Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

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

Some of these materials, like dirt or mud, don’t do much harm, but algae and mold can be harmful to both your health and to your house. They create allergens that can affect your family, and some, like algae, can grow underneath vinyl or roofing and enter your house.

As a professional pressure washing company in Lake Forest, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. The spring season is the most common time to do an extreme home cleaning, but you can do it any time throughout the year as long as the weather allows.


All of the following home 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 method to thoroughly clean vinyl, brick and painted home surfaces. Now, homeowners in Lake Forest have a second option for exterior house 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 judge which one is the right choice for your house.


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 a standard backyard lawn hose.

Soft washing uses a mixture of soap, bleach and water in some combination to eliminate organic matter from your home, roof and other surfaces. The solution used in a soft washing system can also include algaecides and residual inhibitors which will prevent 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 delicate surfaces that would otherwise be damaged by higher pressure washing.

The soft wash solution is sometimes washed off, but not all of the time. This just depends on what type of solution is used, if there is plant or animal life that might be affected by the solution runoff, and if the solution itself is strong enough to harm surfaces over time.

Soft washing offers the advantage of reaching down into cracks and crevices to eliminate unseen bacteria, meaning that its effects can last much longer than standard pressure washing.


Pressure washing has always been the gold standard for cleaning home exterior surfaces. It is highly 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 eliminate stains and mold from home exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a major advantage to property owners that don’t want to use chemicals, whether for the sake of the environment or to avoid zoning violations.

It can be used on several different materials. Home and business owners prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, walkways and outdoor furniture because it is fast, efficient and cost-effective.

Pressure washing requires somewhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water being sprayed out from a small nozzle for the most power. Both organic and inorganic materials are blasted from your home’s surface, preventing their growth and renewing the curb appeal of your house.

One negative about pressure washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and can harm the surfaces you want to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to put deep grooves in wood and plastic, and it can push into cracks, breaking off chunks of brick or stone.


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

Both soft washing and pressure washing 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 truthfully, are more effectively done when left to the experts.

Soft washing is great 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 that are present on the surface, and it stops future growth for much longer than pressure washing can.

A disadvantage of soft washing is that it can kill plants under the surface you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them down with water before spraying the soft wash solution on your house or roof, and it probably shouldn’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is considered the recommended method for difficult stains, and harder surfaces like asphalt, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred method for commercial surfaces. A local pressure washing company in Lake Forest might use a combination of detergents and water pressure to clean offf problematic stains, but they need to let you know if they will be using chemicals during your consultation.

It can be used on siding as well (and has been for decades) as long as it is done safely. Powerful water pressure can break fragile or small pieces of the vinyl. A local company that does pressure washing often will know how to protect these pieces, but a first-timer could 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 could damage these materials and require you to replace your roof much faster than expected.

Choosing between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a professional pressure washing company. Which method is right for your house? Give Lake Forest Pressure Washing a call at 949-284-2927 and we’ll send a trained technician over to take a look!

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