Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s surprising just how dirty the outside of your home can get during the course of a year. Some of the most typical stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These things can give any home an unkempt, uncared for appearance, even though you invest a lot of time and care into it.

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

As a professional pressure washing service in Lakeland, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. The spring season is typically the most common time of the year to do an intense home cleaning, but you can do it any time throughout the year as long as the weather permits.


All of the following home 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 properly clean vinyl, brick and painted home surfaces. Now, homeowners have a second option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

As the names imply, one method is a lot gentler than the other, but there’s a little more to it than just that. Let’s review the features of each to help you judge which one is best for your home.


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

Soft washing uses a mixture of soap, bleach and water in some combination to get rid of 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 prevent further growth of these organisms in the future.

Because chemicals, not water pressure, are key to cleaning the surfaces, no powerful water is necessary. This means that soft washing should be used for fragile surfaces that might otherwise be harmed by more powerful 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 impacted by the solution runoff, and if the chemicals are strong enough to damage surfaces over time.

Soft washing offers the advantage of reaching down into cracks to eliminate unseen bacteria, meaning that its results can last longer than pressure washing.


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

This particular cleaning method uses water only, there are no chemicals, to remove stains and organisms from home exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a major advantage to home 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 prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, walkways and patio furniture because it is quick, efficient and cost-effective.

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

One negative about pressure washing is that the water can sometimes be too powerful and lead to damaging the surfaces you want to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to put grooves into wood and plastic, and it can push into cracks, breaking off chunks 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 for your home’s exterior, as well as sidewalks, driveways and more. Both of these cleaning systems can be done by a professional – and truthfully, are more correctly done when left to the pros.

Soft washing is great for outdoor toys, yard equipment, roof shingles, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is less likely to damage wood and plastic. It’s also a safe and smart choice for vinyl siding.

It kills organisms currently present on the surface, and it stops future growth for longer than pressure washing can.

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

Pressure washing is considered the best method for severe stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the recommended process for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing service in Lakeland might use a mix of chemicals and water pressure to eliminate problematic stains, but they should let you know if they are going to be spraying chemicals during your consultation.

It can be used on siding as well (and has been for several years) as long as it is done safely. High water pressure can break off weak or smaller pieces of the vinyl. A local company that does pressure washing all the time will know how to protect these pieces, but a first-timer might do a lot of damage.

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

Deciding between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a professional pressure washing service. Which process is right for your home? Give Lakeland Pressure Washing a call at 863-201-8921 and we will send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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