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THE BENZ INFO GUIDE TO SOFTWASHING EQUIPMENT
This page is for information only – a helpful introduction to the various types of softwash equipment we've found useful.
We only sell and give advice about Benz Softwash spray nozzles and Benz roof moss scrapers
PLEASE DIRECT YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT SOFTWASH EQUIPMENT TO OUR RECOMMENDED SUPPLIERS
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Talk with these companies. Tell them what you want. Ask them your questions. They will help you build the softwashing rig that best suits your current and projected business needs.
A softwashing business can easily evolve from an existing business
Softwashing is an excellent add-on for window cleaners, power washers, painter/decorators, roofers, general builders, gardeners, and so on. Pretty much all trade businesses in fact.
But at first glance the quantity and quality of softwashing equipment available to choose from can seem overwhelming.
So to help you when starting out as a softwashing contractor, we've laid out the options for entry according to the cost of softwashing equipment – from beginner to advanced professional.
Ok, let's get going. We'll make this as simple and easy as we can.
First: Decide on the type of softwashing you intend to offer (e.g. wall render, roofs, patios & paths, small or large contracts, commercial or domestic, and so on).
Second: Take stock of the softwashing equipment you already have, such as WFP (Water Fed Poles), power washer, van, etc.
Third: Choose what entry level best suits your budget at this time.
Choose the entry level that interest you
Softwashing Level One – 20-100 euro (approx £18-£90)
Softwashing Level Two – 100-150 euro (£90-£130)
Softwashing Level Three – 300-500 euro (£260-£432)
Softwashing Level Four – 1000-1,500 euro (£865-£1,300)
Softwashing Level Five – 2,000-15,000 euro (£1,730-£13,000)
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Softwashing Entry Level One - Expect to pay 20-100 euro (approx £18-£90)
Watering can and brush
A small hand sprayer with Viton chemical-resistant seals
Chemical-resistant Viton seals are essential for all softfwashing equipment, when spraying softwash chemicals. A cheap garden sprayer will not have this type of seal and will not last long before the seals decay.
Up a stage from this is a backpack sprayer with either an electric or manual pump. These are handy portable sprayers that are commonly used for small, awkward areas. Be careful when using them strapped to your back as they are prone to leakage. So ensure you wear adequate chemical-resistant clothing.
The advantages of a hand held softwash system:
- Cheap and easy to use
- Good way to get used to handling biocides
- Good for samples
The disadvantages of a hand held softwash system:
- Very low flow rate - not suitable for large areas
- Very difficult to reach high areas
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Softwashing Entry Level Two - expect to pay 100-150 euro (£90-£130)
The Clarke pump (or similar) and 100 Litre plastic drum
The simple set-up you see below is a simple way for anyone who wants to try out softwashing with only a minimal investment. Before upgrading his equipment, Ben used this system to great effect for applying Benz Bio Cleanze. The Clarke pump offers high flow rates that are ideal for applying Bio Cleanze.
You can make this system suitable for spraying Benz Lightning Cleanze by reducing the flow rate with with a ball valve at the pump outlet. For safety use the secure Snaplock type fittings like the ones below – available from Softwash Technology (scroll down for a link to their website).
Safety Suggestion: Because the Clarke pump runs off a 220/240 volt mains supply, and because water and electricity don't mix, we strongly suggest using a "Residual Current Device/Detector" (RCD) as used to protect both the operator in case of an electrical fault.
RCDs are easily available from hardware, garden, electrical stores, and Amazon. We suggest finding one with a 30mA or less "sensitive trip threshold" to ensure the device cuts in early enough to keep the operator safe.
Quick tip: Protect your pumps from winter frost as any water remaining inside will expand when it freezes and could damage the inner moving parts.
- Inexpensive set up.
- High or low flow rate.
- Can overheat and break if shut off by a trigger system for a prolonged amount of time.
- 220v power - site safety risk.
- Comparatively long initial set up time compared to the more advanced systems.
- Chemicals will damage the pump over time unless great care is taken to dilute chemical accurately and cleaning it at the end of each day by flushing through with fresh water.
- Requires chemicals to be diluted manually in the tank itself, which is time-consuming and carries a safety risk that the more advanced systems greatly reduce.
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Softwashing Entry Level Three - Expect to pay 300-500 euro (£260-£432)
12v trolley, 12v basic in-van tank system
12v trolley below: The chemical is drawn from the pre-mixed container, through the pump box on the back, and out and up the pole.
Pros of a softwash trolley system:
- Perfect flow rates for applying Lightning Cleanze though a Benz 10 nozzle
- Can be used for applying Bio Cleanze though a Benz 6.5 nozzle.
