Cleaning Surfaces
Here's everything you'll need to get it right the first time.
  • Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) or substitute cleaning solution
  • Brush attachment
  • Extension pole
  • Masks and goggles
  • Broom
  • Paintbrush for removing dust
  • Disposable gloves

First rid your exterior surfaces of all dirt, mildew and debris. When you've finished, be sure to let everything dry thoroughly.

Washing Exterior Surfaces

A brush attachment and extension pole transforms an ordinary garden hose into an effective cleaning tool.

Load the brush attachment with trisodium phosphate (TSP) or substitute detergent. Rinse with plain water and let dry thoroughly.

Special Cleaning Problems—Mildew

If your surface looks dirty after washing, check to see if the problem is mildew. To check for mildew, first put on chemical-resistant gloves. Then apply a few drops of chlorine bleach to the surface. When working with bleach, protect your eyes by wearing eye goggles. If the dark areas lighten substantially after a minute—without rubbing—you may have mildew.

Mildew discoloration, which resembles dirt, is due to either fungi feeding on oil contained in solvent-based paint or protein thickeners in latex paint. Moisture is the most important single factor in the growth of mildew, which can lie dormant for years. For this reason, discoloration is usually found in damp, dark areas or during prolonged humid conditions.
The mildew must be removed completely before repainting, or else any new coat will soon show signs of discoloration. Paint cannot adhere to a mildewed surface. Spray mildewed areas with a solution of 3 parts water to 1 part chlorine bleach and let the anti-fungal treatment dry thoroughly—do not rinse with water. Let the agent work its magic on your exterior surface.
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