Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is surprising just how dirty the exterior of your home can get during the course of a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These things can give any home an unkempt, uncared for appearance, regardless of if you invest time and care into it.

Some of these materials, like dirt, don’t do much harm, but algae and mildew can be destructive to your health and to your home. These contaminants create allergens that can impact your family, and some of them, like algae, can grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter into your home.

As a professional power washing service in Plymouth, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. The spring season is the most popular time to do an extreme home exterior cleaning, but you can really do it any time as long as the weather allows.


All of the following 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 way to thoroughly clean vinyl siding, brick and painted surfaces. Now, homeowners in Plymouth have another option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

As the names imply, one method is much gentler than the other one, 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 best for your home.


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

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

Because chemicals, not water pressure, are responsible for cleaning the exterior surfaces, no powerful water is required. This means that soft washing can be used for fragile surfaces that would otherwise be damaged by higher pressure washing.

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

Soft washing offers the advantage of reaching into small cracks to kill unseen organisms, meaning that its results can last a lot longer than standard power washing.


Pressure washing has always been the gold standard for cleaning exterior surfaces. It is highly effective and fast, which is why a lot of home and business owners still prefer it.

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

It can be used on many different materials. Home and business owners frequently prefer power washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, sidewalks and patio furniture because it is quick, 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 materials are blasted from your home’s exterior surface, preventing their growth and renewing the curb appeal of your home.

One drawback to power washing is that the water can sometimes be too powerful and can damage the surfaces you’re attempting to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to put grooves in wood and plastic, and it can push 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 are good for your home’s exterior, as well as 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 great for outdoor play sets, gardening equipment, shingle roofs, 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 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 underneath the surface you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them with water before spraying the soft wash solution on your home or roof, and it won’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is the recommended method for severe stains, and hard surfaces like concrete, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the recommended choice for commercial properties. A local pressure washing service in Plymouth might use a mixture of detergents and water pressure to eliminate difficult stains, but they should let you know if they are going to be spraying chemicals during your consultation.

It can be used on siding as well (and has been for several years) as long as it is done carefully. High water pressure can break weak or small pieces of vinyl. A local service that does power washing all the time will know how to protect these areas, but a amateur could do a lot of damage.

Your home’s roof is definitely off limits for power washing if there are slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The high pressure of the water might damage these materials and require you to replace your roof far faster than expected.

Deciding between soft washing or power washing is best left for a professional pressure washing service. Which method is right for your home? Give Plymouth Pressure Washing a call at 952-243-3650 and we’ll send a trained technician over to take a look!

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