Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s surprising just how dirty the outside of your house can get throughout the course of a year. Some of the most typical stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These stains will give any house an unkempt, messy look, even though you invest a lot of time and maintenance into it.

Some of these materials, like dirt or mud, are harmless, but algae and mildew can be damaging to your health and your house. They produce allergens that can impact your family, and some, like algae, can grow underneath vinyl or roofing and enter your house.

As a professional pressure washing service in Fremont, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. The spring season is the most common time to do an intense home exterior washing, but you can really do it any time throughout the year so long as the weather allows.


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 properly 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 a lot gentler than the other, but there’s more to it than just that. Let’s review the features of each method to help you determine which one is the right choice for your house.


The soft wash method 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 produced from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only slightly more powerful than a backyard lawn hose.

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

Because chemicals, not water pressure, are key to cleaning the exterior surfaces, no powerful water pressure is necessary. This means that soft washing can be used for more fragile surfaces that could otherwise be damaged by higher pressure washing equipment.

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

Soft washing provides the distinct advantage of reaching down into small cracks to eliminate unseen bacteria, meaning that its impact can last longer than pressure washing.


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

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

The pressure washing process can be used on a lot of different materials. Home owners choose pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, sidewalks and patio furniture because it is fast, more efficient and affordable.

Pressure washing needs anywhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water sprayed out from a tiny nozzle for the most power. Both organic and inorganic materials are blasted from your home’s exterior surface, stopping their growth and restoring the appearance of your house.

One negative about pressure washing is that the water can sometimes be too powerful and lead to damaging the surfaces you’re attempting to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to put grooves in wood and plastic, and it can get into cracks, breaking off chunks of brick or stone.


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

Both soft washing and pressure washing methods are good for your home’s exterior, including sidewalks, driveways and more. Both of these cleaning systems can be performed by a professional – and honestly, are more correctly done when left to the pros.

Soft washing is perfect for outdoor play sets, gardening tools, roof shingles, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is unlikely to damage plastic and wood. It’s also a safe and smart 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 plant life underneath the surface that you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them down with water before spraying the soft wash solution on your house or roof, and it won’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is considered the recommended choice for severe stains, and hard surfaces like asphalt, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the recommended process for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing service in Fremont may use a mixture of detergents and water pressure to get rid of tough stains, but they need to let you know if they will be using chemicals after your consultation.

It can be used for siding as well (and has been for decades) so long as it is done correctly. High water pressure can damage weak or small pieces of the vinyl. A local service that does pressure washing all the time will know how to protect these pieces, but a DIYer might do a lot of damage.

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 could ruin these materials and require you to replace your roof far faster than expected.

Deciding between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a professional pressure washing service. Which process is right for your house? Give Fremont Pressure Washing a call at 510-256-7579 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!

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