Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s surprising how dirty the siding, wood or brick of your home can get over the course of a year. Some of the most common stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These types of stains will give your home an unkempt, uncared for look, regardless of if you invest a lot of time and maintenance into it.

Some of these materials, like dirt, don’t do much harm, but algae and mold can be damaging to your health and your home. They produce allergens and bacteria that can affect your family, and some, like algae, can even grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter your home.

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

Power washing used to be the only method to properly clean vinyl, brick and painted surfaces. Now, homeowners have another option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

As the names suggest, one method is a lot gentler than the other one, but there’s more to it than that. Let’s look at the features of each to help you determine which one is best for your home.


The soft wash process uses less pressure than a typical pressure washer, hence the name. The maximum water pressure in a soft washing system is 500 PSI. This lighter spray is produced from a nozzle with a wider spray option, 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 exterior surfaces. The cleaning solution used in a soft washing system can also include algaecides and residual inhibitors to help stop further growth of these organisms in the future.

Because chemicals, not water pressure, are key to cleaning the surfaces, no powerful water is needed. This means that soft washing should be used for fragile surfaces that would otherwise be harmed by harsher pressure washing.

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

Soft washing offers the distinct advantage of reaching down into cracks and crevices to kill even unseen bacteria, meaning that its impact can last much longer than pressure washing.


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

This cleaning process uses water only, there are no chemicals, to clean off stains and organisms from exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a big plus to home owners that don’t want to use cleaning chemicals, whether for the environment’s sake 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 outdoor furniture because it is fast, efficient and cost-effective.

Pressure washing needs anywhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water sprayed out of a tiny nozzle for maximum power. Both organic and inorganic materials are sprayed from your home’s surface, stopping their growth and restoring the curb appeal of your home.

One negative about pressure washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and lead to damaging the surfaces of your home you’re attempting to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to cut deep grooves in 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 for your home’s exterior, including sidewalks, driveways and more. Both of these cleaning systems can be done by a professional company – and truthfully, are more effectively done when left to the pros.

Soft washing is perfect for outdoor toys, gardening tools, shingle roofs, 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 eliminates organisms that are present on the surface, and it prevents future growth for much longer than pressure washing can.

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

Pressure washing is considered the preferred method for severe stains, and hard surfaces like asphalt, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the recommended method for commercial properties. A local pressure washing service in O’Fallon might use a mix of chemicals and water pressure to remove problematic stains, but they should let you know if they will be spraying chemicals during your consultation.

It can be used on siding as well (and has been for decades) so long as it is done correctly. Powerful water pressure can break weak or small pieces of the vinyl. A local service that does pressure washing often will know how to protect weak areas, but a amateur 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 high pressure of the water could ruin these materials and cause you to replace your home’s roof much faster than expected.

Deciding between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a professional pressure washing service. Which method is right for your home? Give O’Fallon Pressure Wash Plus a call at 636-202-1017 and we’ll send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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