Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

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

Some of these materials, like dirt or mud, are harmless, but algae and mildew can be damaging to your health and your house. These contaminants create allergens and bacteria that can impact your family, and some, like algae, can grow underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter into your house.

As a professional pressure washing service in Kent, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. Spring is the most common time of the year to do an extreme home cleaning, but you can do it any time throughout the year so 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

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

As the names imply, one method is much gentler than the other one, but there’s more to it than just that. Let’s review the features of each method to help you judge which is best 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 lower spray is created from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only slightly more powerful than your backyard garden hose.

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

Because chemicals, not water pressure, are responsible for cleaning the surfaces, no powerful water is needed. This means that soft washing should be used for more delicate surfaces that could otherwise be damaged by more powerful pressure washing equipment.

The soft wash chemicals are sometimes rinsed off, but not every time. 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 solution itself is powerful enough to harm surfaces over time.

Soft washing offers the distinct advantage of getting into cracks and crevices to kill unseen organisms, meaning that its impact can last a lot longer than pressure washing.


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

This cleaning process uses water only, no chemicals, to remove stains and organisms from home exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a significant plus to home owners who don’t want to use chemicals, whether for the environment’s sake or to avoid zoning violations.

The pressure washing process can be used on a lot of different materials. Home owners often prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, walkways and patio furniture because it is fast, more efficient and affordable.

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

One drawback to pressure washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and lead to damaging 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 stone or brick.


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

Both soft washing and pressure washing are good choices for your home’s exterior, as well as 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 play equipment, yard tools, shingle roofs, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is unlikely to harm plastic and wood. It’s also a safe choice for vinyl siding.

It kills organisms that are present on the surface, and it stops future growth for a lot 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 with water right before putting the soft wash solution on your house or roof, and it probably won’t be an issue.

Pressure washing is the best method for severe stains, and hard surfaces like concrete, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the preferred method for commercial properties. A local pressure washing service in Kent might use a mix of detergents and water pressure to remove problematic stains, but they should tell you if they will be using chemicals during your consultation.

It can also be used on siding as well (and has been for decades) so long as it is done safely. High water pressure can break weak or small pieces of the vinyl. A service that does pressure washing all the time will know how to protect fragile pieces, but a DIYer might do a lot of harm.

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

Choosing between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a professional pressure washing service. Which process is right for your house? Give Kent Pressure Washing a call at 253-243-8814 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!

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