Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is surprising how dirty the exterior of your house can get during the course of a year. Some of the most typical stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These types of stains will give your house an unkempt, uncared for appearance, even though you invest a lot of time, money and maintenance into it.

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

As a professional pressure washing service in Glendale, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. The spring season is the most common time to do an intense home exterior cleaning, but you can really do it any time throughout the year so long as the weather allows.


All of the following 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 option to properly clean vinyl, brick and painted surfaces. Now, homeowners have a second option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

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


The soft wash system 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 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 some combination to eliminate organic matter from your home, roof and other surfaces. The solution used in a soft washing system can include algaecides and residual inhibitors which will deter further growth of these types of 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 fragile surfaces that might otherwise be damaged by harsher pressure washing.

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

Soft washing provides the advantage of reaching into small cracks and crevices to kill unseen bacteria, meaning that its effects can last much longer than pressure washing.


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

This cleaning system uses water only, no chemicals, to eliminate stains and mildew from exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a major plus to home and business owners that don’t want to use chemicals, whether for the sake of the environment or to avoid zoning violations.

The pressure washing process can be used on a lot of different materials. Home and business owners choose pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, walkways and outdoor furniture because it is quick, efficient and cost-effective.

Pressure washing requires anywhere 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, preventing their growth and restoring the appearance of your house.

One negative about pressure washing is that the water is sometimes 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 push into cracks, breaking off chunks of stone or brick.


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

Both soft washing and pressure washing methods 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 pros.

Soft washing is great for outdoor play sets, gardening tools, roof shingles, 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 removes organisms currently present on the exterior surface, and it prevents future growth for much longer than pressure washing can.

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

Pressure washing is considered the recommended method for difficult stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the preferred process for commercial properties. A professional pressure washing service in Glendale might use a mixture of detergents and water pressure to get rid of tough stains, but they should let you know if they are going to be using chemicals during your consultation.

It can be used on siding too (and has been for decades) so long as it is done carefully. Powerful water pressure can break off fragile or small pieces of the vinyl. A company that does pressure washing often will know how to protect these areas, but a first-timer can do a lot of damage.

Your home’s roof is off limits for pressure washing if you have slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The pressure of the water could ruin these materials and cause you to replace your home’s roof far earlier than expected.

Choosing between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a professional pressure washing service. Which process is right for your house? Give Glendale Pressure Washing a call at 818-293-4501 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!

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