Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is shocking just how dirty the exterior of your house can get over the course of a year. Some of the most typical stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These types of stains can give your house an unkempt, messy appearance, regardless of whether you invest time and maintenance into it.

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

As a professional pressure washing service in Berkeley, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. Spring is typically the most common time of the year to do an intense home washing, but you can 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

Pressure washing used to be the only way to thoroughly clean vinyl, brick and painted surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners have a second option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

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


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

Soft washing uses soap, bleach and water in some combination to get rid of organic matter from your home, roof and other exterior surfaces. The cleaning solution used in a soft washing process 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 responsible for cleaning the surfaces, no powerful water pressure is necessary. This means that soft washing can be used for delicate surfaces that would otherwise be damaged by harsher pressure washing.

The soft wash solution is sometimes cleaned off, but not always. This just depends on what 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 solution itself is strong enough to harm surfaces over time.

Soft washing provides the distinct advantage of getting down into cracks and crevices to kill unseen bacteria, meaning that its effects can last much longer than traditional pressure washing.


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

This particular cleaning system uses water only, no chemicals, to remove stains and organisms from exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a major plus to home and business owners who don’t want to use cleaning 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 and business owners often prefer pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, walkways and outdoor furniture because it is fast, efficient and cost-effective.

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

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


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

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

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

It eliminates organisms currently present on the surface, and it prevents future growth for much longer than pressure washing can.

A problem with soft washing is that it can kill plant life under the surface you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them down with water right before putting the soft wash chemicals on your house or roof, and it shouldn’t be an issue.

Pressure washing is considered the recommended choice for difficult stains, and harder surfaces like asphalt, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the recommended process for commercial properties. A local pressure washing service in Berkeley may use a mixture of chemicals and water pressure to get rid of tough stains, but they should let you know if they are going to be using chemicals during your consultation.

It can also be used on siding as well (and has been for several years) so long as it is done correctly. High water pressure can damage weak or small pieces of vinyl. A local company that does pressure washing often are going to know how to protect vulnerable areas, but a DIYer can do a lot of harm.

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 will likely damage these materials and require you to replace your home’s roof far sooner than expected.

Deciding between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a professional pressure washing service. Which method is right for your house? Give Berkeley Pressure Washing a call at 510-256-7960 and we’ll send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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