Pressure washing can be incredibly convenient, but it can also be rather messy. If you don’t take care and do it properly, it can also be dangerous. This is why I suggest you take some time to research your pressure unit before you begin to use it for pressure washing. Most importantly, you should read the instructions manual thoroughly.
That aside, if you want to ensure that your pressure wash goes smoothly, then here’s a guide that will teach you how to pressure wash like a pro. It doesn’t matter what pressure washer you are using. Whether it’s an electric pressure washer or a gas unit, this guide will make you a pro in no time.
Safety Tips While Pressure Washing
If you are new to using a pressure washer, then I think it makes sense to take a few minutes to consider some safety tips. This is how to pressure wash in safety.
It doesn’t matter what you are pressure washing, you need to ensure that you are wearing hearing and eye protection. Regardless of whether you are using a low or high-quality pressure washer, they can be rather loud.
- The water jet can cause debris or water to spray into your eyes, so it makes sense to take precautions, you don’t want to lose your sight or hearing.
- Make sure to keep the tip of your spray nozzle at least 18 cm away from the surface you are cleaning. This is to prevent damage caused by the high pressure.
- Pressure washers produce a lot of well pressure. Which can lead to ‘kickback’ when you start to use it. Until you are comfortable or at all times, it makes sense to hold the spray wand with both hands. This prevents the wand from escaping your grip.
Pressure washers were originally made to be used by professionals and non-professionals alike. If you are looking to take on something that’s not your standard cleaning task such as stripping paint off a fence, you might want to seek specialist help.
Choosing the Right Nozzles
If you want to pressure clean properly and use your pressure washer like a pro, you need to use the right nozzle tip. If you use the wrong one, you could damage the surface you were trying to clean. Fortunately, to make our lives easier, pressure washer nozzles are color-coded. These colors are standardized and ensure that you use the correct angle.
Red: The red nozzle tip has the narrowest angle of them all. This is the zero degrees angle. It’s a piercing stream of high-pressure water and, as such, can cause a lot of damage. Most of the time this is a nozzle you won’t use, it’s more for trying to remove paint from a surface.
Yellow: The yellow nozzle tip creates a 15-degree angled stream. This is perfect for use on hard surfaces such as concrete.
Green: The green nozzle tip has a 25-degree angle, this is your multipurpose tip. Something you’ll use for the majority of cleaning tasks around your home and yard. This is perfect for use on outdoor furniture or your car.
White: This nozzle tip could be seen as the most user friendly. It creates a very wide 50-degree angle. This is perfect for cleaning any surface and is ideal for rinsing down your car, truck, or house siding.
Black: While black might seem like an angry or powerful nozzle, actually, it’s the most gentle. This isn’t a nozzle for deep cleaning, it can be used for rinsing or getting a surface wet. It actually has a specific job. It’s used for spraying a foamy sudsy solution.
Each time you use your pressure washer, you need to attach the right nozzle if you use the wrong one. You could end up damaging the surface you were intending on cleaning, worse case, you could actually end up hurting yourself.
Depending on the surface that you intend on cleaning, you may also need to use the right technique to ensure success. Which is a nice way to lead into this next section, where I’ll show you the basics on how to clean various surfaces.
How to Pressure Wash a House
When pressure washing a house, this typically is you cleaning your house siding. Most houses will use a vinyl siding, though there are other options out there. The problem with any covering on a house is that they are subject to the elements. Which leads to dirt and, in some cases, mold and mildew.
Fortunately, you can remove this built-up debris with your trusty pressure washer.
When using your pressure washer to clean your house exterior, you should use the white or the green nozzle tip, the black soap nozzle, and an extension wand. I also suggest a long-handled brush with stiff bristles, though your extension wand may come with one. Plus, a cleaning solution for your exterior of your house.
Before starting, I suggest that you do a health-check of your home, go around looking for loose siding pieces, or any breaches where water from your pressure washer could penetrate through cracks and damage your wall.
To clean your house, attach the soap nozzle and add your detergent into the soap container, or place your siphon tube into the tub. If your home has a lot of built-up dirt, you might need to go over it a few times with soap to pre-treat the surface.
Once you’ve soaped everything up, switch to the green or white nozzle tip to rinse the surface, the pressure produced by these tips is high enough to remove the soap and the dirt.
