Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is surprising how dirty the siding, wood or brick of your home can get throughout a year. Some of the most common stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These things can give any home an unkempt, messy look, even though you invest a lot of time and care into it.

Some materials, like dirt, don’t do much harm, but algae and mildew can be damaging to both your health and to your home. These contaminants create allergens and bacteria that can affect your family, and some of them, like algae, can grow underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter your home.

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


All of the following surfaces need to be power washed from time to time:

• Vinyl siding
• Rock and stone
• Brick
• Concrete and asphalt

Pressure washing used to be the only option to properly clean vinyl, brick and painted surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners have another option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

Like the names imply, one method is much gentler than the other, but there’s more to it than that. Let’s go over the features of each method to help you judge which one is the right choice for your home.


The soft wash method uses much less power than a typical pressure washer, hence the name. The maximum water pressure 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 garden hose.

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

Because chemicals, not pressure, are key to cleaning the exterior surfaces, no powerful water pressure is needed. This means that soft washing should be used for delicate surfaces that would otherwise be damaged by harsher pressure washing.

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

Soft washing offers the advantage of getting into cracks to kill unseen bacteria, meaning that its results can last longer than power washing.


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

This cleaning method uses water only, no chemicals, to get rid of stains and mold from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a significant advantage to property owners that don’t want to use chemicals, whether for the sake of the environment or to avoid zoning violations.

The pressure washing process can be used on many different materials. Home owners frequently prefer power washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, walkways and outdoor furniture because it is fast, efficient and cost-effective.

Pressure washing uses 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, prohibiting their growth and restoring the curb appeal of your home.

One drawback to power washing is that the water can sometimes be too powerful and can damage the surfaces you’re attempting to clean. Pressure washing is powerful enough to put grooves in wood and plastic, and it can push 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 for your home’s exterior, including sidewalks, driveways and more. Both cleaning systems can be performed by a professional – and truthfully, are more correctly done when left to the pros.

Soft washing is perfect for outdoor toys, yard equipment, roof shingles, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is less likely to damage plastic and wood. It’s also a safe and smart choice for vinyl siding.

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

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

Pressure washing is the preferred method for severe stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred method for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing service in Troy may use a combination of detergents and water pressure to get rid of problematic stains, but they should let you know if they are going to be using chemicals after your estimate.

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

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

Choosing between soft washing or power washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which method is right for your home? Give Troy Pressure Washing a call at 248-290-6706 and we’ll send a trained technician over to take a look!

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