Pressure Washing Vs Soft Washing What’s The Difference? And Why It Matters So Much!


Springtime 2022 is upon us and it’s the time homeowners are looking into finally getting their cleaning list done after holding it off last year or for many years.

For the guys, if your wife has been on you for months about having the siding washed or windows cleaned, we got you! Let us help settle the peace and make you both happy.

One important thing to consider when it comes to getting your exterior cleaning done for your home is to decide how it will get cleaned.

Most homeowners believe that the solution to cleaning the exterior is to simply power wash everything… yes, even the windows!

*Gasp!* is our response to pressure washing the windows.

Window cleaning has its own unique way, and we can discuss it more in later articles.

When it comes to cleaning your exterior, there are many different types of surfaces, just like how your house is made out of many different types of materials, some surfaces are harder, softer, more brittle, or extremely sensitive to almost everything.

You may have tried out your fancy new pressure washer from Home Depot or Amazon and are ready to tackle the project like the pros.


Most stories end with the eager and motivated homeowner washing for several hours and quitting or simply realizing that it’s more work and difficult than they had thought.

The worst-case scenario is ending up with thousands of dollars in damages.

If you’re an enthusiastic D.I.Y go-getter, this article will help you understand certain types of surfaces and hopefully help you avoid damage and get the job done right.

We just hate to see homeowners making mistakes and wasting their hard-earned money and time figuring it out all by themselves.

We want to save them precious time so that they can be used to do other things much more rewarding to them. We do pressure washing in Austin TX and all sorts of exterior cleaning for a living so our time is well spent helping you!

Let’s dive in and discuss the difference between Pressure Washing and Soft Washing. It’ll help you choose the right method to clean about 85% of the exterior around your home.


Check Out Some Results Of Pressure Washing vs. Soft Washing And A Mixture Of Both


Pressure Washing Results
Pressure Washing Results


Pressure Washing Concrete Results
Pressure Washing Results With A Mixture Of Soft washing


Soft Washing Results
Soft Washing Results


How Can You Tell The Difference Between Soft Washing & Pressure Washing?

Soft washing is exactly as it’s spelled and sounds. Soft, soft, soft, soft! No pressure and definitely no loud pressure washing engines.

Soft washing is a method of cleaning that relies purely on using soaps and detergents to clean the surface. And when the soaps and detergents finish cleaning the surface, you can literally use your garden hose to water off all the soaps, detergent, dirt, and dead organic debris right off the surface. No strong heavy pressure of water at all.

Soft washing maxes out at 60-100 PSI. That’s how fast water is being pushed out.

Comparing soft washing at 60-100 PSI to pressure washing at 2,000 – 4,400 PSI, you’ll definitely notice the softness and gentleness of 60-100 PSI compared to the latter.

Why would you choose soft washing over pressure washing?

Did you know that pressure washing doesn’t clean 100%? It may look like it on the surface level, but deep down at the microscopic level, it isn’t.

That’s because when you pressure wash, water can only penetrate the surface level and weaken as it reaches the deep corners and pores of the surfaces. At the root of these deep corners and pores lies the organic matter and their roots.

Organic matter such as mold, mildew, algae, lichen, and other bacteria.

These organic matter, if not treated at the root will be able to regrow fast and spread like wildfire.

You pressure washed the surface, but it comes back in several short months as the organic matter manifests and continues to multiply.

With soft washing, you are allowing the detergents and soaps to dig deep down and work their way into the deep corners and pores and effectively kill the organic matter.

Mold, Mildew, Algae, Lichen, and other bacteria can’t hide, they die off within several minutes.

All you have to do afterward is rinse it all off with a gentle 60-100 PSI garden hose.

The benefit?

1.) No chipping damage. No puncturing holes in the surfaces. No etching of the surfaces. No heavy water pressure can thrust you back and sprain your arm. No loud sounds.
2.) Effectively clean the surface and prevent growth for long months to a year or years. Maintaining the curb appeal of your property much longer.

Of course, we don’t want to be biased and prefer one method over the other. Pressure washing is extremely powerful if you know how to use it correctly.

