How to use an electric pressure washer

Lasted Updated:
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

If you’re about to buy your first pressure washer, or you’ve just bought one you need to know how to use it, maintain and store it.

Your pressure washer can do a huge amount of jobs, all of those jobs are cleaning based, but you may be surprised at just how many jobs you can complete.

The other day for example in the morning I did a touchless clean of my car, followed by removing the moss that had built up in the tarmac areas of my garden.

So grab a coffee and settle in, I’ll show you how to use an electric pressure washer, how to maintain it and how to store it, so it lasts more than a single winter.

So you’ve unboxed your new pressure washer, you’ve got a task in your mind, and the first thing you need to know is how to start a pressure washer.

How to start an electric pressure washer

An electric pressure washer is super easy to set up, make sure that your electric pressure washer is on a flat surface and if your pressure washer comes with a water strainer, it needs to be kept free of debris.

Connect a garden hose to your pressure washers inlet and the other end to your water supply, don’t forget to turn the water supply on.

Attach the pressure washers high pressure hose to the spray gun and to the pressure washer

If your pressure washer has a selection of nozzles chose the one that’s most suited to the job you are looking to complete, otherwise, attach the correct attachment to your pressure washer gun.

Plug your pressure washer into your electric power supply, make sure that if you are using an extension cable that it’s rated to be used in wet areas. Make sure you turn the electric power supply on.

That’s it your electric pressure washer is set up, to start it… press its power button and pull the trigger!

Make sure to keep the water jet away from your skin or anyone else’s, trust me you don’t want the two to meet.

How to use an electric pressure washer

Right so we’ve got the electric pressure washer setup and started, how do you actually use it? Is it as simple as point and shoot?

Clear the area

The first thing you need to do before you get cleaning is to clear the area in which you wish to clean if it’s a car, or boat, make sure the doors, etc. are shut to prevent any water from getting into areas you want to keep dry.

Get it started

If you’ve jumped straight to how to use a pressure washer, go back to how to start the pressure washer and get it started.

Choose the right nozzle/attachment for the job

Read your manual, or check my nozzle guide, you want to make sure you choose the right nozzle / attachments for the job at hand, for example, you do not want to use a high-pressure washer nozzle if you are cleaning your car.

Well unless you want to remove your paint.

Adjust the pressure and test a small area

If your pressure washer has the ability to dial up and down the amount of pressure it produces, adjust it to the level you think will work, and then test that pressure against a small test area.

Make adjustments as needed.

Hold the nozzle and spray

Now that you are comfortable with the pressure it’s producing, start using it on the area you wish to clean.

Keep the nozzle 4-6 inches away from the surface you are cleaning so you don’t do damage.

Cleaning tips

If you want a fantastic clean, follow the grid pattern, this way you are sure to clean everywhere.

The first time I cleaned my tarmac areas, I thought I’d done an amazing job, but once the area had dried I found I had missed loads, I left lines everywhere.

Make sure to work from the highest part down. Otherwise, the dirt and dirty water will keep covering the areas you’ve already cleaned.

Use a detergent if needed or snow foam if cleaning a vehicle.

Home Depot has created a fantastic video on all of this

Wear the right gear

Too often I’ve started pressure washing, and within a few minutes I am covered in muck, or I’ve hit a patch of loose gravel and somehow come away unscathed.

Don’t do what I do, be smart.

Put on some decent footwear, not shoes, but boot’s or wellington boots, make sure to protect your hands with gloves and wear safety glasses.

It’s also worth wearing overalls to protect your clothing.

This way you don’t get wet soggy socks, your clothes don’t get caked in muck, and if any flying debris hits you, you’re protected.

Pressure washing is a messy task.

Protect plants

Make sure to remove any potted plants where you can, and others make sure to keep them covered, a high-pressure water jet won’t be them any good, and if a small stone is shot at them, well it can cause damage.

Keep your bucket filled.

