Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is surprising just how dirty the siding, wood or brick of your home can get throughout a year. Some of the most typical stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These stains can give any home an unkempt, uncared for appearance, regardless of whether you invest time, money and maintenance into it.

Some materials, like dirt or mud, don’t do much harm, but algae and mildew can be damaging to both your health and to your home. These contaminants produce 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 pressure washing service in Saint Cloud, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. The spring season is typically the most popular time of the year to do an extreme 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 cleaned from time to time:

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

Power washing used to be the only way to properly clean vinyl, brick and painted home surfaces. Now, 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 judge which one is best for your home.


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 generated from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only slightly more powerful than your standard backyard hose.

Soft washing uses detergent, bleach and water in combination to get rid of organic matter and debris from your home, roof and other surfaces. The cleaning mixture used in a soft washing system can also include algaecides and residual inhibitors to help deter further growth of these types of organisms in the future.

Because chemicals, not water pressure, are key to cleaning the surfaces, no powerful water is required. This means that soft washing should be used for more fragile surfaces that could otherwise be harmed by more powerful pressure washing.

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

Soft washing provides the advantage of reaching down into cracks and crevices to eliminate even unseen bacteria, 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 fast, which is why most home and business owners still prefer it.

This cleaning system uses water only, no chemicals, to clean off stains and organisms from home exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a big plus to property owners that don’t want to use cleaning 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 often prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, sidewalks and outdoor furniture because it is quick, more efficient and affordable.

Pressure washing uses anywhere 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 restoring 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 powerful enough to cut deep grooves into wood and plastic, and it can get into cracks, breaking off pieces of stone or brick.


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

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

Soft washing is great for outdoor toys, yard tools, shingle roofs, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is less likely to damage wood and plastic. It’s also a safe choice for vinyl siding.

It kills organisms that are present on the 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 right before applying the soft wash solution on your home or roof, and it probably won’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is considered the best choice for difficult stains, and harder surfaces like asphalt, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred choice for commercial surfaces. A local pressure washing service in Saint Cloud may use a combination of detergents and water pressure to clean offf problematic stains, but they should tell you if they will be spraying chemicals after your estimate.

It can also be used on siding too (and has been for decades) so long as it is done carefully. Powerful water pressure can break weak or smaller pieces of vinyl. A service that does pressure washing often 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 pressure washing if there are slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The high pressure of the water can ruin these materials and require you to replace your roof much sooner than expected.

Choosing between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which process is right for your home? Give Saint Cloud Pressure Washing a call at 407-214-4577 and we will send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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