Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s amazing just how dirty the outside of your house can get during the course of a year. Some of the most common stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These types of stains will give your house an unkempt, uncared for appearance, even though you invest a lot of time and maintenance into it.

Some of these materials, like dirt or mud, don’t do much harm, but algae and mold can be destructive to your health and your house. These contaminants produce allergens that can affect your family, and some, like algae, can grow underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter into your house.

As a professional power washing company in Carmel, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. The spring season is the most common time to do an intense home exterior washing, 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

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

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


The soft wash method 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 setting, only a little more powerful than a standard backyard garden hose.

Soft washing uses soap, bleach and water in some combination to eliminate organic matter and debris from your home, roof and other outdoor surfaces. The cleaning solution used in a soft washing system can also include algaecides and residual inhibitors to help prevent further growth of these organisms in the future.

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

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

Soft washing offers the distinct advantage of getting into cracks and crevices to eliminate unseen bacteria, 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 extremely effective and fast, which is why most home and business owners prefer it.

This particular cleaning method uses water only, there are no chemicals, to clean off stains and mold from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a major advantage to home and business owners that don’t want to use cleaning chemicals, either for the sake of the environment or to avoid zoning violations.

It can be used on several different materials. Home and business owners prefer power washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, walkways and outdoor furniture because it is quick, efficient and cost-effective.

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

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


The ultimate question for most homeowners is, “Which one should I choose?”

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

Soft washing is great for outdoor play equipment, yard tools, 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 kills organisms that are 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 that you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them with water before spraying the soft wash solution on your house or roof, and it shouldn’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is considered the preferred method for difficult stains, and hard surfaces like asphalt, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the recommended choice for commercial surfaces. A local pressure washing company in Carmel might use a mixture of chemicals and water pressure to eliminate difficult stains, but they need to tell you if they are going to be using chemicals after your consultation.

It can be used for siding too (and has been for several years) so long as it is done carefully. High water pressure can break fragile or small pieces of vinyl. A local service that does power washing all the time will know how to protect these areas, but a first-timer might 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 high pressure of the water could damage these materials and cause you to replace your home’s roof far faster than expected.

Deciding between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a pressure washing company. Which process is right for your house? Give Carmel Pressure Washing a call at 317-434-8145 and we’ll send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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