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 the course of a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These stains will give your home an unkempt, uncared for look, regardless of whether you invest time, money and care into it.

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

As a professional pressure washing company in Virginia, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. Spring is the most popular time of the year 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 cleaned from time to time:

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

Power washing used to be the only way to thoroughly clean vinyl, brick and painted surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners in Virginia have another option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

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


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

Soft washing uses soap, bleach and water in combination to eliminate organic matter from your home, roof and other exterior surfaces. The cleaning mixture used in a soft washing process 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 is needed. This means that soft washing should be used for more delicate surfaces that might otherwise be damaged by harsher pressure washing.

The soft wash solution is sometimes rinsed off, but not all of the time. This just depends on what type of solution is used in the process, if there’s plant or animal life that might 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 down into small cracks and crevices to eliminate even unseen bacteria, meaning that its effects can last much longer than traditional pressure washing.


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

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

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

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

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


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 done by a professional company – and truthfully, are more effectively done when left to the experts.

Soft washing is perfect for outdoor play sets, gardening equipment, roof shingles, 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 stops future growth for much longer than pressure washing can.

A problem with soft washing is that it can kill plant life under the surface that you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them down with water right before putting the soft wash chemicals on your home or roof, and it won’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is considered the recommended choice for difficult stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred method for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing company in Virginia might use a mixture of chemicals and water pressure to eliminate tough stains, but they need to let you know if they will be using chemicals after your consultation.

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

Your home’s roof is definitely off limits for pressure 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 far faster than expected.

Deciding between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a professional pressure washing company. Which method is right for your home? Give Virginia Beach Pressure Washing a call at 757-210-5890 and we’ll send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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