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8 Eco-Friendly Tips to Keep Your Home’s Exterior Sparkling Clean

June 11, 2024

The fall and winter seasons which can be brutal on home’s thanks to rough weather and freezing temperatures. For the exterior, this can lead to peeling paint, damage from expansion and contraction thanks to ice, and even just dirty surfaces from salt, snow, and dirt buildup.

For many homeowners, spring and summer is an ideal time to focus on sprucing up outside spaces. From exterior walls to patio decks, and even the front and backyard, there are plenty of areas that could benefit from a little TLC. But these days, many homeowners are more eco-conscious — and are concerned about the chemicals they use to clean these areas. So, as you gear up to refresh your home this season, consider these eco-friendly tips to reduce your environmental impact.

1. Switch to Soft Washing

Nothing uses more water than running a hose endlessly. Along with raising your water utility bill, it’s also plain wasteful. When cleaning bricks, siding, and pavement, pressure washing is the way to go. Pressure washing uses significantly less water and thanks to the force exerted when the water makes content with surfaces, it’s incredibly effective at removing even the most stubborn dirt and grime.

However, not every homeowner is well-versed in how to effectively pressure wash their home. And if you’re not knowledgeable, it’s easy to still use too much water — and damage your property. If going the DIY route, then swap out pressure washing for soft washing. While it still offers more pressure than a general garden hose with a spray nozzle, it’s less intense than traditional pressure washing.

2. Switch to Gentler Cleaning Solutions for Home Exteriors

While excessive water usage is a big issue, another problem is the actual products homeowners use to clean exterior spaces. Specifically, those products often end up right back in the water supply, creating contamination concerns that impact the entire ecosystem. Opting for environmentally friendly alternatives is a better choice. For example, white vinegar, baking soda, and even lemon juice are all effective ways to banish grime that don’t harm the environment.

Water reclamation and treatment is a major issue not just in the United States, but worldwide. In the U.S., consumers and even commercial entities rely on municipal water treatment services to effectively treat and discharge waste water in a safe manner that doesn’t expose citizens and even local wildlife to harmful chemicals. Everything from dirty water created from washing dishes in a residential property to the large-scale gray water polluted with surfactants in a laundromat are presumed to be treated and cleaned by municipal waste water treatment facilities.

However, recent history has shown that water treatment standards and protocols can vary widely between jurisdictions — which can lead to harmful gaps between what the general public thinks municipalities are doing to treat waste water, and what’s actually occurring in real time.

The standard of what is considered “properly cleaned for discharge/reuse” and an “acceptable level of contaminants” can vary widely between jurisdictions. Some places like California and New Jersey have stricter standards than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) while other states only strive to meet the minimum requirements established by the federal government. Likewise, water treatment plant quality can vary.

Towns and cities with better funding thanks to bigger residential tax brackets can afford more modern or state of the art water reclamation solutions while smaller towns with less funding may be surviving on outdated equipment that barely meets EPA standards. As a result, relying on harsh chemicals to clean exterior surfaces in your home can further exacerbate a serious issue.

While one home using harsh chemicals would be a negligible change in the quality of the local water supply, on a larger scale this becomes a serious issue. Similarly, even having chemicals mist over grass and green spaces can damage plant life and create risks for animals that rely on surrounding vegetation for food. Homeowners can avoid this by choosing eco-friendly alternatives whether through homemade cleaning solutions or store bought products that not only meet requirements outlined by the third-party agency Environmental Working Group (EWG) but are also EWG-verified.

3. Keep Windows Spic and Span with Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is another DIY alternative to traditional chemical window cleaners that’s just as effective at getting windows sparkling and streak-free. When mixed with dish detergent and vinegar, it can break through tough dirt and leave your windows looking brand new. However, this is a concoction best used for hand-cleaning. While dish detergent is known to cleanse glass to a streak-free shine, the surfactants found in soap can be difficult to remove when released into the water table.

4. Leave More Serious Home Exterior Cleaning Jobs to the Pros

Along with being time consuming, not all exterior cleaning projects are easy tasks that homeowners can tackle independently. For example, in the first recommendation we noted that power washing services in Annapolis can be a great way to remove tough grime from exterior surfaces.

But a lot can go wrong if you don’t know how to use that equipment properly. Along with potentially using the wrong pressure setting, improperly handling the equipment can cause damage to your property such as breaking windows or destroying your landscaping. Likewise it’s too easy to waste water or cause injury to you and others.

Similarly, if you’re not entirely sure of the right solutions to use to tackle specific exterior cleaning jobs, it’s best to call in professionals like Keenwick. Based on the type of dirt that needs to be removed, experienced cleaners can effectively remediate dirt and grime from the exterior areas of your home. Better still, they can do these tasks quickly so that homeowners can get on with their lives.

5. Switch to Reusable Cleaning Supplies

Yes, paper towels are convenient. But they’re made from wood—which is problematic. Yes, manufacturers can plant more trees. Yet, given how slowly trees grow, they aren’t a speedy renewable resource. Opting for reusable cleaning clothes with items like microfiber that are gentle on surfaces can be a great eco-friendly alternative.

6. Switch Chemical Cleaners for Biodegradable Alternatives

Sometimes, you have to rely on something other than baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice to effectively clean surfaces. When this happens, look for alternative cleaning solutions that don’t rely on harsh chemicals. Remember that cleaning solutions can drain down the side of structures, into drains or leaching into the ground. By opting for biodegradable alternatives, you’re protecting the water table and the local flora and fauna that depend on it.

7. Prep Before You Wash

Sometimes going straight to the wash step can make you spend more time cleaning exteriors than you intended. For example, before washing exterior surfaces, it’s always a good idea to first remove debris like dust or light dirt. Rather than relying on a wet cloth or power washing, using a leaf blower can easily dislodge initial grime. Routinely using a leaf blower or even a broom can ensure that dirt doesn’t set in over time and encourage more troubling issues like mold, algae growth, or mildew.

8. Vacuum Window Screens

Similar to siding or patio decks, your window screens need a little pretreating love before you thoroughly clean them. Use a wet-dry shop vac to remove everything from dirt and dust to pollen. However, it’s still a good idea to deep clean them occasionally. After removing the screen from the window, use water with mild soap to clean any stubborn set-in dirt.

Let the Experts at Keenwick Keep Your Home Sparkling Clean

A home that’s covered in dirt and grime is an eyesore. At a minimum, it detracts from the neighborhood and can also reduce overall property value. But left untreated, cosmetic detractors can turn into real problems that can potentially cause structural damage over time. For example, mold and mildew that’s allowed to linger can eventually destabilize foundational structures, creating cracks bigger and more expensive problems for homeowners.

By contrast, developing an annual cleaning schedule can help not only maintain the beauty of your home and maintain property values, but can also prevent cosmetic eyesores from turning into costly repairs down the line. Whether your home has vinyl or wood siding, or features brick and stone work, there’s a cleaning solution that can revitalize those exterior surfaces to make them look good as new. Don’t wait until dirt is ground in and is impossible to remove, contact Keenwick today to schedule a consultation.