How to use a pressure washer

Pressure washers can be a bit intimidating - but with a few instructions, it's easy to clean your decking with a pressure washer. Read on for more!

Updated 24 June 2019

gloves and goggles as equipment for using a pressure washer

Key Steps:

  1. It’s a good idea to wear goggles when using a pressure washer to prevent debris from flicking up into your eyes.
  2. Do not allow a child to operate a pressure washer, as even though your child may think it looks like a fun toy, they’re actually powerful machines that can cause harm to your skin if not handled correctly.
  3. Not all pressure washers will work in the same way, so always follow the guidelines set out in the manufacturer’s manual for your machine.

Everybody likes a clean, fresh-looking garden – especially when the weather gets warmer, and we start to dream about warm, cozy nights sat on the deck with a glass of wine after the kids go to bed. Unfortunately, there are just some parts of the garden that seem to be immune to traditional cleaning methods – most notably paving and decking, which can accumulate all manner of moss and dirt build-up over the winter months. Pressure washers are the ideal solution, but using a pressure washer can be intimidating if you don’t know how! However, a pressure washer can be an invaluable tool, especially when cleaning exterior surfaces.

If you’re looking forward to mouthwatering barbecues, al fresco lunches, and sitting under the stars this year, then here’s all you need to know about using a pressure washer.

To avoid streaks on your newly washed paving, or decking, start washing from the bottom and work up using long, overlapping strokes. Rinse using the same technique to achieve an even finish.

How to Clean Decking with a Pressure Washer

When it comes to pressure washers, it all comes down to technique. Technique can mean the difference between a deck that sparkles like new, and one covered in debris that’s literally been blown to pieces. A pressure washer is a powerful piece of equipment, which is why it’s so good at its job – but this also means it can cause damage to your garden if used incorrectly. By following these simple tips, you can ensure your deck not only ends up looking amazing, but also remains intact.

  • First, make sure to read and follow the directions and safety guidelines for your particular pressure washer.
  • Before you start, move any plant pots, furniture, or other items from the deck, and from nearby areas. If they get hit with a direct stream, they will break. Never underestimate the power of a pressure washer – that’s the first rule.
  • Hold your hose in the correct position before turning the water on to avoid any nasty surprises. At first, your hose should be about 2 feet from the decking. You’ll be able to adjust this in areas that need more, or less, cleaning. Never get closer than 12 inches from the ground, or your cleaning might be a bit too boisterous for your decking.
  • Always aim the hose of your pressure washer away from you. Ideally, you should try to aim at a 45-degree angle. This will give you a good, strong flow of water, while pushing the dirt and grime away from your feet. You may find it easier to direct all dirt into one area, which makes for a quicker clean up afterwards.
  • If you find some areas of your decking are particularly stubborn, don’t be afraid to use a bit of detergent. Be sure to follow the directions on the label, and test any product on a small, inconspicuous area first. Be sure not to use anything that contains a bleaching agent, as you could end up with whitened decking. Allow the detergent to soak in and soften any debris before using the hose to rinse it off.

For more information on the process of cleaning your decking from start to finish, take a read of our guide!

How to Use a Pressure Washer Safely

Pressure washers are fun to use, but don’t get too overexcited – they can also be dangerous if not used correctly. Here are some tips to make sure you don’t get hurt when using a pressure washer:

  • Even if it’s a nice, hot, sunny day, always wear shoes when using a pressure washer. If the vigorous spray hits your feet, you’ll have one mighty bruise afterwards.
  • When we suggest wearing shoes, we mean sensible shoes – no high heels, no flip-flops, and no slippers. Rubber-soled shoes such as wellington boots are ideal because they reduce the risk of your slipping on the wet wood.

There’s no need to be afraid of a pressure washer – if used correctly, they’re ideal for cleaning stubborn stains on paving slabs and decking in the garden. They’re not a new concept, they’re quite affordable to buy or rent, and can really transform your garden from dull to dazzling.

Originally published 19 July 2018