Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s shocking how dirty the exterior of your house can get throughout the course of a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These stains will give any house an unkempt, uncared-for look, 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 destructive to both your health and your house. They produce allergens that can affect your family, and some, like algae, can grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter your house.

As a professional power washing service in Scottsdale, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. Spring is typically the most popular time to do an extreme home cleaning, but you can really do it any time throughout the year as 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, homeowners have a second option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

Like the names suggest, one method is much gentler than the other one, but there’s more to it than that. Let’s look at the features of each to help you determine which is best for your house.


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

Soft washing uses soap, bleach and water in some combination to remove organic matter and debris from your home, roof and other surfaces. The cleaning solution used in a soft washing process can also include algaecides and residual inhibitors to help prevent further growth of these types of organisms in the future.

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

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

Soft washing offers the distinct advantage of getting down into cracks and crevices to kill unseen bacteria, meaning that its impact can last a lot longer than power washing.


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

This cleaning process uses water only, no chemicals, to eliminate stains and mildew from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a major plus to property owners who don’t want to use cleaning chemicals, either 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 owners often prefer power washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, walkways and outdoor furniture because it is quick, efficient and cost-effective.

Pressure washing needs anywhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water sprayed out from a tiny nozzle for the most power. Both organic and inorganic materials are sprayed from your home’s surface, prohibiting their growth and renewing the appearance of your house.

One drawback to power washing is that the water can sometimes be too powerful and can harm 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 obvious question for homeowners is, “Is pressure washing or soft washing better?”

Both soft washing and pressure washing methods are good for your home’s exterior, as well as sidewalks, driveways and more. Both of these cleaning systems can be done by a professional – and honestly, are more correctly done when left to the pros.

Soft washing is excellent 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 that are present on the surface, and it prevents future growth for a lot longer than power washing can.

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

Pressure washing is considered the recommended choice for difficult stains, and hard surfaces like concrete, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the preferred choice for commercial properties. A professional pressure washing service in Scottsdale may use a mix of chemicals and water pressure to clean offf problematic stains, but they need to tell you if they are going to be using chemicals after your estimate.

It can be used on siding too (and has been for decades) as long as it is done carefully. Powerful water pressure can break fragile or smaller pieces of the vinyl. A service that does power washing all the time are going to know how to protect these areas, but a first-timer could do a lot of damage.

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

Deciding between soft washing or power washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which process is right for your house? Give Scottsdale Pressure Washing a call at 602-857-8602 and we will send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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