You’d Be Surprised What You Can Clean With a Pressure Washer
Get tips and tricks on how to power wash a variety of outdoor items.
Pressure Washing Tips 01:00
Freshen up concrete, fences and more with these power washing tips.
- pressure washer
- cleaning solution
- ear protection
- safety glasses
Sure, you can use a pressure washer for cleaning a deck or driveway, find out what else you can clean like kids’ toys, outdoor furniture, cushions and garbage cans.
Don't Forget to Add Soap
Most pressure washers have a reservoir and special nozzle for spraying soap or cleaning solutions. Depending on what you’re cleaning, there’s probably a special cleaning solution that can make the job a bit easier. Degreasers are great for driveways, and a multipurpose house wash will help remove grime from patio or siding. For an extra boost, scrub the suds into the surface and leave them on a few minutes before rinsing.
Start Slow With the Nozzles
Most pressure washers come with a variety of nozzles, usually ranging from 0 to 40 degrees (the angle of the spray stream). The lower the degree, the more powerful and narrow the stream. You may want to start with the highest degree; if it is not cleaning the surface then move to a lower degree. Ease into it — you don’t want to gouge or damage the surface you’re trying to preserve.
Double-Check Nozzle Size
Most pressure washers will come with a variety of nozzles, but different manufacturers mark their tips differently, so don't rely on the color alone. Always check the stamping directly on the tip.
Most composite wood, mesh, plastic and wood patio furniture can be pressure-washed. Place the furniture on a level surface away from any windows. Spot-clean tough stains with a soap and brush or rag. Using a 40-degree tip, clean the furniture working top to bottom. For painted surfaces (not painted by the manufacturer), start in an inconspicuous spot in case the water pressure starts to remove the paint.
Heavy-duty outdoor fabrics can be pressure-washed too. Simply set them on a stable surface and wash side to side, keeping a distance of at least 16 inches. Lay them in the sun to dry or pop them in the dryer.
For heavy stains — like oil on a driveway — pretreat the surface with a degreaser. Then, using the soap tip on the pressure washer, spray the entire area with detergent and be sure to rinse before it dries. A 15- to 25-degree angle tip will provide enough power to rinse away dirt without damaging the surface. Spray the entire surface working left to right keeping the tip about 12 inches away from the surface. Spray in a consistent sweeping motion to prevent streaks.
For wood surfaces such as a fence, begin using a 15- to 25-degree tip. Start at the top and move vertically to prevent streaks. Overlap each pass for a consistent cleaning and keep a distance of 12 to 16 inches. If the fence is heavily soiled, use a detergent before pressure-washing.
Bikes and Outdoor Toys
For bicycles start with a low-setting tip such as 40 degrees, especially around the tires and the seat. If the metal parts are still dirty, work your way up to a lower-degree tip.
If your trash cans are dirty on the outside and smelly on the inside, give them an all-over washing. Pour detergent and water inside the can and let it sit for a while to disinfect and help remove the smell. Then start with a 40-gauge nozzle to avoid gouging the surface.
Wagons, slides and playsets can also be pressure-washed. Start with a 40-degree nozzle because these surfaces may gouge easily. If using soap with the pressure washer, be sure to use something non-toxic on these kid-centric surfaces.
Always Play It Safe
While pressure-washing may seem no different than cleaning with a regular hose, some key safety concerns need to be kept in mind. Because the water is at such high pressure, it not only poses a direct contact harm but it also will send dislodged materials at high speed that can cause an eye-safety issue. Consider not only safety glasses but also water-resistant clothing and closed-toe shoes. Also, never point the spray nozzle toward someone to prevent an accidental discharge.