Can you use dish soap in a pressure washer?

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I love pressure washers, they are amazing cleaning machines, sometimes they need a little help, they need a good cleaner. Fortunately for you, there are plenty of DIY Cleaners on the market you can use with your pressure washer. Some of them even include dish soap.

First off, can you use dish soap in a pressure washer? Yes, you can use dish soap in a pressure washer, as long as it’s diluted properly with water, but the dilution may affect how good it is at cleaning surfaces, and it won’t be as effective as other soaps and detergents specifically designed for pressure washers.

If you are a little let down by the idea that dish soap isn’t going to solve your outdoor cleaning woes, don’t be. Dish soap can be a fairly decent option if you don’t have anything else at hand; sure, there are better and stronger options to make your cleaning tasks easier, but dish soap perhaps you could use dawn dish soap will serve you well.

Why You May Not Want to Use Dish Soap in Your Pressure Washer

Why You May Not Want To Use Dish Soap In Your Pressure Washer

Your average dish detergent will get the job done in most situations, but there is a wide range of pressure washing detergents available to purchase. This is for a very good reason, and it’s not to rob you of your hard-earned cash. It’s because they work. Different surfaces, different types of dirt all require different types of detergents to get the best clean.

Using dish soap in your pressure washer is rather convenient and safe. Why is it safe? Because dish detergents are non-toxic and biodegradable, and while it’s “safe,” there are some disadvantages to using them in your pressure washer. These include

  • It won’t work as well as a cleaner designed for pressure washers
  • It won’t get overly soapy or sudsy
  • It may be the most cost-effective option
  • It can leave a film or residue on the surface
  • It’s not good for your cars paint
  • If used incorrectly, it can gum up (block) or even damage the tubing and other parts of your pressure washer, including the pressure washer pump

How to Use Dish Soap in Your Pressure Washer

Suppose you are going to go ahead and try to use dish soap on your next pressure washing project. Here’s how I suggest you do it.

  1. Use a dish detergent that has an active degreaser, such as using Dawn Dish Detergent.
  2. Mix around 3 ounces (1/3 of a cup) of your chose dish detergent with 1 gallon of water. You can eyeball these measurements, but you don’t want to add too much detergent because it will make the mixture too soapy or foamy, though don’t get expect the suds to last through the soap tip.
  3. Make sure that you’ve mixed the soap entirely with the water. Otherwise, the soap can cause damage to your pump.
  4. Spray the mixture onto the surfaces you intend to clean, let it sit for a while, then rinse it off, DO NOT let it dry.
  5. Make sure to rinse all the soap and any residue away.

If you are concerned about damaging your pressure washer, then I highly suggest applying the soap separately by using a bucket of soapy water and a brush or sprayer. You can use your pressure washer to rinse away the dirt and grime.

Cleaning Your Roof With Dish Soap?

Believe it or not, many pressure washer wielding homeowners and even pressure washing professionals swear by the power of dish soap when it comes to cleaning a roof.

I suggest you mix 8 ounces of dish soap with 2 gallons of water, then spray it onto the roof. Some recommend mixing in a cup of chlorine bleach as well, but DOT NOT allow the bleach to go through your pressure washer. The reason for adding bleach is that it increases the power of the cleaner, but it also makes it much less eco-friendly, so if you can avoid the use of bleach, please do.

When it comes to using chemicals such as dish soap, I suggest you don’t use your pressure washer to apply these cleaning products. If you want to use your pressure washer to apply the soap, I suggest using something such as simple green, which is designed for pressure washers. If you must use dish soap or a mix of dish soap and bleach, I suggest using a spray bottle to apply the detergent mixture.

When you use detergents or your soap mixture, let it sit. Some homeowners will allow the rain to wash away the soap, but I suggest using a light power setting on your pressure washer to rinse the soap away thoroughly.

Other DIY Cleaners for Pressure Washers

Other Diy Cleaners For Pressure Washers

Using dish soap as a pressure washer detergent isn’t going to be one of the best cleaners to use around your home. So what do people normally use for soap in their pressure washer?

Just water – Thanks to the pressure or your power washer, sometimes all your need is water, even more so if you have a hot water pressure washer. Though it’s best to test the area you want to clean first to see if the water is capable of doing the job alone. If it does, then you’ve found a cost-effective option, and as you didn’t use chemicals, you’re also eco-friendly.

Vinegar – Mix 3 parts of vinegar with seven parts of water, so about a cup and a half of vinegar per gallon of water. Vinegar has disinfectant and also deodorizing properties. If the smell of vinegar is too much, you can cut the smell of vinegar by adding a little essential oil to the solution.

Laundry detergent – Mix around 1/2 a cup of laundry detergent with 1 gallon of water. Laundry detergent is stronger than your average dish soap, so that it will do a better job at cleaning. Though if you want an eco-friendly option, make sure to use a phosphate-free laundry detergent. Again I suggest you apply this solution with a spray bottle.

Multipurpose cleaner – Many of your standard household multipurpose cleaners can be used with your pressure washer. Mix around 1 ounce of cleaner with a cup of water. Or, per 1 gallon of water, mix 2 cups of multipurpose cleaner. You can adjust the strength of the solution if you need to deal with a heavy-duty job, or you can decrease the strength of a lighter duty job.

Never use bleach – Bleach is a caustic cleaner, and you should avoid using it entirely as it will cause damage to your pressure washer. If you aren’t careful, you could lead to injury, such as if the wind picks up and the fine mist may spray back into your eyes. If you must use clean with bleach, apply it separately.

Why Not Use a Specialty Cleaner?

There are many DIY options, including dish soap, and they will clean surfaces when used with your pressure washer for those jobs that you do regularly around your home. If you want a decent job done, without residue or worries of damaging your pressure washer, then investing in a specialty cleaner is the best idea, and here are a few reasons why:

Reason #1: Pressure Washer Cleaners are Specialized

Pressure washer cleaners are designed to allow you to use the right tool for the job at hand. These cleaners come in a wide variety, including:

A multipurpose pressure washer cleaner is specially designed to not gum up the inner workings of your pressure washer and will handle most jobs. The more specialty cleaners will ensure you get the best clean for your routine house maintenance.

Reason #2: Pressure Washer Cleaners Are Not Expensive

While you may think that using Dawn is a cost-effective option for cleaning products, but in all honestly, pressure washer cleaners aren’t as expensive as you might think.

For example, a gallon of Krud Kutter House & Siding cleaner, for example, costs less than you might think. A gallon of Dawn will typically cost twice as much.

You may need to use a slightly larger dose of pressure washer cleaner than you would use of Dawn, but you won’t use anywhere near as much as double the amount. Also, when using Dawn, you may end up using more solution and taking longer to achieve the same result as Dawn won’t work as well.

For a job that you frequently do, I highly suggest you get a specialty cleaner. Though for a one time job, it may not make sense to invest in a full bottle that you’ll only use a small amount of.

Reason #3: You’re Less Likely to Damage Your Belongings

Some items or surfaces will require a much more gentle solution. For these sensitive surfaces, you want your pressure washer to be as gentle as possible. For example, you don’t want to spray any old cleaner onto your car, as it could damage your paint job.

So using a DIY method such as dish soaps may not be worth it for these types of jobs.

Closing thoughts

While you can use dish soap in your pressure washer, you need to make sure that you’ve mixed the soap completely with the water and that you don’t use too much. Otherwise, you could damage your pressure washer. The real question is, should you. If you are in a pinch, you can go ahead and give it a try, but in the long term, I highly suggest that you consider purchasing a specialty pressure washer cleaner like the offerings from Simple Green. This way, you will clean your surface thoroughly without damaging it.