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October 9, 2018

What Is Soft Washing? Bringing Ann Arbor, MI Up To Speed

Pressure washing can make quick work of cleaning the roof, windows, and exterior walls of a house or commercial building, as well a property’s driveways, walkways, fences, deck, and other outer surfaces. However, using too much pressure during this washing can cause nicks and chips in softwoods and brick, and dents in aluminum siding. Pressure washing can also loosen roofing tiles and connectors around downspouts, and even shatter windows!

Soft washing is a type of power washing that uses very low pressure, as well as special detergents or cleansers, to remove dirt, dust, mud, oil, algae, and other debris from exterior surfaces. Soft washing is safer for windows, timber decks and fences, glass fences, patio pavers, soft brick, and older roofs than a standard high-pressure washing technique.

So that you understand all your options for keeping a house or commercial facility clean and in good repair, note some of the benefits of having that structure and its exterior surfaces pressure washed, and why it’s good to leave soft washing to an appropriately trained professional.

Soft Pressure Washing Equipment

Power washing, pressure washing, and soft pressure washing are very different exterior cleaning techniques, although they all use similar equipment. Power washing and pressure washing both clean a structure’s roof, windows, and exterior walls and other outer surfaces with water that applied at very high pressure, along with various detergents and cleansers.

The difference between these two washing methods is that the term power washing typically refers to cleaning surfaces with very hot water. Hot water helps to dissolve greasy or oily substances, such as motor oil, cooking grease, and industrial lubricants, making it easier to wash them away.

Soft pressure washing uses equipment that is similar to power and pressure washing, but the water is applied with very low pressure, just slightly more forceful than a home’s garden hose. The equipment used for soft pressure washing will also typically have telescoping handles so that the water can easily reach roof eaves, upper story windows, and other such areas, without this added pressure.

All three of these methods will get exterior surfaces clean, and also help to remove and dislodge debris from a structure’s exterior walls, windows, and roof, and from cracks and crevices around roof eaves, behind shutters, and around gutters and downspouts. This damaging debris includes:

  • Bird’s nests and droppings
  • Termite tunnels
  • Cobwebs, bee’s nests, hornet’s nests
  • Seeds and acorns
  • Twigs and leaves
  • Salt and other chemicals used to clear snow and ice
  • Acid rain residue and other air pollutants

While all three methods will typically use detergents and cleansers to help loosen and remove dirt and other residues, soft washing will use particular solvents meant to work with a soft wash system. These cleansers will dissolve thick dust and grime, but without causing damage to exterior surfaces or a lawn and landscaping features.

Soft Wash Chemical Mix

Another way that soft washing is different than standard high-pressure techniques is that the special detergents or solvents used are typically applied to the areas to be cleaned before those surfaces or sprayed, and those solvents are then allowed to sit for several minutes before being rinsed away. Applying cleansers this way enables those detergents to penetrate very thick dirt and debris so that those surfaces can be cleaned even without high pressure.

The chemicals and detergents used for soft washing will vary, according to the surface and the type of dirt and residue that needs cleaning. Some of these detergents might contain a watered-down bleach solution, as bleach kills mold and algae, whereas most soaps used for soft washing are biodegradable and very eco-friendly.

Can You Soft Wash With a Pressure Washer?

While it might sound like soft washing the exterior of a residential home or commercial building is as simple as spraying down those surfaces with a garden hose or just lowering the pressure on a standard power washer, this isn’t the case! There are many reasons why a property owner should avoid trying to manage their soft washing, even with a lightweight power washer.

One consideration is that improper washing techniques can still cause considerable damage to various surfaces of your property, no matter the water pressure you use. As an example, concentrating even a lightweight spray of water in the middle of a window can cause the glass to crack or break. Using too much pressure on cracked and chipped areas of wood decks and fences, concrete walkways, and patio pavers can also cause those nicks and chips to get worse. You can even outright split or crack timber decking or fence material, or concrete walkways!

Can You Use Soft Wash Nozzles?

Many soft wash systems come with special nozzles for the water wand. These nozzles can help to control the water pressure and reduce the risk of damaging those exterior surfaces; however, it’s still good to leave this work to a professional.

One reason for this is that the cleansers used for soft washing are more gentle than many heavy-duty exterior detergents, but they can still be hazardous to your eyes, skin, and nasal passages, and they need proper precautions when being handled.

It’s also vital to know the right types of detergents and cleansers to use when soft washing exterior surfaces. For instance, the bleach solution you might use to address mold or algae on a rooftop may cause timber decking to become dry and brittle, whereas wood cleaners or standard household detergents may not kill that harmful alga on your home’s roof!

Failing to rinse away any detergent properly can also cause damage to your property’s exterior surfaces. Detergent residue is often very sticky, so it may trap and hold dirt against a timber deck, exterior window, or aluminum siding. This buildup can lead to unsightly streaks that are difficult to wash away, and which might cause more damage to those surfaces over time. To avoid this potential damage, leave soft washing services to a professional!

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