Why Would You Choose Pressure Washing Over Soft Washing?

Pressure washing can be effective if you’re looking to get the job done quickly and fast.

You don’t necessarily care for how long the surface stays cleaned, heck, it can get dirty again fast after the party or special event.

Pressure washing is great to use on flat hard surfaces such as driveways, walkways, concrete patios,s, and decks. These surfaces can handle the pressure and the results will come out quite nice.

The ultimate power play is to combine pressure washing with soft washing to clean.

Why You Should Use Both Pressure Washing & Soft Washing

If we were biased about soft washing, we wouldn’t be including pressure washing services in our area.

The fact is, that pressure washing in combination with soft washing is extremely effective.

Extremely dirty surfaces such as driveways, walkways, decks, and patios will be difficult to clean without soft washing and pressure washing.

Soft washing of extremely dirty surfaces will help loosen up everything at the very base allowing you to use the right pressure from your pressure washer and clean the surface like new.

The two methods go hand and hand. You’ll be thrilled with the results and begin to love both methods as you know when to use soft washing and when to use pressure washing.


IMPORTANT! Avoid Pressure Wash Your Siding At All Cost!

Your siding, even though it may be a hard surface shouldn’t be power washed or pressure washed (P.S: There isn’t a difference between power washing and pressure washing, the terms are used interchangeably).

Most Exterior Sidings Are Vinyl, Hardy, Wood, Asbestos, Stucco, Lime Stones, Aluminum, Cedar Shake

1.) Vinyl Siding: If you pressure wash a vinyl siding, you can risk chipping off the paint, moving around oxidation making the siding look etched, and puncturing a hole right through the soft material. Vinyl siding should only ever be soft-washed.

2.) Hardy Siding: Hardy siding, even though much tougher than vinyl, can be easily etched, scratched, and chipped if you decide to pressure wash it. The thing with Hardy is, oftentimes they have oxidation. Oxidation is when the paint begins to fail due to excess exposure to the sun and harsh weather conditions that cause a chemical reaction to occur. When you pressure wash a home with hardy siding, you risk moving the oxidation and dispersing it all over the siding making it look like a total mess.

Oxidation is often mistaken for dust. If you run your hands through an oxidized hardy siding, you’ll notice your hands covered in white chalk. When you run your hands through a siding covered in dust, your hands will be covered in greyish black.

3.) Wood Siding: Wood Siding, similar to hardy is tough, but pressure washing can cause paint to chip and puncture holes through the wall. If your home has wood that isn’t painted, you can chip the wood. High pressure can mess up the wood causing a fur-like texture on the surface.

4.) Asbestos Siding: You should never pressure wash asbestos siding as it’s very brittle and weak. You can cause flaking of the granules and weaken the siding. Asbestos are very difficult to pressure wash and treat because the pores are many and deep. Even when soft washing it may take multiple heavy applications just to remove a bit of stain. The best possible solution for asbestos siding is to softwash it as best you can and paint over it.

5.) Stucco Siding: Stucco siding should absolutely not be pressure washed as it’s soft and can chip easily. Stucco can also be quite difficult to clean as the stains can be stuck within layers of multiple pores. Softwashing treatment will be used to clean these surfaces and may require some agitation by brushing.

6.) Lime Stone Siding: Here in Austin, TX homes are plentiful with limestone siding. Even though the surface is hard, we don’t want to apply heavy pressure onto these delicate stones. Depending on how dirty the stones are will require a heavy softwash treatment and very light pressure washing to remove certain stains. For most homes, with limestone siding, a soft wash treatment is good enough to make them look new.

One other reason to avoid pressure washing limestones is we don’t want to chip off the front layers of these stones. As you chip the front layers you expose the layers that can be prone to erosion.

7.) Aluminum Siding: Aluminum siding although not very much should not be pressure washed. Chipping of the paint and denting the aluminum can cause the home to look unpleasing. Aluminum siding also faces many issues with oxidation. The chemical reaction of the paint with the metal from the sun and harsh weather can make it difficult to maintain. We recommend making sure the siding does not have any form of oxidation before cleaning it using soft washing as the method of cleaning.

