Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is amazing how dirty the siding, wood or brick of your house can get throughout the course of a year. Some of the most typical stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These stains can give your house an unkempt, uncared for look, even though you invest time, money and care into it.

Some of these materials, like dirt, are harmless, but algae and mold can be damaging to both your health and your house. These contaminants create allergens that can impact your family, and some, like algae, can even grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter your house.

As a professional pressure washing company in Columbia, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. The spring season is the most popular time to do an intense home exterior cleaning, but you can really do it any time throughout the year so long as the weather permits.


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 way to properly clean vinyl siding, brick and painted surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners in Columbia have another option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

Like the names suggest, one method is a lot gentler than the other, but there’s more to it than that. Let’s cover the features of each method to help you determine which one 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 generated from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only a little more powerful than a typical backyard garden hose.

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

Because chemicals, not pressure, are responsible for cleaning the exterior surfaces, no powerful water is needed. This means that soft washing should be used for delicate surfaces that might otherwise be damaged by harsher pressure washing equipment.

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

Soft washing provides the advantage of reaching into cracks and crevices to eliminate even unseen organisms, meaning that its results can last longer than pressure washing.


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

This particular cleaning system uses water only, there are no chemicals, to get rid of stains and mildew from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a significant plus to home owners who don’t want to use chemicals, whether for the environment’s sake or to avoid zoning violations.

It can be used on several different materials. Home and business owners often prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, sidewalks and outdoor furniture because it is quick, efficient and cost-effective.

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

One negative about pressure washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and can damage the surfaces you’re attempting to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to cut grooves in wood and plastic, and it can push into cracks, breaking off pieces of brick or stone.


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

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

Soft washing is excellent for outdoor toys, yard equipment, shingle roofs, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is less likely to harm plastic and wood. It’s also a safe choice for vinyl siding.

It eliminates organisms that are present on the exterior surface, and it stops 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 with water right before applying the soft wash solution on your house or roof, and it won’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is the preferred choice for difficult stains, and hard surfaces like concrete, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the recommended process for commercial surfaces. A local pressure washing company in Columbia might use a mixture of chemicals and water pressure to eliminate difficult stains, but they should let you know if they will be spraying chemicals after your consultation.

It can be used for siding as well (and has been for decades) so long as it is done safely. Powerful water pressure can damage weak or smaller pieces of the vinyl. A company that does pressure washing all the time are going to know how to protect fragile areas, but a DIYer 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 require you to replace your roof far sooner than expected.

Deciding between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a pressure washing company. Which process is right for your house? Give Columbia Pressure Washing a call at 803-266-1526 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!

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