Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s surprising just how dirty the outside of your home can get during a year. Some of the most common stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These things can give any home an unkempt, uncared for look, regardless of if you invest a lot of time, money and maintenance into it.

Some of these materials, like dirt, are harmless, but algae and mold can be damaging to both your health and your home. They create allergens that can affect your family, and some, like algae, can even grow underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter your home.

As a professional power washing company in Downey, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. Spring is typically the most common time of the year to do an extreme home exterior washing, but you can do it any time as long as the weather permits.


All of the following home 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, brick and painted home surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners in Downey have another option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

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


The soft wash process 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 lighter spray is produced from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only a little more powerful than a backyard garden hose.

Soft washing uses detergent, bleach and water in combination to eliminate organic matter from your home, roof and other exterior surfaces. The mixture used in a soft washing system can include algaecides and residual inhibitors which will deter further growth of these organisms in the future.

Because chemicals, not pressure, are responsible for cleaning the exterior surfaces, no powerful water pressure is required. This means that soft washing should be used for fragile surfaces that would otherwise be damaged by harsher 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, if there is plant or animal life that can be affected by the solution runoff, and if the chemicals are powerful enough to damage surfaces over time.

Soft washing provides the distinct advantage of getting down into small cracks to kill even unseen bacteria, meaning that its effects can last a lot longer than traditional power washing.


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

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

It can be used on a lot of different materials. Home and business owners frequently prefer power washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, walkways and outdoor furniture because it is quick, efficient and affordable.

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

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


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

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

Soft washing is excellent 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 and smart choice for vinyl siding.

It eliminates organisms currently present on the exterior surface, and it stops future growth for a lot longer than power washing can.

A problem with soft washing is that it can kill plant life underneath the surface 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 best choice for severe stains, and hard surfaces like asphalt, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the recommended choice for commercial surfaces. A local pressure washing company in Downey may use a mix of detergents and water pressure to get rid of tough stains, but they should let you know if they will be spraying chemicals after your estimate.

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

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

Deciding between soft washing or power washing is best left for a professional pressure washing company. Which method is right for your home? Give Downey Pressure Washing a call at 562-268-0885 and we’ll send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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