8.) Cedar Shake: Cedar Shake isn’t as popular here in Austin, but in other areas of the country such as the Pacific Northwest will often have these sidings and they do get dirty pretty fast! Like wood, you shouldn’t clean it with pressure as it can ship the cedar easily.

*** Hopefully we’ve made our point across enough times with the “No pressure washing on your siding” that you’ll now make the right decision and not pressure wash these delicate surfaces.


What Other Surfaces Should You Not Pressure Wash?

1.) Roofs

Sidings shouldn’t be pressure washed, but also Roofs!

Pressure washing any roof is a big mistake as you will be blasting away shingle granules, denting metal, and cracking tiles.

Plus, when you’re standing high up there on your roof with a pressure washer that has a bit of recoil every time you pull the trigger is extremely unsafe and dangerous.

Do not risk the damage and injuries to your home and yourself.

Roofs can be safely treated with soaps and detergents just like siding. You can do it all from a ladder, or on the roof with fully equipment fall safety gear. Roof cleaning is a process that should be handled with extreme care.

2.) New Concrete

New concrete should be avoided from being pressure washed at all costs.

If you do pressure wash a new concrete you will etch it even with light pressure. Newly finished concrete should not be pressure washed for at least 3 years as we let the material to settle and with the help of gravity become engrained.

What would you have to do to clean new concrete?

Soft Wash.


What Surfaces Can You Pressure Wash Safely?

You can safely pressure wash flat surfaces that have aged.

Even though most surfaces can be pressure washed, you will still need to know how to use the right pressure for each type of flat surface.

For residential flat surfaces that are made of concrete and stones, 2000 PSI or less is ideal and won’t do much harm to the surface within a reasonable distance.

Most professional pressure washers go upwards to 4,000 PSI and can do damage to the flat surface if the wrong nozzles are used. Make sure your professional is insured, trained, and knowledgeable. Here’s a good read on what to look for when hiring a pressure washing professionals.



Now that you know a lot more about pressure washing vs. soft washing, what method will you be using to clean your exterior surface?

Handling solutions and pressure requires extensive knowledge and experience and can take years to know what works. If you have all the time in the world and want to learn, jump right in, and start cleaning, you’ll eventually find out what works and what doesn’t.

For homeowners looking to save time and headaches, give us a call. Full Color Cleaners have had years of exterior cleaning experience and can get the job done right within several hours. We make it easy and effective for homeowners to work with us.

We hope this article was useful and helpful.

Leave a comment or message us to learn more!


About the Author

Benjamin Nguyen, owner of Full Color Cleaners LLC, has garnered significant recognition for his company’s exemplary services in window cleaning and pressure washing, making them one of the Top Rated Exterior Cleaning companies in Austin, TX. Full Color Cleaners commendations are not only from renowned platforms like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Super Pages but also include prestigious recognitions as one of the “10 Best Austin Window Washers” by and “Best Window Washing Services in Austin” by Beyond this, Benjamin’s expertise extends to specialized areas such as soft washing, roof washing, and Christmas Lights Installation, with the latter backed by his membership in CLIPA. His dedication to continuous learning is evident through his annual certifications and affiliations with Pressure Washing School and Expert Safety Services. Notably, Benjamin’s commitment to excellence in exterior cleaning is further solidified by his status as an F9 Authorize Handler, showcasing his proficiency in handling commercial chemicals.

One of the pivotal moments in Benjamin’s career trajectory was his association with the Home Service Business Coaching (HSBC) Program, steered by David James Moerman. Under David’s mentorship, Benjamin honed his business acumen, propelling Full Color Cleaners to its current stature as one of Austin’s top-rated window cleaning and pressure washing enterprises. David Moerman, a successful entrepreneur himself, has publicly endorsed Benjamin’s dedication and vision for his business. For those seeking to connect with Benjamin or learn more about Full Color Cleaners, he maintains an active presence on LinkedInInstagramFacebookYelp, and Indeed.

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