A Beginner’s Guide to Pressure Washers

Need to clean a large area quickly? Got a coarse surface in need of cleaning? House pristine on the inside, but nasty on the outside? A pressure washer can solve all these problems and more.

Pressure washers turn ordinary garden hoses into unstoppable cleaning machines. They put deep cleaning power into the hands of an ordinary DIYer. Today we’ll talk about how to use pressure washers, what to use them for, and everything you need to know for your next cleaning project.

Getting One

Pressure washers are very easy to rent. Any Triangle-area Home Depot store can rent them out for under $100 a day; your local hardware store may also have them available.

If you own a larger property or have a serious penchant for cleanliness, you can consider buying a pressure washer. The primary consideration is where you’re going to use it; electric models require a nearby power source, ideal for a deck or driveway. Gas powered models are usually more expensive, but free you from the confines of a nearby outlet.

Price is generally proportional to the max pressure of the water. Lower end models start around $100, and are ideal for low-intensity jobs like cleaning patio furniture. If you can swing a few hundred, you start getting serious power; most of these models are gas powered, and so require a higher buy-in and more maintenance.

Uses

The most obvious use for a pressure washer is cleaning the outside of your home. The high pressure water jets cut through grime, mold, and other gross buildup on your vinyl siding, fences, patio, and driveway. Aside from just looking nice, cleaning these areas prevents premature wear.

It doesn’t stop at your house! Pressure washers are also ideal for cleaning your car’s undercarriage, especially useful for salt buildup after the winter. They also keep your boat clean in between trips to the lake.

Precautions

Taking a pressurized jet of water to the skin is obviously not a good idea. Always wear safety goggles and closed-toe shoes, and be careful to stay out of the spray’s path.

You should also be careful what pressure setting you choose. Extremely high pressure can strip paint and protective coatings, particularly important if you’re using the machine on a car.