Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s surprising how dirty the exterior of your home can get throughout the course of a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These stains will give any home an unkempt, uncared for look, even though you invest time, money and care into it.

Some of these materials, like dirt or mud, are harmless, but algae and mildew can be harmful to both your health and to your home. They create allergens that can impact your family, and some, like algae, can even grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter into your home.

As a professional pressure washing service in Tempe, 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 cleaning, but you can really 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

Pressure washing used to be the only way to properly clean vinyl siding, brick and painted home surfaces. Now, homeowners have another option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

As the names imply, one method is a lot gentler than the other, but there’s a little more to it than that. Let’s look at the features of each method to help you determine which 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 lighter spray is created from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only a little more powerful than a backyard garden hose.

Soft washing uses soap, bleach and water in some combination to eliminate organic matter and debris from your home, roof and other outdoor surfaces. The cleaning mixture used in a soft washing process can also include algaecides and residual inhibitors which will stop further growth of these types of organisms in the future.

Because chemicals, not water pressure, are key to cleaning the surfaces, no powerful water pressure is necessary. This means that soft washing can be used for more delicate surfaces that could otherwise be harmed by harsher pressure washing equipment.

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

Soft washing offers the distinct advantage of getting into small cracks to eliminate even unseen bacteria, meaning that its results can last much longer than standard pressure washing.


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

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

It can be used on a lot of different materials. Home owners often choose pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, sidewalks and outdoor furniture because it is quick, more efficient and affordable.

Pressure washing requires somewhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water being sprayed out of a tiny nozzle for the most power. Both organic and inorganic stains are blasted from your home’s surface, prohibiting their growth and restoring the curb appeal of your home.

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


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

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

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

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

A disadvantage of soft washing is that it can kill plants underneath the surface that you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them with water before putting the soft wash solution on your home or roof, and it probably won’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is considered the recommended method for difficult stains, and hard surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the recommended process for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing service in Tempe may use a mixture of chemicals and water pressure to eliminate difficult stains, but they should tell you if they will be spraying chemicals after your estimate.

It can be used for siding as well (and has been for decades) so long as it is done correctly. Powerful water pressure can damage fragile or smaller pieces of vinyl. A local company that does pressure washing all the time are going to know how to protect fragile areas, but a DIYer might do a lot of damage.

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

Choosing between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which method is right for your home? Give Tempe Power Washing a call at 480-933-0358 and we’ll send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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