what size pressure washer do i need

As a business owner, you need an effective, efficient cleaning solution you can rely on to get the job done fast – time is money, after all. And there’s no better choice for that than commercial pressure washers.

But along your journey to optimize your cleaning process, you’re probably wondering…what size pressure washer do I need? 

This is one of the most important decisions you can make in regard to choosing a pressure washer. The size of your unit directly affects how quickly – and how well – it can clean messes. And as you may already realize, your unique situation will influence the proper size for your unit. 

There’s a lot to consider when sizing your pressure washer, but you can take a deep breath and relax – we’re here to help you navigate this shopping decision and help you find the perfect solution for your business. 

Hotsy is the most trusted pressure washer store in San Antonio and throughout South Texas – so you can save yourself a lot of time and confusion by simply visiting one of our locations near you or giving us a call to talk it over with a professional. But below, we’ll discuss all that goes into sizing your unit. We’ll begin with a brief discussion on what “size” means as it pertains to pressure washers.

First – How are Pressure Washers Sized?

If you’re wondering what size pressure washer you need, you may already realize that these machines are sized based on two different ratings: PSI and GPM. But for those who don’t – or those who aren’t fully aware of what each of these ratings means – we’ll break it down below.

PSI (Pressure per Square Inch)

PSI – which stands for pressure per square inch – refers to the pressure at which water is delivered from the unit. This measurement indicates the force with which the water will hit a surface, and thus its cleaning power. 

As you can imagine, a higher PSI means that the pressure washer can deliver water at a greater force, which is suitable for heavy-duty tasks like cleaning concrete, brick, or large areas. Lower PSI is ideal for light-duty tasks like washing cars, outdoor furniture, and delicate surfaces. 

It’s important to choose the right PSI for the task at hand to avoid damaging the surface being cleaned. So – what is a good PSI for a pressure washer? As you’ll learn below, there is no one size fits all answer. You’ll have to consider a few different factors to make the right choice. And PSI is just one side of the coin – let’s unpack GPM next.

GPM (Gallons per Minute)

Now, what is GPM on a pressure washer? GPM – or gallons per minute – refers to the amount of water that flows through the pressure washer per minute, as the name suggests. A higher GPM means that more water is being delivered, which can help to rinse away dirt and debris more efficiently. This speaks to the pressure washer’s efficiency.

However, it can also mean that more water is being used, which can be wasteful. Lower GPM means that less water is being used, which can be more efficient and cost-effective, but it may also take longer to clean large surfaces. 

It’s important to choose the right GPM for the task at hand to balance efficiency and water conservation. And that’s exactly what we’re going to help you do below as we discuss the key factors affecting your ideal pressure washer size.

How Do I Know What Size Pressure Washer I Need? Key Factors to Consider in Pressure Washer Sizing

So – now that you know how pressure washers are sized, what should you consider when trying to find the right size for your needs? The most obvious factor to take into account is the specific cleaning task at hand. But your budget, the available water source, and your storage space all dictate the ideal size for your business. We’ll help you weigh each of these considerations below to make the most informed choice.

The Specific Cleaning Tasks at Hand

Choosing the right PSI and GPM for your pressure washer depends on the type of cleaning task you need to perform. Using a pressure washer with too high of a PSI or GPM can damage surfaces and waste water, while using a pressure washer with too low of a PSI or GPM may not be effective in cleaning the surface. 

So, with that said, ask yourself these questions:

  • What surfaces are you cleaning? 
  • What type of mess are you trying to remove from that surface?
  • How big is the surface you need to clean?

For, example, what PSI pressure washer to clean concrete is a different consideration than the ideal PSI to pressure wash cars. But beyond that, you’d need to consider what you’re trying to remove from the surface. Thinking back to our concrete example, you’d need a much higher PSI to remove oil, grease stains, gum, or paint/graffiti from concrete than minor debris and mud.

Beyond PSI, you also need to take GPM into consideration. If you only need to clean a small driveway at your business, you won’t need nearly as high of a GPM rating as if you were pressure washing a parking garage

We’ll offer some specific recommendations as to what PSI/GPM your business needs momentarily. First, we need to touch on the other factors that come into play when sizing a pressure washer. 