- Mobile and easy to move around to the backs of houses, etc.
- Simple and quick set up time.
Cons of a softwash trolley system:
- When using for Bio Cleanze application, the flow rate is a little low for medium size softwash jobs and too low for large contracts. We do not recommend these for use when treating concrete tile roofs as this would be too time consuming, although it is possible. But the trolley system is fine for treating slate roofs as less product is needed, which can be brushed in.
- The battery needs regular charging but should work for 6 hours without running low.
- The tank capacity is restricted to 25L, but could be adapted for use with an external tank such as in the arrangement with the Clarke pump.
- Chemicals are diluted manually in the tank, which is time consuming and carries a small safety risk that the more advanced systems reduce.
Van-based 12v softwash system
The photo below shows everything needed for a basic van-mounted 12v softwashing system.
These are sometimes put together by people already in the cleaning business who already have some of the equipment. The pump is on the right of the dilution tank and the battery is on the left. You can also see hose reels and poles in this picture.
A pump box in this setup would be a neater installation. For example, the battery could be in a dedicated battery box and the pump and wiring would then be safely away from the mixing tank.
Van-based 12v pump box softwash system
Contains the 12v diaphragm pump, flow controller, battery and charger.
This system can be mounted in a van and connected to an internal or external tank.
Pros of a pump box softwash system:
- Inexpensive to set up if you already have some of the equipment.
- Perfect flow rates for Lightning Cleanze application though a Benz 10 nozzle.
- Quick set up time on the job.
Cons of a pump box softwash system:
- When used to apply Bio Cleanze, the flow rate is a little low for medium size soft wash jobs and too low for large contracts.
- The battery needs charging every day but should work all day without running low.
- Chemicals are manually mixed in the tank, which is time consuming and carries a small safety risk that the more advanced soft wash systems reduce.
NEVER mix Bio Cleanze / Perma Cleanze with Lightning Cleanze / Tornado Cleanze as toxic chlorine gas will be produced. Always thoroughly rinse all containers and all equipment prior to using them for a different chemical.
This is why using two 120L tanks saves a lot of time. And you may feel this to be the preferable choice if you have sufficient money to invest.
The system you see above has a 250 L tank and can be mounted in a van or trailer.
The 250L tank allows 100L of water and 20L of Blackwash (giving a 5:1 dilution) and offers plenty of inner space so there's no "splash back" when you're filling it. This tank has the benefit of being large enough to work continually on a large contract, reducing the time spent on re-filling.
A 120L tank takes up less space in the van, allowing more room for other equipment, but it's still a good size that any contractor would find usable.
Two 120L tanks in a van is a good choice for a busy small contractor. One for Biocidal Wash and the other for Blackwash.
The Shurflo softwash pump
The 12v Shurflo pump is the one I've used in the past for trolley, pump box and 12v van installations.
It's possible to get away with the 5L/minute pump but the 8L/minute is far better. Fittings should be plastic with Viton seals. Do not use brass fittings.
Btw: Using a Shurflo pump to softwash a large area with Biocidal Wash is possible but is time consuming compared to using the more powerful Clarke pump, or pumps found on the more advanced softwash systems.
Contracts that often call only for the use of Benz Bio Cleanze – such as car parks, most roofs, tarmac drives, and so on – benefit from the higher flow rate of a bigger pump, which dramatically decreases the time spent spraying. And when treating roofs it gives better penetration into the laps of the slates and tiles.
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Softwashing Entry Level Four - Expect to pay 1000-1,500 euro (£865-£1,300)
Softwash injection pump systems ("Dosatron")
A softwash Dosatron injection pump system (as seen in the above photo) will inject the correct amount of biocide in proportion to the water flow rate. Injection systems have advantages and disadvantages over softwashing “tank and pump” systems.
The advantages of a softwash Dosatron injection system:
- The mixing is done for you, increasing on-site safety.
- They use precise amounts of softwash chemical, increasing the cost-effectiveness of a softwash treatment.
- They make your life easier by removing mixing calculations.
- Very mobile so can be used around the back of house with ease.
- They can use just mains pressure to operate.
The disadvantages of a softwash Dosatron injection system:
- A softwash injector pump can seem expensive for what it is.
- A softwash injection system requires a strong and reliable mains water pressure.
- A softwash injection system cannot be used with any nozzle which requires pressure as it needs 5-6 Bar to work efficiently and injection pumps are restricted to 4 Bar.
- Long hose reels will lower the flow rate as the internal resistance of the hose will slow down the flow.
