Soft Washing vs. Pressure Washing

soft washing gutters on a roof

It’s amazing how dirty the exterior of your house can get during a year. Some of the most common stains include mud or dirt, algae, mold and mildew. These things can give your house an unkempt, messy look, regardless of if you invest time and maintenance into it.

Some materials, like dirt, are harmless, but algae and mildew can be damaging to your health and to your house. These contaminants create allergens that can impact your family, and some, like algae, can even grow underneath vinyl or roofing and enter into your house.

As a professional pressure washing company in Chattanooga, we recommend you have your home’s exterior cleaned once a year. The spring season is typically the most popular time to do an intense home exterior washing, but you can do it any time as long as the weather permits.

WHAT NEEDS PRESSURE WASHING?

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 method to thoroughly clean vinyl siding, brick and painted home surfaces. Now in 2021, homeowners in Chattanooga have a second option for exterior house cleaning: soft washing.

As the names imply, one method is much gentler than the other one, but there’s more to it than that. Let’s cover the features of each to help you judge which is the right choice for your house.

WHAT IS SOFT WASHING?

The soft wash method uses much less pressure 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 a little more powerful than a backyard hose.

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

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

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

Soft washing provides the advantage of getting into cracks to kill even unseen bacteria, meaning that its impact can last longer than pressure washing.

WHAT IS PRESSURE 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.

This cleaning method uses water only, there are no chemicals, to remove stains and mildew from home exterior surfaces. The use of chemical-free water is a significant advantage to home and business owners that don’t want to use chemicals, whether for the sake of the environment or to avoid zoning violations.

It can be used on a lot of different materials. Home owners often choose pressure washing for cleaning their driveway, patio, decks, sidewalks and patio furniture because it is quick, more efficient and cost-effective.

Pressure washing needs anywhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI water pressure with water being sprayed out of a tiny nozzle for the most power. Both organic and inorganic materials are sprayed from your home’s exterior surface, stopping their growth and renewing the curb appeal of your house.

One drawback to pressure washing is that the water can sometimes be too powerful and lead to damaging the surfaces you want to clean. Pressure washing is strong enough to cut grooves in wood and plastic, and it can get into cracks, breaking off chunks of brick or stone.

IS PRESSURE WASHING OR SOFT WASHING BETTER?

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

Both soft washing and pressure washing are good for your home’s exterior, including sidewalks, driveways and more. Both cleaning systems can be performed by a professional company – and truthfully, are more correctly done when left to the pros.

Soft washing is great for outdoor toys, yard tools, roof shingles, 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 exterior surface, and it stops future growth for longer than pressure washing can.

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

Pressure washing is considered the preferred method for difficult stains, and hard surfaces like asphalt, brick and stone. Pressure washing is the preferred process for commercial properties. A professional pressure washing company in Chattanooga may use a combination of detergents and water pressure to eliminate difficult stains, but they should tell you if they are going to be using chemicals after your consultation.

It can be used for siding too (and has been for several years) as long as it is done safely. Powerful water pressure can break off fragile or small pieces of the vinyl. A company that does pressure washing all the time will know how to protect these areas, but a first-timer could do a lot of damage.

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

Deciding between soft washing or pressure washing is best left for a professional pressure washing company. Which process is right for your house? Give Chattanooga Pressure Washing a call at 423-205-1377 and we’ll send a trained technician over to take a look!