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Soft Wash vs. Pressure Wash: How to Determine Which Is Right For You.

June 30th, 2020 BY First American Roofing

After years of rain, snow, and ice wreaking havoc on your home’s exterior, you may be looking to spruce it up a bit with a power wash. Power washing is like an extreme hose down that blasts away dirt and grime from your home’s siding, roof, driveway, and the rest of the exterior. However, it’s not the only option.

The fastest way to wash away that grime may be to pressure wash, but there’s also the option to soft wash, which is less harsh than a high-pressure wash. Let’s talk about the differences between soft wash vs. pressure washing to determine which is right for you.

Soft Wash vs. Pressure Wash

A key difference between a soft wash and a pressure wash, which you may have gathered from the names, is that one uses high pressure and the other uses a lower pressure. Pressure washing, or power washing, uses high-pressure water that runs anywhere from 1300 to 3100 PSI. Meanwhile, soft washing uses much less power than that and simply acts like a strong powered hose.

Another difference is what comes out of the hose with soft washing vs. pressure washing. While a pressure wash relies on the high-pressure water alone to clean properly, soft washing systems use a combination of soaps, bleach, and water to ensure your exterior stays clean for the long term.

When Will I Know When I Need to Wash My House?

If you are wondering whether or not to power wash your house, take a good walk around your home – pointing out any spots that look dirty or dingy. We can tell you that you’ll typically find much more dirt on the northern side of your home, including things like black mold or algae growth. You may see the discoloration on your siding, stone landscaping, asphalt, brick, etc. If you live further out into the country, you’ll notice more dust and dirt coating your exterior surfaces.

As you walk around your home, take a good look at your roof. If you see dark gray or black streaks, that is a sign that you have algae growing which is the early stages of something much more sinister. That algae growth will eventually turn into lichen, which attacks your roof shingle granules and lessens the lifespan of your roof. Lichen can take a 15-year roof and jump it straight to the end of its lifecycle.

Exterior surfaces that can be washed using pressure or soft washing include siding, gutters, decks, concrete sidewalks and driveways, fences, retaining walls, and more. Roofs can only be cleaned using soft washing or low pressure. There’s no real timeline for how often you need to use these techniques to wash your exterior, and you can usually tell just by looking at it. But it is important to note that homeowners living in rural or wooded areas may need to soft wash more often.

dirty roof

Pros and Cons of Pressure Washing

Pressure washing is likely more commonly known for washing your home’s exterior over soft washing. It has some benefits, but overall can be unnecessary for what your home needs.

The Pros of Pressure Washing

Pros of pressure washing include being able to easily rent or buy the machine—having one of your own can make cleaning the driveway or your siding very easy and convenient. In addition, some people very much appreciate the convenience factor of using a pressure washer any time they need without having to schedule a crew to come.

The Cons of Pressure Washing

There are quite a few more significant negatives to using a pressure washer on your exterior surfaces. One is that its high psi can be difficult for someone who is not equipped and can hurt themselves or others. The high pressure used on your siding can actually blow water up underneath your siding and overhangs and up into your soffit. Water in your soffit can cause water to get into your attic and soak your insulation.

Now, we’ve talked endless times about how moisture in the attic can lead to rot or mold growth, so this is something to avoid at all costs. Pressure washing your siding can also leave behind streaks on the siding of areas that are cleaner than others. Overall, pressure washing can be very dangerous and damaging without being an effective tool to legitimately wash your siding and other exterior surfaces.

soft wash vs. pressure wash

Pros and Cons of Soft Washing

Above all, soft washing is going to be your best bet to wash your siding, roof, deck, or fence without damaging anything. Plus, you will get a much longer-lasting result thanks to the added anti-bacterial components.

The Pros of Soft Washing

First off, soft wash systems use much lower water pressure yet are more effective because it’s using a mixture of high-quality soaps, bleach, and water. Whereas pressure washing uses just water, the soft washing system cleans your siding and kills any algae or bacteria growth on your house, rather than just blasting it off. Plus, this can all be done within the day and last you much longer while also causing zero damage to any of your home’s exteriors.

The Cons of Soft Washing

The only con may be that it absolutely requires a professional to come out and do the work. However, the effectiveness of the soft wash system outweighs anything else.

At First American Roofing, we love offering soft washing as an alternative to power or pressure washing for our customers. Trust us when we say it’s the right choice for you. The highlighted benefits include destroying bacteria without the use of high-pressure washing, it can be done within one day, and we offer a 5-year roof cleaning warranty.


soft wash vs pressure wash

Commonly Asked Questions Regarding Soft vs. Pressure Washing

Homeowners have been debating which method is best to clean their home’s exterior for years. Many have likely purchased or rented a pressure washer once or twice and found that it can get the job done but definitely doesn’t last. To know which one is truly the penultimate option, ask yourself these questions:

Can I soft wash with a pressure washer?

Yes! Chances are, you can adjust the PSI (pounds per square inch) on your pressure washer. If you can turn the dial to below 500 PSI, you can soft wash just fine. Some nozzles can also help lessen the pressure from the hose.

Is soft washing safe?

Absolutely! Soft washing uses gentle cleaning chemicals, akin to soap and water, that gently clean your house. In fact, soft washing can help maintain any paint or stains on your house’s siding and make it last even longer. Soft washing is also safe to use to clean anything that would otherwise be damaged by pressure washing, such as screens, wood paneling, shingles.

When should you soft wash a house?

Since soft washing is safe and less damaging than pressure washing, you can do it anytime you feel your house is dirty! But a good rule of thumb is every 2 to 3 years or so.

Can I soft wash a roof?

Sure! In fact, soft washing is probably the best option for cleaning your roof. The lower pressure limits the risk of blowing up under the shingles or gutters and getting water inside your home. Also, shingles likely just have some debris and dirt on them, and a soft wash will both rinse them clean and wash them with a solution that helps kill bacteria and mold that can damage your shingles over time.

What do professional house washers use?

Well, at First American Roofing, we utilize soft washing as a premiere choice for washing your home’s exterior. It’s safe, effective, and can make your home look good as new. Our safe and biodegradable disinfecting solution kills bacteria, fungus, mold, mildew, moss, and more. Pressure washing can actually deteriorate your exterior materials, such as asphalt shingles and vinyl siding.

To get yourself a long-lasting clean, choose First American’s soft washing services to give your home a new and improved look. Call us at 608-305-2275 for a FREE estimate on our soft washing services — you won’t regret it!

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