Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is shocking just how dirty the exterior of your home can get over a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These things will give your home an unkempt, uncared for appearance, regardless of whether you invest a lot of time, money and care into it.

Some of these materials, like dirt, are harmless, but algae and mildew can be damaging to your health and to your home. They create allergens that can impact your family, and some, like algae, can even grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing and enter into your home.

As a professional power washing company in Silver Spring, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. The spring season is the most popular time to do an intense home exterior washing, but you can do it any time so long as the weather allows.


All of the following home surfaces need to be cleaned from time to time:

• Vinyl siding
• Rock and stone
• Brick
• Concrete and asphalt

Power washing used to be the only method to thoroughly clean vinyl siding, brick and painted home surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners in Silver Spring have a second option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

Like the names suggest, one method is a lot gentler than the other one, but there’s a little more to it than just that. Let’s cover the features of each to help you decide which is the right choice for your home.


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

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

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

The soft wash solution is sometimes washed off, but not always. 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 damage surfaces over time.

Soft washing offers the distinct advantage of reaching into small cracks to eliminate even unseen organisms, meaning that its results can last much longer than traditional power washing.


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

This cleaning method uses water only, there are no chemicals, to clean off stains and mold from home exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a big advantage to home owners that don’t want to use chemicals, either for the sake of the environment or to avoid zoning violations.

The pressure washing process can be used on many different materials. Home and business owners frequently prefer power washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, walkways and patio furniture because it is fast, efficient and cost-effective.

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

One negative about power washing is that the water can sometimes be too powerful and can damage the surfaces you want to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to cut grooves into wood and plastic, and it can push into cracks, breaking off chunks of stone or brick.


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

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 truthfully, are more effectively 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 unlikely to damage plastic and wood. It’s also a safe and smart choice for vinyl siding.

It eliminates organisms that are present on the exterior surface, and it stops future growth for much longer than power washing can.

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

Pressure washing is the preferred choice for severe stains, and hard surfaces like asphalt, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the recommended choice for commercial surfaces. A local pressure washing company in Silver Spring may use a combination of chemicals and water pressure to eliminate problematic stains, but they should tell you if they will be spraying chemicals after your estimate.

It can be used on siding too (and has been for decades) so long as it is done safely. Powerful water pressure can break off weak or small pieces of the vinyl. A service that does power washing all the time are going to know how to protect weak pieces, but a DIYer could do a lot of damage.

Your home’s roof is definitely off limits for power washing if there are slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The extreme pressure of the water could ruin these materials and cause you to replace your roof far faster than expected.

Deciding between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a professional pressure washing company. Which process is right for your home? Give Silver Spring Pressure Washing a call at 301-701-2260 and we will send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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