How to Care for Your Vinyl Fence
If you’ve chosen to surround your property with a vinyl fence, you likely value durability, quality, and ease of maintenance. You will never need to re-paint or stain a vinyl fence, and this type of fence lacks some of the risks that are present with wood and wrought-iron fences, such as rotting and cracking. However, even though vinyl fences are some of the easiest to clean and maintain, even this type of fence will need the occasional scrub-down if you want it to keep up the same eye appeal it possessed when you installed it. Cleaning a vinyl fence requires only a handful of steps, relatively little money, and the use of cleaning products that can mostly be found around one’s house.
There are a few basic supplies that you will need on hand when attempting to clean and care for your vinyl fence. It is highly recommended that you gather and prepare these tools before beginning your fence maintenance. These may include:
- Vinegar–for helping to get rid of stains
- A Garden Hose or Pressure Washer
- A Sponge, Soft-Bristle Brush, or Soft Cloth–you will need something soft, and if you choose to use a cloth, consider preparing several
- Mild Dish Soap
- Bleach or a Bleach-Based Cleaner–for incredibly tough stains, but only use on white vinyl. Any other color, and the bleach may stain your fence.
- Stirring Stick–to help prepare your cleaning solution
- Mr. Clean Magic Eraser–for tougher stains
- Rubber Gloves (if using bleach or bleach-based products)–will protect your hands from damage caused by bleach or other cleaning solutions
- Eye Goggles (if using bleach or bleach-based products)
- Water–to dilute your cleaning solution
- Bucket or Basin–to prepare your cleaning solution
Additionally, any other tools that you may find to be helpful may be included. If you maintain your fence more frequently, you may not need stronger cleaning products such as bleach or rubber gloves, as simple dish soap and a rag may be sufficient.
Basic Cleaning Steps
- Prepare your cleaning solution. You can use fancy store-bought products that are designed for cleaning vinyl fences, but you can also just use vinegar, dish soap, and bleach. Dish soap will kill any mold or mildew present on your fence, and vinegar and bleach will help to remove any tougher dirt or grass stains that may be present. To help dilute the mixture, pour a small amount into a gallon-sized bucket of water. Consider using only half a cup of bleach per gallon of water; any more, and you could find yourself with burns or chemical stains.
- Spray down your fence with a garden hose or pressure washer. Doing this first can help get rid of any excess dirt that may have been built up. Doing just this at least once a month can help to prevent you from having to do any serious scrubbing.
- Soak your sponge, cloth, or soft-bristle brush in your cleaning mixture and scrub down the whole surface area of your fence. Use smooth, large circles and move top to bottom, so that the dirt falls downward and you aren’t having to go back and re-clean certain areas.
- Spray down your fence a second time. Just like when you scrubbed down your fence, do this from top to bottom, or else you will find yourself going over the same places on your fence more than once.
- Look over your fence to ensure cleanliness. If the fence is still dirty, consider using a stronger cleaning solution, such as bleach, and going over the tougher stains a second time if you did not do so the first time. When using bleach or stronger cleaners, make sure you use the right protective equipment, such as eye goggles and a thick pair of rubber gloves. Consider mixing your bleach solution in a smaller, handheld spray bottle and spraying it directly onto tough stains. Allow it to sit for five minutes, then spray these places down again with your garden hose or pressure washer. If you are concerned about chemicals, you may also consider using a Mr. Clean magic eraser.
- When you are finished, spray the area around your fence to help disperse the chemicals and prevent accidental ingestion by children and animals.
- Deep clean your fence every 12-14 months to maintain its “like new” appearance.”
- If you live in an area that is dusty or has a high pollen count, you may need to clean more frequently.
- Read the directions carefully on any equipment or store-bought chemicals you may be using.
- Keep pets and children away from the fence during and after the cleaning process.
- To prevent your fence from getting significantly dirty in the first place, keep the area around your fence clean and clear of debris.
- Clean your fence in good weather. Avoid days that are rainy, windy, or cold, or you may find the cleaning process to be more difficult. Spring and early summer are good times of year to clean a vinyl fence.
- Do not use bleach on colored vinyl; only apply to white vinyl.
- Never use an abrasive cleaning product, including a hard-bristle brush or a scouring pad. This can scratch and dull the surface of your fence.
Vinyl fences are the easiest fence to maintain, but they are not maintenance free. If you are looking for a fence that is cheap and easy to care for, you have made the correct choice–but caring for a vinyl fence can become an extensive endeavor if it is not properly maintained. The best way to maintain a vinyl fence is to give it a quick spray-down with a garden hose or pressure washer about once a month, and deep clean it with dish soap and a rag or sponge once a year in the warmer months. While cleaning your vinyl fence, make sure you use proper protective equipment and take care while handling bleach or other chemicals. With proper care and maintenance, you will be able to enjoy your vinyl fence for decades while still appearing as though you installed your fence yesterday.