Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is amazing how dirty the exterior of your home can get during a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These types of stains can give any home an unkempt, messy appearance, regardless of whether you invest time and care into it.

Some materials, like dirt or mud, are harmless, but algae and mold can be harmful to both your health and to your home. They create allergens that can affect your family, and some, like algae, can grow underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter your home.

As a professional power washing service in Dayton, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. Spring is the most common time to do an extreme home exterior cleaning, but you can really do it any time throughout the year 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

Pressure washing used to be the only method to thoroughly clean vinyl, brick and painted home surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners have a second option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

Like the names imply, one method is much gentler than the other, but there’s a little more to it than that. Let’s cover the features of each to help you determine which is best for your home.


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

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

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

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

Soft washing provides the advantage of getting down into small cracks to kill unseen organisms, meaning that its impact can last much longer than standard power washing.


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

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

The pressure washing process can be used on a lot of different materials. Home owners frequently choose power washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, sidewalks and outdoor furniture because it is fast, efficient and cost-effective.

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

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


The obvious question for most 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 done by a professional company – and truthfully, are more effectively done when left to the pros.

Soft washing is excellent for outdoor play equipment, gardening equipment, roof shingles, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is unlikely to harm wood and plastic. It’s also a safe and smart choice for vinyl siding.

It eliminates organisms that are present on the exterior surface, and it stops future growth for much 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 right before applying the soft wash chemicals on your home or roof, and it probably won’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is the recommended method for severe stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred choice for commercial surfaces. A local pressure washing service in Dayton may use a mixture of chemicals and water pressure to clean offf problematic stains, but they need to tell you if they will be using chemicals after your estimate.

It can also be used on siding too (and has been for several years) as long as it is done safely. High water pressure can break weak or small pieces of vinyl. A service that does power washing often will know how to protect fragile pieces, but a first-timer can 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 ruin these materials and cause you to replace your home’s roof far earlier than expected.

Choosing between soft washing or power washing is best left for a professional pressure washing service. Which process is right for your home? Give Dayton Pressure Washing a call at 937-588-6266 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!

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