Tag Archives: general purpose cleaner

Removing Chalky Residue From Steel Panels

Reader Sally wants to know: “What can I use on my pole barn to remove chalky residue, so it looks like new?”

Well Sally, ask and ye shall receive!

Maintenance & Cleaning Methods for Metal Roofing & Siding

Sunlight and extremes of the weather and atmosphere will cause colored painted surfaces to fade, chalk and develop surface dirt and stains. The severity of these conditions depends upon the atmosphere in the particular geographic location. The composition of the air may include contaminated particulates of a carbon acid oil nature capable of forming stain to various degrees.

Prepainted high baked finishes are formulated to resist chalk and stain. Often rain or a simple water wash will remove the accumulated surface contaminate.


In areas where dirt accumulates, often where the flow of rain water is restricted, a simple cleaning, scheduled annually or more often is necessary, will restore the surface appearance. Most surface soils or stains from industrial fallout, tree sap or chimney affluent can be cleaned up with non-abrasive household detergents.

A mixture of one part Ivory to three parts water is recommended as a general purpose cleaner.

The solution should be applied with a clean, soft rag or sponge using a gentle rubbing action – vigorous cleaning will remove the stain resistant surface and therein develop further staining in the future.

Rinse immediately and thoroughly after washing with fresh water.

Severely Soiled Surfaces

If normal cleaning is not sufficient to clean severely soiled surfaces, a more aggressive cleaner may be used as outlined below. Abrasives, solvents, paint thinners or paint removers will attack the surface and actually remove a portion of the paint. Do not use such materials. Avoid contact with shrubbery, skin or eye contact and test in an inconspicuous area before cleaning in high view areas.

Severe surface dirt deposits occurring in areas not subject to adequate rainfall may require a stronger cleaner such as the one listed below;

1/3 Cup Detergent (Example: Tide powder, not liquid)

2/3 Cup of Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)

1 Quart 5% Sodium Hypochlorite (Example: Clorox Bleach)

3 Quarts of Water

Greater concentrations could injure paint surface, and successive cleanings with this cleaning solutions may leave the paint surface more susceptible to soiling in the future.