Soft wash set up, or power wash set up?

I’m going to add either a soft wash system or a power wash set up to my services next year. I’ll be buying it this year, before the end of the year.

We have a lot of issues with algae, lichens, roof algae, and the like. I live in an area that has lot of lakes. The people are also the type that are very concerned with chemicals and it polluting the lakes.

I don’t know which way to go with the purchase. IF I buy a new power washer, it will be a 4 GPM pump. At this point I don’t want to build a trailer with a big water tank. I have a small enclosed trailer or I could buy a small open trailer to do either set up with. Drive way access tends to be an issue, so no big hogging trailers will work.

With a power washer, I could buy an X Jet to do roofs.

I’ll be upfront, I don’t want to do TONS of power washing, so this is why I thought maybe soft washing would be a better route. I could get roofs, siding, decks and whatever else. There are several power washers that service this area, but not many at all doing soft washing.

Right now I have a small 2.5 GPM power washer that I’ll do decks, or something small like that. I don’t do houses or roofs.

What direction would you guys go? I have some money to invest, just not an unlimited amount I’m willing to toss away. I might go in, up to 2K to get what I need to go at it. (not including chems)

Bear in mind, I’m pretty busy now with windows, and am NOT looking to power wash parking lots, or tie up all day doing power washing/soft washing at this point. I just want to capture more dollars and keep more services tied to me, rather than let the opportunity for someone else to come in.

TIA for your input.

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Come to The Huge Convention and see all the options also network and ask questions

Can you explain what your difference in definition for soft wash or power wash is?

I do a lot of pwing as an add on to my wc business, but I use wide tips and chems not pressure to get the job done.

I am essentially doing softwash with a pressure washer, imho. Are you perhaps referring to machines that have different psi???

Hang out for awhile on PWR. Most guys there would agree that an xjet cannot be relied upon to deliver a strong enough mix for roof cleaning


Best advice.

Dan, my guess is he’s referring to the AC Lockyer definition: direct application of chemical with a 12v pump. He’s talking about roofs and stuff that can’t be cleaned with DS or xJet

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Oh, I see. Not my area of expertise at all. So, I guess what might help him make a decision is whether or not he wants to do roof washing.

If he does want to do roofs then go for the 12v pump system.

If he just wants to do eaves and siding and flatwork, then invest in a pw.


Sure. It’s the same as I have seen many people define it. Power washing generally works with higher pressure, in the 3k plus range. I know you can use larger orifice tips to bring down the PSI, but with a power washer, you can do things (wash surfaces) you can’t with a soft wash system.

A soft wash system uses either a 12 volt, air diaphragm, or gas powered pump. PSI is up to 150 PSI. You mix your cleaner in a tank, coat the surface, and rinse with water. No pressure involved, just your mix.

I’m not looking to have 10k plus in equipment, as this is just going to be an add on service. I don’t have the time to do it every day, all day long. But I would like to add some roofs, house washes, etc.

The small enclosed trailer I have sitting, would work well for either way I go, so long as I don’t need to add a big tank for water (that’s why I said 4 GPM pressure washer).

I’m just undecided at this point and don’t know which way would be smartest to invest my money.

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Watching this thread.
I have had several inquire about whether or not I offer pressure washing. I intend to add this on at the end of the year or into Spring.
I am not so inclined to do roof washing - at least not at first. Driveways, sidewalks, decks, and siding initially as an add on service. I would like some experience under my belt before hitting roofs, many of which walking would be required.
Also a 4-5 GPM is ideal with surface cleaner, edge tool, and down streamer - but - for me living so close to the Bay and Gulf I would be judicious about chemical use as well.


For what it’s worth, having a tank depends on if your area has wells. You don’t want to burn up your pump.

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I’ve said this a thousand times over on pwr, but I’ll say it again here:

The 5.6@2500 Pressure Pro machine with a 50-65 gallon buffer tank is the bomb for house-washing. Mount it on a small trailer or on a flatbed pickup along with hose reels, and you’ll have a rig that can compete with most pw companies.

Even if you’re only doing a couple houses a week, the time you’ll save on the job, plus the longterm maintenance savings will more than pay for the added cost of setting it up.

If you want to do roofs, then add on a fatboy bandit system.

Get a 16 or 19 inch surface cleaner with 3.5 tips, and you can tackle residential concrete.

Power washing has a been a huge boon to our business. Last monday I pulled down over $2k working solo. That’s not typical, but I can easily double and sometimes triple what I make in a day of window cleaning. And it’s so much easier work. I don’t come home dead-tired after pw’ing.


You can clean everything with a Powerwasher except a roof. I’ve been using a 4 Gpm for 6 years now. Only reason I havnt up graded my equipment yet is because I’m paying off 2 vechiles right now. My wife’s car , An my van. Those are all gone this coming year.

I’m upgrading to a 8gpm , An more than likely going with a Flatbed. I’ve made a lot of money with my 4 GPM, but I definitely worked harder to get there

I just added a air diaphragm pump this year , An I love it . I don’t do roofs, but I use it for Composite decks , Concrete Cleaning, An the a Occasional house wash.

My plan is to use it more frequently on house washes when I get my flatbed. One guy soaping one guy rinsing.

