• Cleaning: 30 – 60 Minutes
  • Drying: 30 – 45 Minutes
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Cost: Low

Vinyl sidings are durable, resilient, and versatile materials that are used to protect the exterior of your house. It’s been the most used exterior cladding material since the 1990s due to its sustainability, ease to clean, and resistance to rot. 

However, vinyl sidings need regular maintenance since excessive moisture can cause them to rust over time. Fortunately, cleaning vinyl sidings is an easy and simple process. All you need is a basic cleaning solution and some elbow grease. If you have a power washer handy, it’ll make the cleaning process even easier. 

In this guide, we will take a look at what causes rust stains on vinyl sidings to help understand how you can prevent rust stains from occurring. We will also teach you how to clean them using our step-by-step process. Lastly, we’ll share some best practices for rust stain removal and how to keep your vinyl sidings clean.

What Causes Rust Stains on Vinyl Sidings?

Rust forms when metal oxidizes, as a result of being exposed to oxygen and moisture. Your vinyl sidings may corrode or rust, depending on the environment you’re in. Vinyl sidings in drier regions may experience less rusting, due to the lack of moisture in the air.

However, houses located in wet and humid places may experience more frequent rusting issues. A vinyl siding with rust may just seem like an eyesore, but rust poses bigger ramifications for your home. 

Rust can spread to other metallic things in your home, like your bikes, cars, gardening tools, or anything with metal. It can also be hazardous to your health if you happen to scratch yourself on a rusted surface.

It is important that you understand how rust forms on vinyl in order to prevent rust from forming. Let’s take a closer look at some of the major causes.

Metal Gutters & Downspouts

Water is the biggest culprit for causing rust stains, so a clogged gutter can ultimately lead to rusty sidings. The water in your gutter consists of iron and minerals and when it overflows onto the side of your house, it can cause rust stains on your vinyl siding.

Consider applying a coat of rust-resistant sealant on your vinyl sidings to keep them free from rust. If there is too much rust on your siding, you may need to replace it.

Dirt and Fertilizer

Dirt and fertilizers contain high levels of iron, which can cause rust stains to form on your vinyl sidings. As such, you might notice reddish-brown stains on your sidings during the spring season.

That’s because strong gusts of winds or your sprinkler system might scatter dirt and fertilizer from the lawn onto the siding. If your vinyl sidings aren’t washed frequently, they may develop rust stains over time.

To prevent a buildup of dirt and fertilizer, hose down your sidings with water and give it a gentle scrub using a cloth to remove any traces of dirt, fertilizer, or other contaminants. 

Acidic Rain

One of the most common causes of rust stains on vinyl siding is acid rain. Acid rain contains sulfuric acid and nitric acid, which can cause corrosion and result in the leaching of heavy metals like iron and copper.

This may then be deposited on the surface of the sidings, ultimately causing rust stains. Furthermore, the sulfates and nitrates in the acid rain can also cause damage to the vinyl siding’s surface over time, diminishing its integrity.

To prevent damage from acid rain, it is important to use waterproof caulking and sealants to protect the surface of your sidings.

How to Remove Rust Stains From Vinyl Sidings

Your vinyl sidings are resistant to corrosion and can have a longer life if you keep them sealed and caulked. However, if rust stains happen to form on the surface, it is imperative that you remove them as soon as possible.

Cleaning your vinyl sidings is a straightforward process and we’ve detailed a step-by-step guide that you can follow below. However, before starting the cleaning process, here are some of the common items you’ll need!

What You Will Need

  • Vinegar
  • Laundry detergent powder
  • Home cleaning detergent
  • Laundry bleach
  • Instant Iron Out (recommended product)
  • Elbow grease or power washer
  • Microfiber cloth or soft-bristled brush

1. Prepare An Effective Rust Removal Solution

There are a few effective rust-removal solutions you can prepare to get rid of these unsightly and potentially dangerous rust stains. The type of solution you choose depends on the severity of the rust buildup on the vinyl sidings.

Mild & Effective Rust-Removal Solution 

An effective and natural way to get rid of rust stains is to use white vinegar. Vinegar is an acetic acid that can easily neutralize rust and strip it off from vinyl sidings. You can mix about ⅔ water with ⅓ white vinegar to make a gentle but effective solution for removing mild rust stains.

You can use a soft microfiber cloth to gently scrub the solution onto the vinyl siding. Just ensure that you discard the cloth and don’t reuse it after you’re done with the cleaning process.

Note: Make sure you only use white vinegar. Using colored vinegar can discolor your siding.

Potent Rust-Removal Solution 

Combine ⅔ cup of any home cleaning detergent, ⅓ cup of laundry detergent, and about 4 cups of liquid laundry bleach with 1 gallon of water. This potent rust-removal solution can help remove stubborn stains without damaging the vinyl material.

Dedicated Product 

If you want a more convenient rust removal solution, we recommend that you get an off-the-shelf commercial product such as Instant Iron Out. This and similar products are specifically designed to remove stains from outdoor structures such as vinyl sidings.

