Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s amazing how dirty the outside of your home can get during a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These things can give your home an unkempt, messy appearance, even though you invest a lot of time and maintenance into it.

Some materials, like dirt, are harmless, but algae and mildew can be damaging to both your health and to your home. These contaminants create allergens that can affect your family, and some, like algae, can even grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing and enter your home.

As a professional pressure washing service in Carlsbad, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. Spring is the most common time of the year to do an intense home washing, but you can really do it any time so 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 option to properly clean vinyl, brick and painted home surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners in Carlsbad have a second option for exterior home cleaning: soft washing.

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


The soft wash method 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 option, only slightly more powerful than a typical backyard garden hose.

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

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

The soft wash solution is sometimes rinsed off, but not always. This just depends on what type of solution is used, if there is plant or animal life that might be impacted by the solution runoff, and if the solution itself is strong enough to damage surfaces over time.

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


Pressure washing has always been the standard for cleaning home exterior surfaces. It is highly effective and quick, which is why many home and business owners prefer it over soft washing.

This particular cleaning method uses water only, there are no chemicals, to get rid of stains and organisms from home exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a significant advantage to home and business 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 choose pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, porches, decks, walkways and patio furniture because it is quick, efficient and cost-effective.

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

One negative about pressure washing is that the water can sometimes be too powerful and lead to damaging the surfaces of your home you want to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to put deep grooves into wood and plastic, and it can push into cracks, breaking off pieces of brick or stone.


The real question for 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 performed by a professional – and honestly, are more correctly done when left to the pros.

Soft washing is perfect for outdoor play equipment, yard tools, roof shingles, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is less likely to damage wood and plastic. It’s also a safe and smart choice for vinyl siding.

It eliminates organisms that are 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 you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them down with water right before spraying the soft wash solution on your home or roof, and it shouldn’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is considered the preferred choice for severe stains, and harder surfaces like concrete, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the recommended method for commercial properties. A professional pressure washing service in Carlsbad might use a mixture of chemicals and water pressure to eliminate problematic stains, but they should let you know if they are going to be spraying chemicals during your consultation.

It can also be used for siding too (and has been for decades) so long as it is done carefully. High water pressure can damage weak or small pieces of vinyl. A company that does pressure washing often are going to know how to protect these pieces, but a DIYer might do a lot of damage.

Your home’s roof is definitely off limits for pressure washing if you have slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The pressure of the water might ruin these materials and require you to replace your home’s roof a lot faster than expected.

Choosing between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which method is right for your home? Give Carlsbad Pressure Washing a call at 760-227-5271 and we’ll send a trained technician over to take a look!

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