Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is amazing how dirty the outside 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 your home an unkempt, messy appearance, even though you invest time, money and care into it.

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

As a professional pressure washing company in Roanoke, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. The spring season is typically the most common time to do an extreme 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 cleaned 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 in 2021, homeowners have another option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

Like the names suggest, one method is a lot gentler than the other one, but there’s a little more to it than that. Let’s look at the features of each method to help you judge which is the right choice for your home.


The soft wash process 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 option, only a little more powerful than a backyard hose.

Soft washing uses soap, bleach and water in some combination to get rid of organic matter from your home, roof and other exterior surfaces. The solution used in a soft washing process can also 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 necessary. This means that soft washing should be used for fragile surfaces that could otherwise be harmed by harsher pressure washing.

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

Soft washing offers the distinct advantage of getting into small cracks to eliminate even unseen bacteria, meaning that its results can last much longer than traditional pressure washing.


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

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

The pressure washing process can be used on several different materials. Home and business owners often prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, walkways and patio furniture because it is quick, efficient and affordable.

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

One drawback to pressure washing is that the water can sometimes be too powerful and lead to damaging the surfaces you’re attempting to clean. Pressure washing is powerful enough to put deep grooves in wood and plastic, and it can get into cracks, breaking off chunks of stone or brick.


The ultimate question for 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 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 toys, yard equipment, roof shingles, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is unlikely to harm wood and plastic. It’s also a safe choice for vinyl siding.

It removes organisms currently present on the exterior surface, and it stops future growth for much longer than pressure washing can.

A disadvantage of soft washing is that it can kill plant life 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 an issue.

Pressure washing is considered the preferred choice for severe stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the recommended process for commercial properties. A local pressure washing company in Roanoke may use a mixture of chemicals and water pressure to get rid of difficult stains, but they should let you know if they are going to be spraying chemicals after your consultation.

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

Your home’s roof is definitely off limits for pressure washing if you have slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The pressure of the water might ruin these materials and require you to replace your roof a lot sooner than expected.

Deciding between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a pressure washing company. Which process is right for your home? Give Roanoke Pressure Washing a call at 540-215-7486 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!

Call Now Button