Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It is amazing just how dirty the exterior of your home can get during the course of a year. Some of the most typical stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These types of stains will give your home an unkempt, messy appearance, regardless of whether you invest a lot of time, money and maintenance into it.

Some materials, like dirt or mud, don’t do much harm, 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 of them, like algae, can even grow directly underneath vinyl or roofing material and enter into your home.

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


All of the following surfaces need to be cleaned from time to time:

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

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

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


The soft wash process uses much less power than a typical pressure washer, hence the name. The maximum water pressure used in a soft washing system is 500 PSI. This lower spray is generated from a nozzle with a wider spray setting, only a little more powerful than your backyard lawn hose.

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

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

The soft wash solution is sometimes washed 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 can be affected by the solution runoff, and if the chemicals are strong enough to damage surfaces over time.

Soft washing offers the distinct advantage of getting down into cracks to eliminate even unseen organisms, meaning that its impact can last longer than standard power washing.


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

This cleaning process uses water only, no chemicals, to eliminate stains and mildew from exterior surfaces. The use of plain water is a significant plus to home owners who don’t want to use cleaning chemicals, whether for the environment’s sake or to avoid zoning violations.

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

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

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


The obvious 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 performed by a professional – and truthfully, are more effectively done when left to the pros.

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

It eliminates organisms currently present on the surface, and it prevents future growth for longer than power washing can.

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

Pressure washing is considered the recommended choice for severe stains, and hard surfaces like asphalt, stone and brick. Pressure washing is the recommended choice for commercial surfaces. A local pressure washing company in Overland Park might use a mixture of detergents and water pressure to clean offf tough stains, but they should tell you if they are going to be spraying chemicals during your estimate.

It can be used on siding as well (and has been for several years) so long as it is done carefully. High water pressure can break off weak or small pieces of the vinyl. A service that does power washing often will know how to protect fragile pieces, but a first-timer might do a lot of damage.

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

Deciding between soft washing or power washing is best left for a professional pressure washing company. Which process is right for your home? Give Overland Park Pressure Washing a call at 913-281-6698 and we will send a trained technician over to take a look!

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