How to Clean the Exterior of Your House Like a Pro

Ginny Bartolone
Written by Ginny Bartolone
Updated October 11, 2021
The exterior of a beautiful house at twilight
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From the driveway to the eaves, exterior house cleaning can increase the curb appeal and longevity of your home

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Even when you have a firm grasp on how to clean the inside of your house, tackling the exterior can feel like a massive undertaking if you're new to the process. 

But this is not just about winning the "prettiest house on the block award." Keeping your siding, windows, roof, and porch clean can prolong the safety, stability, and yes, the beauty, of your home for years to come. Learn how to do exterior house cleaning from top to bottom in this step-by-step guide.

Difficulty: 3/5Time: 1-2 daysTools and materials needed:

  • Sturdy ladder

  • Plastic bucket or garbage bag

  • Work gloves

  • Hose

  • Straightened clothes hanger 

  • Dish soap

  • Extendable brush

  • Soft or hard-bristled mop

  • White vinegar

  • Oxygen-bleach cleaner

  • Pressure washer

  • Power-washing hose attachment

1. Check Out the Roof

A professional cleaning a roof from dust and debris
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When you clean an interior room, you know the age-old rule: start with the top and work your way down. The same rule applies when working outside. By starting with the top of your house, any debris that falls below can be cleaned up in the later stages.

We recommend bringing in a roof inspector before you get started, especially if you haven't had it looked at in over a year. The cost of a roof inspection can run between $75 and $800, vastly depending on its size and condition.

Algae, mold, and fungus have a habit of building up on and underneath some shingles. Over time, these unwanted visitors can break down the strength of your shingles and eaves. 

Due to the height and complexity of this part of the process, we recommend hiring a roof cleaner if necessary. These pros will choose the right hose pressure and cleaning materials—and all the while keep you safely on the ground.

2. Move Down to the Gutters

A man wearing protective gloves cleaning the gutter from autumn leaves
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The next step in your exterior house cleaning is to move on to the ever-important job of cleaning your gutters. Gutters become clogged throughout the year, not just in the fall. It's crucial to keep gutters clear to prevent leaks in your roof and overflooding around your foundation down below.

Here's what you'll need:

  • Sturdy ladder

  • Plastic bucket or garbage bag

  • Work gloves 

  • Hose

  • Straightened clothes hanger

Begin by finding safe access to your gutters with your ladder—or hire a pro to do this safely for you. Avoid leaning your ladder against the gutters themselves, as the pressure can damage them. If it's the only option, use a ladder stabilizer or gutter guard for more stability. Always ensure your ladder is large enough for the job and placed on even ground before attempting to ascend.

Clear away all debris from your gutters and place it in the light plastic bucket or garbage bag as you go. Use a hose to then check the flow of your downspouts. If there is a clog, delicately use the straightened clothes hanger to remove debris.

If heights make you nervous or you are concerned about safety, you'll spend an average of $160 for professional gutter cleaning.

3. Clean Your Siding

Detail of pressure washing the siding of a house
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Removing the dirt, cobwebs, and algae from your home's siding is one of the most satisfying stages of the exterior house cleaning process. Consider cleaning or hiring a pro to clean siding about every 12 to 18 months to keep your home looking fresh.

Choose Your Cleaning Solution

Your cleaning method comes down to your siding material and how dirty it is. In most cases, you can remove basic dirt and soot with warm water and a mild soap. Dealing with algae and mold? You'll need a mild bleach-based cleaner. Your hardware store will likely sell a specific solution for your home's siding, whether it be vinyl, wood, stucco, or brick.

To Pressure Wash or Not to Pressure Wash

Pressure washing is not ideal for all materials. When turned up too high, pressure washers can damage wood, brick, and even some vinyl. Stick with a low-pressure setting when doing this yourself to be safe.

Remember to stay away from windows, eaves, and soffits to avoid damaging these areas with the cleaning solution and pressurized water.

Has it been a few years since your siding got a good bubble bath? Call in the pressure washing professionals for between $100 and $650.

4. Focus on the Windows and Shutters

A woman on a patio cleaning the exterior side of windows
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Use an extendable pole to clean the outside of your windows with a soft sponge or brush. Warm water and a few drops of dish soap should do the job. For tougher layers of soot and grime, use a solution of one-part vinegar and 10-parts water or a store-bought window cleaner on the back of your sponge.

Be sure to spend time on the window frames and any decorative elements surrounding them, such as exterior shutters. These are favorite hiding places for spider webs and other bugs, as well as mold and algae.

Expect to pay around $200 for professional window cleaning services for both inside and out.

5. Spruce Up the Porch

A family clearing a porch table
Thomas Barwick/Stone via Getty Images

Be sure to give your outdoor living space some special love during the exterior home cleaning process, as this will likely be the first place you settle down to marvel at your newly cleaned home.

Start cleaning your porch by removing all furniture, dog toys, and lawn tools to properly sweep and clear away debris. Use a soft-bristled brush and a cleaning solution of your choice, depending on your porch material. 

For example, just like the side of your house, a dish-soap-and-water solution will do the trick for basic cleaning. For algae and mold, opt for an oxygen-bleach cleaner.

Rinse the deck with a garden hose to remove all soap and cleaning solution. Pressure washers are not ideal for painted porches, as they'll remove the paint over time.

6. Finish Up with the Pavement

A close-up of a man cleaning the pavement of a house
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Now that you've reached the ground level of your house, don't forget the paths, patios, and driveway. Cleaning pavers takes a little extra care, especially if you have a few leftover grease spots from the summer barbecue.

Use the same long-handled mop from your porch to add a soapy solution to your pavers, letting any grease spots soak before rinsing. Add a power-washer attachment to your garden hose for particularly dirty pavers, otherwise, a good scrub and rinse should do the trick for regular cleaning.

If you have major grease stains on your asphalt driveway, remove them with a commercial-grade degreaser before cleaning with a pressure washer. 

Professional power washing jobs cost between $185 and $385, so it could be beneficial to call in the pressure-washing pros for an annual deep clean.

Cost to DIY Exterior House Cleaning vs. Hiring a Professional

Before you fire up the pressure washer or climb up to your gutters: here's an important note. Some exterior house cleaning projects are easy and cost-effective to DIY, others not so much. Any time extreme heights, electricity, or structural questions come to mind, it's best to get the pros in there for a look.

In each of the categories above, we explained the cost of doing each project yourself vs. leaving it to a professional so you can make the best decision for you.

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