You would be fine just getting a 4gpm machine just don’t do roofs. I would say away from wood also. I’ll never add wood as a surface I clean. Composite decks yes. I love cleaning composite.

I like down streaming as opposed to xjet. For you guys just looking to add the service. I would just get a 4gpm to start. Get 250’ of hose a down stream Injector An connect to the spigot.

The only down fall is loading and unloading the PW An wrapping up your hoses , but you still can make good money just have to work a little harder

Also let me state 150’ is the best length to use for down streaming. Always have xtra Incase one busts , or you might have add another length. I’ve done 200’ An still was able to draw soap. 250’ was to long.


Thanks for your thoughts for far guys.

A few more questions, if I may?

How are you guys pricing cleaning? Do you have a flat fee per square foot, or does it vary for say washing siding and washing walks/driveways?

I have mostly all wells in my work area. Does that require a buffer tank, even if I decide on a 4 GPM model?

What chems are you using? Again, people in this area are VERY conscious about chems because of water ways and lakes.

We [quote=“HoosierSqueegee, post:13, topic:47834”]
What chems are you using? Again, people in this area are VERY conscious about chems because of water ways and lakes.

This is where your problem might come in. In my opinion Pool shock (SH) is a must. When down streaming I use ( per 5 gslllon mix). 1 1/2 gallons -2 1/2 gallons pool shock. 4ozs of surfactant. I use Elemonator. The rest water.

I really don’t see it as a problem if doing houses by the lake , but the customer might have a different opinion. The solution is going on the House , An then your rinsing it off , which will be getting diluted as you rinse. I do understand the concern though !
As far as decks, An flat work you have to see where it runs off … if it’s to close to the lake , then it’s a no no.

As far as pricing it’s like anything else , ya have to take some bruises along the way. Once you understand how long things take you’ll get a grasp of what to charge. Have a minimum for house washes, An not a $100 :joy:.

For square footage understanding of pricing. For vinyl house wash, Any where between 10 cents an 15 cents is decent.
For hourly anywhere between 150-250 an hour . Below or above … it is what it is. You’ll learn !!:+1:

I just sent a tint guy out to repair some tint that I got blamed for. One small Casement , An one sash of a Double hung. This was a guy with no overhead cause I found him on the road in a work truck so he works for someone else. He charge me 250. It took him one an half hours. He told his boss would of been 300. So never frown upon making 250 an hour an above. Is my point. You just need the understanding of how long things take which takes time.

Measuring shit sucks I don’t measure flat work , decks , houses. I just look An price. So far so good , ya you’ll have your times when you will under bid , an over bid… if there is any such thing , In my eyes there isn’t . If you get the job it was what they are willing to spend.


I agree Alex. I’ve definitely worked harder the way I jace been dosing this with my 4 GPM machines , but still made good money

Remember though we are wondow cleaners that are adding on a service.

Nit power washers that will be doing this day in An day out, so a 4 gallon machine can work for us

I’m a believer in get the work first then get the equipment.

BTw how did that small route sale go that I talked to you about ? . Keep forgetting to ask

I’ve spent some of today looking at pressure washers for sale. I think I’ve found a unit to purchase. Trying to keep myself in the 2k I’m willing to invest in power washing…

A simpson 4 GPM, 4400 PSI, belt drive. About 1K.
200 foot of hose from pressure tek - 300
A reel about 200
A surface spinner 500

That pretty much eats up what I am willing to spend for a power washing outfit. I still would need to budget in something for a extended reach, telescoping wand for 2nd story work.

The sale went well. As usual, way overthinking stuff. It felt like I practically gave it away to them, but I had not really cultivated the route the way it deserved - and the net sales reflected that. They’re friends of ours, so I’m glad they got a good price. I guess the route is going really well for them now, and people still ask them how I am doing :sunglasses:

@anon82274079, I’m guessing that’s a direct drive unit? You had mentioned running off wells? In that case, I would highly recommend a belt or gear drive machine, so you can run a small buffer tank to prevent the pump from starving. Some wells I’ve worked off of won’t even put out a consistent 4 gpm.

That’s my main reason why I usually recommend just going for the 5.6@2500 machines. You can get it for only a couple hundred more, or sometimes even the same price, as a decent belt driven 4gpm machine.

Personally, I wouldn’t put $1k into a machine knowing that I run a good chance of burning up the pump. Granted, you can always swap the pump for a gear drive with better specs when that happens, but it seems like throwing away money to me.

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No, that’s actually a belt drive unit. I don’t know if all belt drives can suck out of a buffer tank? I looked for the unit you were talking about. I found nothing on it Google searching and looking on the company’s website matching those specs.

This is the vendor I bought from. A few others sell it.

But $1k for a belt drive 4gpm machine sounds like a really good deal. I would probably jump on it.

Technically, you can use direct drives on a tank, but they can be finnicky. @Steve has been doing it for years, though.

A belt drive will produce more suction due to how the pump is built. It will also last longer because it runs about half as fast and does not have as much vibration from the engine.


I saw this unit today on Craigslist. $725 and claims it works great w/ 50’ of hose, wand, and tips. Pictures shows it to be in good condition. Leaves lots of room for accessories with that price.

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