Cleaning a fence may seem like a pretty straightforward weekend job, but if you don't execute this task correctly, you can mess up your fence. Over time, wood and vinyl fences need to be cleaned and resealed to maintain a brand new look. Whether they are damaged by environmental factors or the sun's UV rays, you can clean your own fence, even if you're not a professional.

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How to Clean a Fence

Why You Need to Maintain a Wood Fence

Back in the day, wood fences were the most sought-after fence look. Not only does the material match almost any house design, but the fence adds a particular look to someone's yard. But, a wooden fences can look horrible if you don't clean it. It can grow patches of algae, mildew and mold. If left uncleaned, the fence can eventually rot, which is not what a homeowner wants to deal with. Not only do you have to keep your wooden fence clean, but fences also need to be sealed or stained. If you don't seal or stain your wooden fence, the wood can become affected by the sun's UV rays or inclement weather. There's nothing worse than a rotting fence, except a fence that is warped, cracked or cupping.

How to Clean a Wood Fence

When cleaning a wooden fence, you can't just use ordinary soap and water. Head over to your local Home Depot or Lowe's and purchase a fence or deck cleaner. On the package, there should be thorough instructions on how to use the product. Some cleaners require you to dilute the mixture, so make sure you read them before getting started. After you apply the cleaner to the fence, allow it to soak into the wood for 15 to 20 minutes. Think of this as a deep condition for your fence. After the allotted time, you can scrub the fence or use a power washer.

Using A Power Washer

If you don't want to spend the entire day scrubbing a fence, use a power washer. Most people don't own a power washer unless they regularly clean their homes, but you can go to your local home improvement store and rent one. If it's your first time using one you can ask for a tutorial. Just make sure when you are using a power washer to keep the tip about 12 to 18 inches away from the fence. Also, make sure to keep the wand moving while you're cleaning the fence. You don't want to accidentally blow a hole through your fence.

How to Clean a Vinyl Fence

Vinyl fences are a lot easier to upkeep than wooden fences, but they can show dirt, mold or mildew quicker than a wooden fence. Although a dirty white fence can look beyond off-putting, the process is quick and relatively inexpensive. You can purchase a fence or deck cleaner, but because the material is vinyl, a vinegar solution will also work.

All you have to do is add about a half to one cup of white vinegar to one to two gallons of water. Because vinegar is relatively harmless, you really can't get this solution wrong. How much you use depends on how long your fence has been dirty. If your fence is really in need of a good cleaning, then you can add a small amount of dish soap to the mixture.

You can either use a cloth or a spray bottle to apply the vinegar solution. If you want to cut the cleaning time down, you can use a spray bottle. All you have to do is spray the entire fence, and then use a cloth to remove the dirt. Make sure to hose the fence down completely after you finish.