Ultimate Cleaning Guide: Steam Cleaning Vs. Pressure Washing


Discover the ultimate cleaning guide comparing steam cleaning and pressure washing to find the best method for your home or business. Call Mid South Pressure…

Key Takeaways:

  • Versatility: Pressure washing is highly effective for outdoor surfaces, while steam cleaning excels in indoor sanitization without chemicals.
  • Environmental Impact: Steam cleaning is more eco-friendly, using less water and no chemicals, compared to the higher water and chemical usage of pressure washing.
  • Cost Efficiency: Steam cleaning generally has lower operational costs and maintenance, making it a cost-effective option for indoor cleaning needs.


Mid-South Pressure Wash has earned its reputation as the top provider of exterior cleaning services through our unwavering dedication to quality, precision, and customer satisfaction. As a family-owned business with extensive experience and a passion for excellence, we utilize state-of-the-art, custom-built equipment to deliver outstanding results for both residential and commercial properties. Our environmentally responsible practices, coupled with our fast, reliable service and comprehensive guarantees, ensure that every project we undertake is completed to the highest standards.

In this article, we will compare pressure washing and steam cleaning, two effective methods for maintaining and restoring the cleanliness of various surfaces. We will discuss the benefits and limitations of each approach, the specific applications where they excel, and the environmental considerations associated with their use. Whether you’re looking to rejuvenate your home’s exterior or keep your commercial property in top condition, this guide will provide valuable insights to help you choose the most suitable cleaning method for your needs.


Understanding Pressure Washing


Pressure washing, also known as power washing, is a cleaning method that uses high-pressure water spray to remove dirt, grime, mold, mildew, and other contaminants from surfaces. This technique is particularly effective for cleaning outdoor surfaces such as driveways, sidewalks, decks, and exterior walls. The pressure washer typically consists of a motor, a high-pressure hose, and a nozzle that directs the water at varying levels of force, depending on the task at hand.

Pressure washing works by blasting away unwanted materials with water pressure that can range from 1,300 to 4,000 PSI (pounds per square inch), making it a versatile tool for tackling tough cleaning jobs. It can effectively remove stubborn stains, peeling paint, and even graffiti. 

Mid South Pressure Wash provides professional pressure washing services to keep your property looking its best. Our team is equipped with the latest technology to handle any cleaning challenge. Trust us to restore the beauty of your outdoor surfaces efficiently and effectively. Contact us for a free quote today!


The Basics Of Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaning is a method that uses high-temperature steam to clean and sanitize surfaces. Unlike pressure washing, steam cleaning uses water heated to a high temperature to produce steam, which is then applied to the surface to be cleaned. The steam penetrates deep into the material, loosening dirt, grease, and grime while also killing bacteria, mold, and other pathogens.

Steam cleaners typically consist of a boiler, a hose, and various attachments designed for different surfaces and cleaning tasks. This method is highly effective for indoor cleaning applications, such as cleaning carpets, upholstery, tile, grout, and kitchen appliances. Steam cleaning is also gentle on surfaces, making it suitable for use on delicate materials that might be damaged by high-pressure water.


Key Differences Between Pressure Washing And Steam Cleaning


Cleaning Mechanism

Pressure washing uses a high-pressure water spray to dislodge and remove dirt, grime, and stains from surfaces. The pressure can be adjusted to tackle different levels of dirt, with the highest settings powerful enough to strip paint.

On the other hand, steam cleaning employs high-temperature steam to penetrate and loosen dirt, grease, and grime from surfaces. The heat of the steam also kills bacteria, mold, and other pathogens, providing a sanitizing effect. This method relies on thermal energy rather than mechanical force, making it suitable for more delicate cleaning tasks where high-pressure water might cause damage.



Pressure washing is ideal for outdoor surfaces such as driveways, sidewalks, decks, and the exterior walls of buildings. The high-pressure water can easily remove tough stains, peeling paint, and graffiti, making it a go-to choice for heavy-duty outdoor cleaning. However, its aggressive nature limits its use on delicate surfaces and materials that might be damaged by high force.

