Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s amazing how dirty the siding, wood or brick of your home can get throughout the course of a year. Some of the most typical stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These types of stains can give your home an unkempt, uncared for look, even though you invest a lot of time, money and care into it.

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

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


All of the following home surfaces need to be pressure washed from time to time:

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

Power washing used to be the only way to thoroughly clean vinyl, brick and painted home surfaces. Now, homeowners have another 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 look at the features of each to help you judge which is the right choice for your home.


The soft wash system uses much less pressure than a typical pressure washer, hence the name. The highest water pressure used in a soft washing system is 500 PSI. This lighter 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 and debris from your home, roof and other surfaces. The mixture used in a soft washing system can also 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 surfaces, no powerful water is needed. This means that soft washing should be used for more fragile surfaces that could otherwise be damaged by higher pressure washing.

The soft wash solution is sometimes cleaned off, but not always. This just depends on what type of solution is used, if there is plant or animal life that might be impacted by the solution runoff, and if the solution itself is powerful enough to damage surfaces over time.

Soft washing provides the distinct advantage of getting into cracks and crevices to eliminate even unseen bacteria, meaning that its impact can last a lot longer than pressure washing.


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

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

The pressure washing process can be used on several different materials. Home and business owners prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, sidewalks and patio furniture because it is quick, more efficient and affordable.

Pressure washing uses anywhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water being sprayed out of a small nozzle for maximum power. Both organic and inorganic materials are blasted from your home’s surface, preventing their growth and renewing the appearance of your home.

One drawback to pressure washing is that the water can sometimes be too powerful and can harm the surfaces of your home you’re attempting to clean. Pressure washing is powerful enough to put grooves into wood and plastic, and it can push into cracks, breaking off chunks 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 of these cleaning systems can be done by a professional – and honestly, are more effectively done when left to the experts.

Soft washing is perfect for outdoor toys, yard equipment, shingle roofs, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is less likely to damage wood and plastic. It’s also a safe choice for vinyl siding.

It removes organisms currently present on the surface, and it stops future growth for a lot longer than pressure washing can.

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

Pressure washing is the best method for severe stains, and harder surfaces like asphalt, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred process for commercial surfaces. A local pressure washing company in Independence might use a mix of detergents and water pressure to get rid of tough stains, but they should let you know if they will be using chemicals after your estimate.

It can be used for siding too (and has been for several years) as long as it is done safely. High water pressure can damage weak or smaller pieces of the vinyl. A local service that does pressure washing all the time are going to know how to protect these pieces, but a amateur could do a lot of damage.

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

Choosing between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a professional pressure washing company. Which process is right for your home? Give Independence Pressure Washing a call at 816-227-6621 and we’ll send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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