Keeping your home's exterior clean and trim is a standard part of good preventative maintenance. If you have soffit panels installed on the underside of your overhanging eaves, ensuring that these are kept clean is critical to preventing rot and water damage. Having to replace your soffit outright cost as much as $20-30 per linear foot installed. That amount can really add up depending on the amount to be replaced, so unless you're willing to make a significant payout, learning how to clean soffits properly is a key skill to learn.
How to Clean Soffits and Prevent Rot
Installing soffit on the undersides of your eaves is well worth the costs, but one of those costs is regular maintenance. In this case, that means regular cleaning to prevent rot.
There are a couple of ways that you can accomplish this, depending on the equipment you have available to you. But in either case, the process follows the same basic steps.
Rinse the Soffit
The first step is to give the soffit a good rinsing.
For this step, some people will recommend using a power washer. A power washer will definitely soften up the grime, but it even at low settings you risk softening up the soffit along with it.
You can achieve similar results with an ordinary gardening hose. All you need to do is connect your hose to the nearest hot water spigot. With any luck, you might have one located outside. If not, the spigot in your laundry room will do.
Just remember that this is hot water. Rubber gloves are a necessary precaution to prevent any splashback from landing on your hands.
Now just use your hose and a sprayer attachment to spray down the soffit. pray from a higher place pointing down if you can, as direct pressure risks damaging the panels.
Apply a Cleanser
Having rinsed the panels, now it is time to soap them up.
There are multiple, pre-mixed cleaners that you can buy, some of which are specifically designed for certain materials. If you so choose, you can also mix your own all-purpose cleaner.
Having decide on the cleaner of your choice, use it in your sprayer attachment to go over the panels with a mix of hor water and cleanser. Again, try to spray downwards rather than upwards.
Having rinsed and soaped your panels, all that's left is to give them another rinse with hot water to wash the cleanser away.
Since grime never settles evenly, you will want to take a good look over to check for problem spots. Going over these again with a cleanser will probably be unnecessary, so try mixing some common dish soap with hot water in a bucket, and using a scrubbing brush to polish off these rough spots.
Clean and Prevent, Don't Repair
It is always better to take preventative measures early on, rather than have to make a large payout later. Learning how to clean soffits well will extend their lifespan, and save you money in the long run.
However, sometimes the damage is inevitable, either through regular wear and tear or unusual weather. When the time comes that your soffit's lifespan has run its course, check out our guide on how to replace damaged soffit.