Steam cleaning is best suited for indoor applications like carpets, upholstery, tiles, grout, and kitchen appliances. The steam can penetrate deep into fabrics and porous surfaces, loosening embedded dirt and sanitizing the area without the need for harsh chemicals. This makes it particularly effective in environments where hygiene is crucial, such as homes with pets or children, as well as medical and food preparation areas.



Pressure washing is highly effective at removing stubborn dirt and stains. However, it may not fully sanitize surfaces as it primarily relies on mechanical action to clean. Its effectiveness is unmatched for outdoor surfaces but less so for sanitizing or indoor cleaning tasks.

Steam cleaning, on the other hand, can kill bacteria, mold, and other pathogens. This makes it a superior choice for hygiene-sensitive environments. While it may not be as effective for removing heavy stains from hard outdoor surfaces, it is excellent for indoor use and areas requiring deep sanitization.


Environmental Impact

Pressure washing often requires the use of chemical detergents to enhance its cleaning power, which can have negative environmental effects. Runoff containing these chemicals can contaminate soil and water sources. Additionally, the high water usage can be a concern in areas with water restrictions or shortages.

Steam cleaning is generally considered more eco-friendly because it typically requires no chemical cleaners, relying instead on the power of steam to clean and sanitize. This reduces the risk of chemical runoff and pollution, making it a greener option. Furthermore, steam cleaning tends to use less water compared to pressure washing, adding to its environmental benefits.


Surface Compatibility

Pressure washing can potentially cause damage to delicate surfaces if not handled properly. Soft wood, old paint, and certain types of siding are particularly susceptible to damage from high-pressure water. It’s important to use the correct pressure settings and techniques to prevent harm to the surfaces being cleaned.

Steam cleaning is gentle on most surfaces, making it suitable for a wide range of materials, including those that are delicate. It can be safely used on fabrics, upholstered furniture, tiles, and even some types of wallpaper. Its gentleness combined with its sanitizing power makes it versatile for various indoor cleaning tasks. 


Cost And Equipment

The equipment for pressure washing can be more expensive, especially for high-powered units. Additionally, hiring professional services might be necessary for large or complex jobs, adding to the overall cost. Maintenance and operating costs can also be higher due to the need for water and, in some cases, chemical detergents.

The equipment for steam cleaning is often more affordable and can be used for various indoor cleaning tasks without requiring professional help. Many steam cleaners are designed for home use, making them accessible for regular household cleaning. They typically have lower operating costs since they use minimal water and no chemicals.


Benefits Of Pressure Washing


Efficient And Time-Saving

Remember this: Pressure washing is a fast and effective way to clean large surfaces, getting rid of dirt, grime, and stains much quicker than traditional cleaning methods. This makes it perfect for big tasks like driveways, patios, and building exteriors. The high-pressure water spray can easily remove even the most stubborn dirt, reducing the need for hard scrubbing and manual labor. This not only saves time but also cuts down on physical effort, making it a convenient choice for both homeowners and business owners.


Versatile Applications

Pressure washing is incredibly versatile and can be used on a wide range of outdoor surfaces. This flexibility makes it perfect for thoroughly cleaning different areas around a property, from sidewalks and decks to fences and roofs. It’s especially effective at getting rid of stubborn stains.


Improves Property Aesthetics

Regularly pressure washing your property can significantly boost its attractiveness by keeping the exterior surfaces clean and well-maintained. A tidy exterior makes a great first impression, which is crucial for businesses aiming to draw in customers or homeowners getting ready to sell their property.

By eliminating harmful contaminants like mold and mildew, pressure washing helps to prevent surface deterioration, thus prolonging the life of your outdoor features and reducing the need for expensive repairs or replacements.


Health And Safety

Pressure washing can eliminate slippery substances such as algae and moss from walkways and driveways, reducing the risk of slips and falls. This contributes to the overall safety of your property, making it safer for residents, visitors, or customers. Pressure washing can also improve the overall hygiene of outdoor areas. This is particularly beneficial for properties frequented by children or pets.


Benefits Of Pressure Washing


Benefits Of Steam Cleaning


Deep Cleaning And Sanitization

Because of the high temperature of the steam, steam cleaning is highly effective at killing bacteria, viruses, mold, and other pathogens. It’s an ideal option for places where cleanliness is essential, like kitchens, bathrooms, and healthcare facilities. The steam can deeply penetrate surfaces, making it easier to remove tough dirt, grease, and grime.


