pressure washer techniques

A pressure washer can clean almost anything you can think of. Be it a filthy car, a heavily-stained pavement, grimy house siding, or even a corroded metal fence – these machines are up to the task. If you want to clean effectively and efficiently, however, you need to know how to use a pressure washer the right way.

Understanding the basic pressure washer techniques is a must for any new user. And let’s face it – sometimes, even the most seasoned of pressure washing experts could use a refresher.

And today, that’s exactly what we are here to provide – a detailed explanation of how to use a pressure washer, including advanced pressure washer techniques for faster, more efficient cleaning. But before all of that, let’s go over some of the mistakes we see people making when using a pressure washer.

What Are The Common Mistakes People Make With A Pressure Washer?

Cleaning with a pressure washer is not rocket science. However, there are quite a few mistakes we see people making with them. Learn how to avoid these so that you can pressure wash safely, efficiently, and effectively.

Not Using Safety Equipment

While pressure washers are not inherently dangerous, the high-pressure spray of water can be hazardous. That said, always wear protective equipment when pressure washing. Wear closed-toe shoes, work gloves, eye protection, ear protection (if you’re using a loud pressure power washer), and clothes that cover your entire body.

Not Angling The Spray

When pressure washing, the goal is to lift the dirt up from the surface so it can be washed away by the water. If you spray directly onto the surface instead of angling your nozzle, you will only drive the grime deeper and make the surface even harder to clean.

Using Too Much Pressure or Not Enough

If you use too much pressure when pressure washing, you risk damaging the surface of whatever it is you’re cleaning. On the other hand, not using enough pressure will simply be ineffective and inefficient.

For light cleaning tasks, 1,500 to 1,900 psi should be enough. If the dirt is more stubborn, use 2,000 to 2,800 psi except for soft and fragile surfaces. And if you need more power than that (e.g. for cleaning pavement or when prepping a surface), heavy-duty pressure washers that can go up to 2,900 to 3,200 psi should do the trick.

Not sure how much pressure washer psi you need? Check out our previous blog post where we discuss the different levels of psi and their correct applications.

Cleaning With a Gas-Powered Pressure Washer Indoors

Gas pressure washers are loud and produce harmful emissions. That said, they should not be used in enclosed spaces. Electric pressure washers, on the other hand, are quiet and produce no fumes because they do not run on gasoline, making them the safer choice for indoor cleaning.

The Top Pressure Washer Techniques, Tips, & Tricks For Faster Cleaning

Pressure washing is an easy job if you know how to do it right. Now that you know what mistakes to avoid, let’s move on to some pressure washing tips to help you clean faster, safer, and more effectively.

Choose The Right Pressure Washer

First things first, you should be using the right type of pressure washer for the job. There are two main options you can choose from; cold water pressure washers and hot water pressure washers.

Cold water pressure washers are great for cleaning dirt, mildew, mud, and other sorts of grime from almost all types of surfaces. But if you’re cleaning oil, grease, and tougher grime, you will need to use a hot water pressure washer. Hot water cuts through grease and oil easily, agitating them at the molecular level so that they can be washed away. You can learn more about the difference between hot water and cold water pressure washers in our blog.

Use The Correct Nozzle

Pressure washers spray water in a V-shape from the tip of the wand. Nozzles dictate how wide that V is, depending on the angle it is built to spray at. There are five different nozzles to choose from:

  • Red (0 degrees) – creates a small yet extremely powerful jet of water (in an O-shape), best for removing deeper stains from hard surfaces.
  • Yellow (15 degrees) – emits a narrow fan of water that can remove dirt, rust, paint, and other contaminants, usually to prepare a surface for repainting or re-sealing.
  • Green (25 degrees) – the most common nozzle for general use; creates a wider spray for pressure washing dirt, mud, debris, and other grime–as long as they are not deep-seated.
  • White (40 degrees) – produces a wider and gentler spray for light cleaning; best for fragile and soft surfaces such as glass and cars, or for washing away detergent.
  • Black – used for applying soap quickly and efficiently.

Use a Detergent

Pressure washer detergents make pressure washing a whole lot easier. They help eliminate grease and oil, and they help soften dirt, mud, mildew, and other types of grime for easier cleaning.

All hot water, cold water, gas, and electric pressure washers can use soap or detergent. But, it is important to choose the right type of detergent. Always read the label of your pressure washer detergent to make sure that it is appropriate for the surface that you are cleaning. For instance, some detergents are used for specific substances like motor oil, while others are not to be used for certain types of paint.

Be sure to read our article on how to use soap with a pressure washer for more information on picking the right detergent and using it effectively.

Aim From a Distance

If you spray the water too close you risk damaging the surface you’re trying to clean. Similarly, you won’t clean effectively or efficiently if you stand back too far from the surface. What’s the right distance, then? We recommend keeping the tip of your nozzle at least 18 inches away from the surface. When estimating the correct distance, do a test spray first and see if you are too close or too far.

Spray in The Correct Motion

When pressure washing a sidewalk or a driveway, direct the water towards the drain, making sure to spray at an angle. If you’re pressure washing a wall or siding, move the wand in short, downward motions, starting at the top. This will prevent dirty water from splattering upwards and ruining your hard work.

Also, make sure not to direct the spray of the water on a single spot for too long. Doing so can cause damage to the surface due to the high pressure.

Use Both Hands

If you are a beginner, it’s safer to use both hands when power washing so you won’t lose your grip. Also, make sure that your hands are dry. This will help prevent the wand from accidentally slipping out of your hands.

Lay Down Tarps

You don’t want paint chips or dirty water to splatter all over the area you’re trying to clean. To prevent this, lay down tarps to protect the surrounding area, including plants, furniture, and other objects in the way.

Maintain Your Machine

Keeping your pressure washer in good shape is crucial to extending its lifespan and maintaining its effectiveness. Aside from cleaning your machine regularly, replace your high-pressure nozzles every 6 months; check your oil levels (if you’re using a gas power washer); remove burner soot and scale from the heating coil annually; clean the water filter screen weekly, and replace parts as soon as they get worn.

If your pressure washer is acting up, take it to the service center or call a professional before attempting another power washing session. You should also learn about winterizing your pressure washer – this is an important form of maintenance in freezing cold regions.

Final Thoughts On Pressure Washer Techniques

And there you have it! Commercial pressure washing is not as hard as it seems, right? However, it’s important that you take note of these pressure washing tips not only to make cleaning faster and more effective – but to also avoid causing damage to the surface you are cleaning. No one wants to clean a surface only to have it crack under the pressure of the spray!

For efficient and safe power washing, choose Hotsy pressure washers. We have come to be known as the #1 pressure washer store in all of Texas. You can either buy or rent a pressure washer through us, and you’ll have access to the most extensive catalog out there. We even offer pressure washer trailers for mobile cleaning needs!

Trust us – nothing cleans like a Hotsy. And after 35 years of service in this industry, you don’t have to just take our word for it – we’ve got the reputation to back it up. For a specific recommendation, take a look at our list of the best commercial pressure washers of the year.