How to Pressure Wash a House (5 Easy Steps) - Oh So Spotless (2023)

You may spend time every day cleaning the inside of the house: doing dishes, catching up with laundry, dusting the surfaces. But what about the outside of your house?

Houses can get really dirty, whether that’s from weather elements, mud, or your kids playing with chalk or water balloons.

The best way to clean the outside of your house is to use a pressure washer. This gets the job done quickly and effectively. We’ll show you how to pressure wash a house so you’re clued up and prepared.

Table of Contents

  • Is Power Washing Bad for Your House?
  • What You Need to Pressure Wash a House
  • What to Do Before You Start Pressure Washing Your House
  • How to Pressure Wash a House
  • FAQs
  • Hygienic House

Is Power Washing Bad for Your House?

Before you dig out your pressure washer, we do need to warn you about some potential damages. If you don’t pressure wash properly and safely, you could risk damaging your house.

Firstly, if the pressure washer is too strong and has a very high PSI (exceeding 1500), then you could risk breaking or cracking the siding of your home.

Another big risk is water damage. Some homes, especially those made from wood or brick, can easily let water into the walls. This will cause rot and moisture build-up if the water doesn’t evaporate quick enough.

Lastly, since you’re shooting the water upwards, you could also risk allowing moisture into your attic.

If you’re unsure, then a garden hose and some soap is an effective way to clean your house, even if it takes a bit longer.

However, following the proper precautions and steps means that pressure washing is still a great idea!

What You Need to Pressure Wash a House

So you want to pressure wash your home. Let’s gather the right materials first. That includes:

(Video) Basic Pressure Washing tips for beginners

  • Pressure washer detergent: You need detergent for cleaning your house as this will make it easier and quicker to clean. Also make sure to buy a detergent specifically for your house’s siding whether that’s vinyl, cement, stucco, or something else. We also recommend choosing an eco-friendly formula so you don’t damage grass, wildlife, and flowers nearby.
  • Pressure Washer: Of course, you need a pressure washer, but not just any old pressure washer. We recommend choosing one with 2.3 GPM, which means that the pressure washer will be quite strong — roughly around 2,600 PSI. If that’s the case, you will need to stand quite far back when pressure washing to avoid damaging the house’s siding. If in doubt, choose one with a lower PSI, between 1200 and 1600, for softer siding such as wood or aluminum. Vinyl, and other strong surfaces, can handle higher PSI. You also must make sure it has a soap tank so that you have somewhere to put the detergent.
  • Attachments: We recommend getting a brush attachment as this makes it easier to clean houses, especially with removing build-up and grime. You may also want an extension wand so that you have more flexibility.
  • The Right Nozzle: When washing a house, you should use the 25 or 40-degree nozzle tip which gives you a wider stream of water. This can cover more of the house siding at once and prevent damage.
  • Protective Clothing: We recommend wearing protective eye equivalent and thick sturdy clothing, rather than light loose clothing.
  • Plastic Sheeting: You may want to use plastic sheeting to cover air vents to avoid water damage. You should also cover any nearby furniture, shrubs, and flowers to protect those as well.

What to Do Before You Start Pressure Washing Your House

Here are some things you should do before you start pressure washing:

  • Put on your protective clothing.
  • Remove or cover furniture. Also cover plants, shrubs, and flowers.
  • Cover air vents.
  • Avoid ladders. They’re not necessary and if you use them, you are risking your life as the side of your house will be slippery and you should not be using power tools while on a ladder.
  • Check that the extension hose you’re using isn’t long enough to contact any power lines.
  • Clear the area around you. Remove necessary furniture, other power tools, bikes, and more. You should also ensure that no kids or pets are nearby.
  • Check if your house is painted with lead paint. If so, you should contact a professional to get rid of it before you start pressure washing.
  • If you think or know your house has asbestos, contact a professional to test this. If you have asbestos, you may risk disturbing it with your pressure washer which can be a safety hazard.
  • Turn off all electrical outdoor outlets and appliances. If you accidentally spray them, you could damage your home’s electricity system or cause a spark.

How to Pressure Wash a House

Now that you’re prepared, it’s time to get into the steps. Before you start, avoid doing this on a super sunny day as direct sunlight can dry the cleaning solution, making it very hard to rinse off.

1. Scrub and Rinse

If you have a long-handled brush, you should start with brushing the house’s siding to remove surface-level debris.

Then rinse the house’s siding with a regular garden house working from the top down. If you don’t have a garden hose, use a wide spray angle and low pressure with your pressure washer, standing far back.

Let the siding dry before moving onto the next step.

Top Tip

You may want to do this step one day, and follow up with the rest of the steps the following day.