Eco-Friendly Cleaning

The process of steam cleaning doesn’t involve any chemical detergents or cleaning agents; it relies on the power of steam alone to clean and sanitize. This makes it an environmentally friendly option as it reduces the need for harmful chemicals that can pollute the environment and pose health risks. Additionally, steam cleaning consumes less water than traditional cleaning methods and pressure washing, contributing to water conservation efforts, especially in areas with water restrictions.


Versatile And Gentle

Steam cleaning is gentle on surfaces, which makes it suitable for a wide range of materials, including delicate fabrics, upholstery, and sensitive flooring. This versatility allows for thorough cleaning without the risk of damage. It can be used for various cleaning tasks, such as sanitizing kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures, as well as cleaning carpets and upholstery. Additionally, steam cleaners often come with different attachments, making them adaptable to different cleaning needs.


Health Benefits

Steam cleaning is an effective way to reduce allergens like dust mites, pet dander, and pollen from surfaces, which helps improve indoor air quality. This can be especially helpful for people with allergies or asthma. 

For those who are sensitive to chemicals or prefer a more natural cleaning method, steam cleaning offers a safe alternative. It eliminates the need for chemical residues that can remain on surfaces and in the air, ultimately contributing to a healthier living environment.



By doing away with the need for chemical cleaners, steam cleaning can cut down on the expenses of buying cleaning supplies. In the long run, this could lead to substantial savings. The mild but efficient cleaning approach also helps preserve the quality of surfaces, potentially prolonging their lifespan and reducing the necessity for frequent replacements or repairs.


Best Uses For Pressure Washing

Pressure washing is a highly effective cleaning method for various outdoor surfaces. Here are some of the best uses:

  • Driveways and Sidewalks: Pressure washing is ideal for cleaning concrete or asphalt driveways and sidewalks. It can remove oil stains, tire marks, dirt, and debris that accumulate over time, restoring the surface to its original appearance.
  • Decks and Patios: Pressure washing can effectively clean wooden and composite decks, removing dirt, mildew, and stains without damaging the material. For patios made of stone, brick, or pavers, pressure washing removes dirt, moss, and weeds that grow between the cracks, enhancing the patio’s overall appearance and safety.
  • Building Exteriors: Pressure washing is excellent for cleaning various types of siding, including vinyl, aluminum, and wood. It removes dirt, mold, and mildew, improving the home’s curb appeal and protecting the siding material. Pressure washing can also clean brick and stone walls, removing years of built-up grime and restoring their natural look.
  • Fences: Pressure washing can rejuvenate wooden and metal fences by removing dirt, mildew, and peeling paint. This improves their appearance and prepares them for painting or staining, if needed.
  • Roofs: Pressure washing can be used to clean roofs made of shingles, tiles, or metal. It removes moss, algae, and debris that can cause damage or reduce the roof’s lifespan. However, it is crucial to use the correct pressure setting to avoid damaging the roofing material.
  • Commercial Properties: Maintaining a clean exterior is essential for businesses to attract customers. Pressure washing storefronts, sidewalks, and parking lots can create a positive first impression and enhance the property’s overall appeal. Pressure washing is also effective for cleaning industrial equipment and machinery, removing grease, oil, and dirt that can impact performance and safety.

These are some of the most common and effective uses for pressure washing. Its ability to quickly and thoroughly clean outdoor surfaces makes it a valuable tool for maintaining residential and commercial properties.


