How should you approach washing your house? The answer is more complex than you might think. Soft washing and pressure washing are the two primary methods for cleaning exterior surfaces, but they differ greatly in scope. While they are both placed in the “power washing” category, it’s important to know when to use each method.

For example, if you are using high pressure to remove general surface contaminants, you may run the risk of structurally compromising that surface. Conversely, a soft wash may not thoroughly clean the surface if the proper detergents are not utilized.

There is a clear separation when differentiating soft washing vs pressure washing, and the scenarios for which each lends themselves can greatly differ. Our goal is to ensure you understand your options and which process caters to the surface that is being cleaned.

What is Pressure Washing?

Pressure washing is done using water under pressure (or PSI) that is designed to clean stronger surfaces with more heavily embedded or ingrained contaminants. It is generally the best method to remove loose paint or stain in preparation for painting or staining. A major drawback of using high pressure for siding or decking is that you can cause damage if performed incorrectly.

High pressure is good for preparing aluminum siding for paint. However, it is not the suggested method to use without the intention of painting afterward. In this case, you run the risk of removing the finish of the siding. Concrete over three years old can also benefit from a higher pressure wash, but you should always exercise caution. Lastly, high pressure is not recommended for cleaning your roof since you can cause damage to your shingles and run the risk of nullifying its warranty.

In short, higher pressure is best for:

  • Removing loose paint from wooden or aluminum siding.
  • Preparing wooden or aluminum siding for paint.
  • Preparing decks for staining (removing grayed out wood fibers and loose stain/paint).
  • Washing concrete that is over three years old.

What is Soft Washing?

For the safest and most effective removal of surface contaminants such as mold, algae, mildew, and dirt, the best method to use is a soft wash. Soft washing uses a safe pressure and relies primarily on the specialized cleansers used in the process. Soft washing delivers the cleansers and water generally at a higher volume but lower pressure.

Concrete less than three years old requires soft washing, and this is to make sure its structural integrity isn’t compromised. On roofs, the best method of protection requires a wash that is even softer than a basic soft wash. It uses a less diluted form of cleansers than a standard soft wash. In general, when you are considering a standard cleaning of your house, deck, roof, or newer concrete, soft washing is the recommended method.