Soft Washing A House
You can do more with less. Do no harm. Do a good job. That is a trio of ‘do’s’ that sum up the overall approach to soft washing. Gentle is the meaning that is built into the etymology of the word soft. Soft washing is above everything else, an approach to cleaning that aims to live up to its name.
Soft washing has been part of the professional cleaning industry for almost 20 years, but it is quickly growing to become part of the repertoire of nearly every professional cleaning contractor today. The method has something for everyone, it is also kinder to the environment than most other cleaning methods, due to how it utilises water more efficiently.
There are lots more professional cleaning organisations that are now offering the service of soft washing. They all pitch with a similar approach, and that is by stating that soft washing is safer than pressure cleaning, that you can get spotless cleaning results with no pressure, and that it is the best approach to clean your home and other places.
The question is “Is soft washing a superior, more secure approach to cleaning your house?” So before we start to answer that initial question, let’s look at how the basics of how the two systems operate. Essentially, they both run water through some form of a pump and hose, then the water is sprayed onto the house to remove grease, dirt, mould, grime, and other build-ups. Cleaning solutions can also be directed through the hoses and applied to the house or surface that is to be cleaned. Resulting in an effortless clean when using these systems.
So now, let us look at the key contrasts between these two systems:
With pressure washing, the water is pressurised through the use of the pump, and then it is forced out of the nozzle, so it sprays harder to remove the mould, dirt, and so on. The advantages of this system are that you can utilise far fewer chemicals, usually, none at all, when cleaning and that you can provide a very thorough cleaning on some tougher surfaces such as a concrete driveway.
So is pressure cleaning safe then? Yes. But it is like anything, if you don’t use the equipment appropriately, you can cause harm. But if you use the pressure cleaning system appropriately, you will not cause harm or damage to your surfaces and you can get surfaces clean with few if any, chemicals.
Soft washing also runs water through a pump, but this time there is very little pressure produced. Though, this system usually uses a higher volume of water as opposed to the water being pressurised then sprayed from the hose. Soft washing may also use a higher concentration of chemicals, detergents or cleaning solutions when cleaning a house. Where a pressure cleaner is normally able to remove some dirt with no chemicals at all because of the pressure generated in the pump, soft washing systems need the chemicals to loosen the dirt and grime build-up before the water is sprayed to remove it.
The application of a cleaning solution, coupled with the minimum of pressure, provides a prudent way to clean exteriors, ranging from asphalt shingles on roofs, wooden deckings and railings to the cladding on a house. Soft washing can minimise the damage to the surface being cleaned and to any surrounding areas. The last thing you would want as a homeowner is water to seep in through a poorly sealed window because the water pressure was too high, and penetrated the seal.
Let’s Look Further Into Soft Washing a House
- What is the Process of Soft Washing?
- What Are the Benefits of Soft Washing?
- When You Should Soft Wash?
- Can you Soft Wash Your House Yourself or Do You Need to Hire A Professional Cleaning Service?
- What are the Benefits of Doing it Yourself, And How do You do it?
- Materials checklist
- The Downsides to Doing it Yourself and the Benefits of Hiring a Professional?
- Finding A Professional to Soft Wash Your House
What is The Process of Soft Washing?
Soft washing is most simply described as a cleaning method that uses a very low-pressure water washing technique, along with a mixture of algaecides, bleaches or surfactants, that safely cleans exterior surfaces and leaves them free from organic stains, moulds, mildew and algae.
What are the benefits of Soft Washing?
Using a soft wash approach, you can completely kill any unwanted organisms, growths or moulds that are growing on your house. Using the correct techniques and detergents etc, you can also completely remove stains or marks that have been left behind from other cleaning methods. It should not cause you to have issues with your insurers, likewise, it will not cause you any problems with the warranty of any maintenance projects that you have had completed to the house, considering that the process has been carried out properly either by yourself or a professional contractor, using very low pressures.
The low pressure is no greater than the equivalent to a garden hose pressure, therefore ensuring the integrity of the material surface that is being cleaned, for many years to come.
Soft washing is one of the simplest and best solutions to maintaining a clean house for an extended time period. Allowing your house to stay clean and free from stains and moulds for years to come.
Another of the benefits of soft washing is that there is less pressure being applied to the house, meaning there is a reduction in the chance of causing any damage or requirements to get any repairs. That benefit does come at the expense of needing to use more water and more chemicals. So is soft washing safe? Yes, although, like pressure washing, if you do not use the system properly, you may cause some lasting damage.
