Power Washing 101

Everything You Need to Know Before Hiring an Exterior Cleaning Company

When we evaluate a new customer’s property, we try to answer any questions they have about power washing. Our goal is to help them understand exactly how we’ll be cleaning their surfaces and what results they can expect. We also want to ensure we are taking care of all the surfaces that need to be cleaned, so the entire property can be thoroughly cleaned in one stop.

Many of our customers have concerns about damage to their surfaces. And rightly so! 

Inexperienced power washing can strip paint from surfaces and crack holes in siding. It’s easy to damage soft wood by using the wrong nozzle or strength. Improper mix of chemicals can permanently stain colored surfaces and cause irreversible damage to their landscaping. Thousands of dollars of damage can result by simple mis-use of power washing equipment, techniques and chemicals.


The Basics of Power Washing

There are two main steps in cleaning a surface. 1. Agitation (removal of grime from surface with appropriate tools, techniques, and agents). 2. Rinse (completely removing grime and cleaning agents from all surfaces once they’ve been completely cleaned).

Before you hire an exterior cleaning company, make sure you understand power washing in a fundamental way. Here are the basics. Exterior cleaning follows a four-part formula to cleaning surfaces. Technique (tool), temperature, chemicals, and time. Each of these variables are selected based on the type of surface that is being cleaned and the residue to be removed. Pollen, soil, motor oil, and grease stains are common types of residues that are approached with different cleaning strategies.


The 4 Cleaning Elements

Cleaning Technique – The technician selects the correct tool, nozzle, strength and action to properly clean each surface. While some surfaces may easily be cleaned with sprayed water, others need a mechanical action to agitate residue from the surface.

Water Temperature – Warm or cold water is used with a corresponding detergent to help dissolve stuck-on residue from surfaces. For example, often warm water mixed with a detergent to remove motor oil stains, and cold water is used to rinse the surface clean.

Cleaning Agents (Detergents and Chemicals) – Detergent and chemicals are applied in the cleaning process based on both the type of surfaces they will be used on and the type of matter stuck on that surface. It is extremely important that chemical mixes are strong enough to clean the surfaces without causes unwanted stain or discoloration. The type of residue on the surface drives the choice of chemicals. 

For instance, algae responds well to a dilute bleach mix. Cleaning algae laden siding from a house may require a simple application of a water and bleach spray followed later by a rinse once enough time has passed for the chemical to kill the algae. 

Time – Detergent needs time to work properly. Imagine spilling some tomato sauce on a white t-shirt. LIkely, you’d spray it with a stain remover and let it sit before putting it in the washing machine. Many exterior cleaning detergents act the same way. The purpose of these agents is to emulsify (surround) the droplets of the stain and lift them off the substrate. In most cases, additional cleaning agitation, such as a surface cleaner or a brush, followed by a strong rinse is just what is needed to get the job done.

Getting any of these variables wrong will make a difference in the outcome of the the job. In a best case scenario, the surfaces won’t be as clean as they could be. In a worse case scenario, permanent damage could be done to the surfaces, costing thousands of dollars.


Frequently Asked Questions


Why isn’t this surface getting completely clean?

There are times we’ve visited homes or properties where the previous technicians just didn’t do a thorough enough job. As a result, we’ve gotten the call to review the property and prove that our processes and techniques will work better. 

If you have been disappointed with the results of a cleaning company, here’s what may have gone wrong.

1. Incorrect cleaning detergent. Inorganic and organic matter respond completely differently to detergents. For instance, the technician may have easily removed an (organic) oil stain from a patio but failed to remove the stains from calcium (inorganic) build-up.

2. Correct cleaning detergent – wrong technique/tool. An example may be when a technician fails to use sufficiently heated warm water with a surface cleaner to thoroughly agitate all stuck-on residues.

3. Poorly mixed chemicals. Or no chemicals at all. An overly dilute or inconsistently mixed chemicals will produce varying results or no results at all. 


What types of surfaces can be cleaned with power washing?

Power washing is good on surfaces that can endure a concentrated, pressurized stream of water without experiencing damage. It is ideal for surfaces like, concrete or paved patios, brick, stone, concrete, sidewalks, driveways, retaining walls and walkways.  Soft washing is a technique using chemical application with a reduced pressure strength of spray. Soft washes are ideal for wood decking, wood siding, stucco, cedar siding, and shingle roofs. 


What type of residues can be removed from surfaces using power washing techniques?

The most common types of residues we remove using power washing are algae, gum, oil, dirt, mold, grime, dog and bird debris. For surfaces stains with calcium and rust stains, we offer restoration services to return these surfaces to their original condition.

Pro Tip: Always use an experienced, licensed and insured exterior cleaning company! Be sure to confirm how many years they have been in business, rating with the Better Business Bureau, Google reviews, and before and after photos. We recommend not going with the cheapest company, as they might cut corners or work too quickly to get the job done completely.


Use Pristine Inc for Exterior Cleaning Services!

Try Pristine Inc for your power washing and exterior cleaning needs! We service both residential and commercial customers in the greater Baltimore area. Our territory extends throughout Maryland to include Baltimore County, Harford County, Cecil County and York County, PA.

Not only will we get the job done right the first time, we also will deliver an amazing customer experience. That means we will communicate well, show up on time, and treat you politely and respectfully – like you deserve to be treated! 

📞 Call us today to schedule your quote or fill out our online form. there’s no risk, and it’s free! 


Contact us today to schedule your free quote!

A lot of companies over-promise and under-deliver, but not us! 

We have made it our mission to deliver the most amazing customer experience ever! It’s a bold statement, but we have the character, experience, processes and guarantees to back it up! It’s important to us that you are treated with respect and delighted with every aspect of our work.

Give us a call to schedule your free quote at 800-858-6208 or request one online. You will not recognize your property when we’re done making it shine!

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