2. Fill Up the Pressure Washer

Add your detergent to your pressure washer, following the manufacturer’s advice on ratios.

One More Thing

Test in an inconspicuous spot before you get started to ensure your chosen settings are safe for your home.

3. Spray

You can now start spraying the siding. Work from the bottom up to avoid soap running over dry spots.

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Move in horizontal sweeps along the house, gradually moving upwards but keeping a downward angle where possible while you are spraying. This will become impossible as you move higher up the siding.

Once you have applied the detergent, let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing it off. This allows it to really tackle any mold, mildew, or dirt buildup.

4. Rinse

After the detergent has sat for at least 10 minutes on all areas of the house, you can now rinse it off. You should use plain water in your pressure washer to do this.

Instead of going bottom up, this time you’ll be working from the top down to properly rinse away all the soap. This also prevents dirty water from running over clean areas of the siding.

You may want to step a bit closer or use a higher pressure setting for this bit to ensure that all the detergent is rinsed away.

If you notice any kind of damage occurring, back up and use a wider spray nozzle.

5. Let It Dry

Let the siding dry completely before you do anything else to the side of your house, such as painting. This may take up to 48 hours, but we recommend waiting around a week if you’re going to paint.

Did You Know?

Dust and insects can quickly make their way back so you may want to rinse your house more frequently with a garden hose. But you should only need to pressure wash once every couple of years.

FAQs

How to Pressure Wash a House (5 Easy Steps) - Oh So Spotless (1)

How Often Can You Pressure Wash Your House?

Every two years is pretty standard. You could also check with the manufacturer of the siding, if possible, to see what the verdict is.

However, some people may need to pressure wash their house more often. If you live near a busy or dirt road, you may need to pressure wash the siding every few months. If you live near trees, you may experience sap build-up.

Storms and high winds can create more dirt and debris, increasing the frequency of how often you should clean your house.

Bottom line is: you don’t need to wash it that often, but if it’s dirty, you could increase the frequency.

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How to Pressure Wash a House (5 Easy Steps) - Oh So Spotless (2)

How Long Does it Take to Pressure Wash a House?

It depends on the size of the house, but just to pressure wash should take between 30 minutes and two hours. Of course, you then need to let it dry which can take up to 48 hours.

How to Pressure Wash a House (5 Easy Steps) - Oh So Spotless (3)

What Is the Average Cost of Pressure Washing a House?

It depends if you already own a pressure washer, are renting one, or hiring a professional.

If you already own a pressure washer, then all you need to buy is the detergent, plastic sheeting, and protective equipment.

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The average cost of renting a pressure washer for one day is around $40-100 per day, depending on what kind of pressure washer you go for (1).

Hiring a pro to do it could cost between $200 and $300 per day (2).

If you know you’ll get a lot of use out of a pressure washer, it’s best to buy your own. You can find them on the market in a range of prices, so hopefully, you can get one that suits your budget.

Hygienic House

Now that you know how to pressure wash a house, you can make sure that your outside is immaculate as your inside.

Whether you’re just wanting to spruce up your house, or you’re hosting a party, or you’re preparing to sell the house, it’s a good idea to pressure wash a house. It’s quicker and more efficient than using a garden hose.

Follow our five-step process for amazing results that are safe on your house, you, and the environment.

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FAQs

What solution do you use to power wash a house? ›

There are a number of commercial exterior house washing solutions available, or you can make your own solution. To keep it truly simple, just squirt dish soap into a bucket of warm water and mix thoroughly. For vinyl siding or painted homes, you can add vinegar for extra cleaning power.

Do you use soap to pressure wash house? ›

Your hands or your home may look clean, but germs and bacteria will remain. You don't wash your hands without soap, don't pressure wash your home without it either! Using Soap Means Less Pressure and Less Damage To Your Home. Low pressure washing reduces the chances of damaging your home's exterior.

How do you pressure wash a beginner? ›

For the best cleaning results, first, loosen the dirt with plain water under high pressure using a medium spray pattern. Next, apply the detergent using a wide nozzle setting and let the detergent sit a few minutes to penetrate the dirt. Keep the surface wet to avoid possible discoloration or damage by the detergent.

What PSI should I use on my house? ›

The pressure level can vary, but 60 PSI (pounds per square inch) is recommended for most residential homes. Water pressure should not be higher than 80 PSI. Anything higher can cause major appliances, including water heaters and toilets, to stop working properly because of the stress on plumbing and other parts.