High chemical concentrations can kill plant life and they may also damage certain materials on some surfaces. Although, if properly researched before being carried out, soft washing is a very safe way to clean.
So, which system is better? Well, looking at it purely from a sales and marketing aspect, soft washing wins hands down. People hear the word ‘soft’ as opposed to the word ‘pressure’ and automatically it feels to them as though it is a safer method of cleaning. Looking at it from a cleaning perspective, it could be reasonably argued that soft washing is better.
Of course there are times when it is best to pressure wash? Well, a professional pressure washing service would be the recommended action when the materials to be cleaned are hard and very resilient to any potential damage from any kind of pressure. A professional pressure cleaning service would have the correct ratios of cleaning chemicals or detergents prepared ready to be used in a downstream injector. That is the thing that draws up the chemicals from the tank and into the hose to not place in order to use the correct amount of chemicals for the cleaning task.
The idea behind this here is to be sure to apply the solution and let it dwell, or sit on the surface long enough to loosen up the grime, grease or soiling so that when you hit it with pressure or hot water it disintegrates and removes quickly. Since the cleaning solution is an accompaniment to pressure, you can begin pressure washing within just a few minutes of applying the solution. It is always best practice to apply the solution with an industry-grade surfactant (these should contain wetting agents to keep the solution wet for much longer) this will help you to maximize the cleaning process and to kill any mould and mildew spores that are present.
Follow the chemical solution treatment with the high-pressure washing and rinse, to remove any contaminants from the surface.
When You Should Soft Wash
A soft washing service will normally be provided by a professional pressure washing contractor using the correct soft washing equipment. The vast majority of the time, contractors that do not specialise in this type of washing process will not have the correct equipment to apply the right amount of chemical at the right ratios to perform a proper soft washing of your house. Also, it would be recommended a soft washing process only takes place on materials that are notoriously hard to get clean with pressure washing or could become substantially damaged if you were to use high pressure on them, such as wooden decking or softer masonry bricks etc.
Soft washing requires being fully aware of your landscape and of the materials you are washing, as direct harm can happen to landscape if any plants are not pre-soaked with water, or covered up before a soft washing treatment begins.
Can you do it Yourself With Soft Washing, or do you Need a Professional?
Generally, it would probably be recommended that you hire a professional to clean your house. This is because there are many risks in this type of work, especially for someone untrained and inexperienced. You may be working at height, or you may damage parts of your house that you have gone to great expense to have installed such as outhouses, or block paved driveways for example, although this is not necessarily the only option in all cases.
Before you decide that you would like to perform this type of DIY project, there are a few things to think about and decisions that you need to make first.
Of course, if you are fit and well enough, it might be a DIY project that you are willing to undertake and could leave you with a real sense of satisfaction. If you do decide to soft wash your house yourself, you would need to make sure you have taken into consideration all of the necessary safety precautions that you need to follow, especially if you are going to be working at height, it may be worth investing in a harness and an anchor that can be used to secure you safely, especially if you are going to be working on any type of sloped roof.
Eye protection, gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE) should also be worn – particularly as at some point during the process, there are going to be chemicals that are to be distributed.
Another safety point to be considered is whether this is the type of cleaning project that you can carry out alone or whether you need to enlist the help of a friend or family member.
If you are, however, determined that you would want to complete this type of project yourself, whether that is for its potential economic benefits, the sense of accomplishment that would come from completing this, or simply, you are the type of person that just loves being outdoors, it is imperative that you start by planning the project thoroughly, and make sure you have all the required materials and equipment to help you complete it to a great standard.
Benefits of Doing it Yourself, and How to do it
One of the benefits of completing the soft washing yourself is the potential long term economic benefits, gained from being able to complete many soft washing projects over the years.
Should you be planning on staying in your house for many years to come, the initial purchase of the equipment may well be quite an expensive one, once you have considered all of the tools and equipment needed, the chemicals, and safety equipment etc.
If you divide this cost by the number of times that you would potentially complete the project over the years that you will be living in the property, maybe 30 years as an example, it reduces the average cost of each soft washing project considerably.
Professional soft washing contractors could charge anything from a couple of hundred pounds, and the bigger the house that needs soft washing, the many more hundreds and potentially thousands that you would spend. Then on top of this cost, that cleaning will potentially need to take place every few years.
If you don’t consider that your house is too big, and you would be comfortable completing it in a reasonable amount of time, you can clean it yourself and save yourself quite a large amount of money in the longer term at least.
