Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is surprising how dirty the outside of your home can get during a year. Some of the most common stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These stains can give your home an unkempt, messy appearance, even though you invest a lot of time, money and care into it.

Some materials, like dirt or mud, don’t do much harm, but algae and mildew can be destructive to both your health and your home. They produce allergens that can impact your family, and some, like algae, can even grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing and enter your home.

As a professional power washing service in Vancouver, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. The spring season is typically the most common time of the year to do an extreme home exterior washing, but you can really do it any time so 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 method to thoroughly clean vinyl, brick and painted surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners have another option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

As 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 method to help you judge which one is best for your home.


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

Soft washing uses soap, bleach and water in combination to eliminate organic matter from your home, roof and other outdoor surfaces. The cleaning mixture used in a soft washing system can include algaecides and residual inhibitors which will deter 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 can be used for fragile surfaces that might otherwise be harmed by more powerful pressure washing equipment.

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

Soft washing offers the advantage of getting down into small cracks and crevices to eliminate even unseen bacteria, meaning that its results can last much longer than traditional power washing.


Pressure washing has long been the gold standard for cleaning exterior surfaces. It is very effective and fast, which is why a lot of home and business owners still prefer it.

This particular cleaning process uses water only, no chemicals, to get rid of stains and mold from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a big plus to home and business owners who 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 several different materials. Home owners often choose power washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, sidewalks and outdoor furniture because it is quick, efficient and affordable.

Pressure washing needs anywhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water sprayed out of a small nozzle for the most power. Both organic and inorganic materials are blasted from your home’s exterior surface, stopping their growth and renewing the curb appeal of your home.

One drawback to power washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and can damage the surfaces 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 pieces of brick or stone.


The obvious question for most homeowners is, “Is pressure washing or soft washing better?”

Both soft washing and pressure washing are good choices for your home’s exterior, as well as sidewalks, driveways and more. Both cleaning systems can be performed by a professional – and truthfully, are more correctly done when left to the experts.

Soft washing is great for outdoor play sets, gardening tools, roof shingles, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is less likely to damage plastic and wood. It’s also a safe and smart choice for vinyl siding.

It kills organisms currently present on the exterior surface, and it prevents future growth for much longer than power washing can.

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

Pressure washing is considered the recommended choice for difficult stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the preferred choice for commercial properties. A professional pressure washing service in Vancouver may use a mix of chemicals and water pressure to clean offf tough stains, but they need to tell you if they will be spraying chemicals during your estimate.

It can also be used for siding as well (and has been for several years) so long as it is done correctly. Powerful water pressure can break weak or smaller pieces of vinyl. A company that does power washing often will know how to protect fragile pieces, but a DIYer 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 extreme pressure of the water might ruin these materials and cause you to replace your home’s roof much faster than expected.

Choosing between soft washing or power washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which process is right for your home? Give PRO Vancouver Pressure Washing a call at 360-230-5478 and we’ll send a trained technician over to take a look!

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