Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

It’s amazing how dirty the outside of your house can get throughout 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 look, regardless of whether you invest time and care into it.

Some materials, like dirt, don’t do much harm, but algae and mold can be destructive to both your health and your house. They create allergens that can impact your family, and some, like algae, can even grow underneath vinyl or roofing and enter your house.

As a professional power washing company in Oceanside, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. The spring season is the most common time of the year to do an intense home cleaning, but you can do it any time as long as the weather allows.


All of the following home surfaces need to be cleaned from time to time:

• Vinyl siding
• Rock and stone
• Brick
• Concrete and asphalt

Power washing used to be the only method to thoroughly clean vinyl, brick and painted home surfaces. Now, homeowners in Oceanside have another option for exterior house 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 cover the features of each method to help you judge which one is the right choice for your house.


The soft wash process uses much less power than a typical pressure washer, hence the name. The highest water pressure used in a soft washing system is 500 PSI. This lower spray is produced from a nozzle with a wider spray option, only a little more powerful than your 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 outdoor surfaces. The cleaning mixture used in a soft washing process 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 responsible for cleaning the surfaces, no powerful water is needed. This means that soft washing can be used for fragile surfaces that might otherwise be harmed by harsher pressure washing equipment.

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

Soft washing offers the distinct advantage of getting into cracks to kill even unseen bacteria, meaning that its effects can last longer than power washing.


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

This cleaning process uses water only, no chemicals, to remove stains and organisms from home exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a significant advantage to home owners who 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 frequently prefer power washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, sidewalks and outdoor furniture because it is quick, efficient and cost-effective.

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

One negative about power washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and can damage the surfaces of your home you want to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to put 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 methods are good choices for your home’s exterior, including sidewalks, driveways and more. Both cleaning systems can be performed by a professional company – and truthfully, are more correctly done when left to the experts.

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

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

A disadvantage of soft washing is that it can kill plant life underneath 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 shouldn’t be an issue.

Pressure washing is considered the recommended choice for difficult stains, and harder surfaces like asphalt, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the recommended choice for commercial properties. A local pressure washing company in Oceanside may use a mixture of chemicals and water pressure to remove problematic stains, but they need to let you know if they will be spraying chemicals after your estimate.

It can be used on siding as well (and has been for decades) as long as it is done correctly. High water pressure can break weak or small pieces of vinyl. A service that does power washing all the time are going to know how to protect these areas, but a DIYer could do a lot of damage.

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

Choosing between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a pressure washing company. Which process is right for your house? Give Oceanside Pressure Washing a call at 760-280-9332 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!

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