Tips to Prevent and Remove Mold on a Vinyl Fence

Plastic fence with mold and dirt

Is your once-pristine vinyl fence beginning to accumulate mold? Maybe you have white plastic vinyl fencing starting to turn green or black. Or you’ve just installed a new PVC fence and want to know how to keep mold from forming on it. Then you’ll benefit from these simple, non-toxic tips to prevent and remove mold from a vinyl fence. 

Any fence, particularly a white vinyl (PVC) fence, will inevitably get dirty, and dirt often leads to mold. Vinyl fences are preferable to wood fences for many homeowners because they are more low-maintenance. Since they’re exposed to dirt, debris, and organic matter like dead leaves, they’re still susceptible to mold, mildew, and algae. The good news is that removing them is easy and affordable.

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What is Mold?

Mold is a fungal growth that develops and spreads on various kinds of damp or decaying organic matter, like wooden fences. Mold thrives in wet places and humid climates by releasing minuscule spores that float through the air and land on other surfaces. If the surface is moist, the mold can multiply. 

Why Does Mold Grow on a Vinyl Fence?

Several factors enable mold to grow on even a vinyl fence

  • Mold spores are so tiny and numerous that they can easily travel and grow, barely visible to the naked eye.
  • Spores use moisture and organic material or debris to develop. 
  • Heavy accumulation of rain, snow, or water forms an unwanted irrigation system for mold. 
  • High humidity and moisture seeping into the vinyl enable mold to form. You can find it in the spaces between vinyl fence panels and posts, too.
  • Spores can wait for months until there is enough dirt on your vinyl fence to form mold.
  • A lack of mold-resistant sealing can allow mold to develop.
  • Mildew and algae feed on tree sap, dust, and other debris attached to vinyl.

Before Cleaning Mold Off Your Vinyl Fence

Classic white picket fence
Photo Credit: Deniseesser / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Prepare for cleaning by taking these quick, essential steps.

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  1. Wear Protective Equipment

The EPA recommends wearing an N95 mask, gloves, and goggles to avoid exposure to harmful mold spores, which can lead to respiratory and other health issues. If you are concerned about your safety around the mold, you can always contact a fencing professional to take care of it for you. 

  1. Prepare Your Vinyl Fence for Cleaning

Begin by ensuring your vinyl fence is free of all vegetation: vines, dead leaves, sticks, debris, and other organic material. Trim back any plants touching the fence wall, and cover them with a tarp to protect them from harmful off-spray.   

Once you’ve prepared your PVC fence, choose one or more of the following cleaning options. 

Ways to Clean Mold Off a Vinyl Fence

There’s no one best method for cleaning mold off a vinyl fence. Which one you choose will depend on the extent or severity of the mold. Here are several options and cleaning tips. 

Garden Hose

If your PVC fence is merely coated in moss or mildew, you can spray it with water from a garden hose. Use a garden sprayer attachment or high-pressure nozzle on your hose and spray away dirt and mildew from top to bottom.

Soap and Warm Water

Sometimes a little dish soap and warm water are enough to clear away dirt and mold on a vinyl fence. Use a cloth or soft scrub to wipe the fence with soapy water, rinsing thoroughly afterward. If this doesn’t do the job, proceed to make a vinegar solution.

DIY Vinegar Cleaning Solution

A straightforward non-toxic approach to tackling your mold issues is to create a white vinegar solution, which you might already have at home. 

  1. Add ½-1 cup of white vinegar to a gallon of water. 
  2. Coat the fence with the vinegar solution using a spray bottle and let it soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Use a microfiber cleaning cloth or soft bristle brush to wipe away any dirt and mold. 
  3. Rinse the vinegar solution from the fence thoroughly with water.

Buy a Mold-Removing Fence Cleaner 

You can purchase instant outdoor mold removal sprays and fence cleaning solutions at your local home improvement store. Spray the affected surfaces and let sit for 10 minutes. Then rinse thoroughly with water. You shouldn’t need to do any scrubbing.

Pressure Washer

If the mold and dirt accumulation is too tough for your standard garden hose, you can always use a pressure or power washer to do the job for you. You can buy a fence cleaning solution compatible with pressure washers at your local home improvement store or use the recipe below.

Homemade fence cleaning solution:

  • ½ cup trisodium phosphate
  • ⅓ cup powdered laundry detergent
  • 1-quart bleach
  • 1-gallon water

Pressure Washing Tips

  • Selecting a pressure setting that is too high might damage your vinyl fence. You can start at the 500-800 PSI range and increase as needed, being careful not to go over 3000 PSI. 
  • Stand 3-4 feet away from the fence, point the pressure washer nozzle to the top, and work your way down. You can move closer to the fence if necessary, but don’t get closer than a foot away.

