Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s shocking how dirty the siding, wood or brick of your house can get throughout a year. Some of the most typical stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These stains can give your house an unkempt, messy appearance, even though you invest a lot of time and care into it.

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

As a professional pressure washing service in Bloomington, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. The spring season is the most common time of the year to do an extreme home washing, but you can do it any time throughout the year as 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 option to properly clean vinyl siding, brick and painted surfaces. Now, homeowners in Bloomington have a second option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

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


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 lighter spray is created from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only slightly more powerful than your standard backyard lawn hose.

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

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

The soft wash solution is sometimes rinsed 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 might be affected by the runoff, and if the solution itself is strong enough to damage surfaces over time.

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


Pressure washing has long been the standard for cleaning exterior surfaces. It is highly effective and quick, 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 get rid of stains and organisms from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a big plus to property owners who 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 and business owners often choose pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, sidewalks and patio furniture because it is fast, more efficient and affordable.

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

One drawback to pressure washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and can damage the surfaces of your home you’re attempting to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to put grooves in wood and plastic, and it can push into cracks, breaking off chunks of brick or stone.


The ultimate question for 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 performed by a professional – and truthfully, are more effectively done when left to the pros.

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

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

A disadvantage of soft washing is that it can kill plant life under the surface you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them down with water before putting the soft wash chemicals on your house or roof, and it probably shouldn’t be an issue.

Pressure washing is the best method for difficult stains, and hard surfaces like asphalt, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the preferred choice for commercial properties. A local pressure washing service in Bloomington may use a mixture of chemicals and water pressure to eliminate difficult stains, but they should tell you if they are going to be spraying chemicals during your estimate.

It can be used on siding too (and has been for decades) as long as it is done correctly. Powerful water pressure can damage weak or small pieces of vinyl. A local company that does pressure washing often will know how to protect these pieces, but a first-timer could do a lot of damage.

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

Choosing between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which process is right for your house? Give Bloomington Pressure Washing a call at 612-324-6792 and we’ll send a trained technician over to take a look!

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