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Soft Washing Painted Exteriors

Updated: Mar 9



Painted houses special cleaning care

Soft washing is a specialized cleaning technique often contrasted with high pressure washing which is used to remove dirt, grime, and organic growth from painted exteriors without causing harm to the paint surface. In this article, we will explore the science behind soft washing and how it helps to maximize the vibrancy and life of the paint. We will cover important factors such as hardness, correct agitation, cleaning agent chemistry, dwell time, and temperature. By understanding these aspects and following the right procedures, professionals can ensure effective cleaning while preserving the integrity of the paint and adhering to manufacturer's warranty and cleaning instructions.


A. Hardness:


Overly hard water (15 grains or higher) when used for washing plays a crucial role in that it diminishes the paint's glow and life expectancy. Extremely hard water contains an abundance of dissolved mineral content such as calcium and magnesium, which will leave behind mineral deposits and streaks on the paint surface. To avoid this, it is recommended to “soften water” to remove mineral content. This is in part what the correct dilution of detergent actually does, however not to be confused, detergents are not used for softening your drinking water. That is an entirely different process.


Pressure washing is a form of agitation

To achieve the best results in soft washing painted exteriors, it is important to have a good understanding of the materials used in the paint and the specific requirements for their maintenance. Different types of paints, such as latex, acrylic, or oil-based paints, may have varying durability and cleaning requirements. Some paints may be more susceptible to damage from certain cleaning agents or techniques. Therefore, it is essential to research and identify the specific type of paint used on the exterior surfaces and follow the manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning and maintenance.


Following the manufacturer's warrantied procedures and cleaning instructions is crucial for maintaining the longevity and appearance of the paint. Manufacturers often provide specific guidelines regarding the recommended cleaning agents, techniques, and tools to use. Deviating from these instructions may not only void the warranty but also lead to potential damage to the paint. It is important to thoroughly read and understand the manufacturer's guidelines before initiating any soft washing procedures.



Paints come in a variety of materials and have warranties


In addition to understanding the correct procedures, it is equally important to be aware of what not to do when soft washing painted exteriors. Avoid using high-pressure water streams or abrasive scrubbing tools, as they can damage the paint surface. Harsh chemicals, such as bleach or acids, should be avoided as they can cause discoloration, peeling, or degradation of the paint. It is also essential to avoid excessive dwell time or leaving the cleaning agent on the surface for too long, as it can lead to chemical reactions with the paint.


The following is a break down of the key variables that Happy Window Cleaning teaches our cleaning technicians.


B. Agitation:


The pressure coming from the nozzle using a mechanical sprayer is a form of agitation, soft washing entails gentle agitation. Scrubbing is an essential step in soft washing as it helps to loosen dirt and grime from the painted surface. However, it is important to use the correct level of agitation to prevent damage to the paint. Gentle agitation techniques, such as using soft brushes or low-pressure water streams, should be employed to avoid scratching or peeling of the paint.


dilution dictionary

C. Cleaning Agent:


The choice of cleaning agents in soft washing is crucial in achieving effective cleaning without harming the paint. It is important to select cleaning agents specifically formulated for painted surfaces. These agents should be free from harsh chemicals, such as bleach or acids, which can cause discoloration or degradation of the paint. pH-neutral or mildly alkaline cleaners are commonly used for soft washing painted exteriors.


D. Dwell Time:


Dwell time refers to the amount of time the cleaning agent is left on the surface before rinsing. It allows the cleaning agent to penetrate and break down dirt and organic growth effectively. However, it is essential to follow the recommended dwell time provided by the manufacturer of the cleaning agent. Leaving the cleaning agent on the surface for too long may lead to chemical reactions with the paint, causing damage.


heated power washing

E. Temperature:


Temperature can impact the effectiveness of soft washing. Warmer water can help to enhance the cleaning action of the cleaning agent by increasing its solubility and activity. However, it is crucial to avoid using excessively hot water, as it can cause thermal shock and potential damage to the paint. Optimal water temperature for soft washing is generally between 40°F (4°C) and 100°F (38°C).


Correctly soft washing painted exteriors requires a thorough understanding of various factors to ensure maximum presentation and life of the paint. By considering hardness, correct agitation, cleaning agent chemistry, dwell time, and temperature, professionals can separate themselves from novices and provide high-quality cleaning while preserving the integrity of the paint. Following the manufacturer's warrantied procedures and cleaning instructions is essential to maintain the longevity and appearance of the painted surfaces.


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