Most people have misconceptions of pressure washing. A commonly
held view is that a pressure washer cleans with high pressure on the
surface, and a higher PSI rating (pounds per square inch) for a
pressure washer equals more cleaning ability. A first time user of a
pressure washer will usually try to clean with pressure, if the surface
doesn’t come clean, then they will move closer to the surface or use a
tip that produces more pressure in an attempt to clean.
Using high pressure to clean can be dangerous to both the user and
the surface being cleaned. Painted wood siding can be stripped of
paint, soft wood decks can be marred and striped by high pressure, and windows can have there vapor barriers broken
from the pressure. High pressure cleaning can also lead to “striping” which is caused by a uneven application of pressure
to the surface, resulting in the surface being more “clean” in some areas than others. This can be seen many times as
amateurs attempt to clean concrete with a narrow fan tip.
Higher pressure is more difficult to control, and is especially dangerous from a ladder, which amateur washers will use to
reach the higher areas of a home. The bottom line however, is high pressure isn’t all that effective in cleaning.
Mold and other stains many times are not budged at all by pressure, but can be easily wiped off with a cloth or brush. But
cleaning a home by hand with a brush or cloth is very time consuming.
High pressure cleaning is only effective on hard surfaces such as brick and concrete, even though extremely high pressure
can damage the facing on brick and the finish on concrete.
The Secret to Pressure Washing
The secret to pressure washing is detergents. Every stain on a home, mold and mildew,
grease, red clay, rust etc., has a certain chemical which will break down that stain and
allow a pressure washer to rinse it off.
A professional pressure washer knows what detergent will break down each stain, and
how to safely apply and use the detergent. Incorrect use of these detergents can cause
harm to the user, siding, and plants surrounding the home.
Moderate pressure (2500 – 3500 PSI) can be used to clean certain types of siding (vinyl,
hard wood siding) but is only effective using a soap based detergent. A minority of
professional pressure washers use this technique.
The side being cleaned is soaped using a detergent tip. The soap is allowed to sit on the
surface for a few minutes and loosen the dirt and mold. Then the siding is cleaned from
top to bottom overlapping each pass with the fan spray of the pressure washer.
This isn’t very difficult for lower siding, but the high parts of a home must be washed with
pressure from 6″12″
away for the stains to be removed. Every square inch being of the siding must be cleaned this way.
To reach the higher areas of a home, a ladder or extension wand must be used.
Professional Soft Washing
The majority of professional pressure washers use a technique called “soft washing”. Typically less than 1000 PSI is used
to clean a house. Very little pressure is used, with the surface being cleaned by the detergents applied, and then rinsed by
Ryan Amato Painting
This siding was cleaned using
“soft washing”. Cleaned
completely from the ground with
a 6′ extension wand.
the pressure washer. By using lower pressure, there is less chance of harm to the washer
or the surface being cleaned.
Pros first pre wet
any plants and surfaces not being cleaned, then apply their detergent
solution on the siding from the bottom up. The solution includes sodium hypochlorite and
soap to allow it to cling to the surface more effectively. The solution is allowed to dwell on
the surface until all the mold is killed. Any spots still left are hit with a second application of
Once all the mold is gone, the professional washer rinses from the top down and washes
all traces of mold and debris from the siding. Then the siding is thoroughly rinsed to
remove all soap from the surface, and all plants and other surfaces are throughly rinsed
with low pressure.
Higher parts of siding are reached using a special tip that can shoot a low pressure
stream up to 40 feet. On very high parts a 6 foot extension sometimes is used, but all the
washing can be safely from the ground without using ladders.
Houses can be washed faster and more effectively than using the “pressure cleaning” technique. Pros using the “soft
washing” technique generally favor pressure washers that put out more gallons per minute (GPM) and have less pressure
In summary, smaller onestory
vinyl houses can be cleaned by doityourself
homeowners using residential machines,
however for larger twostory
homes with high peaks it is best to hire a professional pressure washing company that utilizes
soft washing techniques.
If you are looking for an experienced Northampton & Lehigh County painter then please call (484) 821-7112 or complete our online request form.
Ryan Amato - Amato Painting and Power Washing
Ryan Amato is a man driven by his values, first and foremost. As manager of Amato Painting, Ryan’s leadership is one of trust and commitment. His relationships with his team are as important as those with his clients. His motivation to provide professional service is driven by a dependable workmanship that secures their reputation of being the best at what they do. No matter the size of the project, Ryan is adept at meeting deadlines and budgets.
As an award winner for his outstanding painting work, Ryan’s projects have been featured in the Sherwin Williams Quarterly Industry Magazine. You can find his contributions to the painting community across numerous blog sites and on his YouTube channel. With a true passion for his craft, Ryan is driven by so much more than the bottom line. He lives in Easton, Pa with his fiancé Michelle, his two teenagers, Preston and Ryenn and his dog Duncan who stars on the company logo!