Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is shocking how dirty the exterior of your home can get over the course of a year. Some of the most typical stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These stains can give any home an unkempt, messy appearance, regardless of if you invest time, money and care into it.

Some of these materials, like dirt, don’t do much harm, but algae and mildew can be damaging to your health and your home. They create allergens and bacteria that can impact your family, and some of them, like algae, can even grow underneath vinyl or roofing and enter your home.

As a professional pressure washing service in Surprise, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. The spring season is the most common time to do an intense home exterior cleaning, but you can really do it any time so long as the weather permits.


All of the following surfaces need to be pressure washed from time to time:

• Vinyl siding
• Rock and stone
• Brick
• Concrete and asphalt

Power washing used to be the only method to properly clean vinyl, brick and painted surfaces. Now, homeowners have a second option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

Like the names suggest, one method is much gentler than the other one, but there’s a little more to it than that. Let’s go over the features of each method to help you determine which one is the right choice for your home.


The soft wash method uses much less pressure than a typical pressure washer, hence the name. The maximum water pressure in a soft washing system is 500 PSI. This lower spray is generated from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only a little more powerful than your standard backyard hose.

Soft washing uses a mixture of soap, bleach and water in combination to remove organic matter from your home, roof and other exterior surfaces. The solution used in a soft washing system can include algaecides and residual inhibitors which will stop further growth of these types of organisms in the future.

Because chemicals, not water pressure, are responsible for cleaning the exterior surfaces, no powerful water pressure is necessary. This means that soft washing should be used for fragile surfaces that could otherwise be damaged by higher pressure washing.

The soft wash solution is sometimes cleaned off, but not every time. This just depends on the type of solution is used, if there’s plant or animal life that can be affected by the solution runoff, and if the solution itself is powerful enough to damage surfaces over time.

Soft washing offers the distinct advantage of reaching down into small cracks and crevices to kill even unseen bacteria, meaning that its effects can last much longer than standard pressure washing.


Pressure washing has long been the gold standard for cleaning exterior surfaces. It is extremely effective and fast, which is why most home and business owners still prefer it.

This particular cleaning method uses water only, no chemicals, to clean off stains and mold from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a significant plus to home and business owners who don’t want to use chemicals, either for the sake of the environment or to avoid zoning violations.

It can be used on many different materials. Home owners often choose pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, sidewalks and patio furniture because it is quick, efficient and cost-effective.

Pressure washing needs anywhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water being sprayed out from a tiny nozzle for the most power. Both organic and inorganic materials are blasted from your home’s exterior surface, stopping their growth and renewing the appearance of your home.

One drawback to pressure washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and can harm the surfaces you’re attempting to clean. Pressure washing is powerful enough to put deep grooves into wood and plastic, and it can get into cracks, breaking off pieces of stone or brick.


The obvious question for homeowners is, “Is pressure washing or soft washing better?”

Both soft washing and pressure washing methods are good for your home’s exterior, including sidewalks, driveways and more. Both of these cleaning systems can be performed by a professional – and truthfully, are more effectively done when left to the experts.

Soft washing is perfect for outdoor play sets, yard equipment, roof shingles, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is less likely to damage wood and plastic. It’s also a safe and smart choice for vinyl siding.

It kills organisms currently present on the exterior surface, and it stops future growth for much longer than pressure washing can.

A problem with soft washing is that it can kill plants underneath the surface you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them down with water right before spraying the soft wash solution on your home or roof, and it probably won’t be an issue.

Pressure washing is the preferred method for severe stains, and hard surfaces like concrete, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the recommended process for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing service in Surprise may use a mixture of detergents and water pressure to remove difficult stains, but they should tell you if they are going to be spraying chemicals during your consultation.

It can also be used for siding too (and has been for several years) so long as it is done correctly. Powerful water pressure can damage weak or small pieces of vinyl. A local service that does pressure washing often will know how to protect fragile areas, but a DIYer might do a lot of damage.

Your home’s roof is off limits for pressure washing if there are slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The pressure of the water can damage these materials and cause you to replace your roof much sooner than expected.

Deciding between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which method is right for your home? Give Surprise Pressure Washing a call at 480-780-2385 and we’ll send a trained technician over to take a look!

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