As an absolute minimum, you’ll need a garden spray attachment for the end of a garden hose, as well as the hose itself, plus a nontoxic, noncorrosive cleaning chemical. Some manufacturers sell special tools, applicators and rinsing tools, but if the staining or build up on the house isn’t too severe, you may not need to worry about getting hold of them for the first project, but consider that over the years, you may then need to invest in more specialised equipment. Something else to think about in terms of benefits would be an overwhelming sense of achievement if you are that way inclined. You would be able to look back at your house and think, I did that, whilst bragging to your friends about it.
You might just be the type of person that enjoys being outdoors, getting your hands dirty and completing various jobs around the house. There may well be other reasons for you to consider taking on such a big project.
Now you have decided that you wish to complete it yourself, you need to know how to complete it. First and foremost, you need to make sure you invest in the correct chemicals and tools that are going to enable you to complete the job effectively. A quick online search and you will find hundreds of posts about different soft wash cleaning methods and techniques.
In a short amount of time, you will be convinced that all you need to invest in is a few containers of household bleach, a power washer set at its lowest setting, and away you go.
This is not the best way to go about this type of cleaning. Even when set at its lowest pressure, a power washer can seriously damage many different types of materials as we have already mentioned earlier. Plus, chlorine bleach is a corrosive agent that too can damage lots of different types of materials if not prepared in the correct amounts and ratios.
By its very nature, it can “bleach” the colour out of anything that it comes into contact with, which isn’t going to be great for those parts of the house that either doesn’t need cleaning with such an aggressive solution or doesn’t need to be cleaned as much as others.
Any excessive spraying of the solution can lead to a runoff which can harm plants. Another downside to using bleach. Whilst the chlorine in bleach may kill the top layer of any algae and even lighten any stains, it doesn’t kill the underlying cause of any algae growth.
Which means that the algae colony gets straight back to work and continues growing to make a full reappearance in a very short time frame.
Specialised detergent products, on the other hand, work better than chlorine bleach and are far less harmful to vegetation. They are also corrosive, so using them requires you to wear full protective gear. So look for a cleaning product that’s non-corrosive and safe for the environment too.
A basic list of the equipment that you would need to get you started is as follows;
- Full-body safety harness with roof anchor ( for the higher, harder to reach spots)
- Eye protectors
- Face mask
- Rubber gloves
- Hand-held tools such as scrapers
- Garden hose
- Garden spray nozzle
- Non Corrosive cleaners and protectors
- An optional water pump (this is to be used if more pressure is needed for higher to reach spots).
Now you’ve got all your tools together, where do you start? Well, you need to try and plan the right day. Check the weather forecast and choose a cool or slightly overcast day with little to no wind so the spray hits your house and not your neighbours’.
These weather conditions will allow the cleaning solution to soak deep into any algae colonies or dirt build-up, without evaporating too quickly as it would on a hot and sunny day. Allowing the cleaning solution to do its job, all while ensuring you get a longer time frame between having to soft wash again. Next, it would be wise to repair any parts of the area that need it and clear any drains or downspouts where you are working so they can drain freely. Allowing any excess solution runoff, or rinsing water, to disperse quickly and safely without any obstructions.
Then begin to prepare the area by moving loose garden or patio furniture and covering any plants and vegetation, because you will have some form of overspray. Even though the product you have chosen to clean with isn’t going to be toxic, the runoff can still be pretty messy. So a little prep work will save you clean up time later.
Once we have cleared any furniture, or covered any that cannot be moved and covered any vegetation, you are ready to begin.
Begin by removing any large growths, using your handheld tools, being careful not to cause any damage to the surfaces underneath them.
Once you have completed this step. Carefully remove and discard any excess debris, again to save yourself clean up time later. Next, you need to soak the area that is to be cleaned. Saturate a large area with the cleaning solution.
Starting from the bottom and working your way back up to the top. Spray until you see a small amount of runoff. Respray any areas that start to dry out.
The third step, we need to blast off all the dirt.
Use the rinsing tool in a forward-and-back motion as if you’re vacuuming. This then places the water jets at the correct angle to spray off the grime.
Mix the protecting solution with water, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions (a gallon will roughly cover about 700 to 900 sq. ft).
Pour it into a pump sprayer ready to spray onto the surface. Before applying the cleaner if it’s a warmer day, spray the material that you are to clean with a little water to cool it down.
This will help to prevent the protector from drying out too quickly. Then spray the protector onto the area needed.
