Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s amazing how dirty the siding, wood or brick of your home can get over the course of a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These things can give your home an unkempt, messy appearance, even though you invest time, money and care into it.

Some materials, like dirt, don’t do much harm, but algae and mold can be damaging to your health and to your home. These contaminants produce allergens that can affect your family, and some of them, like algae, can grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter your home.

As a professional power washing service in Garden Grove, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. Spring is typically the most common time to do an extreme home exterior cleaning, but you can really do it any time throughout the year as long as the weather allows.


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

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

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

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


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

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

Because chemicals, not pressure, are responsible for cleaning the exterior surfaces, no powerful water is required. This means that soft washing can be used for fragile surfaces that could otherwise be harmed by more powerful pressure washing equipment.

The soft wash solution is sometimes rinsed off, but not all of the time. This just depends on the type of solution is used in the process, if there’s plant or animal life that might be impacted by the solution 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 eliminate unseen bacteria, meaning that its results can last much longer than traditional power washing.


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

This particular cleaning method uses water only, no chemicals, to remove stains and organisms from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a big advantage to home owners who don’t want to use cleaning chemicals, either for the environment’s sake or to avoid zoning violations.

The pressure washing process can be used on many different materials. Home owners frequently prefer power washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, sidewalks and patio furniture because it is fast, efficient and cost-effective.

Pressure washing requires somewhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water being sprayed out of a tiny nozzle for the most power. Both organic and inorganic materials are sprayed from your home’s exterior surface, prohibiting their growth and restoring the curb appeal of your home.

One drawback to power washing is that the water can sometimes be too powerful and can damage the surfaces of your home you’re attempting to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to put grooves in wood and plastic, and it can get into cracks, breaking off chunks of stone or brick.


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

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

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

It removes organisms that are present on the exterior surface, and it stops future growth for much longer than power 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 before applying the soft wash solution on your home or roof, and it won’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is considered the preferred method for severe stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred process for commercial surfaces. A local pressure washing service in Garden Grove might use a mix of chemicals and water pressure to eliminate difficult stains, but they should tell you if they will be spraying chemicals during your consultation.

It can be used on siding as well (and has been for decades) as long as it is done safely. High water pressure can break weak or smaller pieces of the vinyl. A local company that does power washing all the time are going to know how to protect fragile areas, but a first-timer can do a lot of harm.

Your home’s roof is off limits for power washing if you have slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The high pressure of the water might ruin these materials and require you to replace your home’s roof a lot faster than expected.

Deciding between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a professional pressure washing service. Which method is right for your home? Give Garden Grove Pressure Washing a call at 714-360-0769 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!

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