Hydrogen Peroxide Bleach Solution

Cleaning your vinyl fence with a bleach solution is a last resort and can only be used for white vinyl fences. Any other color and you risk discoloration. Plus, too much bleach can overly dry your vinyl and lead to cracking. 

Here’s how to use hydrogen peroxide bleach solution safely:

  1. Wear protective gloves and avoid contact with the bleach on your skin. 
  2. Use 1 cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water. 
  3. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. If you use a spray pump, do not use one for which you’ve sprayed with other chemicals. 
  4. Spray or scrub mold and dirt away with a cloth or soft brush.
  5. Rinse bleach off of the PVC fence thoroughly.  

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How to Prevent Mold from Growing on a Vinyl Fence

a post of Vinyl Fence
Photo Credit: ghornephoto / Canva Pro / License

Ok, so you’ve just cleaned your vinyl fence, and it looks like new. (Or you actually installed a new fence.) Now you’re wondering, how can I prevent mold from growing on it so I don’t have to deal with it in the future?

Take one or more of the following upkeep steps to be proactive against potential mold soon.

Keep Your Vinyl Fence Clean

Clear dirt and debris from your fence regularly and give it a cleaning at least once every twelve to fourteen months. Making sure dead leaves and organic matter aren’t infringing upon your vinyl fence will help prevent mold from feeding on them and growing. Wash dirt and grime away with dish soap and warm water periodically to maintain a clean vinyl fence. 

Minimize Moisture Exposure

Address any air conditioning leaks or water sources, such as sprinkler systems, frequently subjecting your vinyl fence to moisture.

Apply Mold-Resistant Coatings

You can find mold-resistant primers, sealers, and paints at your local home improvement store. Make sure they are compatible with vinyl. Follow these steps to paint or seal your vinyl fence panels against mold.

  1. Select an epoxy-based paint or sealer since oil and latex-based paints will not adhere to the vinyl for long.
  2. Clear any debris and organic material from your fence. We advise cleaning it using any of the methods described above.
  3. Ensure you have removed any existing sealers or pre-existing coatings.
  4. Rinse the vinyl surfaces and let them dry completely.
  5. Apply a mold-resistant vinyl primer to the fence to ensure the paint layer is smooth. Use paint rollers and brushes for hard-to-reach areas. Let the primer dry completely.
  6. Repeat this process with your mold-resistant vinyl paint as many times as needed. Allow each layer to dry before applying a new one.
  7. For additional protection, add a high gloss sealant to the entire fence, providing a further protective coating against mold buildup, weathering, and cracking.

Mold-Blocking Sprays

Alternatively, you can buy several exterior mold-resistant spray primers and sealers locally or online. These spray sealers or primers are easy to use and can go a long way in blocking mold and other fungal organisms from taking root. Ensure they are EPA-registered and clean up any messes with mineral spirits. 

FAQs about Mold on a Vinyl Fence

What is the difference between pressure and power washers?

Most people use “power washers” and “pressure washers” interchangeably, but there is a technical difference between the two. Power washing involves using hot water, while pressure washing uses cool water. More heavy-duty jobs might require the heat of a power washer.

Is there anything I can do to make my vinyl fence look new again?

Oxidation and sun damage can naturally happen to your vinyl fence over time, and overusing bleach can also dry it out. Many vinyl restoration products on the market can restore your vinyl fence’s original sheen after you treat it for mold. 

Does mold allow insects to infest my vinyl fence?

Vinyl is naturally insect-resistant, but insects can burrow in an overgrowth of mold or debris. 

Can mold on my vinyl fence be unhealthy for me?

Spending too much time around mold can cause health problems, including respiratory issues, rashes, and other allergy-related symptoms. If you notice mold, ensure it’s removed as soon as possible. 

What is the difference between mold and mildew and how do they affect my fence?

Mildew is a specific type of fungus with a powdery white or gray appearance, whereas mold is a fungus with a black and slimy or green and fuzzy. Mildew appears flat and doesn’t go deep, while a mold is raised, bumpy, and takes root. Both thrive in moist, humid conditions.

Mildew can usually be removed with a household cleaner and soft scrub brush, while mold is often a stubborn stain that requires one of the techniques mentioned above.

What is the difference between mold and green algae?

Algae is a plant (not a fungus) that grows naturally, especially in humid climates. Like mold, it spreads through spores, but unlike mold, it is not harmful to you or your fence. You can clear it with a pressure washer or cleaning products and a soft bristle brush. 

Calling in the Pros

Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you’re concerned about mold being a health hazard or want to install a new fence, contact a local fencing professional

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Main Photo Credit: BWFolsom / Canva Pro / License

Zach Bridgeman

Zachery Bridgeman is a writer who grew up in Alabama and currently lives in Pittsburgh. He enjoys writing fiction, painting, and exploring the city in his free time.