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How to Use a Pressure Washer

Pressure washers are great for cleaning outside! Learn how to use a power washer with this helpful guide, including essential advice on safety & technique.


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how to use a pressure washer

Power washing your house is an excellent way to thoroughly clean exterior areas! Learn how to use a pressure washer with this helpful guide, including essential advice on safety & technique.

Everybody wants a clean, fresh-looking garden. 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 time. Power cleaning is the ideal solution, but if you don’t know how to use a pressure washer, the task can seem rather intimidating!

If you’d like to know how to use a power washer, then these handy tips are for you!

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

Power Washing Tips: How to Clean Decking

When it comes to pressure cleaning, it all comes down to technique. Technique can mean the difference between a deck that sparkles like new, and one covered in debris. 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 you read and follow the directions and safety guidelines for your machine.

  • Before you start using a pressure washer, move any plant pots, furniture, or other items from the deck, and from nearby areas. If they get hit with a direct stream, they may 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.

  • When pressure cleaning, always aim the hose of your 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.

  • Can you use dish soap in a pressure washer, you may well be wondering? Well, if you find some areas of your decking are particularly stubborn, a bit of detergent may help get rid of the grime. 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.

  • How long can you run a pressure washer? Your owner’s manual is bound to contain this information, which can vary from model to model. However, as a general rule, never run the washer for longer than three minutes while the trigger is off. This will help you avoid pump damage.

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How to Use a Power Washer Safely

Here are some tips to make sure you don’t get hurt when pressure cleaning:

  • Even if it’s a hot and dry 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 flip-flops, and no slippers. Rubber-soled shoes are ideal because they reduce the risk of your slipping on the wet wood.

  • Can you start a pressure washer without water? It’s safer not to, as you could damage it, however not all pressure washers work in the same way. Be sure to always follow the guidelines set out in the manufacturer’s manual.

There’s no need to be afraid of learning how to use a power 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!    

  • Wear goggles when power washing your house. This prevents debris from flicking up into your eyes.

  • Do not allow a child to operate a pressure washer – even though your child may think it looks like a fun toy, it’s actually a powerful machine that can cause harm if not handled correctly.

  • Read and follow the directions for your machine.

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Originally published