Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

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

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

As a professional power washing service in Alexandria, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. The spring season is the most common time to do an extreme home exterior washing, 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 cleaned from time to time:

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

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

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


The soft wash method 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 produced from a nozzle with a wider spray option, only a little more powerful than a standard backyard hose.

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

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

The soft wash chemicals are sometimes washed off, but not always. This just depends on the type of chemicals are used, if there’s 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 provides the advantage of getting down into cracks and crevices to kill unseen bacteria, meaning that its effects can last longer than traditional power washing.


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

This cleaning method uses water only, there are no chemicals, to remove stains and mold from home exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a big plus to home owners that don’t want to use cleaning chemicals, either for the environment’s sake or to avoid zoning violations.

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

Pressure washing uses somewhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water sprayed out from a small nozzle for the most power. Both organic and inorganic materials are sprayed 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 can damage the surfaces of your home you want to clean. Pressure washing is powerful enough to put deep grooves in wood and plastic, and it can push into cracks, breaking off chunks of stone or brick.


The real question for 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 done by a professional – and truthfully, are more effectively done when left to the experts.

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

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

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

Pressure washing is the preferred choice for difficult stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the recommended process for commercial properties. A professional pressure washing service in Alexandria may use a combination of detergents and water pressure to eliminate tough stains, but they should tell you if they are going to be spraying chemicals during your consultation.

It can be used for siding as well (and has been for decades) as long as it is done carefully. Powerful water pressure can break off weak or smaller pieces of vinyl. A local service that does power washing all the time are going to know how to protect weak pieces, but a amateur could do a lot of damage.

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

Deciding between soft washing or power washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which method is right for your home? Give AllClean Alexandria Pressure Washing a call at 571-322-8693 and we’ll send a trained technician over to take a look!

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