Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is surprising how dirty the exterior of your home can get throughout a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These things will give any home an unkempt, uncared for look, even though you invest a lot of time, money and maintenance into it.

Some of these materials, like dirt or mud, don’t do much harm, but algae and mold can be destructive to both your health and your home. These contaminants create allergens that can impact your family, and some, like algae, can even grow underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter into your home.

As a professional power washing service in Knoxville, we recommend that you have your home’s exterior cleaned once every 12 months. Spring is the most popular time of the year to do an extreme 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 power washed from time to time:

• Vinyl siding
• Rock and stone
• Brick
• Concrete and asphalt

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

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


The soft wash system uses 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 produced from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only slightly more powerful than your typical backyard lawn hose.

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

Because chemicals, not pressure, are responsible for cleaning the surfaces, no powerful water pressure is required. This means that soft washing should be used for fragile surfaces that would otherwise be harmed by harsher pressure washing equipment.

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

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


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

This particular cleaning system uses water only, there are no chemicals, to get rid of stains and mold from home exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a big plus to home owners that don’t want to use cleaning chemicals, whether for the sake of the environment or to avoid zoning violations.

The pressure washing process can be used on a lot of different materials. Home owners frequently prefer power washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, walkways and outdoor furniture because it is quick, efficient and cost-effective.

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

One drawback to power washing is that the water is sometimes too powerful and can harm the surfaces of your home you’re attempting to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to cut deep grooves in wood and plastic, and it can push into cracks, breaking off chunks of brick or stone.


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

Both soft washing and pressure washing 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 honestly, are more effectively done when left to the experts.

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

It kills organisms currently present on the surface, and it stops future growth for a lot longer than power washing can.

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

Pressure washing is considered the preferred method for difficult stains, and hard surfaces like concrete, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the preferred process for commercial properties. A professional pressure washing service in Knoxville may use a mix of chemicals and water pressure to remove difficult stains, but they should tell you if they are going to be using chemicals during your estimate.

It can also be used for siding too (and has been for decades) so long as it is done correctly. High water pressure can break fragile or small pieces of vinyl. A service that does power washing all the time will know how to protect weak areas, but a amateur can do a lot of damage.

Your home’s roof is off limits for power washing if there are slate, tile or asphalt shingles. The high pressure of the water might damage these materials and cause you to replace your home’s roof a lot sooner than expected.

Choosing between soft washing or power washing is best left for a pressure washing service. Which method is right for your home? Give Knoxville Pressure Washing a call at 865-217-1728 and we will send an experienced technician over to take a look!