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How To Use a Pressure Washer

Pressure washers are built for residential, commercial, and industrial applications. Residential pressure washers are probably the most common and the easiest to use. A pressure washer consists of an electric motor or gasoline engine, a pump, a length of high-pressure hose, a wand, a detergent container, and a cart, upon which all the components are mounted. In use, you connect a water source to the pump, add the appropriate amount of detergent in the detergent container, and start the engine or motor. The motor or engine turns the pump that pressurizes the incoming water to the pressure regulator setting and delivers it to the wand and nozzle assembly through the high-pressure hose.

Pressure washing does seem simple, and it is; depending on the type of surface you are cleaning, there are a few precautions to observe.

Preparing to pressure wash

Pressure washing is an extremely effective cleaning method

Pressure washing is an extremely effective cleaning method

  1. For walls or other vertical surfaces, cover shrubbery and flowerbeds with a tarp or other plastic sheeting.
  2. It is best to use wand extensions rather than ladders to reach areas that are too high up.
  3. Wear raingear, safety goggles or a face shield, rubber boots, and gloves when using a pressure washer.
  4. Make sure you have the proper manufacturer-recommended nozzle or accessory installed for the task at hand.
  5. Add the proper detergent or cleaning solution to the pressure washer in the quantity prescribed by the pressure washer manufacturer.
  6. Avoid using homemade solutions or caustic chemicals unless the pressure washer manufacturer specifically endorses or recommends them.

Using the pressure washer

  1. Set the pressure regulator on your pressure washer according to the manufacturer’s instructions for the task you intend to perform. Exceeding the recommended pressure setting can damage the surface, possibly the machine, and you.
  2. Point the nozzle at the end of the pressure-washing wand in a safe direction and test it first before you use it on a finished surface like a painted wall.
  3. Once you have verified that the pressure washer is set correctly and the nozzle discharge is satisfactory, start pressure washing the surface.
  4. Start at the top; move the wand horizontally and perpendicular to the surface in a back and forth motion. Work slowly and methodically, letting the high-pressure water and detergent do the work.
  5. Hold the nozzle at the prescribed distance from the finished surface as you work. Holding it too close will almost certainly damage the surface; holding it too far away will result in poor cleaning results.


Once you have finished pressure washing one particular area, rinse the area well with cold water before proceeding on to the next area.

Do not exceed the maximum length of garden hose recommended for the particular pressure washer you are using.

When you are finished pressure washing, empty the pressure washer of detergent and water, and rinse it off thoroughly before putting it away.

Remove the nozzle, rinse it well, and store it separately so that soap or detergent residue does not plug or corrode it.

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