Health and Safety
Softwashing is a hazardous occupation. Manual handling, hazardous substances, plant and transport, and working at height are some of the risks frequently encountered on a softwashing project. These risks can, however, be managed correctly and professionally.
When selecting a contractor to softwash a property, be it a domestic or commercial project, it is wise to ask to see the company’s health and safety policy, and insurances. You may also want to ask them to provide comprehensive Risk Assessment and Method Statements.
In the united Kingdom health and safety is determined by the Health And Safety Executive (HSE). The chemical safety division of the HSE is REACH. REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals and it has been in place since 2007. For the time being, until Brexit at least, the UK law is determined by European Biocides Product Regulation, which is part of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) .
The law surrounding biocides is clear and explicit. Legally these chemicals must only be used for their stated purpose. So weed killer, for example, must only be used to kill weeds. This is when many low end softwashing contractors fall foul- as they use sodium hypochlorite (bleach) on an off-label basis, and spray bleach illegally. This does bring the industry into some disrepute, and can be very hazardous. We advise asking softwashing contractors what chemicals they will be using, and check on the brand. We also advise that you ask contractors to provide a SDS (safety data sheet) for the products they are using. If they are unable or unwilling to provide this rudimentary information then steer clear. Health and Safety should always be paramount.
The only legal bleach based product for softwashing in the UK is Lightning Cleanze. Reputable dealers of DDAC biocide include Softwash Solutions, Benz, and Algoclear.
Frequently Asked Questions
What chemicals can be legally and safely used for Softwashing?
First and foremost good old h2o. Water.
DDAC biocides can be used- with the brands softwashing solutions, Algoclear, and Benz recommended.
Lightning Cleanze sodium hypochlorite can be used legally.
Softwash Solutions Safewash can also be used.
A range of acids are available, such as muriactic acid to clean contaminated stone- the risks associated with its use are substantial- more info can be found on using it safely and effectively here.
Is Softwashing safe for the environment?
Only if done correctly- the products used can pose risks to human, plant, and animal life. It is important to establish how water courses and the local surrounds are being protected, and what measures are in place to avoid public interference. If done correctly, with a qualified contractor, Softwashing does not pose significant risk to the environment, and its carbon footprint is lower than pressure washing and other traditional cleaning methods, as it consumes less energy- and in general uses less water.
While there is usually no legal requirement to do so we recommend that all projects are completed to CDM regulations- more info here.
Can softwashing chemicals be used for other purposes such as pest or weed control?
No. Not legally. Only use chemicals for the purpose stated on the label- not doing so is illegal and invalidates insurance.