Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

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

Some materials, like dirt, are harmless, but algae and mildew can be damaging to your health and your house. These contaminants produce allergens and bacteria that can impact your family, and some of them, like algae, can grow underneath vinyl or roofing and enter your house.

As a professional power washing service in Cambridge, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. Spring is the most popular time to do an extreme home exterior washing, but you can really do it any time so long as the weather allows.


All of the following 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 option to properly clean vinyl siding, brick and painted surfaces. Now, homeowners in Cambridge have another option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

Like the names imply, one method is much gentler than the other, but there’s more to it than just that. Let’s review 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 lighter spray is created from a nozzle with a wider spray option, only a little more powerful than a standard backyard hose.

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

Because chemicals, not water pressure, are key to cleaning the exterior surfaces, no powerful water is needed. This means that soft washing should be used for more fragile surfaces that might otherwise be damaged by higher pressure washing equipment.

The soft wash chemicals are sometimes washed off, but not all of the time. This just depends on what type of chemicals are used, if there’s plant or animal life that could be impacted by the runoff, and if the chemicals are strong enough to harm surfaces over time.

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


Pressure washing has long been the gold standard for cleaning exterior surfaces. It is extremely 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 clean off stains and mold from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a big advantage to property owners who don’t want to use 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 prefer power washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, walkways and patio furniture because it is fast, more efficient and affordable.

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

One negative about power washing is that the water can sometimes be too powerful and can harm the surfaces you want to clean. Pressure washing is strong 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 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 cleaning systems can be done by a professional company – and truthfully, are more correctly done when left to the pros.

Soft washing is excellent for outdoor toys, gardening 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 that are present on the exterior surface, and it stops future growth for longer than power washing can.

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

Pressure washing is the preferred method for difficult stains, and hard surfaces like asphalt, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the preferred choice for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing service in Cambridge may use a mixture of detergents and water pressure to clean offf difficult stains, but they need to tell you if they will be spraying chemicals during your estimate.

It can be used on siding too (and has been for several years) so long as it is done safely. Powerful water pressure can break off fragile or smaller pieces of vinyl. A company that does power washing often are going to know how to protect weak pieces, but a amateur can do a lot of harm.

Your home’s roof is definitely 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 cause you to replace your home’s roof a lot earlier than expected.

Deciding between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a professional pressure washing service. Which method is right for your house? Give Cambridge Pressure Washing a call at 617-420-7768 and we’ll send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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