Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s surprising how dirty the siding, wood or brick of your house can get during the course of a year. Some of the most typical stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These things can give any house an unkempt, messy look, regardless of whether you invest time and maintenance into it.

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

As a professional pressure washing company in Cary, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. Spring is typically the most popular time to do an extreme home cleaning, but you can do it any time throughout the year so long as the weather allows.


All of the following home 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 method to thoroughly clean vinyl, brick and painted home surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners in Cary have a second option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

Like the names suggest, one method is much gentler than the other one, but there’s a little more to it than that. Let’s look at the features of each method to help you determine which is best for your house.


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 generated from a nozzle with a wider spray option, only slightly more powerful than a typical backyard lawn hose.

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

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

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

Soft washing provides the distinct advantage of reaching into cracks to kill even unseen bacteria, meaning that its results can last a lot longer than pressure washing.


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

This particular cleaning system uses water only, no chemicals, to eliminate stains and organisms from home exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a big advantage to home and business owners that 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 frequently choose pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, sidewalks and patio furniture because it is quick, more efficient and cost-effective.

Pressure washing requires somewhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water being sprayed out from a small nozzle for the most power. Both organic and inorganic materials are blasted from your home’s surface, prohibiting their growth and restoring the curb appeal of your house.

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


The obvious 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 cleaning systems can be done by a professional – and honestly, are more effectively done when left to the experts.

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

It removes organisms that are present on the surface, and it prevents future growth for a lot 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 with water right before putting the soft wash chemicals on your house or roof, and it probably shouldn’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is the best choice for difficult stains, and hard surfaces like concrete, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the recommended method for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing company in Cary may use a mix of chemicals and water pressure to clean offf difficult stains, but they should tell you if they are going to be spraying chemicals during your estimate.

It can also be used for siding too (and has been for several years) so long as it is done correctly. High water pressure can break off fragile or smaller pieces of vinyl. A local company that does pressure washing often will know how to protect weak areas, but a amateur could do a lot of damage.

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

Choosing between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a pressure washing company. Which method is right for your house? Give Cary Pressure Washing a call at 919-343-0363 and we will send an experienced technician over to take a look!