Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

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

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

As a professional pressure washing service in Chesapeake, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. The spring season is the most common time to do an extreme home exterior cleaning, but you can do it any time so long as the weather permits.


All of the following surfaces need to be cleaned from time to time:

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

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

Like the names suggest, one method is much gentler than the other, but there’s more to it than just that. Let’s look at the features of each to help you decide which one is the right choice for your home.


The soft wash process uses less pressure than a typical pressure washer, hence the name. The highest water pressure in a soft washing system is 500 PSI. This lower spray is generated from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only a little more powerful than a typical backyard lawn 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 outdoor surfaces. The solution used in a soft washing system can include algaecides and residual inhibitors which will stop further growth of these organisms in the future.

Because chemicals, not pressure, are responsible for cleaning the exterior surfaces, no powerful water is needed. This means that soft washing can be used for more fragile surfaces that would 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 what type of chemicals are used, if there’s plant or animal life that could be affected by the solution runoff, and if the solution itself is strong enough to harm surfaces over time.

Soft washing provides the distinct advantage of reaching into cracks and crevices to eliminate even unseen bacteria, meaning that its effects can last longer than standard pressure washing.


Pressure washing has always been the standard for cleaning exterior surfaces. It is highly effective and quick, which is why many home and business owners prefer it.

This cleaning process uses water only, no chemicals, to clean off stains and mold from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a significant plus to home and business owners who don’t want to use chemicals, whether for the environment’s sake or to avoid zoning violations.

It can be used on several different materials. Home owners often prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, walkways and patio furniture because it is fast, more efficient and cost-effective.

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

One negative about pressure washing is that the water can sometimes be too powerful and lead to damaging the surfaces you want to clean. Pressure washing is strong 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 methods 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 honestly, are more correctly done when left to the experts.

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

It kills organisms that are present on the exterior surface, and it prevents future growth for longer than pressure 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 spraying the soft wash chemicals on your home or roof, and it probably won’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is considered the best method for severe stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the recommended method for commercial properties. A local pressure washing service in Chesapeake might use a mixture of chemicals and water pressure to get rid of difficult stains, but they should let you know if they will be using chemicals during your estimate.

It can be used for siding as well (and has been for decades) so long as it is done safely. High water pressure can break off weak or small pieces of vinyl. A service that does pressure washing often will know how to protect these pieces, but a amateur can do a lot of harm.

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

Choosing between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which method is right for your home? Give Chesapeake Pressure Wash Plus a call at 757-210-6848 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!

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