Soft Washing vs Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is shocking just how dirty the siding, wood or brick of your home can get during a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These things will give any home an unkempt, messy appearance, even though you invest a lot of time, money and maintenance into it.

Some materials, like dirt, are harmless, but algae and mildew can be damaging to your health and your home. These contaminants create allergens and bacteria that can affect your family, and some of them, like algae, can grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter your home.

As a professional pressure washing company in Columbus, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. The spring season is the most common time to do an intense home exterior washing, but you can really do it any time as long as the weather permits.


All of the following home surfaces need to be pressure washed from time to time:

• Vinyl siding
• Rock and stone
• Brick
• Concrete and asphalt

Power washing used to be the only method to properly clean vinyl, brick and painted home surfaces. Now, homeowners in Columbus 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 more to it than just that. Let’s go over the features of each to help you judge which one is best for your home.


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 created from a nozzle with a wider spray option, only a little more powerful than your typical backyard garden hose.

Soft washing uses detergent, bleach and water in combination to get rid of organic matter and debris from your home, roof and other exterior surfaces. The cleaning mixture used in a soft washing system can include algaecides and residual inhibitors which will stop further growth of these 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 could otherwise be harmed by more powerful pressure washing.

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

Soft washing provides the advantage of getting into cracks to eliminate unseen bacteria, meaning that its impact can last longer than traditional pressure washing.


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

This cleaning system uses water only, there are no chemicals, to get rid of stains and mildew from home exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a major advantage 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 many different materials. Home owners prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, walkways and patio furniture because it is quick, efficient and cost-effective.

Pressure washing requires anywhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water being 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 renewing the appearance of your home.

One drawback to pressure washing is that the water can sometimes be too powerful and can damage the surfaces of your home you want to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to cut grooves into wood and plastic, and it can push into cracks, breaking off chunks of brick or stone.


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

Both soft washing and pressure washing methods are good for your home’s exterior, including sidewalks, driveways and more. Both cleaning systems can be performed by a professional company – and honestly, are more effectively done when left to the pros.

Soft washing is excellent for outdoor play sets, gardening tools, roof shingles, 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 currently present on the exterior surface, and it stops future growth for longer than pressure washing can.

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

Pressure washing is the best method for severe stains, and hard surfaces like asphalt, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred choice for commercial properties. A professional pressure washing company in Columbus might use a combination of detergents and water pressure to eliminate problematic stains, but they need to tell you if they will be spraying chemicals after your consultation.

It can also be used on siding too (and has been for decades) as long as it is done correctly. High water pressure can break off weak or small pieces of the vinyl. A local company that does pressure washing all the time are going to know how to protect weak areas, but a DIYer 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 high pressure of the water can ruin these materials and require you to replace your home’s roof far sooner than expected.

Deciding between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a professional pressure washing company. Which method is right for your home? Give Columbus Pressure Washing a call at 706-365-0655 and we will send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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