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House cleaning isn't just an inside job

| Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, 3:04 p.m.

House-cleaning isn't just an inside job. Your siding, driveway and garage floor get dirty, too. Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List, offers these tips”

Siding: You can clean it the tried-and-true way, rinsing with a hose, using a long-handled brush to scrub with soapy water (laundry detergent works) and then rinsing well. To remove mildew or algae, consider a hand-pump garden sprayer and oxygen bleach (not chlorine, which can strip color and kill plants). Mix powdered oxygen bleach with warm water, stir and apply with a long-handled brush to dry siding. Let it work for about 10 minutes. Use a water hose to rinse well.

You may be tempted to use a power washer, but use caution and start with the lowest setting. Water jets can injure people and damage masonry, stucco or wood siding, and may force water through seams of vinyl-siding panels. If you use a pressure washer, be sure to wear eye protection. Start at the top of your house and work down, directing the water downward and going side to side across the siding.

Concrete driveway or garage floor: Concrete is porous and will hold stains if vehicle fluids like oil, grease and antifreeze are allowed to linger. Other stains can come from tires, mold, mildew, rust and fungus.

The first step in removing a stain: Cover the area with a drying agent, such as cat litter. Let the desiccant remain for a day before removing it and then scrub the stain with laundry detergent.

If it's not gone, clean the area again, but this time, use a power washer and trisodium phosphate (also known as TSP). For rust stains that don't remove easily, apply powdered oxalic acid (also known as wood bleach), and let it stay for a few minutes before scrubbing and rinsing. If all else fails, a professional may use muriatic acid to eat away the stained portion of concrete.

To remove tire marks from a sealed concrete driveway, scrub with a small amount of degreaser. Or, use a solvent or chemical stripper to remove the sealer. Reseal once the stain is gone.

Asphalt driveway: Use care when removing stains from asphalt driveways, because detergents or cleaners that contain petroleum-based solvents can damage asphalt. Because oil stains also can damage asphalt, it's wise to follow cleaning with resealing.

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