Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s shocking just how dirty the exterior of your home can get over the course of a year. Some of the most common stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These things can give your home an unkempt, messy appearance, regardless of whether you invest a lot of time, money and care into it.

Some materials, like dirt or mud, don’t do much harm, but algae and mildew can be harmful to your health and to your home. These contaminants produce allergens and bacteria that can affect your family, and some, like algae, can grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing and enter into your home.

As a professional power washing company in Oklahoma City, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. The spring season is typically the most popular time of the year to do an intense home exterior cleaning, but you can really do it any time as 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

Pressure washing used to be the only option to properly clean vinyl, brick and painted surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners have another option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

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


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 lighter spray is produced from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only slightly more powerful than a backyard hose.

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

Because chemicals, not water pressure, are key to cleaning the exterior surfaces, no powerful water is required. This means that soft washing can be used for fragile surfaces that would otherwise be harmed by more powerful pressure washing.

The soft wash chemicals are sometimes rinsed off, but not every time. This just depends on what 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 harm surfaces over time.

Soft washing offers the distinct advantage of getting down into cracks and crevices to kill unseen organisms, meaning that its results can last longer than standard power washing.


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

This particular 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 owners that don’t want to use cleaning chemicals, either for the sake of the environment or to avoid zoning violations.

The pressure washing process can be used on several different materials. Home owners often prefer power washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, sidewalks and patio furniture because it is quick, efficient and cost-effective.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Pressure washing is the best method for difficult stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the recommended method for commercial properties. A local pressure washing company in Oklahoma City may use a mixture of detergents and water pressure to eliminate problematic stains, but they should tell you if they will be using chemicals after your estimate.

It can be used for siding too (and has been for decades) as long as it is done carefully. High water pressure can damage weak or smaller pieces of the vinyl. A service that does power washing all the time are going to know how to protect these areas, but a first-timer could do a lot of harm.

Your home’s roof is definitely off limits for power washing if there are slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The extreme pressure of the water could ruin these materials and cause you to replace your roof a lot sooner than expected.

Choosing between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a professional pressure washing company. Which process is right for your home? Give OKC Pressure Wash Co. a call at 405-257-0755 and we will send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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