Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s surprising how dirty the outside of your home can get during the course of a year. Some of the most common stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These types of stains will give any home an unkempt, uncared for look, even though you invest a lot of time and care into it.

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

As a professional power washing company in San Bernardino, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. Spring is typically the most popular time of the year 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 power washed from time to time:

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

Pressure washing used to be the only option to thoroughly clean vinyl siding, brick and painted surfaces. Now, homeowners have a second option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

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


The soft wash process uses less power than a typical pressure washer, hence the name. The maximum water pressure used 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 a standard backyard hose.

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

Because chemicals, not pressure, are responsible for cleaning the exterior surfaces, no powerful water is necessary. This means that soft washing should be used for more delicate surfaces that would otherwise be harmed by more powerful pressure washing.

The soft wash chemicals are sometimes rinsed off, but not all of the time. This just depends on what 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 harm surfaces over time.

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


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

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

It can be used on several different materials. Home owners prefer power washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, sidewalks and patio furniture because it is fast, more efficient and affordable.

Pressure washing needs 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 stains are blasted from your home’s exterior surface, preventing their growth and renewing the appearance of your home.

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


The ultimate question for most 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 cleaning systems can be done by a professional company – and honestly, are more effectively done when left to the pros.

Soft washing is perfect for outdoor play sets, gardening equipment, shingle roofs, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is less likely to harm plastic and wood. It’s also a safe choice for vinyl siding.

It kills organisms that are 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 plant life under the surface that you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them down with water right before spraying the soft wash solution on your home or roof, and it won’t be an issue.

Pressure washing is the preferred choice for severe stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred process for commercial properties. A professional pressure washing company in San Bernardino might use a mix of detergents and water pressure to clean offf difficult stains, but they need to tell you if they are going to be spraying chemicals during your consultation.

It can be used for siding too (and has been for several years) so long as it is done carefully. High water pressure can break fragile or smaller pieces of the vinyl. A company that does power washing often will know how to protect vulnerable areas, but a DIYer might do a lot of harm.

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

Deciding between soft washing or power washing is best left for a professional pressure washing company. Which method is right for your home? Give San Bernardino Pressure Washing a call at 909-248-7799 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!