12 Cleaning Projects Made Easier By Pressure Washing

Grainger Editorial Staff

From getting rid of mildew, mold and dirt to cleaning hard-to-reach areas, a pressure washer is a powerful tool to keep in your cleaning arsenal. But besides cleaning concrete, decks, siding and patios, what else can you use a pressure washer to clean? Check out these clever ways you can use a pressure washer to help save time on cleaning and maintenance tasks around your property.

1. Clogged Drains

What else can you do when plungers and chemical solutions aren't unclogging a drain? Attaching a sewer jetter to your pressure washer can help quickly and easily clean clogged drains. A sewer hose is a long, flexible, high-pressure hose with a jet nozzle on one end. The other end of the sewer hose attaches to your pressure washer's spray wand or trigger gun. A sewer jetter hose typically has a front-firing jet to break apart clogs and back-firing jets that scrub the sides of the pipes. If the clogged drain is indoors, experts recommend using an electric pressure washer for pipes up to 4 inches in diameter and a psi of at least 1,500. For clogged outdoor drains, a gas pressure washer is recommended for pipes up to 6 inches in diameter. Old pipes may not be able to withstand the high pressure from the pressure washer, so depending on the situation, you may want to consult a professional plumber.

2. Paint and Graffiti

With 1,500-3,000 psi of hot water, you can remove paint or graffiti from most surfaces. More demanding jobs often require higher pressure; however, using 3,000 psi or more can damage wood. The 15-degree and 25-degree tips are typically used for stripping paint. Although the 0-degree tip can remove the paint, it can also damage wood. It's best to start with the widest tip nozzle and work your way down until you find one suitable for the job. When removing graffiti, experts recommend using a chemical product for brick and metal surfaces to strip and remove the paint first.

3. Rust

For rust on sidewalks, buildings, or other hard surfaces, a pressure washer is one of the fastest and easiest ways to remove it. Experts recommend using a pressure washer that reaches at least 3000 psi and a narrow-angle nozzle to remove rust from metal.    

4. Windows

Exterior windows often collect a lot of dirt over time and can be challenging to clean. Pressure washing windows is a fast way to clean hard-to-reach windows, but it isn't always advised depending on your windows' age and overall condition. Cracking glass or loosening the window seals and wood putty are some of the biggest risks when washing your windows. Make sure you select the proper nozzle to have the right amount of water pressure for the task. Experts typically recommend using low pressure under 2,000 psi, a wide spray nozzle of 40 to 60 degrees and choosing a pressure washer that allows you to mix the cleaning solution with the spray.   

5. Chimneys

Using a pressure washer to clean out your chimney is an effective way to perform preventative maintenance. Multiple settings can help you quickly clean the soot and ash buildup. Before using a pressure washer to clean your chimney, ensure the mortar and bricks are in good condition. According to the Brick Industry Association, experts recommend applying a cleaning solution to brick with a brush or a pump sprayer with no more than 30 to 50 psi, followed by a thorough rinse at low pressure at 100 to 400 psi.

6. Landscaping and Farming Equipment

 A high-pressure wash at 2,000-3,000 psi can help keep landscaping and farming equipment in good shape. Using a pressure washer to clean the undersides of lawnmowers, tractors and other outdoor equipment can help wash away the gunk and debris gathered over time. By attaching a telescoping wand to the end of your pressure washer, you can clean hard-to-reach places around your property without using a ladder. 

7. Garbage Cans

Food and other smelly debris can stink up your garbage cans. Use the 40-degree wide spray nozzle and stand off to the side when spraying to avoid the back spray of the contents exiting the can. You can also quickly refresh your containers by using a scrub brush attachment on a low setting to apply detergent or a bleach solution to rinse out your garbage cans.

8. Leaf Removal and Gutter Cleaning

Pressure washing is one of the most effective ways to clear out gutters. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional power washing company, power washing your gutters can quickly and easily remove leaves, debris and other residues. Experts recommend using an electric pressure washer of at least 1,200 psi and a telescoping wand and brush attachment to clean gutters and downspouts effectively.

9. Pools

Cleaning algae, dirt and other debris from pools is easy with a pressure washer. Experts recommend using a pressure washer with at least 1,200 psi, a concrete cleaning solution and a 90-degree spray nozzle to clean the pool deck and inside of a plaster or concrete pool. If you're using a pressure washer stronger than 2,000 psi, make sure to use a wide spray nozzle and test in an inconspicuous area first to help prevent damage. You can also use a pressure washer to clean pool tiles. Just be sure to use a low setting once you drain your pool, so you don't damage the tiles.     

10. Rugs and Carpets

Are your area rugs, outdoor carpets or car mats looking dingy? A pressure washer can help you quickly and easily blast away tough, set-in stains in fabrics and rugs. Experts recommend using a pressure washer of at least 1,600 psi and a 25- or 40-degree nozzle, starting at a low power tip and a broader spray pattern. Pour detergent into the reservoir and use a high-pressure nozzle. Don't use hot water and work at a distance to avoid damaging the rug or fabric.

11. BBQ Grills  

Cleaning the grime and debris from grills can take a lot of scrubbing and elbow grease. Thankfully using a pressure washer can help you quickly clean those hard-to-reach places. Experts recommend using a gas or electric power washer that has at least 2,000 psi to clean grills effectively. When cleaning a gas or propane grill, be sure to disconnect the grill from the propane tank or natural gas line. Use a degreaser to help remove the grime and be sure to get the tank and other lines out of the way so a water jet doesn't damage them.

12. Clean Concrete and Make Art  

Using a pressure washer to clean mildew, mold and dirt from concrete, walkways, and patios is a given, but did you know you can also use a pressure washer to make art? Clean art has become a popular trend in recent years due to online videos and the incredible satisfaction we get from watching someone else clean. It's also referred to as reverse graffiti since it's usually performed by removing dirt from a surface and not using chemical products like spray bottles or spray paint used for traditional graffiti. Once you've found the dirty surface you'd like to transform, such as a wall, driveway, or sidewalk, you need to buy or create a stencil. The stencils you need for reverse graffiti are typically plastic or wood and strong enough to withstand a high pressure of 1,300 to 2,400 psi. With a stencil and a pressure washer, you can instantly create stunning patterns and transform any dirty sidewalk or driveway into a striking works of art. 

While it seems there are endless ways you can use a pressure washer, it's important to keep in mind that not all items can be safely pressure washed. If misused, pressure washers can cause significant damage and injuries. Before using a pressure washer to tackle a project, always read the instructions carefully to help ensure you properly connect to a water supply and select the appropriate nozzle for the job. 

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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