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How to Pressure Wash Your House

A man pressure washes his house

Pressure washing is an effective method for cleaning and maintaining the exterior of your house. Over time, dirt, grime, mold, and mildew can accumulate on the surfaces of your home, detracting from its curb appeal and potentially causing damage. With the use of a pressure washer, you can easily remove these unwanted substances, leaving your house looking fresh and clean.

LifeSavvy spoke with David Flax, President of Window Genie, a Neighborly brand, to get the best tips and tricks for pressure washing your home.

Why Pressure Wash Your House?

Pressure washing vinyl siding

There are many benefits to a thorough wash of the outside of your home. Over time, dirt, grime, and even mold can build up on the outside of your home without anyone noticing. Pressure washing regularly can prevent this from happening. Plus, it will boost your home’s curb appeal, so it’s great to do if you’re thinking about selling.

“Pressure washing is an excellent way of maintaining or restoring the exterior look of the home,” said Flax. “Pressure washing increases the lifespan of your exterior painting, potentially saving you thousands of dollars on unnecessary wood rot repair and re-painting.”

CRAFTSMAN Electric Pressure Washer

The onboard nozzle, pressure washer hose, cord, and wand storage keep accessories organized.

Before You Begin

A yellow pressure washer
Mariana Serdynska/Shutterstock.com

Before you begin the pressure washing process, there are a few important things to think about. Consider the following before grabbing the hose.

Choosing the Right Pressure Washer and Nozzle

When it comes to pressure washing your house, choosing the right pressure washer is crucial for achieving optimal results. There are two main types of pressure washers available: gas and electric. According to Flax, most pressure washers available to rent are electric. These are a little less powerful than gas washers and safer for the average person to use.

You’ll also need to select the right nozzle for your cleaning job. Different nozzles have different spray patterns and pressures.

“Start off with a wider spray pattern and lower pressure for general cleaning,” said Flax. “Test on a small area first to ensure the pressure and spray pattern won’t cause any damage to your home.”

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This washer delivers 1800 PSI of TruPressure, ensuring you get the highest level of cleaning power and driven by a reliable universal motor.

Safety Tips

When pressure washing your house, it’s crucial to prioritize safety. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Read the manual: According to Flax, one of the most important things to do is thoroughly read the user manual before operating a pressure washer.
  • Wear the right safety gear: Always protect yourself by wearing safety goggles to shield your eyes from debris and chemicals. Use gloves to safeguard your hands and wear appropriate clothing that covers your body.
  • Be cautious with water and electricity: Water and electricity are a dangerous combination. Ensure all electrical outlets near your work area are covered and protected from water exposure to prevent electrical shocks or accidents. “Make sure the electric pressure washers are properly connected and always grounded throughout the project,” said Flax.
  • Take necessary precautions: Before starting, ensure that no one is in the path of the spray to avoid injuring others. Grip the pressure washer with two hands for stability and control, preventing accidents or loss of control.
  • Avoid windy days: Working in windy conditions can pose risks. The high-pressure spray could be redirected toward you or others, causing injury. It’s best to choose a day with minimal wind to ensure safe and effective pressure washing.
  • Do not use a ladder: It may seem like common sense to use a ladder to reach high spots on your home’s exterior, but this can be dangerous. Pressure washers create recoil when used, and can throw you and your ladder back after one spray. The safest option is to set up scaffolding (or hire a professional).

By following these safety tips and taking the necessary precautions, you can confidently pressure wash your house while minimizing potential risks.

“It’s important to note that pressure washing isn’t for everyone,” said Flax. “It’s a powerful tool that requires a lot of skill to be able to operate safely. If anyone is uncomfortable operating the hose themselves, they can call in the professionals, like Window Genie, to handle the job.”

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A Step-By-Step Guide to Pressure Washing Your House

A man pressure washes his house
Alan Budman/Shutterstock.com

Here’s everything you need to do when pressure washing your house, from setting up the equipment to safely and effectively cleaning various surfaces.

Seal Doors, Windows, and Vents

Before you start pressure washing your house, it is important to take steps to protect the greenery around your home, as well as seal doors, windows, and vents to prevent water damage or intrusion. Follow these steps to keep everything protected:

  • Cover greenery: Start by covering any plants, shrubs, or flower beds near the areas you’ll be pressure washing. Use drop cloths or plastic sheeting to shield them from the high-pressure spray. Secure the coverings with rocks or stakes to keep them in place.
  • Seal doors: Close and seal all doors with plastic sheeting or duct tape. This will prevent water from seeping into your home through door gaps or under the door.
  • Seal windows: Seal windows with plastic sheeting or duct tape to prevent water from entering. Be careful not to spray high-pressure water or cleaning solution directly onto the windows, as this can cause damage. If you plan on washing your windows on the same day, Flax recommends doing so after you pressure wash your house.
  • Cover vents: Cover exterior vents with plastic sheeting and secure with duct tape. This will prevent water from getting inside your home through the vents.

