Soft Washing vs Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s shocking how dirty the siding, wood or brick of your house can get over the course of a year. Some of the most typical stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These types of stains can give any house an unkempt, uncared for look, regardless of if you invest time, money and care 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 your house. They produce allergens that can impact your family, and some of them, like algae, can grow underneath vinyl or roofing and enter into your house.

As a professional pressure washing service in Arlington Heights, we recommend 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 really do it any time throughout the year as long as the weather allows.


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 method to properly clean vinyl siding, brick and painted home 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 look at the features of each method to help you judge which one is best for your house.


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 created from a nozzle with a wider spray option, only slightly more powerful than your backyard lawn hose.

Soft washing uses a mixture of detergent, bleach and water in combination to eliminate organic matter and debris from your home, roof and other surfaces. The cleaning solution used in a soft washing system can include algaecides and residual inhibitors which will slow further growth of these types of organisms in the future.

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

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

Soft washing provides the distinct advantage of reaching down into small cracks to eliminate unseen organisms, meaning that its impact can last longer than traditional pressure washing.


Pressure washing has long been the gold standard for cleaning home exterior surfaces. It is very effective and quick, which is why most home and business owners still prefer it over soft washing.

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

It can be used on a lot of different materials. Home owners frequently prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, sidewalks and outdoor furniture because it is quick, efficient and affordable.

Pressure washing needs 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, stopping 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 damage the surfaces of your home you want to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to put deep grooves into wood and plastic, and it can push into cracks, breaking off pieces of stone or brick.


The obvious question for most homeowners is, “Is pressure washing or soft washing better?”

Both soft washing and pressure washing methods are good choices for your home’s exterior, as well as 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 great for outdoor play equipment, 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 kills organisms currently present on the exterior surface, and it stops future growth for longer than pressure washing can.

A problem with soft washing is that it can kill plant life under the surface you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them down with water before spraying the soft wash chemicals on your house or roof, and it shouldn’t be an issue.

Pressure washing is considered the recommended choice for severe stains, and hard surfaces like asphalt, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred method for commercial surfaces. A local pressure washing service in Arlington Heights might use a mixture of chemicals and water pressure to remove difficult stains, but they should let you know if they are going to be using chemicals during your consultation.

It can be used on siding too (and has been for several years) as long as it is done carefully. High water pressure can damage weak or smaller pieces of vinyl. A local service that does pressure washing all the time are going to know how to protect vulnerable pieces, but a amateur can do a lot of damage.

Your home’s roof is definitely off limits for pressure washing if there are slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The high pressure of the water will likely damage these materials and require you to replace your home’s roof far sooner than expected.

Choosing between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which method is right for your house? Give Arlington Heights Pressure Washing a call at 847-649-6242 and we will send an experienced technician over to take a look!