Soft Washing/Wood Decks and Fences

What’s up everyone? Brand new to this forum, but from what it looks like, there is a ton of great info, so apologies in advance, as I am sure these questions have been addressed before.

I live in NY, and I’m going to start pressure washing for extra money in about a month and a half to 2 months from now. Unfortunately pressure washing in NY is seasonal.

I recently treated myself to a beautiful Ryobi 3000psi gas pressure washer and I want to really hustle with this thing soon. I do have some questions that I wanted to ask about, as I have sen some conflicting answers online about these things:

  1. When it comes to soft washing the siding of a house, I know a pressure washer can cause damage and it looks like soft washing is the best option. Can someone recommend a great solution for using in a pump spray for soft washing? I have seen 2 things online that look to work great but I do want to know about other peoples methods. One was using equal parts water and pool essentials with some dish soap. The other was a mix of algaecide and dish soap. Both looked to have immediate results.

  2. My second question are the best way to go about pressure washing a wood deck or fence. Some people online say not to use a pressure washer, some say its fine. Maybe with a 40 degree nozle? What do you guys think?

I really want to go about this whole thing the most efficiently that I can, as I will rely on this for part of my income this year, and I want repeat customers and recommendations.

Any help you guys can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!


I am waiting for max to come in here and tell you to use the search bar. You obviously didn’t read a thing here.

Maybe this is someone’s fake troll persona.

Sorry, I reread my post and think I will reword it to this

Welcome to the forum, max will be by to help you soon.

Leave me out of this lol


I’ll play nice. Here’s my advice. Take the ryobi back, cause it’s just about useless for house washing. May be ok for washing a boat or small truck. File for a business license, get liability insurance, then find at least a 4gpm machine. Being that it’s just a side gig, I’d be looking on fb marketplace and Craigslist for good deals on a used 4gpm belt drive. Use the search bar and type in the word “downstream.” GPM IS KING. Not psi. Practice on your house, and any willing friends and family members for free. Anything else you want to know, type it in the search bar, and read till your eyes hurt. There’s a gold mine of info here.


In case I came off like a bear, read the decks 101 thread in it’s entirety.


No, just no.

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What do you guys think goes through people’s heads when they sign up here? I mean, this is a forum that has existed for quite some time, is frequented by professionals, is chock full of helpful information, is completely free and yet they still refuse to put in an ounce of effort to research anything before posting their redundant questions. Is this a product of nearly everyone owning a smartphone and being able to Google, or Bing, whatever silly thought comes across their frontal cortex and have the information delivered to them on a silver platter? Or do you think its because with each passing generation our populace gets lazier and lazier and they expect to be spoon fed the answers that they desire?

Oh well. It’ll never change.


Well, this has been a wonderful experience. Thanks all

@TVLI111 I should have clarified that my statement was not entirely directed at you. You are just one in a thousand that have come here and asked questions without any effort to find the answers yourself. At this point, I am genuinely interested in why people do that. I want to see inside your brain, if you will.

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Just remember no getting upset when threads from the prohibition era start getting brought to the top.


You want to see inside my brain? Lmao. Dude, does this really bother you that much? Did I just ruin your day with this? Its a message board with thousands of posts. Is every one of them unique with no repeated questions? Give me a break, seriously.

@TVLI111 Everett Abrams at Deck Restoration Plus is in your neck of the woods. He puts on wood restoration classes and is a wealth of knowledge. Give him a call and see if he has any classes on the schedule.


As another new guy I’ll throw in my answer to this. Ignorance , I didn’t know even that I didn’t know. Search is full of information, but knowing the correct terms to search for is a huge help. Also a bit of pride, I know what I’m doing! How hard could this be? Just washing dirt off right? … right… ?

Luckily ide gotten blood in my mouth before when I THOUGHT I knew what I was doing, so I took a step back and have been reading like crazy ever since.

That’s my advice @TVLI111 dont buy anything till you have spent 24 to 48 hours reading everything here. Then start asking for specifics, great group of guys here, and your knowledge will explode, just dont take anything personally, and read like crazy.


Oh, you’re touchy I see. Good luck.

