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Pressure Washing and Soft Washing Chemicals Guide

Select Pressure Washing Chemicals

Exterior property stains can be very aesthetically unappealing, but most can be removed with the right combination of pressure and chemicals.

A variety of pressure washing and soft washing chemicals are available, but which ones are best? Over the past 15 years, CleanRight professionals have worked with various products on the market. Through trial-and-error and years of field experience, CleanRight has developed an arsenal of chemicals that its pressure washing and soft washing professionals use to make commercial and industrial properties in Atlanta and surrounding areas look like new. We invite you to contact an experienced Atlanta pressure washing company Atlanta companies trust to learn more about our pressure washing and soft washing capabilities.

1. Sodium Hypochlorite

Sodium Hypochlorite—commonly referred to in the industry as “SH”—is the industry standard chemical used to clean organic matter, such as mold, algae, mildew, moss and lichen. A watered-down version of Sodium Hypochlorite is household bleach, which is typically diluted down to around 3%. Some contractors use off-the-shelf household bleach, but that will not produce the best results as it is too diluted. Sodium Hypochlorite used for downstreaming should be stronger than household bleach, and it typically can be found in the pool supplies section of a big box store such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot or Lowes. To get the job done well, you need a product that is 10% to 12.5% Sodium Hypochlorite and has not been on the shelf for longer than 90 days. The ideal Sodium Hypochlorite has a concentration of 12.5%, usually found from pool supply companies or local distributors, and is less than 5 weeks old.

When downstreaming or soft washing the exterior of a building or applying to concrete, Sodium Hypochlorite is mixed with water to create the desired concentration. Typically a concentration of ~1.5% is sufficient; however, higher concentrations should be used to clean roofs and also remove stubborn stains from concrete, such as acorn or leaf stains. When working with high concentrations of Sodium Hypochlorite it’s important to be very careful not to damage surrounding vegetation or other items. Here are some basic tips for working with Sodium Hypochlorite:

  • Safety First: Sodium Hypochlorite is corrosive so operators should wear PPE and review the SDS prior to use
  • Vegetation: Liberally water vegetation that overspray could reach when performing the job
  • Surfactants: Sodium Hypochlorite should only be mixed with surfactants that have been specifically formulated to work with bleach
  • Expiration: Sodium Hypochlorite should be used within 90 days from the time it was manufactured
  • Storage: Store Sodium Hypochlorite out of the sun and under 80 degrees
  • Equipment: Sodium Hypochlorite should not flow through a pressure washer pump; however, it can be downstreamed if the injector is located after the pump

Sodium Hypochlorite is highly effective when used appropriately. CleanRight pressure washing professionals are trained to work with Sodium Hypochlorite and can be trusted to apply it safely on your property.

2. Surfactant

Surfactant is used to help Sodium Hypochlorite stay on the surface longer, so that the dwell time is more than adequate to break down organic matter. An additional benefit of a surfactant is its fragrance, which can mask the smell of bleach if that is preferred by the customer. Many contractors will use dish soap as a surfactant, but we recommend using a surfactant that has been specifically formulated to work with bleach.

There are several schools of thought regarding surfactant usage. While it may not be required for all jobs, we believe there are certain situations where a surfactant is particularly helpful, such as roof cleaning or cleaning a surface that is in very bad shape and would benefit from additional dwell time.

CleanRight pressure washing professionals typically use two surfactant products, and the one we recommend most often is made by Southeast Softwash and is called Southern Drawl.

3. Rust Remover

Rust forms when metal and oxygen react with water or air moisture. Concrete often contains iron and other metallic minerals, which can cause rust stains over time. Other sources of rust could be well water, iron in the ground and fertilizer. Rust stains are unattractive and can easily detract from your property’s image. A good rust remover will do a great job treating rust damage.

When dealing with rust stains on concrete or other surfaces, CleanRight pressure washing professional usually use F9 Barc, which is made by Front 9 Restoration. It works well on concrete, bricks, pavers, tile, stone, stucco, asphalt, vinyl, siding, shingles, rubber and more.

4. Commercial Degreaser

Certain areas of commercial properties, such as drive-throughs, dumpster pads, gas stations, breezeways, commercial kitchens and restaurant floors frequently have oil or grease stains. These types of stains can be very hard to remove, so a good degreaser is needed to attack them, and if the degreaser is high-quality, it will deliver great results without heat.

When a good degreaser is needed, CleanRight pressure washing professionals typically use Dynamite Degreaser by Southeast Softwash or Gold Assassin by CWB Solutions. Each product needs to dwell for about 10 minutes and works exceptionally well on stubborn oil or grease stains.

