Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s shocking how dirty the outside of your home can get over a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These types of stains can give any home an unkempt, messy appearance, regardless of if you invest a lot of time and care into it.

Some materials, like dirt, don’t do much harm, but algae and mildew can be harmful to your health and your home. They produce allergens that can impact your family, and some, like algae, can grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter into your home.

As a professional power washing service in Elk Grove, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. The spring season is the most common time of the year to do an extreme home exterior washing, but you can really do it any time 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

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

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


The soft wash system 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 lower spray is created from a nozzle with a wider spray option, only a little more powerful than a typical backyard garden hose.

Soft washing uses detergent, bleach and water in combination to get rid of organic matter from your home, roof and other outdoor surfaces. The solution used in a soft washing process can include algaecides and residual inhibitors which will deter further growth of these 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 delicate surfaces that could otherwise be harmed by harsher pressure washing equipment.

The soft wash chemicals are sometimes rinsed off, but not every time. This just depends on what type of chemicals are used, if there is plant or animal life that could be affected by the solution runoff, and if the chemicals are strong enough to damage surfaces over time.

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


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

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

The pressure washing process can be used on several different materials. Home and business owners often choose power washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, walkways and patio furniture because it is fast, efficient and cost-effective.

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

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


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

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

Soft washing is perfect for outdoor toys, gardening equipment, shingle roofs, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is unlikely to damage wood and plastic. It’s also a safe choice for vinyl siding.

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

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

Pressure washing is considered the preferred method for difficult stains, and hard surfaces like asphalt, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the preferred choice for commercial properties. A professional pressure washing service in Elk Grove may use a mixture of chemicals and water pressure to get rid of difficult stains, but they need to let you know if they will be using chemicals during your consultation.

It can be used on siding too (and has been for several years) as long as it is done safely. Powerful water pressure can break off weak or smaller pieces of vinyl. A local service that does power washing often are going to know how to protect these areas, but a first-timer might do a lot of damage.

Your home’s roof is definitely off limits for power washing if you have slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The high pressure of the water could damage these materials and require you to replace your roof far sooner than expected.

Deciding between soft washing or power washing is best left for a professional pressure washing service. Which method is right for your home? Give PWC Elk Grove Pressure Washing a call at 916-252-1482 and we’ll send a trained technician over to take a look!

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