Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s amazing how dirty the exterior of your home can get over a year. Some of the most common stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These types of stains can give any home an unkempt, uncared for look, even though you invest a lot of time and maintenance into it.

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

As a professional pressure washing company in Daly City, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. The spring season is the most common time to do an extreme home cleaning, but you can do it any time throughout the year as long as the weather permits.


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 way to properly clean vinyl, brick and painted home surfaces. Now, homeowners in Daly City have another option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

As the names suggest, one method is a lot gentler than the other one, but there’s more to it than that. Let’s review the features of each method to help you decide which is best for your home.


The soft wash system uses much 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 option, only slightly more powerful than a backyard lawn hose.

Soft washing uses detergent, bleach and water in some combination to eliminate organic matter and debris from your home, roof and other exterior surfaces. The cleaning solution 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 more delicate surfaces that might otherwise be damaged by harsher pressure washing equipment.

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

Soft washing offers the advantage of reaching down into small cracks to eliminate even unseen bacteria, meaning that its results can last longer than traditional pressure washing.


Pressure washing has always been the gold standard for cleaning home exterior surfaces. It is highly effective and fast, which is why a lot of home and business owners prefer it over soft washing.

This cleaning system uses water only, no chemicals, to remove stains and mildew from home exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a major plus to home owners that don’t want to use cleaning chemicals, either for the environment’s sake or to avoid zoning violations.

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

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

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


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

Both soft washing and pressure washing methods are good choices 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 pros.

Soft washing is great for outdoor play sets, yard tools, 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 removes organisms that are present on the surface, and it stops future growth for longer than pressure washing can.

A problem with soft washing is that it can kill plants under the surface that you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them down with water right before spraying the soft wash chemicals on your home or roof, and it won’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is considered the preferred method for severe stains, and hard surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the recommended choice for commercial surfaces. A local pressure washing company in Daly City may use a combination of chemicals and water pressure to get rid of tough stains, but they should tell you if they are going to be spraying chemicals after your consultation.

It can also be used for siding as well (and has been for several years) as long as it is done carefully. Powerful water pressure can break weak or small pieces of the vinyl. A service that does pressure washing often are going to know how to protect vulnerable pieces, but a first-timer might do a lot of harm.

Your home’s roof is off limits for pressure washing if you have slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The extreme pressure of the water could damage these materials and cause you to replace your roof far sooner than expected.

Choosing between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a pressure washing company. Which process is right for your home? Give Daly City Pressure Washing a call at 650-337-3149 and we’ll send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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