Wait about 20 minutes, then rinse.
If the staining is fairly light, you should be able to rinse off the protecting solution with just a garden hose sprayer. Make sure to go slowly and use even strokes. If you don’t, you’ll find that you end up with patches that weren’t rinsed properly alongside cleaner patches.
For severely stained areas, a garden nozzle probably won’t have enough pressure to dislodge any stains. In that case, you’ll probably need to invest in hiring a specialised rinsing tool.
Another method would be to spray on the coating of a stain-blocking solution.
A stain-blocking product can give you up to three years of protection from mould and mildew.
If this is something you wish to try, apply it as soon as possible after you’ve cleaned the area. This will give the solution more of an opportunity to work straight away and protect a clean surface.
Whether you apply the stain-blocking solutions or not, you’re still going to experience some form of regrowth at some point down the road. Think of this project as an ongoing pest controlling solution. Be sure you pay attention to the areas of the house you have cleaned and clean it again early enough so that any of the stains or regrowth’s don’t set in permanently.
Downsides to Doing it Yourself and the Benefits to Hiring a Professional
The obvious starting point here would be the cost of the initial purchase of any, or all of the tools, chemical solutions, PPE, Plant or other equipment hire and to consider whether this would be needed again for future treatments of soft washing, especially if you do not currently own any of the equipment that you need from the materials list above.
Of course, a lot of this will be able to be re-used such as helmets, goggles and other pieces of the protective equipment for example.
In some cases, you may need to go to the added expense of hiring out scaffolding to ensure your safety in cleaning certain parts of the house. Maybe your regular hose doesn’t carry a strong enough water pressure to access those hard to reach places.
In which case, to carry out an effective soft washing treatment yourself, you will now need to hire out an additional water pump of course at another added expense.
The chemical solutions will likely need to be replaced after each time the soft washing of the house has been completed. This is unless the shelf life on the chemicals lasts at least until the next time you need to carry out another treatment of soft washing which could be as long as two or three years away.
What has started as an economic project that you wanted to carry out yourself, has now run into similar, and more than likely, far greater costs than hiring a professional contractor to come and do the work for you.
Along with the added economic cost, there is also the added time it is going to take you to complete the project, including the time of the person helping you too.
For an untrained, inexperienced soft washer, this is going to be a job that takes you a considerable amount of time. It will probably take you a minimum of a day to complete, potentially two days – as long as you get good enough weather two days in a row to be able to finish the project properly.
Can your assistant spare two days to be able to help you? Or do you need to ask someone else for the following day?
There are a couple of other downsides to soft washing your house yourself.
As you are inexperienced with this type of project right now, you do not know the correct techniques and washing methods you need to use. Some serious damage can be done.
Something else to think about before making soft washing a DIY project is;
If you are soft washing from the roof down, be careful of shingle granules on the roof tiles: If you wash the roof too aggressively, the shingle granules, these are the small particles coating the asphalt shingles that are there to protect them from the sunlight and other elements, can become dislodged.
Unfortunately, scrubbing at the house with the incorrect brush or other incorrect cleaning tools will break apart the structure of lots of materials.
You should never casually soft wash your house with tools from around the house, always make sure you have the correct tools to do the job for you. This will save you from needing to repair or replace various parts of the biggest investment many people make – any sooner than you should need to.
Most materials are not designed to be pressure washed with an average residential pressure washer. The pressure exerted by lots of residential is simply too powerful, even on the lowest power setting. This is because it cannot be regulated as effectively as some of the bigger more industrial machines. Soft washing takes the right tools and techniques that are designed for the job.
Because of this do not be tempted to try to pressure wash all areas of your house in the same way you would do with your fence or a patio, as doing this could cause excessive damage to surfaces, while also creating moisture damage and exposing the house to further issues.
Benefits of Hiring Someone
Rather than tackling these problems yourself, you can save time and potentially prevent yourself a lot of trouble by hiring a professional soft washing service to carry out the project for you. They will take care of everything and leave your house looking as great as the day it was first built.
Most people know that their house’s exterior should be cleaned from time to time, but this doesn’t mean that they should try to clean it themselves.
Having the spirit and desire to go for the DIY approach is admirable but it’s not always the smartest way to go. The risk to your house and yourself can be just too high.
