Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s amazing just how dirty the outside of your house can get throughout the course of a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These things can give any house an unkempt, uncared for appearance, regardless of if you invest time and maintenance into it.

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

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


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 option to properly clean vinyl siding, brick and painted home surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners have a second option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

As the names suggest, one method is much gentler than the other one, but there’s more to it than just that. Let’s look at the features of each method to help you decide which is best for your house.


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

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

Because chemicals, not water pressure, are responsible for cleaning the surfaces, no powerful water is necessary. This means that soft washing can 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 chemicals are strong enough to damage surfaces over time.

Soft washing offers the advantage of reaching into small cracks to kill unseen bacteria, meaning that its impact can last longer than standard power washing.


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

This particular cleaning process uses water only, there are no chemicals, to remove stains and mildew from home exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a major plus to property owners who don’t want to use chemicals, either 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 frequently choose power washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, walkways and outdoor furniture because it is quick, more efficient and cost-effective.

Pressure washing requires anywhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water being sprayed out from a small nozzle for the most power. Both organic and inorganic stains are blasted from your home’s surface, stopping their growth and restoring the curb appeal of your house.

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


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

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 performed by a professional – and honestly, are more effectively done when left to the pros.

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

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

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

Pressure washing is considered the best method for difficult stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the preferred method for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing service in San Marcos may use a mixture of chemicals and water pressure to clean offf tough stains, but they need to tell you if they are going to be using chemicals during your estimate.

It can be used on siding as well (and has been for decades) so long as it is done carefully. Powerful water pressure can damage fragile or smaller pieces of the vinyl. A local company that does power washing often are going to know how to protect fragile pieces, but a first-timer can do a lot of damage.

Your home’s roof is off limits for power washing if there are slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The high pressure of the water will likely ruin these materials and require you to replace your roof far sooner than expected.

Deciding between soft washing or power washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which method is right for your house? Give San Marcos Pressure Washing a call at 760-227-2550 and we will send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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