Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s amazing just how dirty the outside of your home can get over a year. Some of the most typical stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These stains can give your home an unkempt, uncared for look, regardless of if you invest a lot of time and care into it.

Some materials, like dirt or mud, are harmless, but algae and mildew can be destructive to both your health and your home. They create allergens and bacteria that can affect your family, and some, like algae, can grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing and enter your home.

As a professional pressure washing service in Irvine, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. Spring is typically the most common time to do an extreme home washing, but you can do it any time throughout the year so long as the weather permits.


All of the following home 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 home surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners have a second option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

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


The soft wash method uses 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 produced from a nozzle with a wider spray option, only slightly more powerful than a standard backyard 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 cleaning solution used in a soft washing system can also include algaecides and residual inhibitors to help prevent further growth of these types of organisms in the future.

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

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

Soft washing provides the distinct advantage of getting into small cracks and crevices to eliminate unseen organisms, meaning that its results can last longer than standard pressure washing.


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

This particular cleaning method uses water only, there are no chemicals, to remove stains and mold from home exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a big advantage to property owners that don’t want to use cleaning chemicals, whether for the environment’s sake or to avoid zoning violations.

It can be used on several different materials. Home owners prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, sidewalks and outdoor furniture because it is fast, efficient and cost-effective.

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

One drawback to pressure 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 powerful enough to cut grooves in wood and plastic, and it can get into cracks, breaking off chunks of brick or stone.


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

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 – and honestly, are more effectively done when left to the pros.

Soft washing is great for outdoor toys, yard 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 surface, and it prevents future growth for longer than pressure washing can.

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

Pressure washing is considered the best choice for severe stains, and harder surfaces like asphalt, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the preferred choice for commercial properties. A local pressure washing service in Irvine may use a mixture of chemicals and water pressure to eliminate tough stains, but they should let you know if they are going to be using chemicals after your consultation.

It can be used on siding as well (and has been for several years) so long as it is done carefully. High water pressure can break off fragile or smaller pieces of the vinyl. A local company that does pressure washing often will know how to protect vulnerable pieces, but a DIYer could do a lot of harm.

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

Deciding between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which method is right for your home? Give Irvine Pressure Washing a call at 949-229-4923 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!

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