Soft Washing

How does soft washing work?

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The first step in the soft washing process is area prep and property protection. Sensitive things like plants, outlets, stained wood doors, and security cameras must be considered.

Plants in the immediate vicinity or in an area of runoff must be watered before and after the job. If the plants are less hardy, like flowering plants, they must also be tarped off to minimize direct exposure to the soft wash solution.

Outlets are masked off to prevent intrusion of the soft wash solution. If at all possible, it is a great idea to cut off power to any outlets in the work area. Soft wash solution is more conductive than water, and can be corrosive to the metal contacts inside outlets. If an outlet is the outdoor type, it still needs protection. These covers are meant for exposure to rain, not to the flow of a garden hose or soft wash system.

Stained wood needs to be in great shape to wash, and you must use a very weak solution if you must do so. It is preferred to hand wash stained doors with soap and water then dry with a towel. Too strong of solution on stained wood can cause discoloration. If the door is not to be cleaned, we at 501 Pressure Washing simply mask the door off with plastic prior to washing.

Another thing to watch out for is organic pigment paints. Painted surfaces are spot checked for reactivity before cleaning. It is rare, but sometimes a home is painted with a certain line of paint by Sherman Williams. This paint contains organic pigments. The soft washing solution is designed to kill and remove anything organic. That unfortunately includes this type of paint! If the work area fails a spot test, it is not safe to soft wash.

Security cameras should be masked off. They may be weatherproof, but soft wash solution isn’t your typical weather. Don’t forget to make sure all doors and windows are shut and locked for the best seal.

Step two is to prepare your equipment and solution. Soft wash solution is typically anywhere from 0.5% to 6% sodium hypochlorite, and a surfactant. The strength of sodium hypochlorite and amount of surfactant is adjusted depending on the surface type and amount of buildup.

Step three involves applying the soft wash solution to the area to be cleaned. It’s a great idea to apply the solution from the bottom up. This helps to avoid streaking. Let the solution dwell until it quits working, or the area is clean. The organic buildup should fall off with the pressure of a second application. If that’s the case, a second application is not needed.

Step four. Rinse the area being cleaned from top to bottom. If you are cleaning siding, run your water over the laps and not under so as to not get water behind the siding. Be gentle around outlets, windows, and doors. If you are rinsing hazy oxidized surfaces, try your best to mimic a heavy rain. Too high of pressure can partially remove the oxidation, and create discoloration where your stream of water was hitting.

Step 5. Enjoy your clean home! Who knew spraying water could be this complicated! If you want the job done right, and safely, there are many things to consider before picking up a sprayer!

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How long does soft washing last?

While soft washing kills every microscopic organism colonizing your home, no type of cleaning will prevent the organic buildup from returning. After cleaning, dirt, pollen, mold spores, and micro organisms will begin to infiltrate your surfaces on a level not visible to the eye just yet. There are many variables that contribute to how long a surface may stay clean.

Some of these variables include:

  • Type of surface
  • Air moisture content
  • Amount of sunlight received in a day
  • Temperature
  • Proximity to trees

Have you ever noticed how the north side of many homes is generally the dirtiest? That side receives the least amount of sunlight per day! Sunlight is harmful to the algae and mold that grow on your property. It also reduces the moisture needed for them to grow. With all that being said, you can expect vinyl siding and driveways to stay clean anywhere from 3 months to a few years. These times can be extended greatly by using a blower to blow off any organic matter such as pollen, dust, acorns and leaves. These all provide food for the microorganisms that create those ugly green and black streaks! Again, remember that everything is highly variable, so much that we do not guarantee any amount of time between cleanings.

Is soft washing a house safe?

Soft washing is a relatively new term to most homeowners, and with that, it’s totally okay to wonder if it’s safe for your home or not! You may have heard that chemicals are used rather than water pressure. The word “chemical” comes with a bad stigma, but don’t worry, we are here to set the facts straight today.

Soft Washing Safety Q and A

Q: In what ways does soft washing differ from pressure washing?

A: While pressure washing uses only high pressure water, soft washing uses low pressure chemical application and a low pressure rinse to remove organic buildup. This eliminates all chances of disturbing surfaces. Even brick and concrete can be destroyed with a pressure washer in the wrong hands. The chemicals also provide a deeper clean than water alone.

Q: What is soft wash solution made of?

A: In general, soft wash solution is compromised of water, sodium hypochlorite, and a surfactant. Sodium hypochlorite is the active ingredient in the solution that kills algae, mildew & mold. Surfactants break surface tension, allowing dirt to be rinsed away easier than with water alone.

Q: Can soft washing hurt my plants or grass?

A: Yes, and no. When a professional performs a soft wash, the mixture of sodium hypochlorite is highly controlled. Only small amounts, between 0.5% to 1.5% are used on siding. When cleaning roofs and driveways, stronger solutions are required. Not a problem for the professional. There are ways of avoiding damage, such as plant watering, plant tarping, runoff collection, runoff dilution, runoff minimization, and sodium hypochlorite neutralization. If a misinformed homeowner decides to try it themselves, & they don’t have their math and method down, yes some damage “could” occur.

Q: Are there any benefits of soft washing versus pressure washing?

A: Often times you can get the same result with pressure washing. Soft washing is faster, safer, and provides a deeper clean. Pressure washing requires pressure to be applied to every square inch of surface to be cleaned. Soft washing allows one to stand back and cast a broad fan covering more area in less time as well as using less water to clean. As mentioned before soft washing actually kills organics on a microscopic level whereas pressure washing simply moves around mold and mildew. If you looked at a piece of pressure washed siding under a microscope, you would see it still needs cleaning. This allows for more time in-between cleanings.

Does soft washing clean windows?

Soft washing cleans all of the organic buildup on windows. Often times homeowners will leave the screens in place during a soft wash. This can make it difficult to rinse all the debris out from the window sills, especially if the debris is larger than the holes in the screens. The glass may or may not be perfect afterwards. Sometimes minerals reside in the water supply and leave water spots after the water has dried on the windows. This cannot be avoided. We recommend to call a window cleaner if you wish to have guaranteed spotless windows, and 100% clean window sills. We will not flood a windows still to force debris out because the homeowner did not remove the screens prior to service. There is too much increased liability doing that. Here around the Greers Ferry Lake Area, we generally do not have a problem with water spots. The problem occurs on approximately 3% of our jobs in this area.