If you’ve ever been into a home-cleaning routine then you’ll definitely have encountered days where you just can’t be bothered to keep up with it. Maybe it takes too long?
If this is the case then a pressure washer could be a valuable time-saver and give you more time to relax and enjoy the cleaning job you’ve just finished.
A pressure washer can turn manual labour-intensive cleaning tasks into quicker and potentially more effective jobs. A pressure washer will also open up the possibility of other cleaning jobs that just aren’t possible (or are very impractical) otherwise, such as large surface cleaning like a driveway or the exterior of your building.
That said, if you’re a first-time buyer, then the sheer volume of pressure washers themselves (not to mention attachments, pressure ranges, applications) can probably be quite daunting.
Maybe, though, you’re a new pressure washer owner and unsure of some of the best practices? This list of tips and tricks will help you get started with pressure washing.
1. Check the surface you’ll be cleaning
Before you start blasting high-pressure water at the surface you’ve chosen, you’re going to want to check it for any signs of wear or damage. This is particularly true for a metal surface. Something like a sheet metal roof or wall that has been attacked by rust could be very brittle, and a jet of water (especially at a higher pressure) could very well cut right through!
2. Pick the correct pressure
This tip essentially goes hand-in-hand with the previous point and the following tip. For most cleaning jobs, a pressure of up to 2000 psi will be sufficient, and going any higher than this increases the risk of damaging the surface.
Of course, the surface in question will affect the decision you make here.
For softer or surfaces prone to splintering and chipping, lower pressures are key. This includes brickwork, wood, and sometimes concrete. Thinner metal surfaces will also require lower pressures. For washing your car, I have gone into detail about which pressures to use there for safe cleaning in a separate post, but again, lower pressures are ideal.
3. Pick the correct nozzle
This can be easier said than done a lot of the time. There is a wide range of nozzles (or tips) available which can make the task of actually starting the cleaning process a lot more difficult and confusing. Luckily, there is a general rule to follow for which nozzle to use.
A narrower nozzle will lead to higher pressure output, so it is generally best to save the narrow nozzles (especially something like a 0-degree laser nozzle) for really durable surfaces. The narrowest nozzle will only ever really be used for very small patches of really stubborn dirt and grime that need those high pressures.
Wide-angle (35 – 45 degrees) nozzles are great for quick coverage, so these nozzles can be used to apply detergent or carry out a pre-clean rinse of dust. These also provide the lowest pressure output, which means you can safely use them on basically any surface.
The nozzle you will end up using most will be the mid-angle nozzle (typically about 15 degrees). These provide decent coverage whilst still reaching higher pressures, making them perfect for the bulk of the cleaning job.
4. Always do a test spray of the surface
Before going ahead with the full clean, spray some water onto a discrete patch of the surface you intend to wash, to ensure that the pressure and nozzle you have picked are suitable for the job at hand. This goes hand in hand with both the previous tips and should set you up to begin the cleaning process.
5. Always wear eye-protection
This is a must for any cleaning job involving a pressure washer. It is all too easy for the water to pull up chips of loose stone or concrete, which pose a serious safety hazard if they start flying around. This is particularly important when working near gravel or washing a concrete driveway.
6. Wash the surface at an angle
Most of the time, it is best to hold the tip of the washer at a downward or sideways angle to the surface. This means that any dirt or grime that is uplifted by the water jet is actually washed down away from the surface (again eye protection is crucial to avoid getting this loose debris in your eyes).
7. Pressure washers are multi-purpose!
You may think of a pressure washer purely as a tool for cleaning dirt. The fact is that they are actually powerful enough for a few other jobs.
Stripping paint is one such job that a pressure washer with a high enough pressure output can actually manage. This means you can use the same tool for a full restoration job by stripping old paint off and follow this up with a full clean before repainting. Fear not, though, you can still use pressure washers to wash your car, just be sure to use a lower pressure setting!
It is possible to use the pressure washer in combination with some paint stripping chemicals for maximum effectiveness.
Pressure washers can also be used to remove rust from metal (and rust stains from concrete) when a high enough pressure is employed.
8. Try and keep a constant distance from the surface
During the washing, it’s always best to maintain the same distance from the surface you’re cleaning. This is usually about 12 – 18 inches (but maybe closer for tougher cleaning jobs).
This is a good method to prevent using too much pressure, as a longer distance effectively reduces the pressure of water on the surface.
Keeping away from the surface will also reduce the likelihood of you being caught by debris removed from the surface, as well as preventing you from scratching the surface with the tip of the washer!
9. Don’t try and clean windows with a pressure washer!
It might seem appealing, while you’re cleaning the outside of your home, to maximize your cleaning job by also giving the windows a going over.
This is definitely a bad idea, as even some of the lowest practical pressures could break the windows. It’s best to stick to just a garden hose, or even wash your windows by hand.
10. Protect anything in the area that you don’t want to soak
This may seem obvious, but it’s a great idea to cover anything in the area you’re going to be cleaning in to protect it from getting wet, or even being damaged.
Covering nearby plants with a tarp is an easy way to make sure you don’t trim them early!
That’s all for now! These tips are sure to get you comfortable with picking what settings to use on your pressure washer to suit your needs.
All washers will come with manufacturers’ instructions, so if there’s any doubt, you’ll be able to refer to them as well.
Pressure washing can seem very daunting at first, but following these tips will help you avoid any of the common mistakes that people make, allowing you to save time and money whilst keeping your home squeaky clean for longer!
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