Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is surprising how dirty the siding, wood or brick of your house can get over a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These types of stains will give any house an unkempt, uncared for appearance, even though you invest a lot of time, money and maintenance into it.

Some of these materials, like dirt or mud, are harmless, but algae and mold can be harmful to both your health and your house. They create allergens that can affect your family, and some of them, like algae, can grow underneath vinyl or roofing and enter your house.

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


All of the following surfaces need to be power washed from time to time:

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

Power washing used to be the only way to thoroughly clean vinyl, brick and painted surfaces. Now, homeowners in El Cajon have a second option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

Like the names imply, one method is a lot gentler than the other one, but there’s more to it than that. Let’s review the features of each to help you decide which is the right choice for your house.


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

Soft washing uses soap, bleach and water in combination to remove organic matter from your home, roof and other exterior surfaces. The cleaning mixture used in a soft washing system can include algaecides and residual inhibitors to help deter further growth of these types of 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 should be used for more fragile surfaces that might otherwise be harmed by higher pressure washing equipment.

The soft wash solution is sometimes rinsed off, but not all of the time. This just depends on what type of solution is used, if there is plant or animal life that could be affected by the solution runoff, and if the solution itself is strong enough to harm surfaces over time.

Soft washing offers the advantage of getting into small cracks to eliminate unseen bacteria, meaning that its impact can last a lot longer than standard power washing.


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

This cleaning system uses water only, there are no chemicals, to eliminate stains and mildew from exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a big plus to home and business owners that 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 and business owners prefer power washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, sidewalks and patio furniture because it is quick, more efficient and affordable.

Pressure washing needs somewhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water sprayed out from a small nozzle for the most power. Both organic and inorganic stains are blasted 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 lead to damaging the surfaces you want to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to cut grooves into wood and plastic, and it can get into cracks, breaking off chunks of brick or stone.


The ultimate question for homeowners is, “Is pressure washing or soft washing better?”

Both soft washing and pressure washing methods 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 – and truthfully, are more correctly done when left to the pros.

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

It removes organisms that are present on the exterior surface, and it stops future growth for a lot 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 before putting the soft wash chemicals on your house or roof, and it won’t be an issue.

Pressure washing is considered the preferred choice for severe stains, and hard surfaces like asphalt, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred method for commercial properties. A local pressure washing company in El Cajon may use a combination of chemicals and water pressure to remove tough stains, but they need to tell you if they are going to be spraying chemicals during your consultation.

It can also be used for siding too (and has been for several years) as long as it is done safely. Powerful water pressure can break weak or smaller pieces of vinyl. A local service that does power washing all the time will know how to protect fragile areas, but a first-timer could do a lot of harm.

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

Deciding between soft washing or power washing is best left for a pressure washing company. Which method is right for your house? Give El Cajon Pressure Washing a call at 619-292-0054 and we’ll send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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