Stucco is a popular exterior building material for homes. The problem with stucco is that it collects dirt, grime, mold, and mildew over time due to the textured surface. If you're learning how to build your own house and you plan to use this material, you should be prepared. You can clean your stucco, but it’s hard to get the right results because there are so many different types of stucco and cleaning products available on the market today. And some of them don’t work as well as they claim to be.
We have researched the best ways to clean smelly stucco at home and compiled our findings into this step-by-step guide with detailed instructions, tips & tricks. Now you can easily learn how to clean your own home’s dirty stucco surface without breaking a sweat.
Before Cleaning, Inspect the Stucco
Before you begin to clean your stucco, check if there are any chips or cracks. If you clean your damaged stucco without checking, water can gain entry into the cracks, causing mold and mildew growth. Once mold starts growing, it will spread over any surfaces in your house. The stench that comes with mold is very unpleasant and almost impossible to remove without the help of professionals. So inspect your stucco first, then clean it.
If you find minor cracks and chips, seal them using a good quality stucco and paint. Acrylic color is an excellent option to seal your stucco. You can also use the paint that is already used on your exterior walls. Evaluate the problem areas and see what’s causing stains and discoloration. Is it mildew or algae? Or is it dirt and general debris?
If it’s algae and mildew, use bleach to get rid of them and if you’re dealing with large walls that contain significant stains, consider calling a professional to clean the stucco. If you choose to seal the cracks yourself, make sure your caulk dries before you proceed to clean your stucco.
Rinse the Stucco
Once you’ve inspected the stucco surface and repair any cracks, proceed to clean. But first, rinse your exterior with water. Use a garden hose with a spray nozzle and soak every section of the surface you’ll be cleaning. You can also use a pressure washer to do this job. This will ensure no dust or any other dirt that might scratch your stucco while scrubbing it with soap.
To pressure wash, ensure that you cover all surrounding surfaces with plastic. Use a trigger nozzle and spray your stucco from about 12 inches away while keeping the washer moving at all times. Stucco surfaces are highly porous and delicate, so the more you use the pressure washer, the higher your chances of accidentally damaging it.
You can avoid damaging your stucco by rinsing the surface in an even stream at a 45-degree angle. You should wear gloves when doing this, and also, eye protection is a good idea because things can get pretty messy. For stubborn stains, use your pressure washer to clean it off but again, keep the water at low pressure, or else you might damage the stucco surface.
Start Cleaning the Stucco
After you’ve checked and found no issues or you have fixed them, the next step is to clean the stucco. And to clean your stucco, you have to know which cleaning solutions to use. If you regularly maintain your stucco, you can use a mild detergent or an alkaline soap solution, but this might not be sufficient if the stucco is old and dirty. In that case, you should use TSP (trisodium phosphate). This will give your building a whole new look after cleaning it with the TSP.
For stains, use a mixture of liquid dish soap and water to remove them. But for mold and mildew growth, you have to use bleach. You can mix bleach with water and spray it on the stucco and then hose it off afterward for best results.
When applying any cleaning solution to the stucco, make sure you protect the surrounding plants or lawns because these solutions might damage them. Follow all safety precautions when using them. You can also use a mixture of bleach and a concentrated stucco cleaner to clean your stucco. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions before using these mixtures. Always wear rubber gloves and goggles when dealing with bleach.
Different kinds of household cleaners such as soap dishes and borax are also effective in removing dirt from stucco surfaces, but make sure you test any cleaner on a small area before applying it to the entire wall. This is important because some cleaners may damage the color or finish of your stucco.
Scrub the Stucco with a Stiff Brush
Stucco can get dirty easily, so you’ll need to wash it with soap and water every once in a while. If mold has already formed on your stucco walls, you may need more effective cleaning agents such as bleach or commercial cleaners.
Even after cleaning your stucco wall, stubborn stains can still find their way into your exterior. So, use a soft bristle brush, preferably a camel-hair brush, to scrub the stucco. This way, you can deep clean your wall and remove dust and dirt stuck on your exterior walls. You can use your hand or a rotating brush attachment to scrub the stains away.
Rinse the Stucco Again
Rinsing down the stucco surface with water should be the final step in your cleaning process. But this time, use a different technique to rinse the area. Instead of using a typical garden hose, consider using a higher-pressure stream. This will help you remove loosened dirt and other small particles from the wall’s surface.
A final rinse with plain water should be all that is necessary to return your stucco wall to its original clean state. But before that, use a cleaning solution to saturate your stucco wall. Follow the instructions on your cleaner to know how much of this solution you should use.
At this point, you can allow the wall to dry before using it. However, if you’ll be working with your stucco in any way, you may want to consider waiting up to 24 hours for it to completely dry. This will help prevent dirt from forming on the surface before or after it is put into use.
Let the solution settle in your wall for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing it off using the pressure washer. Repeat the procedure to all sections of your wall until your entire wall is complete. Also, when rinsing with the cleaning solution, work your way from the top to the bottom to remove all the residue.
Do a Spot Check to Your Wall
Before deep-cleaning your wall, do a spot check first to see if the water is running clear after rinsing and drying the stucco. If you notice that there is still some dirt or residue on it, then you’ll want to repeat the process. This will ensure that your wall not only looks better but also lasts longer.
Proper maintenance is important if you want to have the best-looking stucco and make it last for many years. A pressure washer can help deep clean your wall, but sometimes we need to do more than just this tool. For example, you could apply a sealer such as acrylic latex or a non-siliconized silicone every 3 to 5 years. This will help keep water from seeping in between the cracks and prevent mildew and mold growth, which means it’ll be easier for you to clean your wall afterward.
FAQs on How to Clean Stucco
Can you power wash stucco?
Yes, you can if the stucco is a smooth surface. If it isn’t, then there’s a chance that you could be damaging your walls. Call in a professional to help with this task so that you will get the best results without causing any further damage.
How can you get rid of mildew from stucco?
If the mildew has already started to form, you can try attacking it with a mixture made of water and bleach. The stucco should be wet before you put on the mixture; usually, scrubbing will get rid of most mildew patches.
Can you clean stucco using vinegar?
Yes, it’s possible to use vinegar to remove stains on stucco. Clean the affected areas with a sponge and then rinse with clear water.
Can you use calcium lime rust on stucco?
Although calcium lime rust is usually used to coat and protect metal, you can use it also on stucco. You have to prepare the stucco surface before applying this product; scrub it with a mixture made up of water and vinegar when necessary. Do not use CLR on painted stucco; instead, use it on unpainted stucco to prevent the paint from fading and cracking.
What are the causes of black stains on stucco?
The presence of black stains on your stucco might be a result of algae growth. You can get rid of that green algae by using a mixture of water and dish soap as a cleaning solution.
Final Thought on How to Clean Stucco
When it comes to how to clean stucco, keep in mind that you may not need to spend time and money on expensive cleaners or supplies. By using a simple garden hose, you can quickly clean the material to look as good as new.
Doing so ensures that the wall’s surface will be safe for your children and pets to play on. If you want, you can add a little soap to the water before spraying it onto the wall. The stucco should become clean easily this way with minimal effort.