Fence Cleaning

Fence Cleaning

Rusty, Dusty, and Musty: How Can I Clean My Fence?

We hate it when our fences start to look like crap! It is so annoying to see mildew, dirt, and grime build up over time, and it drives us crazy! We want to clean it, but you might say to yourself, “I don’t have a power washer, so how can I clean it?”

Northland Fence is here to help you find out. We will tell you all the steps of cleaning your fence and how to do it with and without the aid of a pressure washer.

What Will I Need?

You will need a number of things to help clean your fence. You will need:

  • Soap
  • A soft sponge/washcloth
  • A hose
  • Determination

This is if you aren’t using a pressure washer. Depending on the type of fence you have, you may also need a fine-bristled toothbrush. Let’s discuss how to clean a wood fence without a pressure washer.

Cleaning a Wood Fence WithOUT a Pressure Washer

There are some products that are used just to clean mold and mildew off of fences! These should be much cheaper than a pressure washer and can do the trick of getting all that mold and mildew off of the fence. These usually are in spray bottles. Remember to look at the instructions on the spray bottle. This will tell you how to use it properly, and just let it sit for a while depending on the strength of the mildew.

The bottle might say you don’t have to scrub. However, scrubbing will get that dirt off even better. So, let that spray sit for a bit, and scrub all that dirt off. Now, these are still some serious chemicals, and you might not want to use those. We are environmentally conscious here at Northland Fence, so we have some home remedies to recommend as well.

Home Remedies

Do you remember when you had to make a volcano back in third grade for a science project? You’re going to want to get some of those products together. Vinegar and baking soda is an explosive combination that is less chemically corrosive than other options. The positive is that these products are pretty cheap and might already be in your house as we speak. The vinegar will help to remove the mildew while the baking soda helps to get rid of the dirt.

You might be thinking, “What if the mildew isn’t that bad?” If the mildew stain is pretty light, then try to dilute the vinegar with some water. You might not get a cool volcano, but you’ll get that mildew off. Either way, spray that vinegar on and let it sit for a few minutes, and then see if it works by taking a fine-bristled toothbrush to the fence. Still not coming off? Well, put some more vinegar on there and then put some baking soda on again! Then, get to scrubbing. The negative about this method is that you need to scrub more because you might have to do this several times to remove the stain.

If there’s not any mildew but you’re worried about dirt and grime, try using soapy water and scrubbing. We know that the constant scrubbing can get tiring. Luckily, Northland Fence is here to help our fellow Minnesotans! To make scrubbing easier, try getting a deck brush with a long pole. This will make scrubbing much easier because you can put more force on the brush, and this can save you from back problems since you don’t have to bend over as much to scrub.

Cleaning With a Pressure Washer

Let’s discuss cleaning your fence with a pressure washer. Before you start it up, check the weather. It is best to use a pressure washer in non-windy, cool conditions, and when the surface you’re cleaning isn’t directly in sunlight. Why do you want to make sure of this? Because you don’t want to end up with more spray on your face than on your fence, and so the cleaner doesn’t dry too quickly on your surface.

First, you are going to rinse the boards with the pressure washer at a low setting. High pressure could indent the fence if it is a wooden fence. Next, you’re going to put some fence cleaner in the reservoir of the pressure washer, and you will apply it to the rinsed boards of the fence.

Then, our favorite comes back! A scrub brush will be the answer to almost all of your problems as you can remove the stains with it. You can also remove mold, tree sap, weathering, and so much more. Then, you need to let it sit for about five minutes. While it is sitting, flush your pressure washer. Flushing your pressure washer will get most of the remaining detergent out of it. After this, rinse the boards with clean water. Just repeat this until you have clean boards.

Cleaning a Chain-Link Fence

Let’s say you don’t have a wood fence and own a chain link fence. This will be cleaned differently because there is something else that you will need to worry about while cleaning this type of fence: rust. Let’s talk about some different things to do for metal fencing maintenance.

Apply Rust Protection Annually

If you don’t do this at least once a year, then the fence can rust pretty easily. The reason this maintenance tip is important for your fence is because the rust can eat through the fence and create holes. The last thing you want for your fence is for it to be weak!

To prevent this, buy some rust-resistant coating and spray it on yearly. Make sure that you focus on the bottom of the fence because this is usually where moisture gathers due to grass and dirt.

Try to Avoid Growing Plants on Your Fence

Look, we here at Northland Fence love landscaping as much as any Minnesotan, but we also know that certain plants work better for certain fences. A chain link fence is not a fence you want to keep your plants growing on.

You may ask, “Why, Northland Fence? I was getting excited and wanted to start my landscaping.” Well, here’s the thing: While there are fences where plants grow on them, plants grow through the chain link. This can lift your fence up from the bottom or even break the links by bursting through them! We are sorry for the disappointing news, but we want to make sure your fence stays intact.

