can pressure washer remove rust

Rust turns everything into an eyesore. Whether it’s a vehicle, a railing, or a household appliance, the presence of rust makes anything look old, worn, and dirty. When a metal object corrodes, you have two choices: you can buy a replacement or you can remove the rust with a pressure washer. In the interest of saving you some money, we’re going to teach you how to remove rust with a pressure washer!

Pressure washing is the easiest and most effective method of rust removal. The pressure from a power washer is powerful enough to chip rust away without having to sand or scrape metal surfaces. However, how much pressure do you need to use to remove rust? What kind of pressure washer is the best for rust removal? And how do you remove rust with a pressure washer safely and effectively?

In this article, we answer all these questions you have along with many others. We’ll explain everything you need to know about removing rust with a pressure washer. Let’s start with some basic information on how rust forms in the first place.

How Does Rust Form?

Rust forms after metal starts to corrode from exposure to oxygen and moisture. Metal objects that are not sealed with a protective coating and constantly exposed to the elements are most susceptible to corrosion.

Here are the most common places where rust is present:

  • Exterior walls that are made or are in contact with metal
  • Interior and exterior pipes
  • Faucets, spigots, gutters
  • Metal around heaters
  • Outdoor decorations, especially those made of metal
  • Unused vehicles

Non-metallic surfaces can also be victims of rust stains if they are in contact with metal or are in the way of rust run-offs. For example, concrete surfaces near rusted spigots can develop rust stains because of the water coming from the corroded material.

How Much Pressure Do You Need To Remove Rust?

Rust requires heavy agitation before it chips away from a metal surface. That said, the key to removing rust effectively is to choose a pressure washer that is powerful enough to separate rust from metal surfaces.

A pressure washer that reaches at least 3000 psi is good enough to remove rust. This kind of pressure washer is in the heavy-duty category, able to remove stubborn contaminants like algae, barnacles, oil-based paint, and rust.

If you are planning to remove deep-seated rust, however, you will need an extra heavy-duty pressure washer that can reach pressures of 3300 psi and higher. An extra-heavy-duty power washer is recommended for foodservice, trucking, construction, and other industrial applications. Check out this article to learn more about how much pressure washer you need for your intended use.

Cold vs. Hot Water Pressure Washer

Cold water pressure washers are great for blasting away general dirt and grime, especially if you are cleaning temperature-sensitive surfaces. However, they are not suitable for industrial work where there is a constant presence of oil and grease. If the surface you plan to clean has oil and grease alongside rust, it is better to use an industrial hot water pressure washer.

The hot water from this kind of pressure washer cuts through grease, oil, and stubborn grime. Combined with the high pressure, a hot water pressure washer can clean contaminants from metal surfaces more efficiently than a cold water pressure washer.

Here is a helpful article that can help you learn more about the best applications for cold and hot water pressure washers.

How to Remove Rust With a Pressure Washer

Pressure washing can be dangerous if not done safely and correctly. Along with safety concerns, you need to understand the proper technique in order to remove rust effectively. Hence, we have created a simple guide to help you remove rust safely and efficiently with a pressure washer:

Step 1: Gather equipment and gear

Whether you are using a cold or hot water pressure washer, you need proper protective gear to keep you safe from the powerful jet and–if you are using hot water–high temperature. Wear safety goggles, a dust mask or respirator (if you are also stripping paint), work gloves, work boots, and protective clothing. If you have sensitive ears, wear ear protection as well; a running pressure washer can get quite loud.

Next, set up your pressure washer, your hose, and your nozzles. If you have to strip away paint from the surface, you may also want to have a paint stripper to make the job easier.

A pressure washer detergent will also help you get rid of stubborn oil, dirt, and grease. We recommend using one to effectively wash away these contaminants along with the rust. Here’s how to determine which kind of pressure washer soap you should use.

Step 2: Clear the area

Make sure that the area is clear of anything that cannot get wet or withstand high pressures. Cover nearby windows with plywood if needed.

It is also important to close off the area to prevent people from passing through and potentially getting in the way. Remember that high water pressures can cause serious bodily harm, especially if you are using hot water.

Step 3: Blast away the rust

If you are cleaning a large, durable metal surface, use the yellow 15-degree nozzle. If you come across stubborn rust stains, use the red 10-degree nozzle to chip them away. However, be extra careful with the red nozzle as this is the most powerful one. There is a risk of chipping concrete, wood, and paint off of surrounding objects with that amount of pressure.

If the metal object or surface you are cleaning is thin and fragile, stick to the yellow nozzle to be safe. Excess pressure can dent or even chip away metal.

Start with a test spray while holding the nozzle 15 or 20 inches away. If the pressure is good enough, continue spraying with that amount of distance between the nozzle and the object you are cleaning. Otherwise, hold the nozzle closer until you are satisfied with the cleaning power. Be careful not to damage the surface underneath.

Spray in downward, sweeping motions. Keep the nozzle moving constantly to avoid putting excess pressure on one spot for too long. Work with one section at a time and inspect each one for lingering rust stains before moving on to the next one.

Step 4: Remove remaining rust

Pressure washing may not be enough to remove stubborn rust stains. If bits of rust linger after you’re done, try scraping or sanding them away with sandpaper, a paint scraper, or a metal brush. Keep your movements as gentle as possible to avoid damaging the surface underneath.

If this doesn’t work, soak the surface in WD-40 rust remover for 1-3 hours and try scraping off the rust then.

Step 5: Prime and paint (optional)

You need to prime and paint metal objects to prevent them from oxidizing again too quickly. Sealing metal objects properly will minimize the need for pressure washing in the future. It will keep your metal looking new for years to come. Priming is especially important for exterior metal objects and surfaces as these are constantly exposed to the elements.

When you are done pressure washing, leave the surface to dry completely. Once it is fully dry, apply a layer of primer. Primer is used to prevent the absorption of paint and the development of rust. Afterward, you can apply protective paint and a layer of topcoat if necessary. A clear topcoat will give outdoor objects an extra layer of protection against oxygen and moisture.

Concrete and wood are not the sources of rust, but they can stain due to rust run-off from nearby metal objects. That said, it is also a good idea to seal them with primer to prevent rust stains from forming.

Remove Stubborn Rust Stains With The Most Powerful Pressure Washers From Hotsy

Pressure washing is easy, efficient, and even fun with the right pressure washer by your side. Make pressure washing to remove rust a lot more effective with one of our powerful commercial power washers and an arsenal of our top-notch nozzles.

Whether it’s rust from metal or a deep-seated grease stain you can’t seem to get rid of, we have the right machine to make the job easier. Here at Hotsy, we have only the top-quality pressure washers for almost all types of industries, including automotive, food service, trucking, and so much more.

Check out our selection today and discover why Hotsy is regarded as a top pressure washer store online.