Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is amazing just how dirty the exterior of your house can get over a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These things can give any house an unkempt, uncared for appearance, even though you invest time, money and maintenance into it.

Some of these materials, like dirt, are harmless, but algae and mildew can be harmful to your health and to your house. They create allergens that can impact your family, and some, like algae, can grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter into your house.

As a professional power washing service in Wilmington, 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 extreme home washing, but you can really do it any time as long as the weather allows.


All of the following home 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, brick and painted home surfaces. Now, homeowners have another option for exterior house 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 just that. Let’s look at the features of each to help you determine which one is best for your house.


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

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

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

The soft wash solution is sometimes washed off, but not every time. This just depends on what type of solution is used in the process, 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 provides the advantage of reaching into cracks to eliminate unseen organisms, meaning that its effects can last longer than standard power washing.


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

This cleaning system uses water only, there are no chemicals, to eliminate stains and mildew from home exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a big plus to home and business owners that 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 many different materials. Home and business owners often choose power washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, walkways and patio furniture because it is fast, efficient and cost-effective.

Pressure washing requires somewhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water sprayed out of a small nozzle for maximum power. Both organic and inorganic materials are blasted from your home’s surface, preventing their growth and renewing the appearance of your house.

One drawback to power washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and can damage the surfaces of your home you’re attempting to clean. Pressure washing is powerful enough to put grooves in wood and plastic, and it can get 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 are good for your home’s exterior, including sidewalks, driveways and more. Both of these cleaning systems can be performed by a professional – and honestly, are more correctly done when left to the pros.

Soft washing is great for outdoor play equipment, yard equipment, roof shingles, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is less likely 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 stops future growth for longer than power washing can.

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

Pressure washing is considered the preferred 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 Wilmington may use a mix of chemicals and water pressure to clean offf problematic stains, but they need to let you know if they will be using 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. Powerful water pressure can damage weak or smaller pieces of the vinyl. A service that does power washing all the time will know how to protect vulnerable pieces, but a amateur can do a lot of damage.

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

Deciding between soft washing or power washing is best left for a professional pressure washing service. Which method is right for your house? Give Wilmington Pressure Washing a call at 910-537-2774 and we’ll send a trained technician over to take a look!

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