Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s amazing just how dirty the exterior of your home can get throughout the course of a year. Some of the most common stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These things will give your home an unkempt, uncared for appearance, even though you invest time and care into it.

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

As a professional power washing service in Rocklin, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. The spring season is the most common time of the year to do an extreme home washing, but you can do it any time 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 way to thoroughly clean vinyl, brick and painted surfaces. Now, homeowners have another option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

As the names imply, one method is a lot gentler than the other one, but there’s a little more to it than just that. Let’s cover the features of each method to help you determine which is the right choice for your home.


The soft wash process uses much less power than a typical pressure washer, hence the name. The highest water pressure in a soft washing system is 500 PSI. This lower spray is produced from a nozzle with a wider spray option, only a little more powerful than your backyard lawn hose.

Soft washing uses detergent, bleach and water in combination to eliminate organic matter 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 deter further growth of these organisms in the future.

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

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

Soft washing provides the distinct advantage of getting down into cracks to kill even unseen organisms, meaning that its impact can last much longer than traditional power 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 prefer it over soft washing.

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

It can be used on several different materials. Home and business owners often choose power washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, walkways and outdoor furniture because it is fast, more efficient and affordable.

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

One drawback to 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 cut grooves into wood and plastic, and it can get into cracks, breaking off chunks of brick or stone.


The obvious question for homeowners is, “Which one should I choose?”

Both soft washing and pressure washing methods are good choices 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 excellent for outdoor toys, gardening equipment, shingle roofs, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is less likely to damage plastic and wood. It’s also a safe choice for vinyl siding.

It eliminates organisms currently present on the surface, and it prevents future growth for much longer than power washing can.

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

Pressure washing is considered the best method for difficult stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred choice for commercial properties. A local pressure washing service in Rocklin may use a mix of detergents and water pressure to clean offf tough stains, but they should tell you if they will be using chemicals after your consultation.

It can be used on siding too (and has been for several years) so long as it is done correctly. High water pressure can break off fragile or small pieces of the vinyl. A local service that does power washing often are going to know how to protect vulnerable areas, but a DIYer can do a lot of damage.

Your home’s roof is definitely off limits for power washing if there are slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The extreme pressure of the water might ruin these materials and cause you to replace your roof much faster than expected.

Deciding between soft washing or power washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which method is right for your home? Give Rocklin Pressure Washing a call at 916-252-4243 and we’ll send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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