The Differences Between Pressure Washing, Power Washing, Soft Washing, and Down Streaming

There's a lot of talk on the internet these days by so-called experts in and out of the pressure washing community. Especially information about pressure washing, power washing, soft washing, and down streaming. You can visit different websites and get different answers on the same topics. It seems like the writers want to confuse people about the power washing industry. The fact is, it isn't that complicated, but again it is possible that people don't want you to know that. In this article, I will discuss the true differences between these 'terms' and 'techniques'. I will also explain why there may be so much misinformation about the subject.

What do You Know About Power Washing?

If you are reading this you may be asking yourself who is this guy and "what credentials does he have on the topic?" Well, I am glad you asked. My wife and I started an exterior cleaning business in the spring of 2021. We researched the niche, attended training, and mapped out our business strategy. Check out the article "How We Got Started in the Pressure Washing Business" to find out more about my credentials.

Pressure washing with a dual-lance wand

Pressure Washing vs. Power Washing

When searching the internet you may be led to believe that pressure washing is different than power washing. The truth is however that the terms are interchangeable and preference is the only difference.
In fact, you will find that Wikipedia not only defines the two terms as the same it clearly lets it be known that Pressure washing is the formal term and Power Washing is a variation. According to Wikipedia, pressure washing (or power washing) is the process of using high-pressure water spray to remove loose paint, dirt, dust, mud, and grime from surfaces and objects such as buildings, vehicles, and concrete structures.

Down streaming vs. Soft Washing

Downstreaming uses a power washer at a lower PSI combined with detergent or chemicals. The detergents are added to the water spray after the pump to reduce possible damage. This is where the term "down-streaming" originates as it is downstream from the pump's pressure. A popular alternative to down streaming is soft washing.

pressure washer plumbing diagram

What is Soft Washing?

Soft washing is a low-pressure water cleaning method. The term was originated by biocide solution sales companies. Nowadays, the term "soft washing" describes any spraying chemicals (typically sodium hypochlorite) on buildings to remove organic stains such as algae, bacteria, and mildew from building exteriors and roofs.
It is a different method than power washing. The ARMA (Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association) has recommended lower-pressure detergent or SH mixed with water as the best method for cleaning roofs made of asphalt to prevent shingle damage.

Soft Wash System Diagram

What Equipment is Needed for Soft Washing?

Soft washing equipment is different than power and pressure washing equipment. The electric or compressed air diaphragm pump pushes the cleaning solution at 40-100 PSI. Soft washing equipment is more of a long-reaching water hose stream or sprays with detergent or SH.

Misinformation on the Internet

The Internet is a great resource for information. However, there are many inaccurate facts on the Web. Some of these inaccuracies are harmless, while others are potentially dangerous. There are a number of writing tools that use AI (artificial intelligence) to create content. This method scrapes random data about a particular subject from the internet. It then attempts to re-write it into original content. The problem with these AI tools is that they not only create inaccurate information but they spread it through regurgitation. While AI writing tools can be useful, they lose the credibility of footnoting and fact tracing.