Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is amazing how dirty the outside of your house can get during a year. Some of the most common stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These stains will give any house an unkempt, uncared for look, even though you invest time, money and care into it.

Some materials, like dirt, are harmless, but algae and mildew can be harmful to your health and to your house. These contaminants create 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 pressure washing company in Minneapolis, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. Spring is the most popular time to do an extreme home washing, but you can really do it any time as long as the weather allows.


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 option to properly clean vinyl siding, brick and painted home surfaces. Now, homeowners have another option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

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


The soft wash system uses less pressure 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 produced from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only slightly more powerful than a standard backyard hose.

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

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

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

Soft washing offers the advantage of getting into small cracks and crevices to kill unseen organisms, meaning that its impact can last much longer than standard pressure washing.


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

This cleaning system uses water only, there are no chemicals, to eliminate stains and organisms from home exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a significant plus to home owners who don’t want to use chemicals, either for the sake of the environment or to avoid zoning violations.

The pressure washing process can be used on several different materials. Home owners often prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, sidewalks and outdoor furniture because it is fast, efficient and affordable.

Pressure washing uses 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 curb appeal of your house.

One drawback to pressure washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and can harm the surfaces you want to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to cut grooves in wood and plastic, and it can get into cracks, breaking off pieces of stone or brick.


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

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

Soft washing is perfect for outdoor play equipment, yard tools, roof shingles, 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 eliminates organisms that are present on the surface, and it stops future growth for much longer than pressure 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 shouldn’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is the recommended choice for difficult stains, and hard surfaces like asphalt, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the recommended process for commercial properties. A local pressure washing company in Minneapolis might use a combination of detergents and water pressure to clean offf tough stains, but they need to let you know if they are going to be spraying chemicals after your estimate.

It can be used on siding as well (and has been for several years) as long as it is done carefully. Powerful water pressure can damage weak or small pieces of vinyl. A local service that does pressure washing all the time will know how to protect these areas, but a amateur could do a lot of harm.

Your home’s roof is definitely off limits for pressure washing if you have slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The high pressure of the water will likely ruin these materials and cause you to replace your home’s roof far earlier than expected.

Deciding between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a professional pressure washing company. Which method is right for your house? Give Minneapolis Pressure Washing a call at 952-206-6970 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!

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