Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s surprising how dirty the siding, wood or brick of your house can get over a year. Some of the most typical stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These things can give any house an unkempt, messy look, regardless of whether you invest a lot of time, money and maintenance into it.

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

As a professional power washing company in Costa Mesa, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. Spring is the most common time of the year to do an extreme home washing, but you can do it any time 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

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

As the names suggest, one method is a lot gentler than the other, but there’s more to it than that. Let’s look at the features of each to help you judge which is best 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 lower spray is generated from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only slightly more powerful than your backyard lawn hose.

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

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

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

Soft washing offers the advantage of reaching into cracks to eliminate unseen organisms, meaning that its effects can last longer than power washing.


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

This cleaning system uses water only, no chemicals, to remove stains and mildew from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a big plus to home 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 many different materials. Home owners choose power washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, sidewalks and outdoor furniture because it is quick, more efficient and cost-effective.

Pressure washing requires somewhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water sprayed out from a tiny nozzle for the most power. Both organic and inorganic stains are sprayed from your home’s surface, preventing their growth and renewing the appearance of your house.

One drawback to power 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 chunks of brick or stone.


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

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

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

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

A problem with soft washing is that it can kill plant life under the surface that you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them with water before spraying the soft wash chemicals on your house or roof, and it shouldn’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is considered the preferred choice for severe stains, and hard surfaces like concrete, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the preferred method for commercial properties. A professional pressure washing company in Costa Mesa might use a mix of detergents and water pressure to remove problematic stains, but they need to let you know if they are going to be using chemicals after your consultation.

It can be used on siding as well (and has been for several years) so long as it is done safely. Powerful water pressure can damage weak or small pieces of vinyl. A company that does power washing often are going to know how to protect fragile areas, but a DIYer 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 extreme pressure of the water will likely ruin these materials and require you to replace your roof much earlier than expected.

Choosing between soft washing or power washing is best left for a professional pressure washing company. Which method is right for your house? Give CMC Costa Mesa Pressure Washing a call at 949-284-2735 and we’ll send an experienced technician over to take a look!

Call Now Button