5. Oxidation Remover

Oxidation looks like a chalky substance on the exterior of a property. It is easily removed by hand or by brushing against the surface. Dirt and organic buildups that have been sitting on a painted surface for too long can slowly eat the paint and speed up oxidation. Vinyl sidings and other surfaces such as hardie board can also oxidize over time when exposed to sunlight.

A typical softwash treatment with Sodium Hypochlorite will not remove oxidation. Also if an oxidized surface is washed using too much pressure it can result in stripes on the exterior of your property. Oxidation removal is a restoration process which entails professional restoration cleaning agents. It is expensive and very labor intensive. 

When performing oxidation removal services, CleanRight pressure washing professionals use Cleansol BC by EaCo Chem. A product like this can be applied twice and then rinsed (and oxidation will come off with the rinse) and little to no brushing is necessary.

6. Red Clay Remover

In the Southeast, red clay is prevalent due to the effect of a warm, humid climate weathering acid crystalline rocks over a long period of time. Red clay can build up on concrete or around the base of a property. This happens a lot on construction sites, so when we are hired to do exterior post-construction cleaning, we make sure we bring a chemical on-site that can cut through red clay.

When dealing with red clay stains, CleanRight pressure washing professionals use Mud May-Day Stain Cleaner by Southeast Softwash. It is a complex blend of acids designed specifically to remove red mud from concrete slabs, blocks and brick surfaces.

7. Gutter Cleaner

We are often hired to clean gutters, but in many cases a typical Sodium Hypochlorite treatment will not do the job. On many job sites we notice that gutters have black stripes on them. This is the result of a chemical reaction between the asphalt in the roof shingles and the aluminum in the gutters. To effectively remove these stripes and restore the gutters to their original form, you need a gutter cleaning / brightening formula.

When gutter brightening is included in our scope of work, CleanRight pressure washing professionals often use Gutter Guard by Southeast Softwash. Depending on the severity, Gutter Guard can be sprayed on and rinsed or, if needed, lightly agitated with a soft brush.

8. Graffiti Remover

If graffiti is on the exterior of your property, unless it was applied by Banksy, you’ll likely want it removed when your property is cleaned. While Sodium Hypochlorite can cause graffiti to fade, removal requires the right chemical.

When CleanRight pressure washing professionals are hired to clean graffiti from porous surfaces, we use Elephant Snot made by Graffiti Solutions. Just as the name implies, it’s a very thick solution and it works very well on porous surfaces by penetrating deeply into concrete, cement, brick, grout and stone to dissolve the paint. Once it dwells for approximately 20 minutes (or 40 minutes in cold temperatures) a pressure washer can be used (with light pressure) to wash away the solution and graffiti. Graffiti Solutions also has other products that work well for other types of surfaces.

9. General Cleaner

Sometimes it’s unclear what caused a particular stain on a property. It’s best in that case to consult with the customer, but if they also don’t know the root cause, a universal chemical is important to have on hand.

A great universal stain remover that can be used on multiple surfaces, including wood, blocks, stone, bricks and windows, is One Restore by EaCo Chem. It’s advertised as “one answer to all your restoration questions” and we have found that it’s a great product to remove a myriad of stains from virtually any surface.

10. Bleach Neutralizer

Before and after every pressure washing job, CleanRight pressure washing professionals water vegetation in the surrounding area to protect it from any overspray. When watering vegetation we ensure enough water is used to penetrate the soil to the root systems and we lightly spray the foliage as well.

When it’s possible that a strong mixture of Sodium Hypochlorite could reach nearby vegetation (such as during a roof cleaning), we also apply a bleach neutralizer before and after the use of bleach. This does not eliminate the need to water before and after the job; it just adds another layer of protection for nearby vegetation.

CleanRight pressure washing professionals use Plant Protect by Southeast Softwash to neutralize the impact of bleach, ensuring that expensive vegetation is not damaged. Plant Protect also has the added benefit of neutralizing any bleach on pressure washing equipment, which can extend the lifespan of pressure washing equipment.

Our Atlanta Commercial Cleaning Professionals Are On Call

If you are looking for a professional pressure washing company to clean your commercial property, we invite you to contact an experienced Atlanta pressure washing company Atlanta companies trust. You can speak with our pressure washing professionals at 404-267-1312. We offer FREE estimates to all prospective customers. No matter how big or small your project is, you can trust the Atlanta pressure washing experts at CleanRight Services. Contact the Atlanta pressure washing experts at CleanRight Services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 404-267-1312 or using our online contact form.

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