DIY Network

Using a Power Washer

This DIY Basic will provide tips on using a power washer.

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Watch an Overview Video

Choose a Power Washer

Choose power washer based on how often you use it and what projects you use it for.

Tip: Power washers are rated by psi or pounds per square inch and gpm or gallons per minute; psi tells how powerful spray is; gpm tells how fast it rinses.

Around the house, you shouldn't need more than 3000 psi. Look for washer that's easy to handle.

Gather Your Materials and Tools

Materials and Tools:

power washer with various tips
wire brush

Follow Safety Tips

  • Clear project area of people and pets.

  • Never direct nozzle at self, other persons or pets.

  • Always wear safety glasses and protective clothing, including closed toe shoes.

  • Always turn on water supply before turning on washer.

  • Know how to stop washer and bleed power quickly.

  • Never put hand or fingers over spray tip while unit is in operation.

  • Keep hose away from sharp objects; do not attempt to mend damaged hose.

Clean a Garbage Can

Apply antibacterial degreaser inside and out, then rinse with clear water from hose.

Install a 40-degree spray tip.

Brace can against something solid.

Spray until all detergent is gone, and then rinse off all surfaces. Stand off to one side when rinsing inside.

Dry can upside-down.

Clean a Grill

Disconnect propane tank and move away from grill. Disconnect electrical lines. Prop up hood and remove grates. Treat grill with degreasing solution.

Work from bottom up to grill bed. Let degreaser work for a few minutes. Be careful around grill elements.

Using general spray pattern slowly flush detergent from grill top to bottom.

Let dry and coat with non-stick oil. Reattach power.

Clean a Lawn Mower

Disconnect spark plug lead.

Start on under side of mower deck, lean back and prop up. Remove blade.

Treat with multipurpose detergent, cleaning bottom of mower deck and deck top to bottom. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes.

Spray with general high pressure spray pattern. Keep spray nozzle 6 inches away from tires.

Set mower upright. Apply pressure washer safe, heavy duty degreaser to engine. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes. Spray with general, high-pressure spray pattern. Start spraying at distance and move closer to increase cleaning power. Continue cleaning rest of mower.

Allow to dry, then attach spark plug lead and attach blade.

Strip Paint

To strip paint, you need at least 2500 psi.

Landscaping fabric collects paint chips while letting water through; lay down 10 feet of fabric for 15 feet of height. Have paint chip tested for lead; if you have lead paint, stop and get EPA certified contractor for removal.

To keep from damaging wood or understructure, start washer using the fan nozzle tip.

Test spray on inconspicuous spot. Use plain water at 45-degree angle to force spray under paint.

Direct spray downward to knock chips into fabric. Scrape surface with wire brush to loosen remaining paint. All paint doesn't have to be removed.

With sandpaper, smooth edges of remaining paint into bare areas. Roll up chips in fabric and dispose. Use wet-dry vac to clean up remaining chips.

Let dry for 48 hours before painting.

Tip: You can even use your power washer to rake leaves.