Pressure Washers: Cleaning Surfaces Safely and Effectively

Pressure washers are powerful tools that can effectively blast away dirt, grime, and debris from outdoor surfaces. However, not all surfaces are created equal, and some may not be able to withstand the high pressure and force of a pressure washer.

Here are some of the most common outdoor surfaces that can be cleaned with a pressure washer:

  • Cement
  • Decks and patios (most types)
  • Outdoor furniture
  • Fences
  • Vinyl, fiber cement, and wood siding
  • Please note that different surfaces require different levels of pressure, and some may require a specific cleaning solution. For example, concrete driveways and patios can be pressure washed, but please use a surface cleaner attachment to avoid leaving streaks or marks.

    Hardwoods and pressure-treated woods can also be pressure washed, but softer types of wood may require a low-pressure nozzle to avoid causing damage.

    On the other hand, there are several surfaces that should not be pressure washed, including aluminum siding, roofs, windows, and delicate surfaces like stucco and brick. These surfaces can be permanently damaged by the high pressure and force of a pressure washer.

    Pressure Washers: Determining the Frequency of Cleaning Outdoor Surfaces

  • For an office building, it is recommended to power wash the exterior, entrances, sidewalks, parking lots, and dumpster areas at least twice a year to prevent the accumulation of dirt, grease, and seasonal elements.
  • Professional home contractors suggest power washing patios once a year to eliminate stubborn grime and refresh the patio before summer.
  • However, before using a pressure washer on any surface, it is crucial to use dry methods such as brooms, blowers, or street sweepers to clean the area and block off storm drains. This is to prevent debris from entering and negatively impacting water quality.

    If a chemical cleaner is necessary, it is essential to contact EHS to obtain a map of the storm drains around the project site and take extra precautions to ensure that the materials being washed do not enter the storm drain system.

    It is also important to note that a pressure washer is not suitable for every job, and it is easy to get carried away. Some surfaces can be easily damaged due to the limitation in choosing the amount of pressure.

    Therefore, it is crucial to consider the type of surface and its location before deciding on the frequency of cleaning with a pressure washer.

    Health Risks Associated with Pressure Washers

  • Physical injuries: Wounds that appear minor can cause a person to delay treatment, increasing the risk of infection, disability, or amputation. This is because the fast, strong spray can throw debris and dirt at high speeds, causing injuries. To avoid physical injuries, please follow safety instructions included in the owner’s manual. Never point a pressure washer at yourself or others, never attempt to push or move objects with spray from the washer, and never use a gasoline-powered washer in an enclosed space.
  • Environmental risks: Pressure washing can also pose environmental risks if harsh chemicals are used to make the job easier. However, in and of itself, a pressure wash does not present any hazard to the environment. All you’re doing after all is directing a high-powered stream of water at a hardscape surface like concrete or pressure-treated lumber and allowing the force of the water to remove unwanted dirt, grime, and other substances.
  • To ensure your safety and avoid health risks associated with pressure washing, please consider all the hazards associated with your working space and ensure that you are conversant with your surroundings before you turn on the pressure washer.

    Effective Cleaning Methods for Outdoor Surfaces: Pressure Washers

    This method uses high-pressure water streams to quickly eliminate dirt and grime. However, please use the right pressure and nozzle for the surface being cleaned to avoid damage.

  • Choose the right nozzle: A finer nozzle is more effective at spot-cleaning grease stains, while lower pressure and suds are recommended for mold or mildew.
  • Research the material: Before starting, please research the material being cleaned and consult the surface manufacturer information.
  • Use a surface cleaner: Using a pressure washer surface cleaner can save time and energy compared to using a traditional pressure washer wand, and it can also give a more thorough clean. Surface cleaners for pressure washers are designed to effectively and efficiently clean large surface areas such as driveways, patios, and decks. They can reduce cleaning time by up to 60% compared to conventional nozzles.
  • In addition to pressure washing, eco-friendly products can be used to remove algae from exterior surfaces. Regular cleaning is essential for hygiene, health, and property protection. It can help prevent the spread of germs, bacteria, and viruses that can cause various illnesses.

