Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s surprising how dirty the outside of your home can get over a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These things can give any home an unkempt, messy look, regardless of whether you invest a lot of time and care into it.

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

As a professional power washing service in Sarasota, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. Spring is the most popular time to do an intense home exterior washing, but you can do it any time so long as the weather allows.


All of the following home surfaces need to be power washed 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 home surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners in Sarasota 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 review the features of each method to help you judge which one is the right choice for your home.


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

Soft washing uses a mixture of detergent, bleach and water in some combination to get rid of organic matter and debris from your home, roof and other outdoor surfaces. The solution used in a soft washing process can include algaecides and residual inhibitors to help prevent further growth of these types of organisms in the future.

Because chemicals, not water pressure, are responsible for cleaning the exterior surfaces, no powerful water is needed. This means that soft washing can be used for fragile surfaces that would otherwise be damaged by higher pressure washing.

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

Soft washing offers the advantage of getting down into small cracks and crevices to kill even unseen organisms, meaning that its results can last a lot longer than standard power washing.


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

This cleaning method uses water only, there are no chemicals, to clean off stains and mold from home exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a big plus to home owners that don’t want to use chemicals, whether for the environment’s sake or to avoid zoning violations.

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

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

One negative about power washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and can damage the surfaces of your home you want to clean. Pressure washing is powerful enough to put grooves into wood and plastic, and it can push into cracks, breaking off chunks of stone or brick.


The real 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 pros.

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

It removes organisms currently present on the exterior surface, and it prevents future growth for a lot longer than power 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 before applying the soft wash chemicals on your home or roof, and it probably won’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 method for commercial properties. A professional pressure washing service in Sarasota may use a combination of detergents and water pressure to clean offf problematic stains, but they should let you know 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 carefully. Powerful water pressure can damage fragile or small pieces of the vinyl. A service that does power washing often are going to know how to protect vulnerable areas, but a amateur might do a lot of damage.

Your home’s roof is definitely off limits for power washing if there are slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The pressure of the water will likely ruin these materials and cause you to replace your roof far earlier than expected.

Deciding between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a professional pressure washing service. Which method is right for your home? Give Sarasota Pressure Washing a call at 941-214-2050 and we will send an experienced technician over to take a look!

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