Types of Dosatron: There are two types of Dosatron commonly used that allow for safe and accurate mixing straight from the chemical container.
One is the Compact DO7RE5, which we've found suitable for the application of Bio Cleanze.
Note that the DO7RE5 Dosatron should not be used for applying Lightning Cleanze, for which we recommend the D3RE25.
Quick tip: You can use Bio Cleanze and Lightning Cleanze softwash biocides with a single Dosatron but it must be type D3RE25.
The downside of using a single Dosatron for both Bio Cleanze and Lightning Cleanze is that this method involves extra work when changing between chemicals, pre-dilution of Bio Cleanze, and extra time in product handling.
It's a way to apply Bio Cleanze and Lightning Cleanze with the investment of only a single Dosatron. But it's not ideal because of the extra chemical handling time involved.
Important: Remember to always rinse the Dosatron after using it for one chemical, before using it for the other. The two chemicals must NEVER be mixed.
How to apply Bio Cleanze using the D3RE25 Dosatron injection system:
To achieve comparable dilutions of Bio Cleanze to those we recommend for application without using injection systems, Bio Cleanze must be pre-diluted prior to using in the Dosatron.
1. Dilute 1L of Bio Cleanze with 4L of water (or 5L Bio Cleanze with 20L water if mixing in a large drum that would normally be used with this Dosatron)
2. Use this mix in the Dosatron set to 9:1 to achieve a comparable strength solution to the 50:1 that we recommend for the Benz “Clean & Maintain” softwash systems.
3. Set the Dosatron to 4:1 to achieve a comparable strength solution to the 25:1 we recommend for the treatment of roofs and render.
Softwashing Entry Level Five - Expect to pay 2,000-15,000 euro (£1,730-£13,000)
A professional advanced softwash system - custom built by an experienced softwash equipment supplier and tailored for your individual needs. An advanced softwash system will take into account the type of work you are going to be taking on and the specific requirements of your individual softwashing business.
When designing your softwash system with our softwash equipment partners you need to carefully plan, and give serious thought to, the three main sub-systems systems that make up the whole softwash system. There is no one format that will suit every business.
- Softwash system 1 The dilution and mixing of chemicals - for safe and accurate dilution
- Softwash system 2 The application of chemicals - for safe and efficient application
- Softwash system 3 The bulk rinsing of chemicals - for safe and efficient rinsing
Your softwash system can be van, trailer, or truck mounted depending on the requirements of your business. The system you see below was custom built and is called a "sliding bed skid".
It slides on bearings in and out of the van making a very compact system whilst giving access to all components of the system. Please note that this is Ben's own system and has evolved over time. A system built by one of our equipment partners would be more refined but the principles would remain the same.
Now let's look at the three different sub-systems.
Softwash system 1
The dilution and mixing of chemicals - for safe and accurate dilution
Ben uses two Dosatrons – the Compact DO7RE5 for Bio Cleanze and the D3RE25 for Lightning Cleanze – which can be fed by mains water, mains water with a booster pump, or a reservoir and booster pump.
The Dosatrons feed two buffer tanks. And the buffer tanks feed the application pump.
One of Ben's Dosatrons is dedicated for use with Benz Lighting Cleanze and the other for use with Benz Bio Cleanze. He uses two buffer tanks, again one for Lightning Cleanze and one for Bio Cleanze.
These two tanks feed the application/delivery pump with the diluted softwash mix. There are two float valves inside that keep them full when spraying (see pic below). They contain enough mix to tackle small jobs and of course could be made larger if you take on big commercial contracts.
The main reason Ben uses these tanks is because they act as a buffer between the two dosing pumps and the application pump.
The key point to realise is that the application/delivery pump works independently from the Dosatrons. Ben achieved this by introducing the buffer tanks into his system, which give him greater flexibility and control of the delivery method, i.e. a softwash brush or nozzle.
So now let’s have a quick look at the dosing pumps and we’ll explain why Ben included a buffer tank.
Dosing pumps are often called "Dosatrons", which is a brand name and the most common in the industry.
These Dosatrons use the flow of water though them to inject softwash chemicals into the water at an automatic, self-adjusting and very accurate rate.
As different chemicals require different mix ratios, we need two different types of Dosatron. There's some overlap in the range of ratios they offer but not enough for one Dosatron to be able to mix all the commonly used softwash chemicals.
The Dosatron you can see below works from 100:1 down to 18:1, which Ben uses for applying Bio Cleanze. He also uses it for uPVC cleaner, traffic film removers, etc.
And the one below works from 20:1 down to 4:1, which Ben uses primarily for Lightning Cleanze.