    It can also protect property and help prolong its lifespan by preventing wear and tear caused by dust and dirt accumulation.

    How Weather Affects Pressure Washing: Tips and Safety Precautions

  • Rain helps power washing by keeping detergents from drying and reducing glare
  • Heavy rain can make pressure washing difficult and unsafe
  • Cold weather below 60°F can affect aluminum brightening and acid cleaning
  • Direct sunlight can make it easier to pressure wash
  • It is generally safe to pressure wash in light drizzle, but avoid thunderstorms or strong winds
  • Follow safety instructions to avoid injury, including testing the ground fault circuit interrupter and wearing rubber-soled shoes.
  • The Power of Pressure Washers: Clean Outdoor Surfaces Safely

  • Pressure washing reduces allergens like fungi, mold, dust, mildew, bacteria, and algae on roofs and siding.
  • Regular cleaning with a pressure washer minimizes the risk of allergic reactions and slipping on slippery surfaces.
  • Consumer Reports reported that 6,057 individuals visited the emergency room due to injuries related to pressure washer use in 2014.
  • Safety guidelines must be adhered to when using a pressure washer, including wearing protective gear and avoiding pointing the nozzle at people or animals.
  • Pressure washing is a potent and efficient way to clean outdoor surfaces, but it must be used safely and responsibly.
  • Benefits of using a pressure washer for outdoor cleaning

  • Prevents damage: Pressure washing is preventative maintenance, and it saves money by preventing damage. Having your home or business washed on a regular basis is far less expensive than repairing the damage that can result from letting the dirt and grime build up.
  • Increases property value: Cleaning outdoor surfaces with a pressure washer also improves the property’s overall appearance, which can increase its value. Regular cleaning of the roof can protect the home over the long run, saving significant amounts of money before selling.
  • Efficient cleaning: A pressure washer is the best and most efficient way to eliminate grime since it resolves the problem quickly and prevents further growth. Cleaning outdoor surfaces with a pressure washer minimizes the chances of an accident, ensuring high safety standards.
  • Cost-effective: Buying or renting a pressure washer and doing the work yourself can save money compared to hiring a professional. Pressure washers are a cost-effective way to remove years of accumulated filth without expensive chemical treatments or hiring a professional window cleaner.
  • Saves time: Pressure washers also save time, as they can be used to clean large buildings in less than an hour, while professional cleaners usually take days or weeks to remove the same amount of grime.
  • Essential for commercial businesses: A pressure washer is an essential tool for any commercial business, including restaurants, car dealerships, hotels, churches, or schools.
  • Eco-Friendly Cleaning Solutions for Pressure Washers

  • Powdered household cleaner, phosphate-free laundry soap, and water: This mixture can be applied directly to dirt and grime or used in a pressure washer. For extra cleaning power, let the detergent sit on the surface for a few minutes before using the pressure washer.
  • Soft washing system: This method uses biodegradable chemicals and low pressure to clean exterior surfaces. The cleaning solutions used are bleach, surfactant, and water, and are all eco-friendly. Soft washing is ideal for cleaning fragile surfaces that higher water pressure would damage.
  • All-purpose cleaners and pressure washing solutions: Simple Green makes a variety of eco-friendly cleaners for decks, driveways, and house siding. Lowe’s also offers an environmentally friendly cleaner that removes dirt, grease, oil, mildew stains, and more from many surfaces.
  • Natural cleaners: Vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda are all-natural cleaners that can remove tough grime from outdoor bricks, cement, and glass. These options are safe for humans and the environment.
  • When choosing an eco-friendly cleaning solution for your pressure washer, make sure it is biodegradable, harmless for humans, and easy to use. These solutions not only achieve great results but also save time and money on labor.

    By using eco-friendly cleaning solutions, you can keep your outdoor surfaces clean without harming the environment.

