Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is surprising how dirty the exterior of your house can get over a year. Some of the most typical stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These types of stains can give any house an unkempt, messy look, regardless of if you invest time and care into it.

Some of these materials, like dirt, don’t do much harm, but algae and mildew can be harmful to both your health and your house. They create allergens that can impact your family, and some of them, like algae, can even grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing and enter your house.

As a professional pressure washing company in Raleigh, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. The spring season is typically the most popular time to do an extreme home exterior washing, but you can do it any time so 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 method to thoroughly clean vinyl siding, brick and painted surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners in Raleigh have another option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

As the names suggest, one method is much gentler than the other one, but there’s a little more to it than that. Let’s go over the features of each to help you judge which is best for your house.


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

Soft washing uses a mixture of detergent, bleach and water in combination to remove organic matter and debris from your home, roof and other outdoor surfaces. The cleaning solution used in a soft washing process can also include algaecides and residual inhibitors which will prevent further growth of these organisms in the future.

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

The soft wash solution is sometimes cleaned 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 getting down into cracks and crevices to eliminate even unseen organisms, meaning that its results can last longer than standard pressure washing.


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

This cleaning process uses water only, there are no chemicals, to get rid of stains and mildew from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a significant advantage to home and business owners who don’t want to use cleaning chemicals, either 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 frequently prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, walkways and outdoor furniture because it is quick, efficient and cost-effective.

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

One drawback to pressure washing is that the water can sometimes be too powerful and can damage the surfaces you’re attempting 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 real question for most homeowners is, “Which one should I choose?”

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

Soft washing is great for outdoor play equipment, 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 removes organisms that are present on the exterior surface, and it prevents future growth for longer than pressure washing can.

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

Pressure washing is considered the preferred method for severe stains, and hard surfaces like asphalt, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the recommended choice for commercial surfaces. A local pressure washing company in Raleigh may use a combination of detergents and water pressure to eliminate tough stains, but they need to tell you if they are going to be using chemicals after your consultation.

It can also be used on siding as well (and has been for several years) so long as it is done carefully. Powerful water pressure can damage fragile or smaller pieces of vinyl. A service that does pressure washing all the time will know how to protect weak pieces, but a first-timer might do a lot of harm.

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

Choosing between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a professional pressure washing company. Which process is right for your house? Give Raleigh Pressure Wash Plus a call at 919-551-6533 and we’ll send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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