Soft Washing vs.Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s surprising how dirty the outside of your house can get over the course of a year. Some of the most typical stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These things will give your house an unkempt, messy appearance, even though you invest time, money and care into it.

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

As a professional power washing company in Santa Monica, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. The spring season is typically the most common time of the year to do an extreme home exterior washing, but you can do it any time 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 option to thoroughly clean vinyl, brick and painted home surfaces. Now, homeowners have a second option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

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


The soft wash method uses less power than a typical pressure washer, hence the name. The highest water pressure used in a soft washing system is 500 PSI. This lower spray is produced from a nozzle with a wider spray option, only a little more powerful than a typical backyard garden hose.

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

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

The soft wash chemicals are sometimes rinsed off, but not always. This just depends on the type of chemicals are used in the process, if there’s plant or animal life that might be impacted by the runoff, and if the chemicals are powerful enough to harm surfaces over time.

Soft washing provides the distinct advantage of reaching into cracks and crevices to eliminate unseen organisms, meaning that its results can last a lot longer than traditional power washing.


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

This particular cleaning method uses water only, no chemicals, to get rid of stains and mildew from home exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a big plus to home 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 a lot of different materials. Home and business owners often prefer power washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, sidewalks and patio furniture because it is fast, more efficient and cost-effective.

Pressure washing uses 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 exterior surface, stopping their growth and restoring the curb appeal of your house.

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 grooves in wood and plastic, and it can push into cracks, breaking off pieces of stone or brick.


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

Both soft washing and pressure washing are good choices for your home’s exterior, including 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 play equipment, gardening tools, shingle roofs, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is less likely to harm wood and plastic. It’s also a safe choice for vinyl siding.

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

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

Pressure washing is considered the best method for severe stains, and harder surfaces like asphalt, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the preferred process for commercial properties. A professional pressure washing company in Santa Monica might use a mixture of detergents and water pressure to get rid of problematic stains, but they should tell you if they are going to be using chemicals during your estimate.

It can also be used for siding as well (and has been for several years) so long as it is done safely. High water pressure can damage weak or small pieces of the vinyl. A service that does power washing all the time will know how to protect vulnerable pieces, but a DIYer could do a lot of harm.

Your home’s roof is off limits for power washing if there are slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The high pressure of the water will likely ruin these materials and require you to replace your roof much sooner than expected.

Deciding between soft washing or power washing is best left for a professional pressure washing company. Which process is right for your house? Give Santa Monica Pressure Washing a call at 424-323-4287 and we’ll send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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