    Improving Property Appearance with Pressure Washers

  • Preventing Damage and Ensuring Safety
  • Pressure washing can prevent damage to a property by removing germs and bacteria from surfaces, reducing the risk of infection. Regular cleaning can also protect a property and prolong its lifespan by preventing wear and tear over time.

    Additionally, pressure washing can keep family or employees safe and healthy by removing potential hazards like algae or moss on walkways and patios.

  • Time-Saving and Energy-Saving
  • Pressure washing is a time-saving and energy-saving method of cleaning outdoor surfaces. It is more efficient than trying to clean surfaces manually, and it can save time and effort. Pressure washing can be used on a variety of surfaces, including roofs, gutters, patios, pavement, and walls.

  • Proper Use of Pressure Washers
  • Please use a pressure washer correctly to avoid damaging surfaces. Preparation and restraint are critical for safely and effectively pressure washing a property’s exterior. It is also important to use a cleaning solution to boost the effectiveness of a pressure washer.

    Common mistakes to avoid when using pressure washers for outdoor cleaning

  • Using too much pressure: Starting on the lowest setting and slowly adjusting the pressure on the power washer can prevent damage to surfaces like vinyl siding, concrete, and wood. Also, make sure there’s sufficient distance between you and the surface you’re cleaning.
  • Using only water: Water alone may not be enough to remove tough stains and dirt. Use a cleaning solution that is appropriate for the surface you are cleaning.
  • Not protecting landscaping: Cover plants and flowers with plastic sheeting or tarps before using a pressure washer to avoid damage to plants and landscaping.
  • Power-washing painted surfaces: High-pressure water can strip paint from surfaces. Avoid power-washing painted surfaces, or use a lower pressure setting.
  • Power-washing mold-prone surfaces: Use a mold-killing solution before power-washing mold-prone surfaces to avoid spreading mold spores and making the problem worse.
  • Forgetting to angle the spray: Approach the surface to be cleaned at an angle to lift the dirt up off the surface so it can be washed away. Spraying directly at a dirty surface will only drive the dirt deeper into whatever you’re trying to clean.
  • Using the wrong nozzle: Use the appropriate nozzle for the surface you are cleaning to avoid damaging the surface or not getting the desired cleaning effect.
  • Not using enough water: Make sure you are using enough water to wash away the dirt and debris, particularly on horizontal surfaces like decks, to prevent dirt from settling back onto the surface when it dries.
  • Related Video

    What are some ways you can keep the outside of a house clean?

    Tip: Turn on the caption button if you need it. Choose ‘automatic translation’ in the settings button, if you are not familiar with the English language. You may need to click on the language of the video first before your favorite language becomes available for translation.

    Other References and Links:

    How To Use A Pressure Washer

    Troubleshooting: Pressure Washer

    Creative Uses For Your Pressure Washer You Haven’T Tried Yet

    Safety Tips To Remember When Using Your Pressure Washer

    Simple Steps To Maintaining Your Pressure Washer For Optimal Performance

    The Best Pressure Washer (For You!)

    Power Washing 101: Surfaces, Benefits, Cost & More

    Exterior Cleaning 101: Pressure Washers

    Revive Outdoor Surfaces: Surface Restoration 101

    Outdoor Maintenance: Pressure Washers 101

    Outdoor Dirt Removal 101: Surfaces, Methods, & Maintenance

    Mastering Outdoor Stain Removal

    Mold & Mildew Removal: Tips for Cleaning Outdoor Surfaces

    Deck Cleaning 101: Tips, Tools & Solutions

    Patio Cleaning 101: Tips, Tools & Safety

    Discover the Benefits of Driveway Cleaning

    Cleaner Sidewalks: Benefits, Methods & Safety

    Brick Cleaning 101: Tips, Tools & Methods

    Clean Concrete: Tips & Tricks

    Graffiti Removal 101: Tips, Costs & Legalities

    Rust Removal 101: Tips for Cleaning Outdoor Surfaces