Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s surprising just how dirty the siding, wood or brick of your house can get over a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These stains can give your house an unkempt, messy appearance, regardless of whether you invest a lot of time and maintenance into it.

Some of these materials, like dirt, don’t do much harm, but algae and mildew can be damaging to your health and your house. These contaminants create allergens and bacteria that can impact your family, and some, like algae, can grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing and enter your house.

As a professional power washing company in Port St. Lucie, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. The spring season is the most common time of the year to do an intense home exterior washing, but you can really do it any time throughout the year so long as the weather permits.


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 option to thoroughly clean vinyl, brick and painted home surfaces. Now, homeowners have a second option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

As 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 go over the features of each method to help you determine which is the right choice for your house.


The soft wash method uses much 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 option, only a little more powerful than your standard backyard lawn hose.

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

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

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

Soft washing provides the distinct advantage of getting into small cracks to eliminate unseen organisms, meaning that its results can last longer than power washing.


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

This particular cleaning method uses water only, no chemicals, to remove stains and mildew from home exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a major plus to home and business owners who don’t want to use cleaning chemicals, either for the sake of the environment or to avoid zoning violations.

It can be used on a lot of different materials. Home and business owners frequently choose power washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, sidewalks and outdoor furniture because it is fast, more efficient and affordable.

Pressure washing uses somewhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water being sprayed out of a small nozzle for the most power. Both organic and inorganic stains are blasted from your home’s exterior surface, stopping their growth and restoring the curb appeal of your house.

One negative about power washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and lead to damaging the surfaces you’re attempting to clean. Pressure washing is powerful enough to cut grooves into wood and plastic, and it can get into cracks, breaking off pieces of brick or stone.


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, as well as sidewalks, driveways and more. Both of these cleaning systems can be performed by a professional – and truthfully, are more correctly 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 unlikely to harm wood and plastic. It’s also a safe choice for vinyl siding.

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

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

Pressure washing is the best choice for severe stains, and hard surfaces like asphalt, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the preferred process for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing company in Port St. Lucie may use a combination of chemicals and water pressure to clean offf problematic stains, but they should tell you if they will 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 correctly. Powerful water pressure can break weak or smaller pieces of vinyl. A service that does power washing often will know how to protect these areas, but a first-timer might do a lot of harm.

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

Choosing between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a pressure washing company. Which method is right for your house? Give Port St. Lucie Pressure Washing a call at 772-212-8859 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!