Try Not to Practice Parkour on Your Fence

We’ve all been kids before, and we’ve all wanted to test our agility. Climbing fences was the best way to prove how agile we were, and we may be able to prove that “we’ve still got it.” However, this can mess with your fence.

Climbing a chain link fence can bend the support posts and pull the chain link away from its bars. This can weaken your fence significantly, so make sure you test your agility through a race instead of climbing a fence, and remove climbing aids near your fence. Climbing aids such as logs, cinder blocks, and ladders should be removed, but you can add vinyl slats to prevent climbing as well.

Clean Your Fence Regularly

The great part about a chain link fence is that it is super easy to clean. All you need is some water and some dish soap! You won’t find mildew on chain link fences, but you will find some dirt and other debris. All you need for this is to take a high-powered hose and spray it down to take off the dirt.

However, there are other stains that might be tougher to get out. Birds like to take their liberties with our fences, so you might have to take some soapy water and a scrub brush to the places where the birds relieved themselves.

Cleaning a Vinyl Fence

Next, we will discuss cleaning a vinyl fence. Now, a vinyl fence will be cleaned almost identically to the way a wood fence is cleaned as cleaning with a pressure washer will follow the exact same steps, but there are some other forms of cleaning a vinyl fence that should work very well.

Using a Pressure Washer

Just to get this one out of the way, you are still able to use a pressure washer to clean a vinyl fence. They can get dirt off in an impressive fashion, but not all pressure washers are the same. There are different types of nozzles, different types of cleaning solutions, and even different amounts of water that these pressure washers can hold.

Spray Off With a Hose

The ol’ “use some water” trick is ideal for very tiny amounts of dirt and grime. This should always be the first step of your cleaning process for a vinyl fence because it can get those small amounts of dirt off your fence. In many cases, you might only need the water to clean off the fence!

Use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

If you have heavy-duty stains on your fence, just disregard this. However, if the stains aren’t too bad, then this would be great for you! For this, you will need to get the Magic Eraser thoroughly wet but squeeze out all the excess water. Next, start wiping your fence from top to bottom. Literally, start at the top and work your way down. Finally, if the eraser gets too dirty, simply cut off the dirty bits. We are all about saving you money, so keep using that Magic Eraser until you can’t use it anymore!

Use Bleach

Bleach should be a last resort type of cleaner, especially for a non-white vinyl fence, but it isn’t going to give you much trouble – as long as you water down the bleach. To prepare your bleach solution, add one part of bleach for every five parts of water. Make sure to wear gloves so you protect your hands while you scrub your vinyl fence.

Cleaning a Wrought Iron Fence

A wrought iron fence will be cleaned in a similar fashion to the way a chain-link fence is cleaned. This is because you have to worry about the same types of things with both fences, such as rust. At the same time, there are other factors you should consider when cleaning your wrought iron fence.

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Fence

Rain is great because it keeps our grass and plants healthy. The downside is that rain and humidity can cause our wrought iron fences to rust quicker. Now, there’s not much you can do in the way of stopping rain, but you can protect your fence. First, keep vines, weeds, and prickly bushes away from your fence. Prickly plants can cause scratches, which can encourage rust. To protect your fence from rust, you can apply car wax or water repellent, and those will keep the elements from seeping in.

Cleaning Your Wrought Iron Fence

To clean a wrought iron fence, use some warm, soapy water. If you notice rust forming early, scrub it away with a small cleaning brush. After you clean the fence off and take care of the rust, rinse the fence and let it dry.

If the rust seems to be super stubborn and won’t go away with scrubbing, use sandpaper and a fine-wire brush to scrub it off. After this, apply rust protection spray or paint to make sure the section is protected.

Northland Fence Can Help You

At Northland Fence, our goal is to provide you with American-made fences with the best customer service you can expect. We have so much pride in our high-quality fences, and we make sure that all of your fencing needs are met. For a consultation, call us today at (763) 316-4881.


What is the best way to clean a wood fence?

Before you start cleaning, it is best to identify the cause of the stain. For simple stains such as dirt and debris, some water should do the trick. If the stain is a little more like mildew, then try a pressure washer.

How do you clean a fence without a pressure washer?

There are a couple of different ways to clean a fence without a pressure washer. For things like mildew, there is a mildew removal spray that you can buy to help get rid of it. If you are looking for home remedies, you can try using some vinegar and baking soda.

Can I stain my fence without pressure washing?

Yes. As a matter of fact, it isn’t a great idea to pressure wash your fence before staining it because it can force the mold and mildew deeper into the wood.


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