When it comes to keeping the exterior surfaces of a home or business clean, soft washing with a pressure washer is an effective and efficient method. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk through the step-by-step process to properly soft wash using a pressure washer.
Overview of Soft Washing
Soft washing refers to cleaning exterior surfaces using chemicals and lower water pressure rather than relying solely on high-pressure blasting. The chemicals used loosen and lift away dirt and grime so that it can be rinsed away without damaging the surface. Soft washing is an ideal technique for cleaning vinyl siding, brick, stucco and other delicate surfaces.
Reasons To Soft Wash Instead of Pressure Wash
There are a few key reasons why soft washing is preferable to pressure washing for many exterior cleaning applications:
- Less Risk of Surface Damage – High pressure can damage delicate materials like wood and vinyl. Soft washing avoids this risk.
- More Thorough Cleaning – Chemicals break down and dissolve grime that pressure alone cannot remove.
- Environmentally Friendly – Soft washing uses less water and fewer harsh chemicals than pressure washing.
- Safe for Plants and Landscaping – The low pressure avoids blowing soil, mulch or rocks into unwanted places.
Soft washing requires some specialized equipment and chemical cleaners. Here is an overview of the basic supplies you will need:
- Pressure Washer – Look for a washer providing between 1,500-2,000 PSI. This weaker pressure allows the chemicals to work.
- Soft Wash Chemicals – Specifically designed soap concentrates that lift dirt and rinse cleanly.
- Hoses & Wand Attachments – Use specialized nozzles and wands to apply the chemicals. Don’t use a zero-degree high-pressure nozzle.
- Paint Shield Solution – Protects delicate surfaces from chemical damage. Should be applied first before washing.
- Eye Protection & Rubber Gloves
- Push Broom & Long Handle Scrub Brushes – For manual agitation if needed.
Step 1: Prepping the Area
The first step when soft washing is thorough prep work:
- Clear Area under Surfaces – Remove items, furniture, decorations etc. Chemicals and dirt residues will drip down.
- Lay Drop Cloths – Protect plants, grass, concrete, etc. from chemical runoff.
- Apply Paint Shield – Lightly spray vinyl siding, window trim, wood and other easily damaged areas first. Allow to dry completely.
- Check Weather Conditions – Avoid wind or high heat. Wind blows chemicals onto protected surfaces. Heat accelerates drying making removal harder.
- Section off Areas – Divide surface into smaller, manageable sections to keep track of what’s been washed and what still needs cleaning.
Step 2: Configuring Equipment
With prep work complete, the next step is properly configuring your pressure washer system for soft washing:
- Insert Correct Nozzle Tip – Use a 25-40 degree fan tip. This widens the spray pattern to cover more surface area while delivering an even coat of chemicals.
- Keep PSI Under 1000 – Turn pressure down to prevent surface damage while still adequately rinsing.
- Fill Soap Dispenser with Chemical – Use the correct soap concentrate for the surface type you are washing. Apply according to label dilution ratios.
- Attach Downstream Injector – Mixes the soap concentrate into the pressure washer’s water supply to evenly distribute chemical as you wash.
Step 3: Washing & Rinsing
Now comes the hands-on work of soft washing:
- Apply Chemicals from Bottom Up – Slowly spray soaping solution working up from the bottom. This allows drips to rinse previously applied chemicals.
- Let Dwell 3-5 Minutes – Allow cleaners time to breakdown grime before rinsing. Agitate stubborn dirt with a brush.
- Rinse Thoroughly Corner to Corner – Make sure to completely rinse chemicals moving corner to corner to avoid streaks. It may take multiple passes.
- Inspect Between Sections – Check for remaining dirt or chemical residue. Spot clean missed areas before moving to the next section.
- Apply More Shield if Needed – If washing delicate items like vinyl window trim, apply more paint shield if needed between wash and rinse steps.
Step 4: Completing & Cleaning Up
The last steps involve completing the wash and post-cleaning up:
- Gather All Equipment & Supplies – Retrieve all hoses, nozzles, cleaners etc. Make sure not to leave anything behind.
- Cleanup Hardscapes – Use a wet/dry vac or mop to remove dirt, debris, fallen leaves from sidewalks and driveways.
- Rehang Decorations & Return Furniture – Carefully replace any decorative elements or movable furniture items.
- Coil Hoses & Store Properly – Neatly wind up all hoses securing with Velcro straps to prevent kinking.
- Dispose of Chemical Containers – Properly dispose of any empty soap/chemical containers according to label directions.
When performed correctly, soft washing with a pressure washer is a safe, effective and environmentally responsible way to clean the exterior of homes and buildings. By following proper procedures and taking care with preparation and cleanup, beautiful results can be achieved. The investment into the right equipment and chemicals pays dividends over time by keeping the curb appeal of valued properties looking their absolute best.
Contact Sullins Suds Pressure Washing if you need help for both soft washing and pressure washing.