Do you start at the top or bottom when power washing a house? ›

Clean From the Bottom Up

Working from the top down can cause water and suds to run down the side of the house, making it more likely you'll miss a section. Spray in a horizontal, side-to-side motion. When spraying roof overhangs and gutters, always maintain a 45-degree angle.

Can I use Dawn dish soap in a power washer? ›

You can use Dawn dish soap in your pressure washer, but you need to dilute it properly with hot water. Take 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap and dilute it in 1-1.5 quarts of hot water. However, the results of cleaning with Dawn dish soap might not be as effective as some special pressure washer detergents.

What should you put down before pressure washing? ›

Apply a degreaser or concrete cleaner before power washing. Start at the highest point and work your way down. Keep the nozzle about 12" from the surface, getting too close could cause damage.

Can I use vinegar in my pressure washer? ›

Using vinegar and your surface cleaner pressure washer can help keep your outdoor space looking great. Vinegar is a safe option to use in your pressure washer because it is an alternative to harsh chemicals, and it's natural disinfectant, deodorizer, cleaner and mold killer properties make it perfect for the job.

Do you pressure wash with hot or cold water? ›

Cold water is recommended for high volume low pressure applications to knock away caked on mud and debris or when stripping away paint. For all other applications Hot water will allow for faster cleaning and reduce the amount of detergent required. Hot water is especially recommended when cleaning grease and oil.

What should you not do with a pressure washer? ›

DON'T:
  • Don't underestimate the power of your pressure washer! ...
  • Don't point the nozzle at people or animals.
  • Don't bring the nozzle closer than 1-2 feet from the item being cleaned.
  • Don't use one nozzle tip for every job. ...
  • Don't use hot water. ...
  • Don't use harsh chemicals, or else your landscaping may get damaged.
12 Jan 2017

Can I pressure wash with just water? ›

Pre-washing with the right detergent helps to begin breaking down the algae, rust, dirt, or oil stain before pressure is even applied. Pressure washing without detergent is like showering without soap. Sure, water and scrubbing will get the job done, but it's not the same without soap!

How long does it take to power wash a house? ›

How Long Does It Take to Power Wash a House? It depends on whether you do it yourself or hire a professional. A power washing service company can get your house looking spotless and brand new in 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Is 1800 PSI enough to clean a house? ›

Generally if you stay around the 1500 PSI to 1800 PSI range, and use the wide stream nozzle, you have less chance of damaging anything you are cleaning. Fortunately, you don't always need a power washer to clean most things around your home's exterior.

Is 2000 PSI enough to pressure wash a house? ›

Medium Duty 2000-2800 PSI

You can use a medium-duty pressure washer for almost any surface. They're great for cleaning concrete, brick, and wood. They work especially well for cleaning patios, sidings, roofs, decks, and fences.

What is the best time of year to power wash house? ›

Optimal Season For Power Washing

A good rule of thumb is to pressure wash your house between the months of March and November. This is the ideal window of time to make sure your home is clean and protected before harsh winter weather and freezing temperatures set in.

What is the correct order of washing up? ›

Prep - scrape off food. Fill - get some clean, hot, soapy water. Wash - scrub them, under the water. Rinse - wash off all suds and residue.

When should you not pressure wash your house? ›

When water is shot at pressures too high, it can get into your walls and your house. Your house is built to withstand rain and other moisture, and it can even withstand a low PSI with a pressure washer, but when pressure washers are used at full capacity, you may end up with soggy carpet, wet attics, and mold.

What chemicals do professional pressure washers use? ›

Sodium Hypochlorite 12.5% (Bleach, Chlorine)

Sodium Hypochlorite, commonly known as bleach, is the most common and extensively used chemical used by commercial pressure washers.

What can I put in my pressure washer to clean windows? ›

You can find pressure washer-approved soap/detergent at your local home center or online that is safe to use on windows and siding. Using the black low-pressure nozzle, apply the soap to the windows. It is recommended to only soap a few windows at a time. By doing this, you can wash the soap off before it dries.

Can I use Pine Sol in my pressure washer? ›

Pine-Sol is a popular choice for use in a pressure washer. Mix about ¼ cup of Pine-Sol in a gallon of water for proper dilution. Same as when using other detergents in the pressure washer, it's good to rinse off the cleaned surface with regular water after the cleaning.

Can you mix vinegar and Dawn power wash? ›

To make the solution is simple and easy on the wallet! Pour equal parts of vinegar and Dawn into a spray bottle. Gently shake, then spray liberally onto the surface to be cleaned. I have found the best results is when I use it to clean chrome shower and sink fixtures.

How do you make your own house wash mixture? ›

Mix one part bleach with three parts lukewarm water in a large bucket or directly in a pump sprayer if you have one. If using a pump sprayer, spray the solution on one small area at a time, let it sit for 15 minutes and then rinse it off with a garden hose.