Some of the best reasons to hire a professional soft wash cleaning company:
It’s Safer For You and Your Family
Safety should be one of the biggest reasons to hire a professional soft washing company. DIY is some of the riskiest activities there is out there. With so many accidents occurring to highly trained professionals and contractors that have had extensive training in dealing with all aspects that the modern DIY enthusiast may encounter, imagine just how dangerous it is for an untrained, yet enthusiastic and proficient expert in DIY. Professional soft washing may well be more expensive than doing it yourself in the short term, but factoring in safety is definitely worth the cost.
Professionals Will More Than Likely do a Better Job
You have not had the same professional training or possess the same high quality, professional equipment, your results aren’t going to be as good as a trained professional contractor. You shouldn’t reasonably expect them to be. Highly trained professional soft washing personnel know what they’re doing and they’ve got years and years of experience.
They’ve already got tools to make the job quicker, easier and more efficient. Professional cleaning companies have invested a lot of money into their equipment and their employees. The high-level tools they use allow them to consistently get great results, while still working quickly.
So, with this in mind, you shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking you could do it faster, or cheaper in the short term, yourself. Ultimately, you will end up saving yourself from a lot of hassle and expense by hiring a professional.
How to Find a Professional to Soft Wash Your House
As with any tradesperson required for a project, you will need to find someone that you consider both reliable and trustworthy to undertake the work for you.
There are various things that you should consider before hiring a professional to complete the soft washing of your house, which we’ve highlighted below.
Check for Reviews
Always read customer reviews before working with a new contractor or cleaning company for any project that you are considering. This will give you a really good insight into the level of customer service and the quality of the work from people who have worked with the company previously.
Do You Plan on Using a Local or National Company?
There will be a vast array of business that can assist you in your quest to soft wash your house. These will range from local businesses, who may offer a much more friendly service, and they may also be more willing to negotiate the price and more flexible with timings of the project too much larger national companies. Many people feel they trust larger more national companies more due to their access to more contractors who may be available on a quicker time frame.
Check the Company Website
One of the best ways to help you decide if a company is right for you to work with is to check out the company’s website. It should provide you with lots of information relating to how they price up a job to reviews from previous customers. They may even have a blog, with posts detailing the type of work that you need undertaking, that may have some hints and tips for you to consider in the short term while you wait for the contractor to become available. This also demonstrates their knowledge base and the fact that they are willing to help their potential future customers.
Before picking your soft wash cleaning contractor, it is very prudent to obtain a few different quotes from various reputable companies that you have found whilst completing your research. It will give you a clearer idea of how much the job should cost, indicating that you are fair quotes for your particular market.
When comparing quotes, it is essential to check that they all contain the correct information including;
- Has the contractor clearly outlined the job, considering all of your requirements?
- Are all of the required services and materials listed clearly, so as to not have any added services later on?
- Are all the costs clearly highlighted?
- Has the contractor indicated how and when they are expecting payment?
- Is the work guaranteed, insured, or protected by any warranty, and if so, for how long?
- Is the contractor protected by having the relevant levels of insurance? If so, is your home protected if something does go wrong?
- Check if you are going to be expected to cover any additional costs such as travelling or parking?
- Are there any other costs relating to the removal and safe disposal of any waste products, and are they included in the quote or will they be added at a later time?
- After you’ve selected a company, there are some additional further steps to consider before they actually start work at your house.
- It is wise to ask for at least two recent references. You could call those references to confirm that they had the work that has been stated done and that they were satisfied with the end results.
- Request to see the contractors’ insurance information. Anyone that is about to work on your house, as a bare minimum should at least have public liability insurance, and additionally, they should ideally have an employee liability insurance policy. If they cannot provide copies of either of these then there may be a chance that they are not operating a legitimate business and it is simply not worth the risk in allowing them to work on your house.
- Ask for the company’s safety plan for your home.
- Do they plan to use harnesses for high up positions? If they aren’t willing to take care of their own team, how much care do you think they will give your house?
- Make sure your home is ready for the scheduled work to be done.
- Ensure that the contractor has easy access to a water tap, preferably on the outside of your home if at all possible.
- Make sure you are home upon completion of the work so you can walk the property with the contractor and make sure everything is done and completed to your expectations and there is a follow-up date for any work that needs to be finalised.
Whilst the thought of soft washing your house may not sound like one of the most exciting household chores that you can think of, for some it may well be. It can mean that you can avoid serious and untold damage to your home or even unforeseen costs in the future.
Having a good soft washing care program in place for your house can leave you to enjoy your home with the peace of mind knowing that your structure is protected.
We hope this information comes in helpful for you.