Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is amazing how dirty the siding, wood or brick of your home can get over a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These things can give your home an unkempt, messy look, even though you invest a lot of time, money and maintenance into it.

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

As a professional pressure washing service in Somerville, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. The spring season is typically the most common time of the year to do an extreme home cleaning, but you can really do it any time throughout the year as 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

Pressure washing used to be the only way to thoroughly clean vinyl, brick and painted surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners have another option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

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


The soft wash system 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 standard backyard lawn 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 solution used in a soft washing system can include algaecides and residual inhibitors to help slow further growth of these organisms in the future.

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

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

Soft washing provides the distinct advantage of reaching down into cracks and crevices to kill unseen bacteria, meaning that its effects can last a lot longer than pressure washing.


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

This cleaning system uses water only, there are no chemicals, to remove stains and organisms from exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a significant advantage to home owners that don’t want to use chemicals, whether for the environment’s sake or to avoid zoning violations.

The pressure washing process can be used on several different materials. Home owners prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, sidewalks and patio furniture because it is quick, efficient and cost-effective.

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

One negative about pressure washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and lead to damaging the surfaces you want to clean. Pressure washing is powerful enough to put grooves into wood and plastic, and it can push into cracks, breaking off pieces of stone or brick.


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

Both soft washing and pressure washing are good choices for your home’s exterior, including sidewalks, driveways and more. Both of these cleaning systems can be done 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 and smart choice for vinyl siding.

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

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

Pressure washing is the preferred choice for severe stains, and harder surfaces like asphalt, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the recommended choice for commercial surfaces. A local pressure washing service in Somerville might use a mixture of chemicals and water pressure to clean offf problematic stains, but they need to tell you if they will be using chemicals during your consultation.

It can be used on siding as well (and has been for decades) as long as it is done safely. High water pressure can damage weak or small pieces of vinyl. A local service that does pressure washing often are going to know how to protect fragile pieces, but a first-timer 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 extreme pressure of the water will likely damage these materials and cause you to replace your roof much faster than expected.

Choosing between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which method is right for your home? Give Somerville Pressure Washing a call at 617-249-6868 and we’ll send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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