We Only Ship In Canada Except For Gutter Baskets That Can Also Be Shipped To The USA - We Are Located At 19705 56 Ave Unit 102, Langley BC, V3A 3X7, Canada 604-533-3353

Getting Into Soft Washing

So you’ve discovered the world of soft washing and you have decided to consider purchasing some equipment, soaps, and chemicals. If you’ve done any research, you have likely noticed there are a lot of options. So what are these options? How much is it going to cost? What kind of vehicle will you need? The answers to all of these questions vary greatly depending on your own personal situation; your budget, your company’s strategy and your personal preferences etc. Let’s start by outlining some of the most popular options and explaining their pros and cons.

Soft washing can be accomplished through a multitude of equipment options, but is primarily broken into 3 main categories: Downstreaming, X-Jetting, and Pump Systems. The main ingredient that takes care of the heavy lifting of cleaning organic compounds such as moss and algae is SH (Sodium Hypochlorite), also known as bleach or Chlorine.

Downstreaming

This method is powered by a pressure washer. Downstreaming uses an injector (single barb if batch mixing, or dual barb if keeping your soap mix and SH separate) to move a solution into the high pressure hose where it mixes with water and then comes out of your gun/wand/nozzles at a ratio of roughly 10 parts water to 1 part solution. 10 to 1, what does that mean, and how do I know if this method is right for my jobs? Well, using the industry standard 12.5% concentrated chlorine and a few ounces of surfactant (other additives for this mixture can be found in the Apple Wash product page where we have included our preferred recipes), we can do some math. 10 to 1 means, there are a total of 11 parts coming out of your gun. If 1 of those 11 parts is the 12.5% chlorine mix, then you will effectively be spraying a mixture that is approximately 1.25% (1÷11x12.5). When you squeeze the trigger on your gun, water is drawn through the high pressure hose which creates a venturi vacuum to pull your solution through the injector and into your hose.

This output concentration is excellent for cleaning vinyl, painted, aluminium siding, soffit, & vertical surfaces such as storage containers etc. The exception is stucco siding. The porous surface of stucco creates a very favourable living environment for algae and other organic materials, therefore stucco will require a stronger SH mix, which we will get into later.

If you are on a budget, already have a pressure washer, and would like to try out the benefits of soft washing, downstreaming can be a great way to get your feet wet without having to invest in a bunch of equipment. However, we do highly recommend that you always have a few extra stainless QC couplers, stainless QC plugs, an extra J-Rod, fully dressed with the proper tips (see J-Rod product listing for the recommended tips), an injector bypass, replacement injector, and an injector rebuild kit.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive entry into soft washing.
  • Dual barb injectors allow you to keep your soap and SH separate so you aren’t stuck with a pre-mixed batch after you complete your job.
  • Not a lot of vehicle space required.
  • Much safer to the surfaces being cleaned, than high pressure water alone.
  • You are able to clean high, hard to reach areas without using a ladder.

Cons:

  • The SH concentration cannot be made high enough for stucco siding, or roof washing.
  • Single injectors require a batch mix that may have leftovers you don’t want pre-mixed.
  • If you are using a pressure washer over 4 GPM, you will need a buffer tank for water as most homes and commercial buildings can’t supply water quickly enough.
  • Since the SH travels down your hose it will slowly deteriorate your fittings.

X-Jetting:

Much like downstreaming, the use of an X-Jet assembly injects a solution from a container into the high pressure hose of your pressure washer. The main difference is that the X-Jet gets attached to the end of the hose that has your gun/wand on it. Injecting at the end of the hose places the venturi closer to the output and you can achieve a 3 parts water to 1 part solution ratio. Using our math from before, that's an SH concentration of up to 3% (1÷4x12.5). This concentration can be reduced by pre-mixing your SH and surfactant with water. For example, if your SH and surfactant were mixed 50/50 with water, your solution would be half the strength, bringing your output mixture from 3%, down to 1.5% concentrated SH.