The formula is pre-mixed, ready to use, and removes stains without requiring a lot of scrubbing. It’s a multi-purpose rust remover that can be safely used around plants and vegetation.

2. Wear Personal Protective Equipment

Always use the right safety equipment when attempting to remove rust. Any work involving rust carries a measure of risk, so it is wise to wear protective gloves. If you are using a power washer, high-pressure water can also damage your eyes. Therefore, you should also consider wearing safety glasses.

3. Prepare the Surrounding Areas

Before you start cleaning your vinyl sidings, you should first prepare the surrounding area and keep it safe from damage. Some ingredients in the aforementioned rust-removing solutions may be harmless to you and others but can damage the plants and vegetation of your home.

Make sure to protect the grass and plants by rinsing them with water both before and after applying the rust-removal solution. Moreover, if there is an exposed electrical outlet, it is important to seal it tightly with tape or plastic to prevent the risk of it short-circuiting. 

4. Apply the Rust-Removal Solution

To clean your vinyl sidings, you can use one of two ways; you can either use a power washer or opt for good old-fashioned elbow grease. To begin, hose down the vinyl sidings before applying any rust-removal solution. 

Manual Cleaning

If you are opting to clean it manually, all you need is a soft and clean microfibre cloth or a soft-bristled brush. Apply your chosen rust-removal solution to the vinyl sidings and wipe firmly in one direction, either left to right or right to left.

Avoid scrubbing the sidings harshly to prevent the paint from flaking or damaging the texture. It is advisable to work your way from the bottom sections to the top to prevent streaking.

To prevent the solution from drying on the cladding, which makes it harder to rinse off, you can either work quickly or work in sections and rinse as you go. As you’re closer to the rust, it’s important that you protect yourself at all times and ensure that you don’t come into contact with it.

Using a Power Washing

Power washing is also a great way to effectively wash out the stains from the vinyl siding. It involves focusing a stream of pressurized water onto the siding. The pressurized water then washes off any rust particles, dirt, and other gunk from your cladding.

Remember to be careful not to use a strong setting as it will damage your vinyl sidings and cause paint to flake. Before using the power washer, make sure you understand and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Fill up your power washer by pouring the rust-removal solution into the pressure washer detergent tank or dropping the siphon tube into the solution bottle. Apply the solution to the siding in a steady stream from the bottom to the top.

Make sure the power washer is set at a low setting; 1,000-2,000 psi of water pressure is recommended and will not cause damage to the vinyl cladding. 

The nozzle tip should be adjusted at a 25-40 degree angle, and the nozzle should be held at least 12 to 24 inches (about 1 – 2 feet) away from the siding and pointed at a downward angle to prevent water from seeping beneath the siding.

Note: Do not use a pressure washer near electrical connections, windows, or plumbing systems. Avoid using a pressure washer if the vinyl siding is loose or flaking, as it can cause further damage.

5. Rinse the Vinyl Siding and Surrounding Areas

Once you have successfully removed the rust stains from your vinyl siding, you need to make sure you rinse off any residue as it will dry and leave marks. Even if you have chosen to rinse each siding as you go, we advise you to give the entire cladding one final rinse to flush out any traces of solution, rust, or other residues.

Also, remember to rinse off the surrounding areas, especially plants, and vegetation, to flush out the rust-removal solution. 

Best Practices For Rust Stain Removal

Removing rust stains from vinyl sidings may appear to require significant effort, but it is not as challenging as it may initially seem. Moreover, removing these rust stains increases the overall longevity of your vinyl sidings. 

Let’s take a look at some of the best practices that can prevent your vinyl sidings from rusting so that they remain structurally intact.

Avoid the Use of Harsh Chemicals

When cleaning your vinyl sidings, be careful not to use solutions or cleaners that contain harsh solvents, chlorine bleaches, liquid grease remover, furniture polish, or nail polish remover. These products can flake off the paint or cause damage to the vinyl surface. 

It’s also important to use soft materials, such as microfiber cloth, instead of steel wool or coarse scrubbers when wiping the siding, as they may also cause damage to it.

Clean Your Vinyl Sidings Frequently

The most surefire way to keep your sidings from staining is to keep them clean. By cleaning your vinyl sidings using suitable cleaning products frequently, you prevent the accumulation of rust, dirt, mold, and other contaminants, which result in stubborn stains and rust.

Furthermore, frequent and gentle cleaning also helps to prevent the risk of damage to the surface of the cladding, which may require expensive repairs or even replacement.

Pay Attention to Brown Stains, Mold, and Mildew

If you notice brown stains on your siding, these may be due to dirty water that has dripped down the side of the house. These stains can be cleaned easily but to prevent them from occurring again, you need to check your rooftop installation or the gutter. 

A poorly sealed rooftop will allow water to drip down behind the siding after rain, resulting in rot, mold, and rust. A clogged gutter can cause an overflow of water, which causes similar issues to your siding. Hence, it is important to resolve these issues first.

About Sirinan

Sirinan is a self-proclaimed cleanaholic and the editor-in-chief of Cleaney. Apart from coming with up creative ways to keep her living spaces clean and tidy, she loves to read on rainy days.