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Step 1: return the ryobi.
Step 2: figure out what SH is.
Step 3: buy equipment that can put it on houses and rinse it off
Step 4: get insurance
Step 5: practice on your house and don’t destroy anything
Step 6: figure out pricing for your area

After you do ALL of those things I think you might be ready to actually wash someone’s house/driveway/fence and collect a check.


Being kinda hard on the ryobi machine… I mean its top of the line! I remeber the first house I washed with a ryobi… took me the better part of 3 days. I learned so much after that job and I would have never done any research if it wasan’t for that awsome little ryobi!!! Shes a champ, still starts on the 10th pull… usally. I’ll keep it forever just in case I even become a super power Washing franchise owner… then I will display it proudly in the lobby! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


Hey man,

While these guys are coming across harsh much of what they’re saying is true. I strongly suggest you follow SGB’s steps. I understand seeing the same questions over and over can be frustrating guys but you have to realize he said that he’s going to be relying on this to make ends meet. I can respect that and hope the best for him. Now follow those steps man and get to work.

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Welcome to the forums. Here’s what they are talking about.

I have 4 days of read time and still have a ton to read. Although you don’t need a contractors license to do this profession you need to know about as much as if you had worked and learned full time for 2-4 years, that or read and learn like school here with all your free time. All your questions have been answered in detail on multiple threads. These people have been doing this for years, already donated a lot of their time to answering these exact questions before and not too excited to repeat themselves to somebody who didn’t bother to look up what they said last time. You need to really dig deeper and do a lot of reading. Go to the residential category, and the equipment category and read up. Like @Greenman said there is so much to learn. And yes Ryobi is about as bad as it gets, I won’t even buy a drill bit of theirs. They should be selling that at grocery outlet. Not trying to be mean, just need to understand that your on the opposite side of knowing everything right now. Leave emotions and feelings out of it as this is a raw forum with hard facts. People call it as they see it. Good luck man. Read up for 1 day (24 hours of actual reading), if you can’t find what your looking for on multiple threads post a question on an existing one and ideally make sure it’s from 2019 or later as half the people on here from before then might be gone.

You’re probably not coming back into this forum, but just in case somebody sees this in the future looking for answers, I’ll give you some of my time and some of the knowledge I’ve read on here.

Most of the professionals on this forum will say that your Ryobi is underpowered in the GPM arena. You shouldn’t be washing houses with pressure, you should be letting the chemicals themselves do the work. Search “nozzle chart” and it will show you how to bring your PSI down to the range of 75-200. That seems to be where most people are comfortable, but be warned that the 200 is only to shoot high second-stories and the like. It’ll wreck anything oxidized, and shouldn’t be used on the lower level of a home.

If all you can afford is a pump sprayer, lots of people like the Chapin ones. But you’re going to be miserable, and one house is going to take you HOURS.

You won’t find anyone on here that uses dish soap as a surfactant. Searching “surfactant” will give you more than you could ever wish to know. It’s there to help the SH do its job, not there to make the house clean. As far as the SH (sodium hypochlorite, aka bleach) is concerned, that sounds like a hot mix if your pool essentials is 10%. Lots of people don’t even use 5% on roofs unless they’re super bad. Those “immediate results” will also immediately damage anything that bleach shouldn’t touch (plants, doors, etc). You should be looking to be between 1 and 2% SH for your concentration depending on the substrate, and results should take a minute or so.

Some decks require a little bit of pressure, but again that’s down in the 500-1k range with the tip pulled pretty far back. Any more is going to make the wood fuzzy and require sanding. There are chemicals that will do the job better than pressure, someone above posted a link to a great deck thread I think.

That machine of yours will not help you accomplish this goal, nor will a pump sprayer. Best advice is to put in 24 hours of reading (click on your name and you can see where you are with that) every thread about equipment. And remember; the people on here that know the most have nothing to gain by hiding information from you. They will quickly answer without sugarcoating, and when the answer isn’t what you wanted to hear, most of the time it’s because what you wanted to hear is wrong.

We’re all here to either learn or teach. Welcome to the forum.