Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is amazing how dirty the exterior of your home can get during the course of a year. Some of the most common stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These stains can give any home an unkempt, messy look, regardless of whether you invest time, money and care into it.

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

As a professional pressure washing company in El Monte, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. The spring season is typically the most common time to do an extreme home exterior washing, but you can do it any time so long as the weather allows.


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 method to thoroughly clean vinyl, brick and painted home surfaces. Now in 2021, 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 a little more to it than that. Let’s look at the features of each to help you decide which 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 used in a soft washing system is 500 PSI. This lower spray is created from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only slightly more powerful than your typical backyard lawn hose.

Soft washing uses detergent, bleach and water in some combination to remove organic matter from your home, roof and other outdoor surfaces. The mixture used in a soft washing system can also include algaecides and residual inhibitors to help stop further growth of these types of organisms in the future.

Because chemicals, not water pressure, are responsible for cleaning the exterior surfaces, no powerful water is necessary. This means that soft washing should be used for fragile surfaces that would otherwise be harmed by harsher pressure washing.

The soft wash solution is sometimes washed off, but not all of the time. This just depends on the type of solution is used, if there is plant or animal life that might be impacted by the runoff, and if the chemicals are strong enough to harm surfaces over time.

Soft washing offers the distinct advantage of getting into cracks and crevices to eliminate unseen organisms, meaning that its impact can last longer than traditional pressure washing.


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

This particular cleaning process uses water only, there are no chemicals, to eliminate stains and organisms from home exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a big advantage 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 a lot of different materials. Home and business owners often choose pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, sidewalks and outdoor furniture because it is quick, efficient and cost-effective.

Pressure washing requires somewhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water being sprayed out of 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 negative about pressure washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and can harm the surfaces you’re attempting 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 most 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 performed by a professional company – and truthfully, are more effectively done when left to the experts.

Soft washing is perfect for outdoor play equipment, gardening equipment, shingle roofs, 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 kills organisms currently present on the exterior surface, and it stops future growth for longer than pressure washing can.

A problem with soft washing is that it can kill plants underneath the surface you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them with water before putting the soft wash solution on your home or roof, and it won’t be an issue.

Pressure washing is considered the best method for severe stains, and hard surfaces like concrete, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the preferred choice for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing company in El Monte might use a mixture of chemicals and water pressure to get rid of problematic stains, but they should tell you if they will be using chemicals after your consultation.

It can also be used on siding too (and has been for decades) so long as it is done correctly. High water pressure can break off weak or small pieces of the vinyl. A company that does pressure washing all the time will know how to protect these areas, but a amateur could do a lot of harm.

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

Choosing between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a pressure washing company. Which method is right for your home? Give El Monte Pressure Washing a call at 626-316-6705 and we will send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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