The maximum pressure a Dosatron can work at is 3-4 bar. Greater than that and they will break. It should be fitted with a restrictor valve (which Ben is pointing to in the photo below). This valve restricts the pressure of water entering the Dosatron, which in turn protects it from damage.
If you were to feed straight from the Dosatron to the hose reel, without a buffer tank, you would be restricted to 3-4 bar at the outlet as well. It would not matter what size pump you placed before the Dosatron as it would still only operate at and deliver 3-4 bar.
This in turn restricts the type nozzle you can fit, as well as the delivery pressure and flow rate of the chemical at the tip of the spray lance. The buffer tanks solve this problem.
On occasion, if the mains water pressure is particularly low on your work site, you may need to use a separate booster pump to provide an adequate flow to the buffer tank. This will enable the Dosatron to work fast and so keep up with the application pump, without running the buffer tank dry.
This is a good reason to make sure you have a reliable water source for each contract as not having it can impact the price you quote.Ben's softwashing system solves the problem of low mains water by using the high flow-rate 12 volt booster pump to feed the buffer tanks (see pic below).
It’s powerful enough to drive the Dosatrons and fill the buffer tanks at 10 litres per minute. It can boost mains pressure if low, or it can pull directly from a van-mounted storage tank. It can also pull from the window cleaning de-ionised water storage tank located further forward.
Softwash system 2
The application of chemicals - for safe and efficient application
This system consists of application/delivery pump, a hose reel, spray lance and different nozzles or brushes depending on the nature of the contract.
Ben uses a petrol driven Comet application pump running up to 15 bar and 12 litres per minute. This is a popular pump as it offers excellent efficiency when spraying large areas and will run all day on very little petrol.
Of course it’s not bomb-proof. If it’s abused by not cleaning it out, using brass fittings, and repeatedly starving it of fluid – then it will break. But for the money it’s one of the best on the market.
Now let's look at the hose reel.
Ben has his softwash system set up and ready to go with this dedicated stainless steel hose reel. You can get larger reels but 30 metres of hose suits him fine. You could get more hose on the reel by reducing the bore size of the hose, buying a bigger reel if space allows, or have a second removable hose reel to extend the one that is fixed.
His spray lance is a Gardiner 30ft full carbon. Fittings, brushes and different nozzles can be bought off the shelf and in our experience have proven to be strong and reliable.
Looking at the pump again, you can change the flow by turning the adjusting knob that you can see between Ben's fingers in the pic below.
At its lowest flow-rate setting, the pump is ideal for applying Benz Lightning Cleanze in a controlled and safe manner, either though a nozzle or a brush.
At its highest flow-rate setting it’s great for applying Bio Cleanze to large areas like car parks, large rendered walls, roofs, etc.
If you find yourself frequently softwashing very large areas it may be beneficial to invest in a bigger pump, which will further increase the flow rate. This will enable you to work faster, getting more done in less time.
Why not use an electric pump?
12-volt electric application pumps do not deliver the same pressure as petrol driven application pumps. So when using specialised application nozzles to reduce spray drift and increase efficiency at high flow rates – which are needed for safe and efficient spraying – 12-volt electric pumps are not suitable.
Yes, a 12-volt pump will get you going when you begin softwashing. Even a small window cleaning pump will work. But when you want to upgrade your softwashing business, you really need to be looking at a petrol-driven softwashing pump.
220v electric pumps will work but they need a generator or mains power to operate, which is limiting – wheres a petrol-driven pump gives you much greater freedom and flexibility.
So, to recap on Ben's application system:
- He uses a petrol-driven softwashing pump that delivers good adjustable pressure and flow rates.
- He uses a stainless steel hose reel and a spray lance.
- And a selection of Benz Softwash spray nozzles that reduce spray drift and run-off from surfaces.
Softwash system 3
Bulk rinsing of chemicals - for safe and efficient rinsing
Ben uses a pressure washer for rinsing large areas after treating with Benz Lightning Cleanze, or giving a surface a quick clean to remove loose organic material before softwashing.
And of course it’s there when he's not softwashing and just needs the pressure washer.
In this set up the pressure washer can be fed by the reservoir – which is fed from the mains – or for small jobs by his tank in the van. It’s an entry-level pressure washer driven by a 6.5 hp Honda. This machine is ideal for Ben as it’s reliable, efficient and can shoot up three stories when he's rinsing large areas.
In the pic below Ben is holding the zero degree tip that he uses for rinsing up to three stories using a 2 metre lance.
Some people may like a more powerful pressure washer but for the type of properties Ben usually works on this one is fine. Your choice depends on the nature of the work you intend taking on (e.g. large commercial contracts or simple domestic properties) and your personal preference.