Taking these precautions will help protect your greenery and prevent any water damage to your doors, windows, and vents while washing your house.

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Set Up the Pressure Washer

A power washer setup

Setting up the pressure washer properly is crucial for effective and safe pressure washing of your house. Here’s how to set up your pressure washer:

  • Find a good spot: First, find a suitable location to set up your pressure washer. Make sure it is near an electrical outlet and has enough space to move around comfortably.
  • Double-check safety: Before starting, ensure that all electrical outlets are covered or shut off to avoid any accidents.
  • Get your solution ready: Next, gather your cleaning solution and mix it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use a 5-gallon bucket to hold the solution.
  • Put everything together: Attach the pressure washer to the included hose. Make sure the hose is securely connected to both the pressure washer and the water source. This will provide a steady supply of water during the pressure washing process.
  • Test it out: Finally, test the pressure of the pressure washer on a small, inconspicuous area of the house. “The most common mistake do-it-yourself pressure washers will run into is applying too much pressure,” said Flax. Adjust the pressure using the pressure washer nozzles to find the right balance between force and gentleness.

Remember to wear safety goggles and use a 45-degree angle while pressure washing to prevent any damage to your house surfaces.

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This washer automatically shuts off pump when trigger is not engaged to save energy and prolong pump life.

Clean Siding from Bottom to Top

You’ll want to clean your siding before you wash the rest of your house, especially if it’s dirty on the underside of the panels. Start by turning on the pressure washer, but not on full power for this step. It is important to work in horizontal, side-to-side motions when spraying the siding. This helps to dislodge and remove dirt and grime effectively. You can also use a siding brush to gently scrub grime without damaging any surfaces.

When working on roof overhangs and gutters, maintain a 45-degree angle while spraying. This angle ensures that the high-pressure spray reaches all the nooks and crannies, leaving no dirt behind.

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To assist your cleaning efforts.

Perform a Pressure Wash Test

Someone pressure washes cement
Daria Nipot/Shutterstock.com

Performing a pressure wash test before tackling the entire house is important to ensure that you have the correct settings and technique for the job. This test allows you to determine the ideal pressure and nozzle for your specific needs, avoiding any potential damage to your siding or surfaces.

To conduct the pressure wash test, start by setting your pressure washer to a low setting. This prevents accidental high-pressure spraying, which can cause damage.

“It is easy to underestimate the power of the jet of water, but many first-time attempts will end up carving strips out of wood decking, or etching lines into the home’s siding,” said Flax.

Begin the test by spraying an inconspicuous area of your home, such as behind plants or in an obscure corner. Gradually increase the pressure until you find the level that provides effective cleaning power without causing any damage. Pay attention to the results—if the pressure is too low, it may not effectively clean the surface. On the other hand, if the pressure is too high, it can lead to gouging or stripping the paint.

Always remember to wear safety goggles before turning on your power washer.

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Different nozzles to help you reach your cleaning goals.

Pressure Wash From Top to Bottom

Once your siding has been cleaned, you can move on to the bulk of the job. Follow these steps when pressure washing your home:

  • Start from the top: Begin by starting several feet away from the house and gradually move closer until you find the optimal cleaning distance. Working from top to bottom allows the dirt and debris to flow downward, preventing streaks or residue on already cleaned areas.
  • Have an angle of attack: Hold the pressure washer wand at a horizontal or slightly downward angle to prevent water from getting under the siding. This will help avoid potential water damage or mold growth.
  • Practice and keep a steady pace: Before tackling the entire house, practice on a low area to get comfortable with the pressure washer. Hold the wand with two hands and move it across the siding at a steady pace to ensure even cleaning.
  • Clean in sections: Divide the house into manageable sections and clean one section at a time. Move systematically from left to right or vice versa, ensuring that you cover each area well.
  • Pay attention to results: As you progress, pay attention to the results. Adjust the pressure setting if needed to make sure you’re cleaning efficiently without causing any damage.

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Generates up to 3800 PSI of water pressure and 2.4 GPM of water flow for handling even the most stubborn grime quickly and effortlessly.

Repeat Around the Entire House

A man pressure washes his house
Chuck Wagner/Shutterstock.com

Once you have successfully pressure washed the initial section of your house, it is time to repeat the process around the entire home. Once you have finished, take some time to inspect your entire home and fix any mistakes as needed. If you’re having trouble safely reaching or cleaning an area, it’s best to contact a professional for help.

“Doing a few pressure washing treatments a few times a year is the best preventative measure for someone to keep their home’s exterior clean, safe, and in shape from the different seasons of weather,” said Flax. “Keeping your home clean through effective pressure washing hinders the premature decay of your exterior surfaces like your siding, porch, driveway, or deck.”

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For smaller jobs, something like this might do the trick.

Pressure washing is a great way to maintain a clean and healthy exterior of your home. By using the right technique, taking safety precautions, and using the appropriate equipment, you can ensure that your house looks its best while also prolonging its lifespan.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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