Your Budget

At a certain point, you’ll be limited to a specific size based on your budget. You can imagine that the higher the cleaning power a unit has, the more expensive it is. With that said, the specific cleaning needs you have should take precedence over your budget. Sacrificing power just to make the investment work financially will leave you frustrated as your machine is unable to effectively and efficiently clean. 

If this sounds like it may end up being the case for you, it may be worth looking into pressure washing prices per square foot commercially near you and outsourcing the job. But if you clean often enough, outsourcing will start to add up in costs and you’re better off biting the bullet and investing in your own unit.

Or, you can look into pressure washer rental. We know what you’re thinking…can I rent a pressure washer near me, though? And does it make sense? Well, again, it all depends on your unique needs. If you use the unit often enough, you’ll get your money’s worth from investing in a machine of your own rather than continuing to pay rental fees. If you only clean a few times a year, rental or outsourcing may make sense.

With all that said, let’s move on to another factor affecting your ideal pressure washer size: water source. 

Water Source

The water source can play a role in pressure washer sizing because the water flow rate and pressure available from the source can impact the performance of the pressure washer.

For example, if you have a low flow rate or low-pressure water source, it may limit the amount of water that can flow through the pressure washer, which can impact its cleaning performance. A pressure washer with a higher GPM or PSI may not be able to reach its full potential if the water source cannot provide enough flow or pressure. At a certain point, you’re wasting your money by investing in a higher-sized pressure washer that can’t reach its full potential.

Storage Space

This one is a bit obvious as well but an important consideration nonetheless. Most of our discussion today has been in regards to pressure washer size from the PSI and GPM point of view – but the actual footprint and mobility of your unit needs to be considered too!

If you have limited storage space, you may need to choose a smaller pressure washer that is easier to store and maneuver. They are also easier to transport, making them ideal for cleaning tasks in different locations. While the mobility and versatility of a commercial pressure washer trailer may sound appealing, you need to seriously consider if you have the space to store it.

On the other hand, if you have ample storage space, you may be able to choose a larger pressure washer that has a higher PSI and GPM rating for heavy-duty cleaning tasks. We have a complete guide on how to store a pressure washer if you want to learn more about this. Otherwise, we’re going to finally answer the question you came here with today: what size pressure washer do I need?

So, What Size Pressure Washer do I Need?

So, what size pressure washer do I need? At this point, it’s really just a matter of weighing the factors we talked about above and pinpointing the ideal PSI, GPM, and footprint of your pressure washer. However, we’ll provide a few examples of ideal fits for certain use cases below:

Industrial Cleaning Tasks:

These are some of the toughest messes, and as such, you’ll need the biggest, most powerful unit possible for these tasks:

  • Removing heavy grease and oil stains from concrete surfaces: 3000-5000 PSI and 4.0-8.0 GPM.
  • Cleaning large machinery and equipment: 2000-4000 PSI and 3.0-5.0 GPM.
  • Preparing surfaces for painting or coating: 2500-4000 PSI and 3.0-5.0 GPM.

Commercial Building Cleaning Tasks:

Pressure washing commercial buildings – whether it be the walls, sidewalks, parking lots, etc – require very heavy duty cleaning soliutions as well:

  • Removing dirt and debris from building exteriors: 2000-3500 PSI and 3.0-5.0 GPM.
  • Cleaning sidewalks and parking areas: 2500-4000 PSI and 3.0-5.0 GPM.
  • Washing windows and glass surfaces: 1000-2500 PSI and 1.0-3.0 GPM.

Food Service Cleaning Tasks:

Cleaning food processing facility or restaurant pressure washing is another common use case for pressure washers, but due to the sensitive nature of these surfaces, you’ll want a lower powered unit:

  • Cleaning kitchen hoods and exhaust systems: 1500-3000 PSI and 2.0-4.0 GPM.
  • Removing grease and grime from floors and walls: 1500-3000 PSI and 2.0-4.0 GPM.
  • Cleaning food processing equipment: 1500-3000 PSI and 2.0-4.0 GPM.