Whichever route you take, remember that you must have in your softwash system:
- A strong, reliable application pump with good pressure and flow rate, which is equipped with Viton chemical-resistant seals.
- A quick, safe and accurate way to change over and adjust the mix of the various soft washing chemicals you are using.
- An efficient means of rinsing large surface areas.
- A steady and reliable source of water.
Since we took the above photos of our old van we have begun fitting out a much larger brand-new softwash van.
Click the video below and follow the series as we build the new van and explain the why and how of the various items of softwash equipment we use daily.
Ancillary softwash equipment
Viton chemical-resistant seals
We recommend the use of chemical-resistant Viton seals for all softwashing equipment because they will not be damaged by Benz softwash chemicals when used at the dilution levels we recommend on the product labelling and website.
A hose reel, connectors, barbs, poles, crimps, and nozzles
The crimps connect the hose to the hose reel. Make sure you get the correct size barb for your particular reel and hose diameter. Check with your supplier when ordering.
A water fed pole
We recommend using Gardiners poles, which we've found to be of the highest quality. Their carbon/glassfibre CLX is okay but the full-carbon SLX is more effective when softwashing roofs and other high work. A 9 metre pole is perfect for most jobs. A 14 metre pole is the longest we know to be of practical use.
Quick tip: If you need to work higher than 14 metres you should consider scaffolding, a cherry picker, or a scissors lift.
The larger the bore of a hose, the higher the flow rate will be, and the less will be the strain on your pump – because the hose offers less internal resistance.
Ben uses an 8-13 mm inside diameter hose on the reel and a 5 mm inside diameter (8 mm outside) window cleaner's hose for the pole. He uses the smaller diameter hose because he prefers to reduce the weight on the pole, enabling him to work more effectively, with less physical strain.
A water-fed brush
A good softwashing brush is essential for cleaning wall render and for scrubbing black from soft stone.
The Vikan Transport 25.5 cm brush is the best we've found. Ask for the metal fan jets as they give a better spray pattern than the plastic one when applying Lightning Cleanze.
And of course there are the Benz 10, 6.5 and 15 softwash spray nozzles
These specialised softwashing nozzles are the most effective we've found for applying softwash chemicals. Because Ben wanted them to be the best, he designed and had them specially made with parts coming from manufacturers in three countries.
We recommend most contractors begin by using Benz nozzles (which you can see me using in the above pics).
Then, after gaining some experience, you may want to upgrade to a "foaming nozzle".
The foaming softwash nozzle enables even more rapid application of Benz biocides. The light foam produced by this nozzle helps the chemical stick to vertical surfaces and thus enhances it's cleaning power. This nozzle also reduces “pooling” on surfaces such as sandstone.
This “stickiness” keeps the biocide stay in contact with the biological growths for longer, enabling the chemical to work more effectively.
The foaming action means the fine spray mist produced by other nozzles when they are used at high flow rates, is virtually non-existent, significantly reducing spray drift.
This enables faster, safer and more cost-effective application of softwashing chemicals.
Benz Softwash Contractor Pricing Guide
As with any trade or profession there are a lot of "wrinkles" you'll pick up with experience. It's important to be be clear on what product you need to use, for what purpose, to treat what type of biological growths, the needs of a particular contract, and so on.
For example, the best practices for softwashing large commercial buildings can differ from those for softwashing small domestic properties.
And of course it's of critical importance to set your prices to sell. That's why we wrote and published a free guide to help you price contracts just right – so your customers say Yes! to your quote.
Recommended softwash equipment suppliers
We offer the information on this page purely as a service to help guide contractors who are starting out in softwashing.
The only items of softwashing equipment we sell are:
The softwashing equipment companies we've listed below are very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. They will answer your questions about the best softwashing equipment to buy for your particular purposes and intended market, quote you prices and so on.
Btw: When you contact them please let them know that Benz Softwash recommended them. We don't get a commission but letting them know helps the world go around ... :)
Softwash Technology specialise in softwash systems, consumables, fittings and also power washing equipment and consumables. Visit the Softwash Technology website
Eurojet supply a wide range of softwashing and pressure/power washing equipment including softwash pumps and the EuroFoam soft washing spray nozzles.
Click here to learn more about soft washing via Benz Trade Tips softwashing how-to videos and articles
The Benz Softwash range of softwash cleaning products
- Bio Cleanze
- Lightning Cleanze
- Tornado Cleanze
- Perma Cleanze
- Oxy Cleanze
- Window Cleanze
- Softwash Nozzles
- Roof moss scrapers
- The Softwash How to Manual