Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is shocking 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 appearance, regardless of if you invest time, money and care into it.

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

As a professional pressure washing service in Folsom, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. Spring is the most popular time 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 pressure washed from time to time:

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

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

As the names imply, one method is a lot gentler than the other, but there’s a little more to it than that. Let’s review the features of each to help you judge which one 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 lighter spray is produced from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only slightly more powerful than your backyard lawn hose.

Soft washing uses soap, bleach and water in some combination to get rid of organic matter and debris from your home, roof and other exterior surfaces. The cleaning solution 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 pressure, are key to cleaning the surfaces, no powerful water is needed. This means that soft washing can be used for more delicate surfaces that would otherwise be damaged by higher pressure washing equipment.

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

Soft washing provides the advantage of reaching down into cracks to kill unseen organisms, meaning that its results can last much longer than pressure washing.


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

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

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

Pressure washing requires somewhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water sprayed out of a small nozzle for the most power. Both organic and inorganic materials are sprayed 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 lead to damaging the surfaces you want to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to cut deep grooves into wood and plastic, and it can get into cracks, breaking off chunks of stone or brick.


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

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 company – and truthfully, are more effectively done when left to the experts.

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

It removes organisms currently present on the surface, and it stops future growth for much longer than pressure washing can.

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

Pressure washing is the recommended choice for severe stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the recommended choice for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing service in Folsom may use a mix of detergents and water pressure to get rid of tough stains, but they need to tell you if they are going to 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. Powerful water pressure can break weak or smaller pieces of the vinyl. A service that does pressure washing all the time are going to know how to protect fragile pieces, but a amateur might do a lot of harm.

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

Choosing between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a professional pressure washing service. Which method is right for your home? Give Folsom Pressure Washing a call at 916-252-1685 and we’ll send a trained technician over to take a look!

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