HydroClean Exteriors

what is soft washing?

Soft Washing 101

The term “Soft Washing” has become a buzz word in the exterior cleaning industry over the last few years.  Often time the term is lost on the customer.  Let’s take a look at what this magical process is and if it’s a right fit for you.  

House Washing with a Pressure Washer

Traditional house washing was accomplished with a pressure washer doing what pressure washers do best, blowing the dirt and grime off the house at a pressure often exceeding 2000 psi.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for a pressure washer in exterior cleaning, but it can’t be the only tool in a professional’s toolbox.  Using a pressure washer to clean a house can be a bad idea for a number of reasons:

  • Damaged Siding
  • Uneven Cleaning Results
  • Leaking Windows Seals
  • Water behind the siding
 There are still contractors out there that will use an industrial pressure washer for every residential cleaning job.  All though they swear it is perfectly safe, there are so many other options available that it might not be worth the risk.  We would recommend that you ask your contractor if they offer soft washing prior to hiring.  

The Soft Washing Process

The soft washing process is all about using the right chemicals at a lower pressure to get the job completed safer and more efficiently.  I know that for a lot of you reading, that word “chemicals” jumps out at you.  Don’t worry, Responsible contractors use safe and bio-degradable chemicals.  These chemicals usually include:

  • Water – The bulk of the house wash mix is always water
  • Sodium Hypochlorite (Bleach) – Used to kill and remove organic material such as mold, algae and lichen
  • Surfactant – Used to help the cleaning mix stick to vinyl siding or other materials

And sometimes include:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide – Sometimes used as an alternate to Sodium Hypochlorite
  • Degreaser – Used when needed to remove grease and oils
  • Thickening Agent – Typically used to prevent run-off on steep pitched roofs 
Customers of ours are sometimes concerned about the idea of bleach being used around plants and other landscaping.  The concentration that is used for a typical house wash is not strong enough to kill plants and we always pre-soak and rinse plants as an added safety measure.
The application method is really where soft washing gets its name.  Different contractors may use different types of soft wash pumps to apply their mix, but the end result is the same.  A low pressure application under 500 psi and usually under 150 psi.  The mix is left on the surface to do its job for a specific amount of time.  A thorough rinse follows making sure to remove all chemicals from the surface.  Areas that have a high concentration of organic growth sometimes receive a second application.  

*note: A pressure washer is often used for the rinse step.  This is normal as a low pressure tip is used that does not exceed a few hundred psi.  This is done because the pressure washer typically produces a higher volume of water, making the process more efficient.

When Should Soft Wash Be Used?

As mentioned before, the soft wash process is a great for some situations, but not all.  So, when should soft washing be used?
  • Vinyl Siding Cleaning
  • Aluminum Siding Cleaning
  • Roof Cleaning
  • Cedar Shake Cleaning
  •  When cleaning other easily damaged materials
Of this list, Roof Cleaning is the most important.  NEVER use pressure on an asphalt shingle roof and do not let a contractor tell you that it is ok.  According the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association, a bleach and detergent mix should be used with low pressure for cleaning.  Pressure should never be used and it will damage and cause leaks.  

Should You Soft Wash Your House On Your Own?

Is DIY an option?  Of course it is an option, but it might not be the best one.  Just like any other home maintenance task, you can probably figure out a way to get the job done.  Also, like any other home maintenance task, it is sometimes better to have a professional pressure washing contractor handle it.  Here’s a few reasons why:
  •  Time – We can have most houses cleaned within 2 hours.  Many of our customers that have taken on the task themselves have told us it took an entire weekend or even longer.
  • Safety – Most contractors have equipment that allows them to clean most of the home’s exterior from the ground.  Also, we have proper equipment that allows us to work safely from a ladder or on a wet roof.  
  • Chemicals – When mixing the proper amount of bleach, there is fine line between a mix that is too weak to be affective and killing plants or etching windows with a mx that is too strong.  A professional will have a tried and true process to make sure that the mix is at perfect strength.
  • Liability – Even when all things are done correctly, accidents can still occur.  We carry insurance that covers these accidents.  Don’t risk property damage, injury or worse.  

Choosing the Right Contractor

If you have read this far, you are obviously interested in getting your home washed.  Whether it is a job that requires soft wash or high pressure, HydroClean Exteriors can handle it for you.  Unfortunately, if you are not in the Canton Ohio or the surrounding areas, you will have to select another contractor.  Here are a few things to ask when making your selection.

  • Is the pressure washing service near me?  – If a contractor travels too far, the pricing will reflect.  Also, if there is a problem, you want to be close enough that they can return quickly to take care of it.
  • Are they insured? – Always make sure that any contractor you hire is properly insured.
  • Do they have a good reputation? – Look around at their online reviews.  Not everyone will have perfect 5 stars everywhere, that’s expected.  But, watch out for patterns of unhappy customers.
*PRO-TIP – When checking reviews, look at the contractor’s response to a negative review.  Did they handle the complaint quickly and to the customer’s satisfaction?  This will often tell more than anything else.


If you are in the Akron Ohio or Canton Ohio area and you would like to talk about your cleaning project, give us a call at (330) 451-6103 or email me directly at brad.heath@hydrocleanexteriors.com