One of the major selling points of vinyl siding is that it is extremely easy to keep clean. It also doesn't show scratches or scrapes because it is infused with color, rather than having a top coat or paint applied. In fact, vinyl siding has a lifespan of 60 to 100 years -- so it can really stand up to abuse. But this means that for many homeowners, it's easy to forget that there are a few times when your vinyl siding can become discolored or damaged.

Fortunately, there are only a few situations where you can damage your vinyl siding. Here are four situations where it's hard to get your siding clean and what you can try.

1. Deck stain. 

You were applying your wood stain on your deck without masking off the siding, perhaps thinking that the stain would clean up easily. But it hasn't, and you're left with streaks on your siding near where you were applying stain. There are several different possible solutions for cleaning up deck stain. Try:

  • Mix 1/3 cup of tri-sodium phosphate (TSP), 1 quart of bleach and a gallon of water. Use a soft-bristled brush soaked in this mixture to scrub the stains away. If you have plants nearby, protect them with plastic, as the bleach will damage them. Once you're done, rinse with water.
  • Use a product marketed for stain removal, usually called a stain stripper. Your local home improvement store should carry at least one brand. Follow the directions, especially for how long the product should sit on the stain before you use a sponge or cloth to scrub it away.

2. Pesticides.

Some types of pesticides or insecticides will stain vinyl, notably Pyrethrin. Many types of household spray bug killer products contain this or other chemicals that can stain the siding a yellowish or brownish hue. 

A household cleaner like Fantastic should help to reduce or remove the stains. You may have to use it a few times. Try a mildly abrasive sponge or steel wool to apply, but don't scrub too hard or you'll leave scratches.

3. Rust.

If you've stored metal items too close to the house, sometimes rust stains can result. Use a slightly oily cleaner like Murphy's Oil Soap to remove the orange-brown stains.

4. Permanent marker.

The kids decided to create a mural on your siding, and you're not sure how to get it off. For small amounts of marks, there are two possibilities. First, try using a dry erase marker to write over the scribbles and then use a soft cloth or whiteboard eraser to remove. Alternatively, you can try to use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and carefully rub off the ink. For larger areas, try the TSP combination recommended for wood stain marks.

When working with cleaners or chemicals, always use protective gloves and make sure the area is well ventilated. As well, it's a good idea to test any cleaning solution on an area that doesn't show, as some products can remove a little bit of the siding, causing spots to show.

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