Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s surprising how dirty the outside of your home can get over a year. Some of the most typical stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These things can give any home an unkempt, messy look, regardless of whether you invest a lot of time and maintenance into it.

Some materials, like dirt, are harmless, but algae and mold can be harmful to your health and to your home. They produce allergens and bacteria that can affect your family, and some of them, like algae, can grow underneath vinyl or roofing and enter into your home.

As a professional pressure washing service in Richmond, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. The spring season is the most common time to do an intense home cleaning, but you can really do it any time as long as the weather permits.


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 siding, brick and painted home surfaces. Now, homeowners have another option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

Like the names imply, one method is a lot gentler than the other one, but there’s more to it than that. Let’s review the features of each method to help you decide which one is best for your home.


The soft wash process uses less pressure than a typical pressure washer, hence the name. The maximum water pressure in a soft washing system is 500 PSI. This lighter spray is created from a nozzle with a wider spray option, only a little more powerful than a standard backyard garden hose.

Soft washing uses a mixture of detergent, bleach and water in some 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 slow further growth of these organisms in the future.

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

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

Soft washing offers the advantage of reaching into small cracks to eliminate unseen bacteria, meaning that its impact can last a lot longer than traditional pressure washing.


Pressure washing has always been the standard for cleaning home exterior surfaces. It is highly effective and efficient, which is why most home and business owners prefer it.

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

It can be used on several different materials. Home owners frequently choose pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, walkways and patio furniture because it is quick, efficient and affordable.

Pressure washing requires anywhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water being sprayed out from a small nozzle for maximum power. Both organic and inorganic stains are blasted from your home’s surface, stopping their growth and renewing the appearance of your home.

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


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

Both soft washing and pressure washing are good for your home’s exterior, including sidewalks, driveways and more. Both cleaning systems can be done by a professional company – and honestly, are more effectively done when left to the experts.

Soft washing is excellent for outdoor play sets, yard tools, shingle roofs, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is unlikely to damage plastic and wood. It’s also a safe choice for vinyl siding.

It kills organisms currently present on the surface, and it stops future growth for a lot 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 with water right before spraying the soft wash chemicals on your home or roof, and it shouldn’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is considered the preferred method for severe stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred process for commercial properties. A professional pressure washing service in Richmond might use a mixture of detergents and water pressure to eliminate tough stains, but they need to tell you if they will be spraying chemicals after your consultation.

It can be used on siding too (and has been for decades) as long as it is done correctly. Powerful water pressure can break off fragile or small pieces of the vinyl. A local service that does pressure washing often will know how to protect fragile pieces, but a amateur 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 pressure of the water might ruin these materials and cause you to replace your home’s roof far sooner than expected.

Choosing between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a professional pressure washing service. Which process is right for your home? Give Richmond Pressure Washing a call at 804-373-2317 and we’ll send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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