Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is surprising just how dirty the outside of your house can get throughout a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These things will give any house an unkempt, uncared for appearance, regardless of if you invest time, money and maintenance into it.

Some materials, like dirt, are harmless, but algae and mold can be harmful to your health and your house. They produce allergens that can impact your family, and some, like algae, can even grow underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter your house.

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


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

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

Power washing used to be the only method to properly clean vinyl siding, brick and painted home surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners have a second option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

As the names imply, one method is a lot gentler than the other one, but there’s more to it than just that. Let’s cover the features of each method to help you judge which is best for your house.


The soft wash system uses much less pressure than a typical pressure washer, hence the name. The highest water pressure used in a soft washing system is 500 PSI. This lighter spray is produced from a nozzle with a wider spray option, only a little more powerful than your typical backyard garden hose.

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

Because chemicals, not pressure, are responsible for cleaning the surfaces, no powerful water pressure is necessary. 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 cleaned off, but not every time. This just depends on what type of solution is used, if there’s plant or animal life that can be affected by the solution runoff, and if the solution itself is powerful enough to damage surfaces over time.

Soft washing offers the distinct advantage of reaching down into small cracks to eliminate even unseen organisms, meaning that its impact can last longer than traditional pressure washing.


Pressure washing has always been the standard for cleaning home 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 particular cleaning system uses water only, there are no chemicals, to clean off stains and mildew from home exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a significant plus to home and business owners that don’t want to use cleaning chemicals, whether for the environment’s sake or to avoid zoning violations.

The pressure washing process can be used on many different materials. Home owners choose pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, walkways and outdoor furniture because it is quick, more efficient and affordable.

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

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


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

Both soft washing and pressure washing are good for your home’s exterior, as well as sidewalks, driveways and more. Both cleaning systems can be done by a professional – and truthfully, are more correctly done when left to the pros.

Soft washing is perfect for outdoor play equipment, 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 eliminates organisms currently present on the surface, and it prevents future growth for longer than pressure washing can.

A disadvantage of soft washing is that it can kill plants under the surface you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them down with water before applying the soft wash chemicals on your house or roof, and it probably won’t be an issue.

Pressure washing is the best choice for difficult stains, and hard surfaces like asphalt, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred choice for commercial properties. A local pressure washing service in Hillsboro might use a mix of detergents and water pressure to clean offf difficult stains, but they should tell you if they will be spraying chemicals during your estimate.

It can be used for siding too (and has been for several years) so long as it is done safely. High water pressure can break weak or smaller pieces of the vinyl. A service that does pressure washing all the time are going to know how to protect these pieces, but a amateur can 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 can damage these materials and require you to replace your roof far faster than expected.

Choosing between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which method is right for your house? Give Hillsboro Pressure Washing a call at 503-400-3699 and we’ll send a trained technician over to take a look!

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