Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is shocking how dirty the outside of your house can get over the course of a year. Some of the most typical stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These types of stains will give your house an unkempt, uncared for look, even though you invest time and care into it.

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

As a professional pressure washing service in Hampton, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. Spring is typically the most popular time to do an extreme home washing, but you can do it any time as long as the weather permits.


All of the following surfaces need to be pressure washed 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 surfaces. Now, homeowners have another option for exterior house 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 method to help you decide which is the right choice for your house.


The soft wash system uses less pressure than a typical pressure washer, hence the name. The highest water pressure in a soft washing system is 500 PSI. This lighter spray is generated from a nozzle with a wider spray option, only slightly more powerful than a backyard lawn hose.

Soft washing uses a mixture of soap, bleach and water in combination to eliminate organic matter and debris from your home, roof and other outdoor surfaces. The cleaning mixture used in a soft washing process can include algaecides and residual inhibitors to help prevent further growth of these types of organisms in the future.

Because chemicals, not pressure, are responsible for cleaning the surfaces, no powerful water pressure is needed. This means that soft washing can be used for more fragile surfaces that would otherwise be damaged by higher pressure washing.

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

Soft washing provides the advantage of reaching down into small cracks and crevices to kill even unseen organisms, meaning that its results can last much longer than pressure washing.


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

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

It can be used on many different materials. Home owners choose pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, sidewalks and outdoor furniture because it is fast, more efficient and affordable.

Pressure washing requires somewhere 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 sprayed from your home’s surface, prohibiting their growth and restoring the curb appeal of your house.

One drawback to pressure washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and can harm the surfaces of your home you want to clean. Pressure washing is powerful enough to put grooves in wood and plastic, and it can push into cracks, breaking off pieces of stone or brick.


The obvious question for homeowners is, “Is pressure washing or soft washing better?”

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 truthfully, are more correctly done when left to the pros.

Soft washing is excellent for outdoor toys, gardening tools, roof shingles, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is unlikely to harm wood and plastic. It’s also a safe and smart choice for vinyl siding.

It removes organisms that are present on the surface, and it prevents future growth for much longer than pressure washing can.

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

Pressure washing is the best choice for difficult stains, and hard surfaces like concrete, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the preferred choice for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing service in Hampton may use a mix of chemicals and water pressure to eliminate problematic stains, but they should tell you if they will be using chemicals during your estimate.

It can also be used for siding too (and has been for decades) as long as it is done safely. Powerful water pressure can damage weak or smaller pieces of vinyl. A local service that does pressure washing often will know how to protect these pieces, but a first-timer could 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 high pressure of the water could damage these materials and cause you to replace your roof much earlier than expected.

Deciding between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which method is right for your house? Give Hampton Pressure Washing a call at 757-210-6477 and we will send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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