Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

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

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

As a professional power washing company in Gresham, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. Spring is typically the most common time to do an intense home exterior cleaning, but you can do it any time throughout the year as 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

Power washing used to be the only option 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 much gentler than the other, but there’s a little more to it than that. Let’s review the features of each method to help you determine which is the right choice for your home.


The soft wash process uses less power 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 generated from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only a little more powerful than a typical backyard garden hose.

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

Because chemicals, not pressure, are key to cleaning the exterior surfaces, no powerful water is required. This means that soft washing can be used for more delicate surfaces that could otherwise be harmed by harsher pressure washing equipment.

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

Soft washing provides the distinct advantage of getting into cracks to kill unseen organisms, meaning that its results can last a lot longer than traditional power washing.


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

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

It can be used on a lot of different materials. Home and business owners frequently choose power washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, sidewalks and outdoor furniture because it is fast, more efficient and affordable.

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 sprayed from your home’s exterior surface, preventing their growth and renewing the curb appeal of your home.

One negative about power washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and can damage the surfaces of your home you’re attempting to clean. Pressure washing is powerful enough to cut grooves into wood and plastic, and it can push into cracks, breaking off chunks of stone or brick.


The obvious question for 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 done by a professional company – and honestly, are more correctly done when left to the pros.

Soft washing is perfect for outdoor toys, gardening equipment, 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 removes organisms that are present on the exterior surface, and it stops future growth for a lot 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 before spraying the soft wash solution on your home or roof, and it won’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is considered the best method for severe stains, and hard surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the recommended method for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing company in Gresham may use a mixture of chemicals and water pressure to clean offf difficult stains, but they need to let you know if they are going to be using chemicals after your consultation.

It can also be used on siding as well (and has been for decades) as long as it is done safely. Powerful water pressure can break weak or small pieces of vinyl. A company that does power washing often are going to know how to protect these areas, but a DIYer might do a lot of damage.

Your home’s roof is off limits for power washing if you have slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The extreme pressure of the water will likely ruin these materials and cause you to replace your home’s roof a lot earlier than expected.

Choosing between soft washing or power washing is best left for a pressure washing company. Which method is right for your home? Give Gresham Pressure Washing a call at 503-212-9994 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!

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