Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is surprising how dirty the exterior 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, messy look, even though you invest a lot of time and care into it.

Some of these materials, like dirt or mud, are harmless, but algae and mold can be damaging to both your health and to your home. These contaminants create allergens and bacteria that can impact your family, and some, like algae, can even grow underneath vinyl or roofing and enter into your home.

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


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 thoroughly clean vinyl siding, brick and painted home surfaces. Now, homeowners 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 more to it than that. Let’s review the features of each to help you judge which one is best for your home.


The soft wash process uses much less power than a typical pressure washer, hence the name. The highest water pressure used in a soft washing system is 500 PSI. This lower spray is generated from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only slightly more powerful than your standard backyard garden 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 exterior surfaces. The cleaning solution used in a soft washing system can include algaecides and residual inhibitors which will slow further growth of these types of organisms in the future.

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

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

Soft washing provides the advantage of reaching down into cracks to eliminate even unseen organisms, meaning that its impact can last a lot longer than power washing.


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

This particular cleaning process uses water only, there are no chemicals, to remove stains and organisms from home exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a significant advantage to home owners that 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 a lot of different materials. Home and business owners frequently choose power washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, walkways and outdoor furniture because it is quick, efficient and affordable.

Pressure washing requires somewhere 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 surface, preventing their growth and restoring the appearance of your home.

One negative about power washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and can harm 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 chunks of stone or brick.


The ultimate 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 equipment, roof shingles, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is less likely to harm plastic and wood. 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 power washing can.

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

Pressure washing is the best choice for difficult stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the recommended choice for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing service in Mesa may use a mix of detergents and water pressure to eliminate difficult stains, but they should let you know if they are going to be using chemicals during your consultation.

It can also be used for siding as well (and has been for decades) so long as it is done correctly. High water pressure can break fragile or small pieces of the vinyl. A company that does power washing often are going to know how to protect vulnerable pieces, but a DIYer can 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 might damage these materials and cause you to replace your roof a lot sooner than expected.

Deciding between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a professional pressure washing service. Which method is right for your home? Give Mesa Pressure Washing a call at 480-576-5669 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!

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