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Pressure Washing vs. Soft Washing: Which is Better?

Both pressure washing and soft washing are incredibly popular and useful maintenance services for siding, concrete, wood, and more. But what are the differences between pressure washing and soft washing? Which is better? Which is most useful for your needs? In this article, we will explain the pros and cons of both pressure washing and soft washing, explain which may be better for different scenarios, and give our opinion on which is generally better: pressure washing vs. soft washing.

Pressure Washing

Pressure washing, also known as power washing, is a method of cleaning various surfaces using high-pressure water spray. It's a great way to clean dirt, grime, mold, and mildew from surfaces such as buildings, driveways, decks, sidewalks, and vehicles. The process involves using a pressure washer that pumps water at high pressure through a nozzle to effectively remove stubborn stains and debris.

Pressure washing primarily differs from soft washing in that it substitutes harsh chemicals for high-pressure water for cleaning. This has many benefits and some downsides.

pressure washing
Pressure Washing in Franklin, WI

Benefits of Pressure Washing

  • Extremely effective at removing a variety of contaminants and coatings

  • Enhances the appearance of surfaces and restores original color and condition

  • Completely removes organic matter such as dirt, spores, and mold (something soft washing cannot do with low pressures) and prevents regrowth 

  • Cost-effective

  • Comparably environmentally friendly 

  • Can be used to remove flaking paint to prep for repainting

Downsides of Pressure Washing

  • Damage to certain fragile surfaces if done improperly 

  • Requires expertise to effectively clean without damage

  • Risk of injury due to mishandling equipment

Soft Washing

Soft washing is an alternative to pressure washing that utilizes low-pressure water spray, combined with cleaning solutions, to clean surfaces. Unlike pressure washing, which relies on high-pressure water to remove dirt and grime, soft washing focuses on treating surfaces delicately while effectively eliminating contaminants.

Soft washing uses much lower pressures than pressure washing but generally much more aggressive chemical mixtures to clean surfaces. 

Benefits of Soft Washing

Downsides of Soft Washing

  • Less effective at removing heavy buildup of grime

  • Specialized cleaning solutions are less environmentally friendly 

  • Relatively expensive due to high equipment costs and operator expertise 

  • Will not remove flaking paint

Which Should I Choose for My Project?

Pressure washing is generally better if you have a significant buildup of dirt, algae, moss, or grime on a relatively strong surface such as vinyl siding, concrete, or bricks. Pressure washing is extremely useful for prepping surfaces for painting or staining as it removes grime, cleans the surface, and removes flaking paint at the same time.

Soft washing is generally better if you need to clean a delicate surface such as painted wood, roofing materials, or stucco.

For a typical house wash on a vinyl-sided home, both are perfectly suitable and will provide similar results to each other. Neither soft washing nor pressure washing are better than the other which is why so many companies offer one or both services. Vinyl siding and concrete (the most common materials washed on a suburban home) will do just fine with either. 

half removal of mold on siding
Pressure Washing Is Effective On Vinyl Siding

Overall, the choice between pressure washing and soft washing depends on the type of surface being cleaned, the severity of stains or contaminants, and environmental considerations. Both methods have their advantages and limitations, and selecting the appropriate technique ensures effective cleaning while preserving the integrity of the surface being treated. If you are a homeowner looking for a high-quality, eco-friendly pressure washing and deck staining contractor in your area, reach out to EcoWash today.


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