Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s surprising how dirty the siding, wood or brick of your home can get throughout a year. Some of the most typical stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These things will give your home an unkempt, messy look, even though you invest a lot of time, money and care into it.

Some materials, like dirt or mud, don’t do much harm, but algae and mildew can be destructive to both your health and your home. They produce allergens and bacteria that can impact your family, and some, like algae, can even grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter your home.

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


All of the following surfaces need to be cleaned 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 siding, brick and painted surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners in Houston have another option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

Like the names suggest, one method is much gentler than the other one, but there’s more to it than that. Let’s go over the features of each to help you decide which is the right choice for your home.


The soft wash process uses much less pressure than a typical pressure washer, hence the name. The highest water pressure in a soft washing system is 500 PSI. This lighter spray is produced from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only slightly more powerful than a typical backyard garden hose.

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

Because chemicals, not water pressure, are key to cleaning the surfaces, no powerful water pressure is needed. This means that soft washing should be used for fragile surfaces that would 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, if there is plant or animal life that might be impacted by the solution runoff, and if the chemicals are strong enough to damage surfaces over time.

Soft washing provides the advantage of reaching down into cracks and crevices to kill even unseen organisms, meaning that its impact can last much longer than standard pressure washing.


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

This particular cleaning process uses water only, no chemicals, to eliminate stains and mildew from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a major advantage to property owners who don’t want to use chemicals, either for the environment’s sake or to avoid zoning violations.

The pressure washing process can be used on many different materials. Home and business owners often choose pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, walkways and outdoor furniture because it is quick, efficient and affordable.

Pressure washing needs somewhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water being sprayed out of a tiny nozzle for maximum power. Both organic and inorganic materials are sprayed from your home’s surface, stopping their growth and renewing the curb appeal of your home.

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


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

Both soft washing and pressure washing methods are good for your home’s exterior, including 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 excellent for outdoor play sets, yard tools, 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 eliminates organisms currently present on the surface, and it stops future growth for much 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 applying the soft wash solution on your home or roof, and it probably shouldn’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is considered the best method for severe stains, and hard surfaces like concrete, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the preferred method for commercial surfaces. A professional pressure washing company in Houston might use a mix of detergents and water pressure to clean offf difficult stains, but they need to tell you if they are going to be using chemicals during your estimate.

It can be used for siding too (and has been for decades) so long as it is done correctly. High water pressure can break weak or smaller pieces of the vinyl. A local company that does pressure washing often will know how to protect fragile pieces, 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 extreme pressure of the water will likely ruin these materials and require you to replace your roof far earlier than expected.

Deciding between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a pressure washing company. Which method is right for your home? Give ACE Houston Pressure Wash a call at 832-345-3442 and we’ll send an experienced technician over to take a look!