Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is surprising how dirty the outside of your house can get throughout a year. Some of the most common stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These types of stains will give your house an unkempt, messy appearance, even though you invest a lot of time and maintenance into it.

Some materials, like dirt, are harmless, but algae and mildew can be destructive to both your health and your house. These contaminants produce allergens that can affect your family, and some of them, like algae, can grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter into your house.

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


All of the following surfaces need to be cleaned from time to time:

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

Pressure washing used to be the only way to thoroughly clean vinyl, brick and painted surfaces. Now, homeowners have another option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

Like the names suggest, one method is much gentler than the other, but there’s more to it than that. Let’s review the features of each to help you determine which one is best for your house.


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

Soft washing uses a mixture of detergent, bleach and water in some combination to get rid of organic matter from your home, roof and other outdoor surfaces. The cleaning mixture used in a soft washing process can include algaecides and residual inhibitors to help prevent further growth of these organisms in the future.

Because chemicals, not water pressure, are responsible for 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 damaged by higher pressure washing equipment.

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

Soft washing offers the advantage of reaching down into cracks and crevices to kill unseen organisms, meaning that its impact can last much longer than traditional power washing.


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

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

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

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

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


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

Both soft washing and pressure washing methods are good choices for your home’s exterior, as well as sidewalks, driveways and more. Both cleaning systems can be performed by a professional – and honestly, are more correctly done when left to the experts.

Soft washing is great for outdoor toys, gardening tools, shingle roofs, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is less likely to harm wood and plastic. It’s also a safe choice for vinyl siding.

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

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

Pressure washing is the recommended method for severe stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred choice for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing service in Oakland may use a mixture of detergents and water pressure to eliminate tough stains, but they need to let you know if they are going to be spraying chemicals during your estimate.

It can also be used for siding too (and has been for several years) as long as it is done safely. Powerful water pressure can break off weak or small pieces of vinyl. A service that does power washing often will know how to protect these areas, but a amateur can do a lot of harm.

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 require you to replace your home’s roof far sooner than expected.

Choosing between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which process is right for your house? Give Oakland Pressure Washing a call at 510-216-1325 and we’ll send an experienced technician over to take a look!

Call Now Button