How to start a pressure washer

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Pressure washing is extremely effective and can get your home, driveway or large vehicle looking like new.

Once you get the hang of using your pressure washer it will seem like second nature.

However, sometimes it can seem a bit confusing, especially if it’s your first attempt at pressure washing.

Checklist for all pressure washers

Before starting the washer, there’s a few things you can do to make the job smoother:

  • Make a mental list of the jobs you want to get done
  • Choose your desired detergent if needed
  • Choose the appropriate nozzles for various cleaning jobs
  • Remove any furniture of objects from the cleaning area (those that you don’t want to expose to water and strong pressure)
  • Make sure all of the attachments are in place (wands, hoses, detergent tanks)
  • Use the transportable cart if you don’t want to carry your washer along lengthy or uphill distances (if your washer comes with a wheeled cart)

Starting a gas pressure washer

Gas-pressure washers have an engine and require gas in order to work, just like a car or motorized boat.

They are easy to start, but sometimes need a few “pulls” before they kick into action (just like a motorized lawnmower).

WEN PW3100 3100 PSI 2.5 GPM Gas Pressure Washer with 208cc Engine (CARB Compliant) WEN PW3100 3100 PSI 2.5 GPM Gas Pressure Washer with 208cc Engine (CARB Compliant)
  • Powerful 208 cc 4-stroke OHV engine pumps 2.5 gallons per minute; For general use (above 40° F), 30W, 4-stroke engine oil is recommended
  • Includes five quick connect nozzles: 0°, 15°, 25°, 40°, and soap
  • Axial cam pump provides a reliable spray while maximizing the lifespan of the unit. Gun to Lance Connection: M22 Threaded
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Here’s how to successfully and safely start your gas pressure washer this also applies to commercial pressure washers:

  • Wheel the washer outside and near to the site of your first cleaning job
  • Make sure your water supply is in close reach
  • Choose a flat, even surface to avoid leakages and mess (don’t start the washer on a hill, slope or uneven terrain where it may tip or fall)
  • Check the water tank and strainer for debris and give it a quick clean (dried leaves and grass clippings can sometimes find their way into the strainer).
    The strainer is the sieve-like cage which sits at the mouth of the water connection on the washer
  • Take the hose and connect it to your water supply and then connect the other end of the hose to the washer
  • Make sure both ends of the hose are tightly and securely connected so you don’t encounter leaks and sprays
  • Take your high-pressure hose (the one you will use to aim and shoot) and connect it to your pressure washer
  • Now choose the right nozzle to suit the job at hand, and screw it into place at the end of the wand, making sure it is correctly fastened and clicked into place
  • Turn the water on at the source
  • Give the trigger on the water gun a few squeezes to release any built-up pressure, air or leftover water out of the system
  • Ensure that the fuel tank is topped-up with sufficient gas
  • Ensure that the pressure washer pump oil is topped up and if it’s old replace the oil
  • Switch on the fuel valve (most gas pressure washers have an “open” symbol for the fuel valve)
  • Switch the choke from “closed” to “open” and ensure the throttle is in “full” position
  • Switch on the engine, (simply by using the “off,” “on” button or turn-switch)
  • Now it’s time to start the engine up: Give the trigger a squeeze as you pull the starter cord
  • You may need to give it a few pulls before it starts, so keep going until it does
  • Once the engine is going strong, close the choke and begin your washing

Starting an electric pressure washer

Electric pressure washers use electricity to control the water flow and pressure.

You do not need to bother with gas or pulling starter cords – you simply press a button and go.

Sun Joe SPX3000 2030 Max PSI 1.76 GPM 14.5-Amp Electric High Pressure Washer, Cleans Cars/Fences/Patios Sun Joe SPX3000 2030 Max PSI 1.76 GPM 14.5-Amp Electric High Pressure Washer, Cleans Cars/Fences/Patios
  • [POWERFUL]: 14.5-Amp/1800-watt motor generates.Pump Type : Wobble-Plate Piston. Voltage (V) : 120..Cord Lock : Yes. Foldable Handle : No
  • [VERSATILE]: Tackle a variety of cleaning tasks: homes, buildings, RV’s, cars, trucks, boats, decks, driveways, patios, lawn equipment, and more. With two 0.9 L onboard detergent tanks, removable...
  • [TSS (Total Stop System)]: Automatically shuts off pump when trigger is not engaged to save energy and prolong pump life.
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The process of starting an electric pressure washer is not so different from a gas washer at the start, but here’s a simple rundown to help you anyway!

  • Set your electric pressure washer on an even surface close to your water source and the site of your first cleaning job
  • Check that there is no blockage or dry debris has become stuck in the strainer at the mouth of the water connection on your washer
  • Connect the garden hose from the water source to the washer and make sure each end is tightly secured
  • Choose your desired nozzle and attach it to the end of the cleaning wand
  • Give the trigger on the water gun a few pumps to make sure there’s no excess water or built-up air
  • Connect the power cord to your power source and switch it on at the wall
  • Switch the washer on
  • Go ahead and clean your desired surfaces
  • If you own a Sun Joe, it will come with TSS which will stop the pressure washer when you release the trigger, this is by design!


  • Carefully consult the manual which came with your gas- or electric-pressure washer before you use it for the first time
  • Ensure that you have all of the necessary parts before you embark on your cleaning task
  • Follow any specified safety procedures or maintenance tips suggested in your manual (use goggles and covered shoes)
  • Some models have different locking systems for water sources and nozzles so ensure you follow the correct procedures so you get an airtight and watertight application
  • If you live in very cold climates, use antifreeze to protect your washer
  • Practice safety when turning on and using a pressure washer: Don’t aim it at anyone, stand on a steady, grounded surface when cleaning, and use the safety lock
  • Make sure you release the pressure before and after you use your washer


Starting your electric or gas pressure washer is easy once you get the hang of the process and follow the correct order.

Always consult the manual first, and go slow at first so you don’t miss any steps.

Follow the correct maintenance tips for your specific brand or model so your power washer can remain effective and functional for as long as you need it.

How to start a pressure washer