Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is shocking how dirty the exterior of your home can get during a year. Some of the most typical stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These stains can give any home an unkempt, uncared for appearance, even though you invest time and care into it.

Some materials, like dirt, are harmless, but algae and mold can be destructive to both your health and your home. They create allergens that can impact your family, and some, like algae, can even grow underneath vinyl or roofing and enter into your home.

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


All of the following surfaces need to be cleaned from time to time:

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

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

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


The soft wash system uses less pressure than a typical pressure washer, hence the name. The highest water pressure in a soft washing system is 500 PSI. This lighter spray is created from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only slightly more powerful than a standard backyard garden hose.

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

Because chemicals, not pressure, are key to cleaning the exterior surfaces, no powerful water pressure is necessary. This means that soft washing can be used for more delicate surfaces that might otherwise be damaged by harsher pressure washing.

The soft wash solution is sometimes washed off, but not all of the time. This just depends on the type of solution is used, if there’s plant or animal life that could be affected by the runoff, and if the solution itself is strong enough to harm surfaces over time.

Soft washing provides the advantage of reaching down into cracks to kill even unseen bacteria, meaning that its impact can last much longer than pressure washing.


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

This cleaning system uses water only, no chemicals, to eliminate stains and mold from exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a significant plus to property owners who don’t want to use chemicals, whether for the environment’s sake or to avoid zoning violations.

The pressure washing process can be used on a lot of different materials. Home and business owners prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, walkways and patio furniture because it is fast, more efficient and cost-effective.

Pressure washing uses somewhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water sprayed out from a tiny nozzle for maximum power. Both organic and inorganic materials are sprayed from your home’s exterior surface, prohibiting their growth and renewing the appearance of your home.

One negative about pressure washing is that the water can sometimes be too powerful and can damage the surfaces you want to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to cut grooves in wood and plastic, and it can get into cracks, breaking off pieces of brick or stone.


The real question for most homeowners is, “Which one should I choose?”

Both soft washing and pressure washing are good for your home’s exterior, including sidewalks, driveways and more. Both cleaning systems can be done by a professional company – and honestly, are more correctly done when left to the experts.

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

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

A problem with soft washing is that it can kill plant life underneath the surface you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them down with water right before spraying the soft wash chemicals on your home or roof, and it shouldn’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is the preferred method for difficult stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred method for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing service in Huntington Beach might use a mixture of detergents and water pressure to eliminate difficult stains, but they should let you know if they are going to be spraying chemicals during your estimate.

It can be used for siding as well (and has been for several years) as long as it is done safely. High water pressure can damage weak or smaller pieces of the vinyl. A service that does pressure washing all the time will know how to protect these areas, but a DIYer could do a lot of harm.

Your home’s roof is definitely off limits for pressure washing if you have slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The extreme pressure of the water could ruin these materials and require you to replace your roof much earlier 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 Huntington Beach Pressure Washing a call at 562-207-5282 and we’ll send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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