How to Clean Your Home’s Exterior

Whether it’s cleaning driveway stains or mildewed vinyl siding, here’s what you should know about everything from removing oil stains to pressure washing your house.

Getting your Oak Park roofing projects done before the winter is a good idea, cleaning the exterior of your home correctly while the weather is still nice is a good idea as well. House cleaning isn’t just an inside job. If you want your home to look its best, you need to keep up on exterior house cleaning, too. 

Exposed to the elements all year, it makes sense that siding, driveways and garage floors get dirty, too. Just as a freshly cleaned car seems to drive better, a spic and span clean house exterior feels great to come home to.

Not sure where to start washing the outside of your house? Here’s how to approach exterior house cleaning from top to bottom.

How to clean siding

You can clean vinyl siding the tried-and-true way: rinse siding with a hose, use a long-handled brush to scrub with soapy water (laundry detergent works as a siding cleaner) and then rinse well.

To remove mildew or algae on siding, consider a hand-pump garden sprayer and oxygen bleach. (Don’t use chlorine bleach to clean siding. It can strip color and kill plants.) Mix powdered oxygen bleach with warm water to create a siding cleaner. Stir and apply the mixture with a long-handled brush to dry siding. Let the cleaner work for about 10 minutes. Use a water hose to wash siding well.

You may be tempted to use a power washer, but use caution and start with the lowest setting if you DIY the job. Water jets can injure people and damage masonry, stucco or wood siding, and it could may force water through seams of vinyl-siding panels. Also, power washing alone will not remove mold or mildew.

If you do use a pressure washer, be sure to wear eye protection. Start at the top of your house and work down, directing the water downward and going side to side across the siding. Most professional pressure washing services now have better tools and techniques that allow the use of lower pressure than you can DIY, so consider hiring this job out— especially if you have a two story house.

How to clean a concrete driveway or garage floor

Concrete is porous and will hold oil stains and marks from other vehicle fluids, such as grease and antifreeze if they’re allowed to linger. Other garage floor and driveway stains can come from tires, mold, mildew, rust and fungus.

The first step in removing oil stains from your garage floor or driveway is also the best way to keep future fluid leaks from staining: Cover the area with a drying agent, such as cat litter. Let the desiccant remain for a day before removing it and then scrubbing the stain with laundry detergent. You can also buy a commercial oil stain remover from an auto parts or home supply store, if you prefer.

Read the full article here: How to Clean Your Home’s Exterior

House Parts You Didn’t Know Had a Name

House Parts Defined

Ever tried pointing out an architectural detail to somebody, only to fumble for what to call it? Or put in a call to a contractor to fix a part of your home and have to call it “you know, that thingamajig”? Don’t worry, it’s happened to all us. So to help you out the next time you need to identify a part of a structure or a design element, here’s a handful of definitions that even some of our TOH editors weren’t familiar with. Have you ever looked at your Evanston roofer and asked, “what is that technically called?” Now you can know! Below are descriptions of places in your home that you never knew had a name! 


A board attached to the edge of a gable roof. In house styles such as Gothic Revival and Tudor, bargeboards often bear intricate carvings or colorful painted details. Also called vergeboard or gableboard.


A second, small, pointed roof that diverts rainwater around something, such as a chimney, that projects out of a primary roof.


The weathering on exposed bricks or stones that looks white and powdery. It appears when natural salts in the materials leach out and crystallize.


The curving part of an arch that’s bookended by the peak of the arch and either a capital or molding abutment.


The wall space between the outer string of a stair and the floor, or wall space between the shoulder of an arch and the outer walls.


The triangular, recessed center area of a pediment that’s bordered by moldings.

Read the full article here: House Parts You Didn’t Know Had a Name