Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

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

Some materials, like dirt, are harmless, but algae and mildew can be harmful to your health and to your house. They produce allergens and bacteria that can affect your family, and some, like algae, can grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter into your house.

As a professional pressure washing service in Metairie, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. Spring is the most popular time of the year to do an intense home exterior washing, but you can do it any time as long as the weather permits.


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

As the names imply, one method is a lot gentler than the other, but there’s more to it than that. Let’s review the features of each method to help you decide which one is the right choice 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 lighter spray is generated from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only a little more powerful than your backyard garden hose.

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

Because chemicals, not pressure, are responsible for cleaning the exterior surfaces, no powerful water pressure 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 cleaned off, but not every time. This just depends on the type of chemicals are used, if there is plant or animal life that might be impacted by the solution runoff, and if the chemicals are strong enough to harm surfaces over time.

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


Pressure washing has long been the standard for cleaning exterior surfaces. It is very effective and fast, which is why most home and business owners prefer it over soft washing.

This particular cleaning system uses water only, no chemicals, to clean off stains and organisms from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a significant plus to property owners that 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 often prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, sidewalks and patio furniture because it is quick, more efficient and affordable.

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

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


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

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

Soft washing is great for outdoor toys, gardening equipment, roof shingles, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is unlikely to harm wood and plastic. It’s also a safe and smart choice for vinyl siding.

It kills organisms currently present on the exterior surface, and it stops future growth for a lot 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 down with water right before putting the soft wash solution on your house or roof, and it won’t be an issue.

Pressure washing is considered the recommended method for difficult stains, and harder surfaces like asphalt, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the recommended method for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing service in Metairie may use a mix of chemicals and water pressure to remove difficult stains, but they should tell you if they will be spraying chemicals after your estimate.

It can also be used for siding as well (and has been for decades) as long as it is done carefully. High water pressure can damage weak or smaller pieces of the vinyl. A service that does pressure washing all the time will know how to protect vulnerable areas, but a first-timer might do a lot of harm.

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

Deciding between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which process is right for your house? Give Metairie Pressure Wash Masters a call at 504-285-2559 and we’ll send a trained technician over to take a look!

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