Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

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

Some of these materials, like dirt or mud, don’t do much harm, but algae and mildew can be damaging to your health and to your house. They create allergens that can affect your family, and some, like algae, can even grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing and enter into your house.

As a professional power washing service in Bowie, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. The spring season is typically the most popular time to do an intense home exterior cleaning, but you can do it any time throughout the year so long as the weather permits.


All of the following 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 method to properly clean vinyl siding, brick and painted surfaces. Now, homeowners in Bowie 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 the right choice for your house.


The soft wash process uses less power 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 a little more powerful than your standard backyard hose.

Soft washing uses a mixture of detergent, bleach and water in combination to get rid of 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 stop further growth of these types of organisms in the future.

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

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

Soft washing offers the advantage of getting into small cracks to kill even unseen organisms, meaning that its results can last much longer than standard power washing.


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

This cleaning process uses water only, there are no chemicals, to get rid of stains and organisms from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a significant advantage to home and business owners that don’t want to use cleaning chemicals, either for the environment’s sake or to avoid zoning violations.

The pressure washing process can be used on several different materials. Home and business owners frequently prefer power washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, walkways and outdoor furniture because it is fast, more efficient and cost-effective.

Pressure washing requires somewhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water sprayed out from a small nozzle for the most power. Both organic and inorganic materials are sprayed from your home’s exterior surface, prohibiting their growth and renewing the appearance 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 powerful enough to cut 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 performed by a professional – and truthfully, are more correctly done when left to the pros.

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

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

A problem with soft washing is that it can kill plant life underneath the surface you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them with water 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 hard surfaces like asphalt, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred choice for commercial properties. A professional pressure washing service in Bowie might use a mix of chemicals and water pressure to remove tough stains, but they need to let you know if they are going to be spraying chemicals during your consultation.

It can be used on siding too (and has been for several years) so long as it is done safely. High water pressure can break off fragile or small pieces of vinyl. A local service that does power washing often will know how to protect vulnerable areas, but a amateur might do a lot of harm.

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

Deciding between soft washing or power washing is best left for a professional pressure washing service. Which process is right for your house? Give Bowie Pressure Washing a call at 301-666-2797 and we’ll send a trained technician over to take a look!

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