Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is shocking how dirty the exterior 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 your house an unkempt, messy look, even though you invest a lot of time and care into it.

Some materials, like dirt, are harmless, but algae and mildew can be harmful to both your health and your house. They produce allergens that can affect your family, and some of them, like algae, can even grow underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter your house.

As a professional power washing service in Smithtown, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. Spring is typically the most popular time of the year to do an intense home exterior cleaning, but you can really do it any time throughout the year so long as the weather permits.


All of the following surfaces need to be power washed 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, brick and painted surfaces. Now, homeowners have another option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

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


The soft wash system 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 lower spray is created from a nozzle with a wider spray option, only a little more powerful than your backyard lawn hose.

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

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

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

Soft washing provides the advantage of getting down into cracks and crevices to eliminate even unseen bacteria, meaning that its impact can last much longer than traditional power washing.


Pressure washing has long been the standard for cleaning exterior surfaces. It is extremely effective and efficient, which is why many home and business owners prefer it.

This cleaning system uses water only, no chemicals, to remove stains and mildew from exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a big advantage to home and business owners who don’t want to use chemicals, whether for the sake of the environment or to avoid zoning violations.

The pressure washing process can be used on a lot of different materials. Home owners choose power washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, sidewalks and patio furniture because it is fast, efficient and cost-effective.

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

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


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

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

Soft washing is excellent for outdoor play equipment, yard equipment, roof shingles, 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 kills organisms that are 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 plant life under 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 an issue.

Pressure washing is the best choice for difficult stains, and harder surfaces like asphalt, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred process for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing service in Smithtown might use a combination of chemicals and water pressure to clean offf problematic stains, but they should tell you if they will be spraying chemicals after your estimate.

It can also be used on siding too (and has been for decades) so long as it is done safely. Powerful water pressure can break weak or small pieces of the vinyl. A local service that does power washing all the time are going to know how to protect these areas, but a DIYer could do a lot of harm.

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

Choosing between soft washing or power washing is best left for a professional pressure washing service. Which process is right for your house? Give Smithtown Pressure Washing a call at 631-250-8602 and we will send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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