The X-Jet assembly comes with 15’ of ⅜” hose that draws your solution from your container to your high pressure hose. There is a myth out there that states you cannot use hose longer than 15’ because you will lose suction. We can personally dispel that myth, as we at Big Shot have replaced the 15’ hose with a 100’ hose and still maintain adequate suction.

X-Jetting, much like downstreaming, is quite budget friendly, and can be a great intro to soft washing. With the increased concentration capabilities, you will be able to add stucco cleaning, and some ground cleaning techniques to your repertoire.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive entry into soft washing.
  • Stronger concentration of SH, allowing more types of surfaces to be cleaned.
  • Not a lot of vehicle space required. Much safer to the surfaces being cleaned, than high pressure water alone.

Cons:

  • Without replacing the provided 15’ hose, you will have to carry your container around with you. 3% SH is not strong enough to wash roofs on the west coast because of our wet, mossy environment but works well in areas with lower quantities of organic growth on the roof.
  • If you are using a pressure washer over 4 GPM, you will need a buffer tank for water as most homes and commercial buildings can’t supply water quickly enough.

Pump Systems:

Pump systems allow you to soft wash any exterior surface that can be cleaned using a soft washing technique. These versatile setups can have you cleaning quickly and more efficiently. Increasing your efficiency increases not only your revenue, but also your profit margins. Whether you are batch mixing, or keeping your water, SH, and soap separate and proportioning, pump systems are a game changer. These systems can be pieced together by any handy DIYer, or, if you’d like to skip the planning and installation, you can always opt for a preassembled setup.

The DIY approach involves you purchasing individual components such as pumps, hose, fittings, tanks, batteries etc., and installing them in your vehicle/trailer to your preference. This involves more work than some of the pre-built drop in skids, but will allow you to gain a deeper knowledge of how your system works, and is a great way to learn about your equipment. For a visual guide of the products and how they are installed, see our Soft Wash Setup Guide.

Pre-assembled units range from basic setups like the Generation 2 Twin Pump System (requires the addition of a tank for batch mixing, and a battery), up to large drop-in skids fully loaded with powerful pumps, a pressure washer, proportioning system, and other washing equipment.

The addition of a proportioner allows you to keep your soap mixes, SH and water separate and control your ratios with the turn of a few valves in real time. Sure, these setups cost more and take up more real estate, but with top tier equipment, you'll be set up for any job that comes your way. Just add soaps, chemicals, a surface cleaner, some window cleaning equipment and you're on your way to setting the soft wash standard in your territory!

Pros:

  • Easy setup.
  • Easy use.
  • Clean all surfaces that soft washing is made to clean.
  • Much safer to the surfaces being cleaned, than high pressure water alone.
  • Increased productivity.

Cons:

  • Higher upfront cost.
  • Can take up more space in a vehicle if you go with a larger unit.
  • More maintenance

Additional equipment to consider to have a complete, robust exterior cleaning company

 

Vehicle Selection Considerations

Pickup Truck

Pros:

  • Equipment and materials are accessible from all sides of the vehicle.
  • Only need to insure one vehicle, not a vehicle and trailer.
Cons:
  • If you need to leave the site with your truck, the crew can’t continue to work
  • Working around the sides of the truck bed can be slightly inconvenient but not too bad.   

Trailer

Pros:

  • Equipment and materials are accessible from all sides of the vehicle.
  • If you need to leave the site with your truck, you can release the trailer and leave it so your crew can continue to work.

Cons:

  • Need to insure the truck and trailer.
  • Can make parking more difficult with the increased footprint.

Cargo/Cube Van

Pros:

  • Equipment is more secure inside while parked.
  • Only need to insure one vehicle, not a vehicle and trailer
  • Extra space for vehicle wrap advertising

Cons:

  • Access to equipment is limited to the back and or side doors
  • Walls and ceiling limit the amount of equipment that can be transported.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

English