soft washing vs power washing: which is best?

Soft Washing vs Power Washing: Cleaning Methods and Applications

Have you spotted any dirt or grime on your roof, walls or deck? Over time, dirt and other elements such as mildew, salt, mold, dust and grime can build up around your house, leaving it in need of a good clean. If you are new to pressure cleaning, you’re probably not sure which method is best – soft washing vs power washing. Not to worry, this article will outline each method so you can have a much clearer picture before you begin.

Soft Washing vs Power Washing: What’s the difference?

Understanding the difference between soft washing vs power washing can help homeowners decide which is best. The clue in defining each method lies in their names – ‘soft’ and ‘power’. The main difference between the two is that soft washing uses low water pressure and power washing uses high water pressure to remove the dirt and stains when cleaning surfaces.

Is Power Washing the Same as Pressure Washing?

Power washing should not be confused with pressure washing, which is sometimes used interchangeably. They are similar, but still different in that power washing uses a heating element to heat the water to a certain temperature, which makes the cleaning process a lot faster. Pressure washing doesn’t have this feature, water at regular tap temperature is used during pressure cleaning.

Soft Washing and Power Washing Cleaning Methods

Both soft washing and power washing methods use pressurized water in combination with cleaning detergents. However, as previously stated, what differentiates each cleaning method is that power washing uses higher pressure compared to soft washing. This means that power washing is ideal for harder surfaces – which includes sidewalks, driveways, paved patios and many types of stone – while softer surfaces like wooden fences, wooden decks and screens are more suited for soft washing.

Is One Better Than the Other?

No. There is no method that’s better than the other. The best method would depend on your specific requirements. Some people may think that power washing is less desirable since it can cause some damage. This, however, is not entirely true. There are some instances where power washing is more favorable; the key is to know how and when to use it so that there is no damage done. Yes, power washing can chip pieces of paint or wood off more delicate surfaces, but not all surfaces are equally delicate. Power washing for cleaning larger areas like, for example, a long driveway is completely acceptable and even preferable over soft washing.

So basically, different surfaces and stains will require different cleaning methods. All you have to do is make sure you pick the right cleaning method for the surface you want to clean, not just because you want to ensure your surface gets cleaned thoroughly, but also because you want to avoid any damage to the surface.

Soft vs Power Washing Techniques

How Soft Washing Works

Where power washing favors pressure, soft washing favors chemicals to do all the work in the cleaning process. The only pressure needed is the pressure that applies the chemicals onto the surface. So the cleaning solution (or detergents) used are more important, as well as the ‘dwell time’. Dwell time simply refers to the amount of time a cleaning solution is required to sit on a surface for the chemicals to break down the grime, stains and other buildup effectively. Once the needed dwell time has passed, the surface is then rinsed off using low pressure and the results are a smooth, clean surface that leaves your home looking brand new.

How Power Washing Works?

Power washing, on the other hand, uses a combination of pressurized water and heat to clean surfaces. The high pressure and heated water are what makes power washing very good at getting rid of stubborn dirt like chewing gum and grease off from sidewalks, driveways and garage floors. This isn’t only because of the water pressure that literally hammers down onto the dirt, but because the heated water makes it easier to clean surfaces since it provides a more effective, thorough and faster clean.

What Is Meant by High and Low Pressure?

What exactly does high and low pressure mean in terms of pressure cleaning? Well, numerically speaking, the rate at which water is released by a pressure cleaning machine is measured by what is known as pounds per square inch (PSI). In the case of power washing, a machine releases water at a PSI of around 2500 and above, while soft washing releases around 1000 PSI or less. The higher the PSI used for pressure cleaning, the higher the water pressure will be.

Soft Washing A House

What’s great about soft washing is that it allows you to clean a surface without leaving behind damage to the area. This is what makes soft washing suitable for any surface around your house or property. Use it to clean your roof, deck or fence without destroying any paint or materials.

While power washing can be great for driveways and other hard surfaces, soft washing is generally preferable for more delicate surfaces, like house sidings, roofs and wooden decks and patios.

Soft Washing vs Power Washing Equipment

Before you can even start thinking about what equipment to use, you first need to figure out what type of surface you want to clean. This is because different surfaces have different requirements for cleaning, which includes different chemicals, pressure, machine nozzle sizes and cleaning technique.

What Equipment You’ll Need?

There’s a variety of different equipment available for soft and power washing; however, the basic equipment consists of a tank, a pump, a hose and a spray gun. If you’re looking for more options or want to create more cleaning solutions, you can find a machine that is configured to your needs. For soft washing, one thing to look out for is to make sure that the spray gun has a low-pressure nozzle. For power washing, since it uses a lot of power while cleaning, it’s no surprise then that the machine needed is one that is powerful enough to handle the job.

If you’re not sure which equipment you should get, speak to a professional so that they can guide you in choosing the right one. Alternatively, hire a professional company to do the cleaning for you. Professionals have years of experience cleaning various surfaces. Power cleaning can be especially dangerous if done by an inexperienced homeowner and getting up on a roof to soft clean it yourself isn’t advised.

Different Cleaning Solutions for Soft and Power Washing

Choose the Right Solution for the Right Surface

Soft wash treatments tend to last longer than power wash treatments because the solutions used in soft washing will offer a deeper clean, going beyond the surface into the structure and cleaning from inside out. It literally gives a deeper clean. There are a variety of different solutions you can use for a soft wash treatment. Essentially, it comes down to knowing which solutions to use for different types of stains or dirt and how long they can dwell before they need to be washed off. Also, because every surface is different, you need to understand which solution can be used on the surface you want to treat.

So, if you’re not a professional, you should buy premixed solutions that are specially formulated for cleaning the kind of surface you’re looking to clean. Remember, when it comes to detergents, you have to make sure that you use the right one.

Don’t Forget to Care for the Environment

A key factor to keep in mind is the chemicals you use when soft washing. The chemicals can be very strong, which is why you should always opt to use biodegradable chemicals that won’t be harmful to the environment.

If you plan to do the cleaning yourself, be sure to cover all your plants in plastic wrap before you start cleaning. A lot of chemicals used during both pressure cleaning and soft cleaning can be quite harmful to plants.


Which Pressure Cleaning Method Is Best?


Both cleaning methods have advantages and disadvantages. What you have to do is choose the one that suits the surface you want cleaned. Some surfaces can take more pressure while others are too delicate and need a gentler approach.

Still Not Sure? Speak to A Professional

Simply hire a professional who will let you know which method will work best for your needs. Even if you think you can do it yourself, it’s always better to call in a pro in case you accidentally damage the surface you are trying to clean or injure yourself. The machines can be dangerous in the hands of an untrained user. Because of this, it’s better to get someone who’s skilled and who will get your home cleaned the first time round without any hassle!