Soft Washing vs Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s shocking how dirty the exterior of your house can get during 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, regardless of whether you invest a lot of time, money and care into it.

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

As a professional pressure washing company in Naperville, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. Spring is the most popular time of the year to do an intense home 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 pressure 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 siding, brick and painted surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners in Naperville have a second option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

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


The soft wash system uses much less pressure 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 created from a nozzle with a wider spray option, only a little more powerful than a typical backyard hose.

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

Because chemicals, not 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 would otherwise be damaged by harsher pressure washing.

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

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


Pressure washing has always been the standard for cleaning exterior surfaces. It is highly effective and quick, which is why most home and business owners still prefer it.

This particular cleaning system uses water only, there are no chemicals, to remove stains and mildew from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a major plus to property owners that don’t want to use chemicals, whether for the sake of the environment or to avoid zoning violations.

It can be used on a lot of different materials. Home owners frequently prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, walkways and patio furniture because it is fast, efficient and cost-effective.

Pressure washing uses 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 blasted from your home’s surface, prohibiting their growth and restoring the appearance of your house.

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


The real 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, including sidewalks, driveways and more. Both of these cleaning systems can be done by a professional – and truthfully, are more effectively done when left to the experts.

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

It kills organisms currently present on the surface, and it prevents future growth for a lot longer than pressure washing can.

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

Pressure washing is the best method for severe stains, and hard surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred process for commercial surfaces. A local pressure washing company in Naperville may use a combination of detergents and water pressure to clean offf problematic stains, but they need to tell you if they are going to be using chemicals during your estimate.

It can be used for siding too (and has been for several years) so long as it is done correctly. Powerful water pressure can break weak or smaller pieces of the vinyl. A local company that does pressure washing often will know how to protect fragile pieces, but a amateur can do a lot of damage.

Your home’s roof is definitely off limits for pressure washing if there are slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The pressure of the water could damage these materials and require you to replace your roof much earlier than expected.

Choosing between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a professional pressure washing company. Which method is right for your house? Give Naperville Pressure Washing a call at 630-454-9034 and we will send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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