Best Uses For Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaning is an effective and versatile cleaning method, especially suited for indoor applications. Here are some of the best uses:

  • Carpets and Upholstery: Steam cleaning is highly effective for deep cleaning carpets and upholstery. The steam penetrates deep into the fibers, loosening dirt, stains, and allergens like dust mites and pet dander. The high temperature of the steam also sanitizes the surfaces, killing bacteria and mold, making it ideal for homes with pets or allergy sufferers.
  • Tile and Grout: Steam cleaning works wonders on tiles and grout, which are often difficult to clean with traditional methods. The steam breaks down grime and soap scum, making it easier to wipe away. 
  • Kitchen Appliances: Steam cleaning can effectively remove baked-on grease and food residue from ovens and stovetops without the need for harsh chemicals. The high heat softens stubborn grime, making it easy to wipe away. Steam can also be used to clean and sanitize microwaves and refrigerators, reaching into crevices and eliminating odors without chemical cleaners.
  • Bathrooms: Steam cleaning can remove soap scum, hard water stains, and mildew from showers and bathtubs. The steam penetrates surfaces, ensuring a deep clean and sanitizing the area.
  • Hard Floors: Steam cleaning is suitable for hard floors, including tile, laminate, and sealed hardwood. It removes dirt and grime without leaving residue and dries quickly, reducing the risk of water damage. The steam kills germs and bacteria on the floor, making it a great choice for households with children and pets who spend a lot of time on the floor.
  • Mattresses and Bedding: Steam cleaning can effectively remove dust mites and allergens from mattresses and bedding. This helps improve indoor air quality and provides a cleaner sleeping environment. Steam can also help lift stains and neutralize odors from mattresses and pillows, contributing to a fresher bedroom.
  • Pet Areas: Steam cleaning is perfect for sanitizing pet beds, cages, and other areas where pets frequently rest. The steam kills fleas, bacteria, and other pests without using chemicals that might harm pets. It effectively removes pet stains and odors from various surfaces, ensuring a clean and hygienic environment for your pets.

These are some of the most effective uses for steam cleaning. Its ability to clean deeply and sanitize without chemicals makes it a versatile tool for maintaining a clean and healthy home environment.


Best Uses For Steam Cleaning


Final Thoughts

Choosing between pressure washing and steam cleaning depends on your specific needs, the surfaces you need to clean, and your environmental considerations. Both methods have their unique advantages and are suited for different types of cleaning tasks.

Pressure washing is a powerful and efficient method for tackling tough outdoor cleaning jobs. It excels in removing stubborn dirt, grime, and stains from hard surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, decks, and building exteriors. The high-pressure water spray can quickly clean large areas, making it an ideal choice for enhancing curb appeal and maintaining property value. However, its high water usage and potential need for chemical cleaners may have environmental impacts, and care must be taken to avoid damaging delicate surfaces.

Steam cleaning, on the other hand, is a versatile and eco-friendly cleaning method, particularly suited for indoor applications. Its ability to sanitize surfaces without the use of chemicals makes it a healthier choice for homes, especially those with children, pets, or allergy sufferers. While it may not be as effective for heavy outdoor cleaning, its gentle nature and lower operational costs make it a valuable tool for maintaining indoor cleanliness and hygiene.

Ultimately, your choice between pressure washing and steam cleaning should be guided by the specific cleaning tasks you need to perform. For heavy-duty outdoor cleaning and quick results, pressure washing is the go-to method. For detailed indoor cleaning and sanitization with minimal environmental impact, steam cleaning is the preferred option. By understanding the strengths and limitations of each method, you can make an informed decision that meets your cleaning needs and supports your sustainability goals.


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Frequently Asked Questions About Pressure Washing Vs. Steam Cleaning


Can steam cleaning damage surfaces?

Steam cleaning is generally safe for most surfaces, including delicate materials, but it’s important to use the correct attachment and steam setting to avoid damage.


Can steam cleaning be used for exterior surfaces?

Steam cleaning is typically used for indoor applications, but it can be used on some exterior surfaces like windows and certain types of siding, provided the material can handle moisture.


How often should you pressure wash your home?

It’s recommended to pressure wash your home annually or biannually, depending on the local climate and the amount of dirt and grime buildup.


What types of stains can steam cleaning remove?

Steam cleaning can remove a variety of stains including grease, oil, food, and wine from carpets, upholstery, and hard surfaces.


Does steam cleaning kill bed bugs?

Yes, the high temperature of steam cleaning can kill bed bugs and their eggs, making it an effective method for treating infested mattresses and furniture.


How long does it take for surfaces to dry after steam cleaning?

Surfaces typically dry faster after steam cleaning compared to traditional cleaning methods, often within a few hours, depending on ventilation and humidity.