Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s surprising how dirty the exterior of your home can get over the course of a year. Some of the most typical stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These types of stains can give your home an unkempt, uncared for look, even though you invest a lot of time, money and maintenance into it.

Some of these materials, like dirt, are harmless, but algae and mildew can be destructive to both your health and to your home. They create allergens and bacteria that can affect your family, and some of them, like algae, can even grow underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter into your home.

As a professional pressure washing company in Boston, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. Spring is the most common time of the year to do an extreme home washing, but you can really do it any time throughout the year as 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

Pressure washing used to be the only option to thoroughly clean vinyl, brick and painted home surfaces. Now, homeowners in Boston have a second option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

Like the names imply, one method is a lot gentler than the other, but there’s more to it than that. Let’s review the features of each method to help you decide which one is the right choice for your home.


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

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

Because chemicals, not water pressure, are key to cleaning the surfaces, no powerful water pressure is necessary. This means that soft washing should be used for delicate surfaces that could otherwise be harmed by harsher pressure washing.

The soft wash solution is sometimes rinsed off, but not always. This just depends on the 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 solution itself is strong enough to damage surfaces over time.

Soft washing provides the distinct advantage of getting into cracks to kill even unseen bacteria, meaning that its impact can last longer than pressure washing.


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

This cleaning method uses water only, there are no chemicals, to eliminate stains and mildew from home exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a major plus to home and business owners that don’t want to use cleaning chemicals, whether for the sake of the environment or to avoid zoning violations.

The pressure washing process can be used on several different materials. Home owners prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, walkways and patio furniture because it is fast, efficient and affordable.

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

One drawback to pressure washing is that the water can sometimes be too powerful and lead to damaging the surfaces of your home you want to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to put grooves into wood and plastic, and it can push into cracks, breaking off chunks 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 done by a professional company – and honestly, are more correctly done when left to the pros.

Soft washing is great for outdoor play sets, 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 that are present on the surface, and it prevents future growth for longer than pressure 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 spraying the soft wash chemicals on your home or roof, and it won’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is the preferred method for severe stains, and harder surfaces like asphalt, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred method for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing company in Boston might use a mixture of detergents and water pressure to get rid of problematic stains, but they should let you know if they are going to be using chemicals after your consultation.

It can also be used for siding as well (and has been for several years) as long as it is done safely. Powerful water pressure can damage fragile or smaller pieces of the vinyl. A local service that does pressure washing often are going to know how to protect fragile pieces, but a amateur could do a lot of damage.

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

Deciding between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a pressure washing company. Which process is right for your home? Give Boston Pressure Wash Plus a call at 781-253-8118 and we’ll send a trained technician over to take a look!

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