How to Clean Exterior Painted Wood Surfaces

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When the exterior wood on your home is primed and painted properly, it can look beautiful, and you may think your work is done. However, like any surface exposed to the elements, painted wood on the exterior of your home easily collects dirt, grime and mildew that ruin the look of your home. If it remains long enough, it can even damage the paint or the wood itself.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Dish detergent or laundry detergent
  • Scrub brush or sponge
  • Protective gloves
  • Bleach

General Cleaning

  • Mix warm water and 1 tsp. of dish detergent in a bucket.

  • Soak a sponge or scrub brush in the cleaning solution and scrub at the wooden surface to remove dirt and grime.

  • Rinse the surface with a sponge or rag soaked in clean water, or with clean water from a garden hose, to remove any remaining suds.

  • Dry with a clean towel, or allow it to air dry.

Mildew Cleaning

  • Wear gloves when working with chemical cleaners such as bleach.

  • Mix a ratio of one part household bleach to three parts warm water in a bucket. Add 1/3 cup of dish detergent or laundry detergent for a cleaning boost.

  • Soak a sponge or scrub brush in the cleaning solution. Scrub at the wooden surface to kill and remove mold and mildew.

  • Rinse the surface with a sponge or rag soaked in clean water, or with clean water from a garden hose, to remove any residual cleaner.

  • Dry with a clean towel, or allow it to air dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • If there are creases or hard-to-reach small places on your wooden surfaces, use a small scrub brush or toothbrush to clean it.
  • If mildew is a common problem on your exterior wooden surfaces, consider repainting with a paint designed to prevent mildew.
  • Never mix bleach with any other cleaning products, especially those containing ammonia, as this will create toxic fumes.
  • Do not allow bleach solution to come in contact with any plants for grass, as bleach will kill them.

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