How to Clean Your Car Safely with A Pressure Washer: Step-by-Step Guide

Last Updated: by Peter Lynn

Perhaps you love nothing more than caring for your car, spending hours every week washing and polishing your pride and joy. However, you might be one of the other kinds of people. The kind of people who love their car – in the sense that they love the way it gets them seamlessly and effortlessly wherever they need to go – but don’t love the car and maintenance aspects of car ownership. If the idea of washing your car is just too tedious and time-consuming to contemplate in your busy everyday life, you’re probably used to just driving through the car wash on your way home from work. But, all of those car washes add up, especially if you drive on dusty or muddy roads, or if you happen to have your designated parking spot under those trees where the birds sit!

If you’re sick of shelling out a huge proportion of your monthly budget on washing your car, but don’t want to put in the time and effort to do the job by hand, the good news is that there’s a great alternative. A pressure washer is a perfect solution, saving you time and effort while getting the job done to a high standard.


Here is some advice about how to get a professional appearance when using a pressure washer to clean your vehicle.

Choose The Right Pressure Washer


If you plan to wash your car with a pressure washer, you need to choose a machine that has the right GPM (water flow) and PSI (power). With a high PSI, the water will have more force, with a high GPM, the washer will release more water.  Cleaning Units are a combination of the water amount and the force, and to wash your car you’ll need about 1900 to 2800 cleaning units. A pressure washer that has a set of between 1200 and 1900 PSI and 1.4 to 1.6 GPM is safe for use on cars and won’t damage the paint. You can find out more about choosing a pressure washer here, but once you’ve made your investment, you need to know how best to use it.

Choose The Right Nozzle


There are many nozzle sizes but you need to select the right one to easily and evenly distribute water over your car.

Park Your Car In The Right Spot

You will need to park the car in a space that is open and away from other objects and cars. A street or large drive is best. If you’re using an electric model you’ll need to be close to a power outlet.

Rinsing Your Car

Before you apply any detergent to your car, rinse its exterior way to spray away all debris and mud on its surface. Start around 4 to 5 feet away from the vehicle and then move closer after you have tested the pressure.

Washing Your Car

You will need:

  • A pressure washer
  • A water outlet
  • Electric socket
  • A 25-degree tip

Before beginning, ensure all the car windows and doors are closed to avoid getting water inside the vehicle.

Plugin the pressure washer and attach it to the water outlet. Attach a 25-degree tip onto the nozzle of the washer. Turn the pressure washer on, spraying water evenly over the car’s entire surface. Ensure you rinse the wheels too as well as the car’s body. You might have to rinse its tires at a close distance to remove all ingrained grime and dirt from its hub caps. Spray the water in a downwards direction over the surface.

Put On Detergent


The majority of pressure washers have a special compartment in which to put cleaning detergent. Always use a detergent that has been specially designed for use in pressure washers. You will need to dilute the concentrated detergent before applying it to your vehicle. You will need a quart of detergent to one bucket of water. Pour the water and detergent into a bucket, following the manufacturer’s instructions as to ratio. Pour the diluted detergent into the pressure washer’s tank and change the machine’s setting to the detergent setting. If your machine has no tank, you can use a cloth to apply the cleaning detergent yourself. Start spraying the detergent at the top of the vehicle, working down its body. You can choose to wash the whole car at once or one side and then the other. Leave the detergent on your car for 5 minutes.

Rinsing Off The Detergent

Change to a 40-degree tip and rinse off the detergent, holding the pressure washer at a 45-degree angle, rinsing downwards from the top of your vehicle. Remember to change the output to water source from the detergent tank on the machine’s settings. After rinsing the car, you can then dry it with a cloth or towel if you like.

Once you have rinsed off your vehicle and dried it (according to your preference), you will see that your vehicle looks much better, and you will also have saved water – very important if your home is on a water meter. Not only that, but you will also have saved your precious time over carrying out the same task by hand. I

If you regularly wash your vehicle using a pressure washer, you will find that the task takes less time, since there will be less ingrained dirt to remove. It is certainly the easiest, speediest and most efficient way of boosting the visual appearance of your vehicle and it will also prolong the lifespan of your car’s paint job.

Remember, however, that it is very easy to damage your vehicle (or indeed anything else that is in the way of the water jet) when using a pressure washer, so make sure to follow these steps carefully each and every time you clean your car to avoid any problems and to make sure that your car (and your driveway) remains looking its best.


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