Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is surprising just how dirty the outside of your house can get throughout a year. Some of the most typical stains include dirt or mud splatter, algae, mold and mildew. These things can give your house an unkempt, messy look, regardless of whether you invest time and maintenance into it.

Some materials, like dirt, are harmless, but algae and mold can be damaging to your health and to your house. They produce allergens and bacteria that can impact your family, and some of them, like algae, can grow underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter your house.

As a professional power washing company in Norman, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. Spring is typically the most common time to do an extreme home exterior washing, but you can do it any time throughout the year as long as the weather allows.


All of the following home 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 properly clean vinyl siding, brick and painted home surfaces. Now, homeowners have a second option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

As the names suggest, one method is much gentler than the other, but there’s more to it than just that. Let’s go over the features of each method to help you determine which one is best for your house.


The soft wash system uses much less power than a typical pressure washer, hence the name. The highest water pressure used 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 backyard lawn hose.

Soft washing uses detergent, bleach and water in combination to get rid of organic matter and debris from your home, roof and other outdoor surfaces. The cleaning solution 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 pressure, are key to cleaning the exterior surfaces, no powerful water is required. This means that soft washing can be used for more fragile surfaces that could otherwise be damaged by higher pressure washing.

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

Soft washing provides the advantage of reaching into small cracks to eliminate unseen bacteria, meaning that its results can last much longer than traditional power washing.


Pressure washing has long been the gold standard for cleaning home exterior surfaces. It is extremely effective and fast, which is why most home and business owners prefer it over soft washing.

This cleaning system uses water only, there are no chemicals, to remove stains and organisms from home exterior surfaces. The use of plain 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.

It can be used on several different materials. Home and business owners often choose power washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, walkways and patio furniture because it is fast, more efficient and cost-effective.

Pressure washing uses anywhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water sprayed out from a small nozzle for the most power. Both organic and inorganic stains are blasted from your home’s exterior surface, preventing their growth and renewing the curb appeal of your house.

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


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

Both soft washing and pressure washing methods are good 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 correctly done when left to the experts.

Soft washing is excellent for outdoor play equipment, gardening tools, shingle roofs, decks, gutters, patios and painted surfaces because it is less likely to damage plastic and wood. It’s also a safe choice for vinyl siding.

It removes organisms that are present on the exterior surface, and it stops future growth for much longer than power washing can.

A disadvantage of soft washing is that it can kill plants under the surface that you’re cleaning. Remember to spray them with water before putting the soft wash chemicals on your house or roof, and it shouldn’t be a problem.

Pressure washing is the best method for severe stains, and hard surfaces like asphalt, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred choice for commercial properties. A local pressure washing company in Norman might use a mixture of detergents and water pressure to eliminate difficult stains, but they should tell you if they are going to be spraying chemicals after your estimate.

It can be used for siding as well (and has been for decades) as long as it is done carefully. Powerful water pressure can break weak or smaller pieces of vinyl. A company that does power washing often will know how to protect these areas, but a DIYer could do a lot of damage.

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

Choosing between pressure washing or soft washing is best left for a professional pressure washing company. Which method is right for your house? Give Norman Pressure Washing a call at 405-251-8909 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!

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