Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

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

Some materials, like dirt, don’t do much harm, but algae and mold can be damaging to your health and to your home. They produce allergens and bacteria that can impact your family, and some, like algae, can even grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter your home.

As a professional power washing service in Atlanta, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. The spring season is the most popular time of the year to do an extreme home exterior cleaning, but you can do it any time throughout the year so long as the weather permits.


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

As 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 to help you determine which is the right choice for your home.


The soft wash process uses much less power 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 your typical backyard hose.

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

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

The soft wash solution is sometimes cleaned off, but not all of the time. This just depends on the type of solution is used, if there’s plant or animal life that could be affected by the solution runoff, and if the solution itself is powerful enough to harm surfaces over time.

Soft washing offers the distinct advantage of reaching down into cracks to eliminate even unseen bacteria, meaning that its effects can last much longer than standard power washing.


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

This particular cleaning process uses water only, no chemicals, to get rid of stains and mold from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a big plus to home owners that don’t want to use chemicals, whether for the sake of the environment or to avoid zoning violations.

It can be used on a lot of different materials. Home and business owners often prefer power washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, walkways and patio furniture because it is quick, more 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 stains are sprayed from your home’s exterior surface, stopping 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 of your home you want 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 brick or stone.


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

Both soft washing and pressure washing methods are good for your home’s exterior, including sidewalks, driveways and more. Both cleaning systems can be done by a professional – and truthfully, are more effectively done when left to the pros.

Soft washing is great for outdoor toys, yard tools, shingle roofs, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is unlikely to harm plastic and wood. It’s also a safe and smart choice for vinyl siding.

It eliminates organisms currently 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 down with water before putting the soft wash solution on your home or roof, and it shouldn’t be an issue.

Pressure washing is the preferred choice for severe stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the recommended process for commercial properties. A professional pressure washing service in Atlanta might use a combination of detergents and water pressure to get rid of problematic stains, but they should let you know if they will be using chemicals during your estimate.

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

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

Choosing between soft washing or power washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which method is right for your home? Give ATL Pressure Wash Co. a call at 404-999-2793 and we will send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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