Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s shocking just how dirty the outside of your home can get over a year. Some of the most common stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These things can give any home an unkempt, messy appearance, regardless of if you invest a lot of time, money and maintenance into it.

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

As a professional power washing company in Rockville, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. Spring is the most popular time to do an extreme home cleaning, but you can do it any time so 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

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

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


The soft wash system uses much less power than a typical pressure washer, hence the name. The highest water pressure in a soft washing system is 500 PSI. This lower spray is produced from a nozzle with a wider spray option, only slightly more powerful than your typical backyard lawn 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 outdoor surfaces. The mixture used in a soft washing system can also include algaecides and residual inhibitors to help slow further growth of these types of organisms in the future.

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

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

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


Pressure washing has always been the standard for cleaning exterior surfaces. It is extremely effective and quick, which is why most home and business owners 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 chemical-free water is a significant advantage to property owners who don’t want to use chemicals, whether for the environment’s sake or to avoid zoning violations.

It can be used on many different materials. Home and business owners frequently choose power washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, walkways and patio furniture because it is fast, more efficient and cost-effective.

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

One drawback to power washing is that the water can sometimes be too powerful and can harm the surfaces you’re attempting to clean. Pressure washing is powerful enough to put grooves into wood and plastic, and it can get into cracks, breaking off chunks of stone or brick.


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

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

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

It kills organisms currently present on the surface, and it stops future growth for a lot longer than power washing can.

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

Pressure washing is considered the recommended method for severe stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the preferred method for commercial properties. A local pressure washing company in Rockville may use a mixture of detergents and water pressure to remove difficult stains, but they should let you know if they are going to be using chemicals after your consultation.

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

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

Deciding between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a professional pressure washing company. Which method is right for your home? Give Rockville Pressure Washing a call at 240-201-2340 and we will send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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