Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s amazing how dirty the outside of your house can get throughout a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These stains will give any house an unkempt, messy appearance, regardless of whether you invest time and maintenance into it.

Some of these materials, like dirt, don’t do much harm, but algae and mold can be destructive to your health and to your house. They create allergens that can affect 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 Elizabeth, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. The spring season is the most popular time to do an extreme home exterior cleaning, but you can really do it any time throughout the year so 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

Power washing used to be the only way to thoroughly clean vinyl, brick and painted home surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners in Elizabeth have a second option for exterior house 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 go over the features of each to help you determine 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 used in a soft washing system is 500 PSI. This lighter spray is generated from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only slightly more powerful than a typical backyard garden hose.

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

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

The soft wash solution is sometimes cleaned off, but not always. This just depends on what type of solution is used, 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 provides the advantage of reaching down into small cracks to eliminate unseen organisms, meaning that its effects can last much longer than traditional pressure washing.


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

This cleaning process uses water only, there are no chemicals, to clean off stains and mildew from home exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a big advantage to home and business owners that don’t want to use cleaning chemicals, whether for the sake of the environment or to avoid zoning violations.

It can be used on many different materials. Home owners frequently prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, walkways and patio furniture because it is fast, efficient and affordable.

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

One negative about pressure washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and can damage the surfaces 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 chunks of stone or brick.


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

Both soft washing and pressure washing methods 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 excellent for outdoor toys, yard 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 kills organisms currently present on the exterior surface, and it stops future growth for much longer than pressure washing can.

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

Pressure washing is considered the preferred choice for difficult stains, and hard surfaces like asphalt, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the preferred method for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing service in Elizabeth may use a combination of detergents and water pressure to remove tough stains, but they need to let you know if they will be using chemicals after your consultation.

It can also be used on siding too (and has been for several years) so long as it is done carefully. High water pressure can damage weak or smaller pieces of vinyl. A company that does pressure washing often will know how to protect these areas, but a first-timer might do a lot of harm.

Your home’s roof is definitely off limits for pressure washing if there are slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The extreme pressure of the water can ruin these materials and require you to replace your home’s roof much 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 Elizabeth Pressure Washing a call at 908-388-9216 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!

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