Vehicle Cleaning Tasks:

Whether you own a car detailing service or you have a fleet of vehicles you need to clean, pressure washing is a great solution – but you need to be careful about damaging the vehicles:

  • Cleaning fleet vehicles and heavy equipment: 2000-4000 PSI and 3.0-5.0 GPM.
  • Removing oil and grease from trucks and trailers: 3000-5000 PSI and 4.0-8.0 GPM.
  • Detailing cars and trucks: 1200-2200 PSI and 1.4-2.8 GPM.

Want a Personalized Size Recommendation?

Hopefully, we answered your question as to what size pressure washer you need based on the specific conditions you’re working in. If not, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Hotsy – we’re your trusted source for all things pressure washing. 

We can help you uncover the perfect size for your needs and get you set up with exactly what you need. From commercial hot water pressure washers for sale to commercial cold water pressure washers for sale we’ve got the cleaning solution you’ve been searching for here waiting to be discovered! Before we bring this conversation to a close, let’s quickly highlight a few other factors you need to account for when searching for a pressure washer.

Other Considerations Beyond Pressure Washer Sizing

To help ensure you get the best commercial pressure washer for your company’s cleaning needs, you need to take into account fuel source, water temperature, detergent, nozzles, hoses, and other accessories.

Fuel Source (Electric vs Gas)

When considering an electric vs gas pressure washer, there are two things to consider. First and foremost, gas units are more versatile and powerful – perfect for businesses with on-the-go cleaning needs. They have higher PSI and GPM ratings than their electric counterparts.

However, gas units can be quite noisy and may emit fumes – which is why electric units are recommended for indoor cleaning tasks. Electric pressure washers are quieter, more compact, and generally less expensive than gas-powered models. They also require less maintenance – saving you time and stress in the future. 

Hot vs Cold Water Units

Again, you’ll need to consider the specific cleaning needs you have when choosing between a hot vs cold water pressure washer. Hot water pressure washers are recommended for commercial or industrial cleaning tasks as the heat helps agitate and loosen up tough messes. On the other hand, cold water models are more commonly used for residential or light commercial cleaning. 

Don’t Forget the Detergent

A powerful pressure washer can be supercharged with the pairing of a detergent – so it’s critical that you ensure your unit has a detergent tank and dispenser to accommodate this. Most pressure washers have this ability. By bringing a targeted soap into the mix, you can clean beter and faster, while sanitizing the surface in question as well. 

For more information on how to use a pressure washer with detergent, explore our blog. You can learn about which soap nozzle for pressure washer you need, and other important topics related to pressure washer soap. And of course, you can always count on Hotsy for the best soap for pressure washing!

Nozzles, Hoses, & Other Accessories

Finally, you should fully optimize your cleaning solution by getting the best pressure washing attachments. Nozzles, hoses, and other accessories can have a big impact on the performance of your pressure washer. 

Nozzles come in different sizes and shapes, each designed for specific cleaning tasks. For example, a 0-degree nozzle provides a highly concentrated stream of water for tough cleaning jobs, while a 40-degree nozzle provides a wider spray pattern for more general cleaning tasks.

Hoses come in different lengths and materials, with longer hoses allowing for greater mobility and reach. Some pressure washers also come with adjustable wands that allow you to change the spray pattern and pressure on the fly.

Other accessories, such as surface cleaners and extension wands, can also enhance the cleaning capabilities of your pressure washer. Surface cleaners are great for cleaning large flat surfaces, while extension wands can help you reach high and hard-to-reach areas. 

Final Thoughts on What Size Pressure Washer You Need

So – what size pressure washer do I need? As you now know, the answer depends on your unique cleaning requirements, your budget, water source, and storage space. By following the advice we’ve provided throughout this conversation and shopping at Hotsy for all your pressure washing needs, you’ll unlock the most effective, efficient cleaning process possible.

You can learn more about the types of pressure washers and other important cleaning considerations in our blog – including how to pressure wash faster, pressure washing clothes, and more advanced pressure washer tips and tricks.

Whether you’re a business owner with frequent, heavy-duty cleaning needs or you’re looking into starting a pressure washing business, you can count on us to arm you with the resources and equipment necessary to effortlessly blast through tough messes to keep things clean!