Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s shocking just how dirty the siding, wood or brick of your home can get during a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These types of stains will give any home an unkempt, uncared for appearance, even though you invest a lot of time, money and care into it.

Some materials, like dirt or mud, are harmless, but algae and mildew can be damaging to both your health and to your home. These contaminants create allergens that can impact your family, and some of them, like algae, can grow underneath vinyl or roofing and enter your home.

As a professional power washing company in Riverside, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. The spring season is typically the most popular time to do an intense home exterior washing, 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 thoroughly clean vinyl, brick and painted surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners have another option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

As the names suggest, one method is a lot gentler than the other, but there’s a little more to it than just that. Let’s look at the features of each method to help you judge which is best for your home.


The soft wash method uses much 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 setting, only a little more powerful than a typical backyard garden hose.

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

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

The soft wash solution is sometimes cleaned off, but not always. This just depends on what type of solution is used, if there’s plant or animal life that can be impacted by the solution runoff, and if the chemicals are strong enough to harm surfaces over time.

Soft washing provides the advantage of reaching into cracks and crevices to eliminate unseen organisms, meaning that its effects can last much longer than power washing.


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

This particular cleaning method uses water only, no chemicals, to remove stains and mold from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a significant advantage to home owners that don’t want to use 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 often choose power washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, sidewalks and outdoor furniture because it is fast, efficient and cost-effective.

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

One negative about power washing is that the water can sometimes be too powerful and lead to damaging the surfaces of your home you’re attempting to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to cut grooves into wood and plastic, and it can push into cracks, breaking off chunks of brick or stone.


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

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

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

It eliminates organisms currently 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 with water before spraying the soft wash chemicals on your home or roof, and it shouldn’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is the best method for difficult stains, and hard surfaces like concrete, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the recommended choice for commercial surfaces. A local pressure washing company in Riverside might use a mix of detergents and water pressure to get rid of tough stains, but they need to tell you if they are going to be spraying chemicals during your estimate.

It can also be used on siding too (and has been for several years) as long as it is done safely. Powerful water pressure can damage weak or smaller pieces of the vinyl. A service that does power washing often are going to know how to protect fragile pieces, but a amateur can do a lot of harm.

Your home’s roof is definitely off limits for power washing if there are slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The extreme pressure of the water could ruin these materials and require you to replace your roof a lot earlier than expected.

Deciding between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a pressure washing company. Which method is right for your home? Give Riverside Pressure Washing a call at 909-265-7727 and we will send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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