I’ve got a guide specifically on cleaning your house, but if dirt remains, this is where the stiff brush comes into play, re-soap, and do some scrubbing!
How to Pressure Wash a Deck
Wood just has a way of losing its shine. At the end of the day, it’s a porous material. Once the dirt penetrates, your decking starts to quickly look awful, left unchecked it can get to a state that you may feel that the only way to fix this is to replace the deck altogether. Stop! Wood can easily be brought back to life, back to how it was when first fitted, and all you need is your trusty pressure washer.
I suggest using the green nozzle tip along with a good wood sealer. I suggest doing a “test run” in a hidden corner to make sure that you are using the right pressure. Any damage in the hidden corner is better than in the middle of your deck.
Once you’ve got the right pressure, use even and down motions of the spray wand. Wood is fairly soft, so you don’t want to linger over a spot for too long. Also, you shouldn’t stop in the middle of the board. You should aim to do one end of the board to the other end in a single motion. This is to avoid any visible lines. I suggest overlapping strokes as you would when painting a wall.
That’s it, at the end you’ll have a clean deck, now all you need to do is let is dry and apply a good sealant to ensure that your decking is protected from the elements.
How to Pressure Wash a Driveway
Driveways are typically made from concrete tiles or with bricks. Because of this, you can use the high-pressure nozzles without any worry that you’ll cause damage. You might need to use the high-pressure tips to penetrate deeply enough to clean your concrete.
Firstly I suggest taking the time to make sure that your driveway to free of debris, this way, you won’t accidentally damage yourself or anything nearby from ricocheting debris.
After you’ve cleared your driveway of any lingering debris, the next step you might want to consider is degreasing the surface. If your pressure washer has a soap nozzle, you can do this with your pressure washer directly.
However, if, unfortunately, your pressure washer doesn’t have a soap nozzle or attachment, you could use a foam cannon, or you could spread the solution by hand and scrub it in with a stiff brush. Once you’ve cleaned your driveway with detergent, you can then rinse it away with your pressure washer.
Once your driveway has been cleaned, and you’ve given it enough time to dry, you can seal it with some sealant. This will help prevent any stains from forming and help keep your concrete-looking pristine for longer.
How to Pressure Wash Concrete
Concrete is an incredibly tough surface, so to clean it, you will want to use a high-pressure washer. Personally, I suggest a gas pressure washer as the cleaning power of these machines allows them to penetrate deep into your concrete. However, there are some newer electric models that can do the same thing.
You need a lot of pressure to clean concrete, so it makes sense that you also need a tip that will utilize that pressure, and this is where the yellow nozzle tip comes in. Add to that a stiff scrubbing brush, some concrete cleaner, and concrete sealant. I also suggest protective gear. I suggest before starting your pressure washer that you take some time to clean the area of debris.
For the most part, when it comes to dirty concrete, the right nozzle tip will do the trick for getting your concrete clean. However, if you have dirty or oily stains that resist, then you may need to bring in the concrete cleaner and your soap nozzle.
A stiff scrubbing brush will also help tackle any stubborn stains. After you’ve applying and scrubbing any soapy solutions, make sure to attach the green or white nozzle tip to rinse the surface. Let it dry then apply a sealant.
Common Mistakes to Avoid While Pressure Washing
When you are using your pressure washer, there are certain common mistakes that you’ll want to avoid making. These can seem small, but they can be quite problematic.
- Keep water away from electrical sources. This doesn’t just mean the outlet outside, but also your phone, and other small electrical items.
- Cover your gardens shrubs or other plants, etc. You don’t want to be washed, or suffer from the splashback. Pressure washers are powerful. They cause ricochetting of water, which can do damage, plus this water is usually quite dirty, so keep items covered, so you don’t spend time cleaning up after cleaning.
- When you are pressure washing, make sure you do it on a flat and stable surface, don’t climb a ladder. Your pressure washer can and probably will kickback when you turn it on. This can be very dangerous if you are up a ladder or on an unstable surface.
These are simple mistakes to avoid, others can be found in the user manual as each pressure unit will have its own quirks.
Pressure washing is a very easy task provided yours follow the instructions properly. The key to pressure washing like a pro is, for the most part, technique and choosing the right nozzle tip. The tip is an important consideration when you are cleaning.