Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is shocking just how dirty the exterior of your house can get throughout a year. Some of the most common stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These stains will give your house an unkempt, messy appearance, regardless of whether you invest time, money and maintenance into it.

Some of these materials, like dirt or mud, are harmless, but algae and mold can be damaging to your health and to your house. They produce allergens and bacteria that can affect your family, and some of them, like algae, can even grow underneath vinyl or roofing and enter your house.

As a professional power washing company in Vista, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. Spring is the most common time to do an extreme home exterior washing, 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, brick and painted home surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners in Vista have another option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

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


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

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

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

The soft wash chemicals are sometimes cleaned off, but not always. This just depends on the type of chemicals are used, if there is plant or animal life that can be affected by the solution runoff, and if the solution itself is strong enough to damage surfaces over time.

Soft washing provides the advantage of reaching into cracks and crevices to kill even unseen organisms, meaning that its results can last much longer than traditional power washing.


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

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

It can be used on many different materials. Home owners often prefer power washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, walkways and outdoor furniture because it is fast, more efficient and affordable.

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

One drawback to power washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and can harm the surfaces of your home you want to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to cut deep grooves in wood and plastic, and it can push 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, including sidewalks, driveways and more. Both of these cleaning systems can be done by a professional – and honestly, are more effectively done when left to the experts.

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

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

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

Pressure washing is considered the recommended choice for difficult stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the recommended process for commercial surfaces. A local pressure washing company in Vista might use a mix of chemicals and water pressure to clean offf problematic stains, but they need to let you know if they are going to be spraying chemicals after your estimate.

It can be used on siding too (and has been for several years) so long as it is done safely. Powerful water pressure can damage fragile or smaller pieces of the vinyl. A local service that does power washing all the time are going to know how to protect weak pieces, but a DIYer 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 might damage these materials and require you to replace your home’s roof far faster than expected.

Deciding between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a professional pressure washing company. Which method is right for your house? Give Vista Pressure Washing a call at 760-227-2291 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!

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