Make sure to use a sturdy bucket and keep it topped up with  detergent if you are using some, if you let it run dry it may damage the machine, and it will affect your cleaning results

Know your pressure washer parts

Your pressure washer consists of a pump, motor, inlet and outlet hose connections, chemical tank, high-pressure hose, spray gun, wand, nozzle, enclosure case and a variety of switches.

Know the safe way to operate it

You need to be aware of the risks, the ones I worry about are debris, debris becomes projectiles which can go into your eye.

The last thing you want is to go out on a sunny day to make your patio look great only to end up blind in an eye.

Keep in mind slippy services, high temp areas on the machine itself, kickback from the spray gun. Some parts of the machine may rotate at high speeds, so you’ll want to make sure to keep children and loose clothing away.

Because you are using an electric pressure washer, there is a risk of electrocution, and the high-pressure water itself, so don’t point it at animals, people or plants you want to keep.

I also advise hearing protection.

Know how to assemble it out of the box

Most pressure washes will require some assembly after you’ve removed them from the box.

So you may have to attach the handle, a hose reel, and/or a spray gun holder.

It’s best to follow the user manual instructions.

Know the correct way to operate your pressure washer

As mentioned above in the section “How to use an electric pressure washer” it’s really a case of plugging in water, plugging in the electric source and pressing go.

Once your pressure washer is on, and the water is flowing from the nozzle, start a few feet away from the surface to prevent damage, I personally start 4-6 inches away, but that can be risky.

Always start with a wider angle nozzle and switch nozzles if the pressure proves not to be high enough.

Know the correct storage methods

If you are going to store and not use your pressure washer for 30 days or more, then you need to go through the proper storage methods which I’ll cover in detail below. But it will require flushing the machine of all the detergent and water, it’s worth adding pump saver as well.

You may need to use antifreeze if your user manual stipulates it.

Know the required maintenance schedule

If you look in your user manual, you’ll most likely find that there is a maintenance recommendation which will usually contain a list of checks to make and what interval.

This may be after each use, monthly, yearly, etc.

Know how to troubleshoot common problems

There are many common problems that you may encounter as time goes on; the majority will have easy fixes. If you check your user manual, it will probably contain these, and the manufacturers recommended solutions.

These may be:

Machine turned on but no water flow.

Check the water source, unclog the nozzle, remove the lance and the nozzle and then just spray with the gun. If water comes out the gun clean the lance and nozzle.

Water leaking

Check the o-ring for damage between the hose and the spray gun

How to store an electric pressure washer

If you are going to be storing your electric pressure washer for three months or more then you need to ensure that you follow the correct procedures to ensure that your pressure washer can survive. Otherwise, you’ll turn it on next spring, and it just won’t turn on.

Firstly you should check your user instructions manual for the recommended advice from the manufacturer.

You can then also follow these steps and ensure success next spring.

Turn It Off & Wrap It Up

Turn off your pressure washer, unplug it from the electric source. Turn off the spigot and then remove the hose from the water inlet.

Once that’s done squeeze the trigger a few times on the gun, this will release any water pressure still in the system and allow you to drain any water left within the machine and hose.

Make sure that you never run your pressure washer without water flowing through the pump.

Clean out any detergent in the tank

If your pressure washer has a detergent tank, remove this from the pressure washer and rinse the tank out thoroughly until all the detergent has been washed away and water runs out clean.

Leaving any residual detergent in the tank will cause a build up and ultimately clogging.

Detach the Hose

Remove the high-pressure hose that connects the spray gun to the pressure washer.

Begin with unscrewing the gun from the hose and storing it in its place on the pressure washer.

Then detach the other end of the hose from the pressure washer, leaving nothing attached to the hose.

Disconnect Components & Pour Out the Soap

From the lance from your gun. Then pour out any remaining detergent and water from the lance and gun. Then store them in their respective storage places on the pressure washer.

You can pour any leftover soap back into your soap jug if you wish to be conservative and frugal. Make sure to rinse out your detergent tank as mentioned above.

