Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is shocking just how dirty the siding, wood or brick of your home can get over the course of a year. Some of the most typical stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These things can give any home an unkempt, messy look, regardless of if you invest a lot of time and care into it.

Some materials, like dirt or mud, are harmless, but algae and mildew can be destructive to both your health and your home. These contaminants create allergens that can impact your family, and some of them, like algae, can grow underneath vinyl or roofing and enter your home.

As a professional pressure washing company in Reno, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. The spring season is typically the most common time of the year to do an intense home cleaning, but you can really do it any time so 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

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

As the names imply, one method is a lot gentler than the other one, but there’s a little more to it than just that. Let’s look at the features of each to help you decide which is the right choice for your home.


The soft wash system uses much less pressure than a typical pressure washer, hence the name. The maximum water pressure in a soft washing system is 500 PSI. This lighter spray is created from a nozzle with a wider spray option, only slightly more powerful than your standard backyard lawn hose.

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

Because chemicals, not pressure, are key to cleaning the surfaces, no powerful water is required. This means that soft washing should be used for delicate surfaces that could otherwise be damaged by more powerful pressure washing equipment.

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

Soft washing offers the advantage of reaching into small cracks and crevices to eliminate unseen bacteria, meaning that its effects can last much longer than standard pressure washing.


Pressure washing has long been the standard for cleaning home exterior surfaces. It is extremely effective and fast, which is why most home and business owners prefer it over soft washing.

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

It can be used on a lot of different materials. Home and business owners prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, sidewalks and outdoor furniture because it is fast, efficient and affordable.

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

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


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

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

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

It removes organisms currently present on the surface, and it stops future growth for much longer than pressure washing can.

A problem with soft washing is that it can kill plants under the surface that you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them with water before spraying the soft wash solution on your home or roof, and it shouldn’t be an issue.

Pressure washing is considered the best choice for severe stains, and harder surfaces like asphalt, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the recommended process for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing company in Reno may use a mix of chemicals and water pressure to get rid of tough stains, but they need to let you know if they are going to be spraying chemicals during your consultation.

It can also be used on siding too (and has been for decades) so long as it is done correctly. High water pressure can damage weak or smaller pieces of vinyl. A local company that does pressure washing all the time will know how to protect fragile areas, but a DIYer could do a lot of damage.

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

Deciding between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a pressure washing company. Which method is right for your home? Give Reno Pressure Washing a call at 775-251-9270 and we will send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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