Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s amazing just how dirty the exterior of your house can get throughout the course of a year. Some of the most common stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These things will give any house an unkempt, messy look, regardless of if you invest a lot of time and care into it.

Some materials, like dirt or mud, don’t do much harm, but algae and mildew can be destructive to your health and to your house. They produce allergens that can affect your family, and some, like algae, can grow underneath vinyl or roofing and enter into your house.

As a professional pressure washing company in West Palm, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. The spring season is the most popular time of the year to do an intense home exterior cleaning, but you can do it any time as long as the weather permits.


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

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

Pressure washing used to be the only option to properly clean vinyl siding, brick and painted surfaces. Now, homeowners in West Palm have a second option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

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


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

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

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

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

Soft washing provides the distinct advantage of reaching down into small cracks and crevices to kill unseen bacteria, meaning that its effects can last longer than traditional pressure washing.


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

This particular cleaning system uses water only, no chemicals, to eliminate stains and organisms from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a significant plus to property owners who 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 several different materials. Home owners frequently prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, sidewalks and outdoor furniture because it is fast, efficient and affordable.

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

One drawback to pressure washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and can harm the surfaces you’re attempting to clean. Pressure washing is powerful enough to put grooves in wood and plastic, and it can push into cracks, breaking off pieces of stone or brick.


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

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

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

It kills organisms that are present on the exterior surface, and it stops future growth for longer than pressure washing can.

A problem with soft washing is that it can kill plants under the surface that you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them down with water before spraying the soft wash solution on your house or roof, and it won’t be an issue.

Pressure washing is the recommended choice for difficult stains, and hard surfaces like concrete, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the preferred process for commercial surfaces. A local pressure washing company in West Palm may use a combination of detergents and water pressure to remove problematic stains, but they need to let you know if they are going to be spraying chemicals after your estimate.

It can be used on siding as well (and has been for decades) as long as it is done carefully. Powerful water pressure can damage weak or small pieces of vinyl. A service that does pressure washing all the time will know how to protect these areas, but a first-timer might do a lot of harm.

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

Deciding between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a pressure washing company. Which process is right for your house? Give West Palm Beach Pressure Washing a call at 561-448-6134 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!

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