Can you put baking soda in a power washer? ›

Baking Soda Solution

To use baking soda with your pressure washer, you should use one part baking soda to eight parts water. It's generally best to use the hot water setting with the pressure washer as it can clean deeper and more effectively than with cold water.

What is the fastest way to pressure wash a house? ›

Spray in The Correct Motion

If you're pressure washing a wall or siding, move the wand in short, downward motions, starting at the top. This will prevent dirty water from splattering upwards and ruining your hard work. Also, make sure not to direct the spray of the water on a single spot for too long.

How do you power wash like a pro? ›

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 nozzle will provide enough power to rinse away dirt without damaging the surface.

How much should I charge per hour to pressure wash? ›

Pressure washing typically costs between $60 to $100 an hour, according to Fixr.com. For example, a 1,200 square foot home takes about six hours to pressure wash and costs between $360 to $600.

Why Is cold water better wash? ›

Cold-water washing means clothing is less likely to shrink or fade and ruin clothes. Cold water can also reduce wrinkles, which saves energy costs (and time) associated with ironing.

Why is it a good idea to wash up in hot water rather than cold? ›

With an increased amount of solvents, hot water can dissolve more material than cold water. This is why hot water is the first choice for cleaning hard-to-wash stains such as dirt, grease, and oil. Besides that, hot water transfers heat when it comes in contact with anything.

What is the difference between power washing and pressure washing? ›

The main difference is that power washing uses highly pressurized steam to do the cleaning while pressure washing just uses unheated tap water, without the help of a heating element.

How long should I wait after pressure washing? ›

After pressure washing your house, you have to wait for it to fully dry before you can paint it. This waiting time can be anywhere from 24 hours to 3 days. Pressure washing isn't for beginners. If you're not experienced, the high water pressure can easily damage portions of your house's exterior.

Does power washing damage vinyl siding? ›

A pressure washer can quickly ruin vinyl siding by cracking it with the high-pressure stream of water, so it's necessary to know which pressure-level and nozzle to use. Starting low and gently working your way up is the safest bet. Never start off on the highest pressure setting.

What is the best cleaner to use in a pressure washer? ›

It's best to use a cleaner that's safe for multiple surfaces without diminishing performance. Simple Green Oxy Solve Total Outdoor Cleaner lifts dirt and stains from mold, mildew, moss, and algae from outdoor surfaces such as wood, plastic, concrete, and more.

What is the best exterior house cleaner? ›

7 Best Plant-Safe Exterior House Cleaners
  • Wash Safe Supreme.
  • Rejuvenate Dual System Outdoor Siding Cleaner.
  • Scotts Outdoor Cleaner Multi-Purpose Formula.
  • Wet and Forget Moss, Mold, Mildew, and Algae.
  • Simple Green Pressure Washer House Siding Cleaner.
  • Krud Kutter Mold & Mildew.
  • Distilled White Vinegar.
10 Jun 2021

What kind of solution do you put in a power washer? ›

Let's make one thing clear right away though – only use pressure washer certified detergent with your equipment. These detergents are specifically made to work with pressure washers and get you the most effective, efficient cleaning solution possible.

Can you use bleach to pressure wash a house? ›

Never Use Bleach with Pressure Washers

But, when you see mold or mildew growing on your siding or walkway, don't even consider running bleach through your power washer. Bleach will corrode your pump's seals and essentially render the pressure washer useless.

What Cannot pressure wash? ›

Never pressure wash humans, pets, or plants. The force of water coming from a pressure washer can cause physical harm — even penetrate skin—and will most certainly destroy your plants. When you pressure wash appropriate surfaces, always wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from debris.

What can you not clean with a pressure washer? ›

Nine things that you should never pressure wash include these surfaces:
  • Asphalt Shingles. You should not pressure wash asphalt shingles on your roof as it will remove the granules that protect your roof. ...
  • Stained Wood. ...
  • Lead Paint. ...
  • Old Mortar. ...
  • Vehicle. ...
  • Windows. ...
  • Gutters. ...
  • AC Units.

Can you use vinegar to pressure wash a house? ›

Using vinegar with your pressure washer can be a great way to clean and treat the surfaces that you are cleaning. Vinegar is a safe option for treating your home, car, and other hard surfaces because it is natural, non-toxic and will not harm the environment.

What is a good house wash mix? ›

A typical house wash can be done using 1 or 2, 5 gallon, buckets of mix. Start with a mix ratio of 1:1. This means for every gallon of bleach you use, add 1 gallon of water.

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