Rinse out the nozzle and the hose with plenty of clean water; this will prevent clogging. If it’s too cold outside to use your garden hose, rinse the hose in the bathtub.

Soaking these components in warm water can help dissolve any built up soap solution.

Wind Up and Store the Power Cord

Straight out the power cord and untangle any knots that have appeared during use, I don’t know how it happens, but it always does.

Wind the cord around its storage hooks located on the pressure washer

If you have a place for the plug, slot it in, otherwise, rest it within the wound up cord.

Hang Up Your Hose

Now that the hose has been rinsed make sure to wrap it up for storage, start by curling it from one end, letting the water drain out of the other.

Once it’s been neatly wound up, store it on the designated hooks, often found somewhere on the pressure washer handle.

Make sure to collect and hang up your extension cord as well.

Keep it Warm

So you’ve taken care to disassemble and organize your pressure washer and parts, don’t leave it outside in the cold.

You want to store your pressure washer in a place that won’t reach below freezing temperatures, well unless you’ve run pump saver through it, your pump could freeze and crack if the temperature goes below freezing.

If you can’t keep the pressure washer in a warm enough place, then you really need to use a product like Pump Guard to keep the pump from freezing and cracking.

How to pick an electric pressure washer

Just incase you haven’t picked up an electric pressure washer, here’s a small guide on what you should look for. Electric pressure washers are great for keeping your house, shutters, patio, etc. clean. Hell just having one for cleaning your car, it’s why I first got one.

Since then the amount of jobs I’ve used it for is countless.

So let me guide you in what I look for in an electric pressure washer.

PSI Rating

You may hear people say that electric pressure washers are meant for light cleaning, let me tell you that’s far from the truth, these days you can get electric pressure washers in the 3000 PSI range.

That’s incredible!

But you want to purchase a pressure washer for the jobs you have in mind, do you need a 3000 PSI pressure washer? Probably not, what you probably want is something in the region of 1300 – 2000 PSI.

That said if your pressure washer offers variable pressure well you are winning.

Personally, I’d get the highest PSI/GPM rated pressure washer I could afford, as there will be no limitations on the jobs I can do, ideally getting one where I can dial back the pressure as and when I need to.


The bigger and more powerful the pressure washer the larger motor and pump they will contain.

This will add to the overall weight of the unit, something you need to consider if you need to carry or push it around.

The lower the PSI, the more likely the unit will be “handheld” meaning fantastic movability.

Personally, I look for units that have decent wheels so I can drag them around with ease, though keep in mind that a big unit will take up more space when storing it.


When I purchase a pressure washer, I look for models that offer multiple attachments to assist me in the jobs I wish to complete.

I want different nozzles to provide decide water jet’s, floor cleaners, spray foam containers, detergent tanks.

This machine is a workhorse, and as such, it needs to have all the attachments/accessories to assist in its jobs.

If the unit doesn’t come with them as standard, make sure to checkout the aftermarket stores to see if there are some generic addons which will enhance your pressure washer.

Electrical Connection

Electric power washers are designed with your safety in mind, so the electrical cord is fully insulated from the water. But you should still be looking for a model which has a ground fault interrupter.

This is a safety circuit built into the cord which senses electric current aberrations. I.e., it will shut the machine off if it detects a fault before you get electrocuted!

You know safety first.


hopefully, I’ve covered everything you need to know about how to use an electric pressure washer including starting, using and storing your pressure washer.

It really doesn’t take much to keep your pressure washer going for a long time, the one I use to wash my car has been going for years. They are fantastic tools that you’ll find using more often than you expect. For example, I’ve cleaned my BBQ with one.

If you have any questions, do contact me.

Photo of author


Adam White is the founder and chief editor at He has years of experience from years of Gardening, Garden Design, Home Improvement, DIY, carpentry, and car detailing. His aim? Well that’s simple. To cut through the jargon and help you succeed.

Leave a Comment