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    How to Maintain a Pressure Washer

    Authored by Jemma Petts

    Pressure washers need proper maintenance to keep up with all that heavy-duty cleaning. Electric pressure washers will tend to need less maintenance than gasoline-powered washers. Both will need TLC during the cleaning season and before storage.

    These handy tools use a pump to pressurize the water from your hose, forcing it through a spray wand to get deep cleaning done. The higher the pressure, the tougher jobs a pressure washer can manage. You can shop for washers by looking for gasoline-powered or electric washers and/or by PSI (pound by square inch). If you’re using a pressure washer for around the house clean up, most 1,300-2,400 PSI washers can tackle the job.

    Before using your pressure washer

    Make sure to inspect your pressure washer before starting any cleaning project. Check for any issues that may cause malfunction with a visual inspection. Look at your fluid levels and confirm they are in the right spot. Give the hose and sprayer attention and make sure your debris screen is clear. Once you’ve spent some time checking over your pressure washer, move to the garden hose and double check for any issues that could occur.

    If everything is looking safe,  it's time to fill your detergent and get cleaning. Heavier-duty washers will come with various nozzles for different jobs. You can find the right uses in your owner’s manual and these are normally color coded for ease of locating. Choose your correct nozzle and insert in the spray wand as directed by your owner manual.

    Nozzle types and uses


    Best for getting maximum blast for deep stains, red and yellow nozzle tips in 0- and 15-degree sprays


    General cleaning, these are white or green colored nozzle tips and come in 25- and 35-degree sprays


    Used with detergents, color coded nozzle is black

    How much water do I need?

    Check that your garden hose is at least 50ft long and that water supply can deliver sufficient gallons per minute. You can check your supply by timing how long your hose takes to fill a 5-gallon bucket. If your timing is 2 minutes or less, you should be all set. 

    How to use a pressure washer

    Pressure washers can help finish big cleaning jobs with dramatic results. Most people find them intimidating on their first use, so don’t be alarmed if you are feeling this way! These are powerful gadgets that will soon become a favorite around the home.

    Before getting your pressure washer set up, prep and clear the area to be cleaned. Remove potted plants and patio furniture. Do a sweep to remove any debris, like rocks.

    To get started using your washer, double check that your hose connections are secure. Set your spray wand to a low setting so you don’t receive kick back when the washer is turned on. Turn your water supply fully on and prime your spray wand, allowing any excess air to be removed.

    Once your pressure washer is up and running, adjust your pressure settings and test out your spray.

    Tips for pressure cleaning

    Though pressure washers are handy, they can cause damage to surfaces, like stripping paint or denting siding. Keep these tips in mind:

    • Test a small surface to make sure the spray setting, and spray pattern, are safe for whatever area you are working on
    • Hold the spray wand at a 45-degree angle to avoid driving dirt into the surface
    • Don’t use a pressure washer on windows
    • Avoid using pressure washers while on a ladder, you can lose balance from the high recoil
    • Don’t point the spray wand at people or pets, and keep your hands clear of the pressured spray

    After using your pressure washer

    Keep everything in working order for the next round by giving your washer a bit of after care. Relieve any pressure, drain excess water and clean out any detergent from the system. You can easily do this by running water on low pressure for a couple of minutes, letting what is left work its way through the siphoning tube.

    Long-term storage for your power washer

    Always check your owner’s manual for maintenance schedules, safety guidelines and tips on keeping your pressure washer running its best.  Pay close attention to any leftover fuel and make sure not to store without adding fuel stabilizer, if you plan to store from one season to the next.  Clean out any debris in nozzles and hoses and keep cords tidy for storage. If possible, keep your pressure washer stored in an indoor space for the winter season. Your owner’s manual will give you a full list to prep for long-term storage.

    Gasoline-powered washers tend to require a bit more maintenance than electric. Keep this in mind when shopping and purchase accordingly. Follow the care guides to keep your new pressure washer in top shape for years to come.