you don’t need a pressure washer or a gallon of water mixed with a cleaning solution. You’ll need a mildew cleaner that’s specifically designed for mildew (look for all-natural cleaners and avoid harsh chemicals when possible). Work in small sections at a time and make sure any run-off isn’t allowed to dry.

Cleaning Products for Your Hardie Board Siding

There are a lot of house siding cleaner products out there on the market. These items advertise themselves as “specially formulated” and “the best.” But how many products say they’re “specially formulated?” (Answer: a lot.) And how can we determine the best?

In reality, a house siding cleaner is only as effective as the methods and the tools used to do the actual cleaning. For example, wind-blown dirt and dust can be easily cleaned off with a garden hose, a soft cloth, and a soft brush. No “specially formulated” cleaners are necessary.

Just be sure the brush is, in fact, soft (non-metal); anything other than a soft bristle brush may damage the siding or the finish. Remember to wear protective gear while cleaning: eyewear and gloves are a must. People with even mild respiratory problems should also consider wearing a mask.

How to Clean Hardie Board Siding: Oil, Grease, Grime and Mold, Moss, Algae

The job gets a little harder if your siding has been dirtied by oil, grease, or similar grime. You’ll need a bucket of dishwashing soap and water and use a cloth to wipe the filth away. Start washing from the top, and work in small sections downward.

Keep the surface wet, and do not allow the soap or cleaner to dry on the siding. Continually rinse the surface until all soap is removed. Mold, moss, or algae on your siding? Well, now we’re going to need a little elbow grease in addition to the soft cloth and water.

As always, adhere to warning labels on any products you may be using. If you have cedar siding, never use siding cleaners that contain chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite). Harsh cleaners are bad for your siding, as well as plants and trees that may suffer from overspray. One alternative is to use oxygen bleach on your wood siding.

When cleaning James Hardie siding, trim pieces, and other products, this may be a good time to look at your gutters and downspouts, too. While they may not be as easy to clean as Hardie board siding, you already have a hose out and a bucket of suds to work with.

Keep Your Home Looking Its Best

Cleaning Hardie board siding once or twice a year is crucial to keeping the exterior of your home looking great and increasing the lifespan of your siding. Even though Hardie board siding is durable and low-maintenance, exterior elements like dirt, pollen, mold, mildew, and even pollutants from the environment can accumulate on the surface.

Regular cleaning not only preserves its aesthetic appeal but also safeguards its longevity. Cleaning prevents the buildup of grime that can gradually deteriorate the siding’s finish and color. Dirt and debris can create a dingy appearance, and when left unattended, they might become more challenging to remove, potentially causing discoloration or stains.

Cleaning annually helps inhibit the growth of mildew, moss, and other organic pests, preventing potential damage to the siding. If allowed to thrive, these green meanies can cause staining and even compromise the integrity of the Hardie board. Routine maintenance also provides an opportunity to inspect the siding for any signs of damage or wear.

Ultimately, the annual cleaning of Hardie board siding isn’t just about aesthetics—it’s about protecting your investment. By maintaining its cleanliness and structural integrity, you ensure that your siding continues to enhance your home’s curb appeal while lasting for years to come.

Joseph Ketner Construction: Portland Siding Replacement Contractor

Joseph Ketner Construction is widely recognized for superb workmanship, stellar customer service, and attention to detail. Because we have been around for almost 25 years, we’ve been helping homeowners with expert guidance before, during, and after installation. Get in touch with us today to see what we can do for you.