Residential Pressure Washing clean a car with pressure washer

Do you know how to clean a car with pressure washer? Believe it or not, there is a correct way to do it. When done improperly, pressure washing your car could damage the exterior as well as the interior systems, resulting in a heftier cost of repairs. Fortunately, there are some tips you can follow to make the pressure washing process more effective.


How to Clean a Car With a Pressure Washer

Car wash and auto detailing is a very lucrative market in the United States. In 2022, the market was valued at an estimated $14.7 billion. Clearly, Americans place great importance on maintaining their vehicles and keeping them clean.

While you can go the manual route with a hose and a soapy sponge, pressure washing offers deeper, cleaner, and more efficient results. However, when done incorrectly, car pressure washing can leave costly — and even irreversible — damage.

If you want to avoid damaging your vehicle, follow the tips below when cleaning it with a pressure washer.


1. Pick the Right Pressure Washer

Before you can even begin the process, you should have the right equipment. In this case, you will need a car pressure washer. Generally, there are two types you can choose from: a gas-powered pressure washer and an electric pressure washer.

Gas-powered pressure washers are more industrial, offering up to 4,000 PSI strengths. On the other hand, electric pressure washers can go up to 3,000 PSI, making them perfect for home or personal use. If you’re washing your car at home, an electric pressure washer would take care of the job. There are plenty you can buy or rent at your local home improvement store.

You should also decide whether you want a hot water pressure washer or a cold water pressure washer. A cold water pressure washer is the standard model, whereas the hot water version is known as a power washer. Power washing uses heated water to get rid of oil and grease.

It may seem like a good idea to use a power washer for cars, but hot water can damage the paint or warp the metal. Therefore, it is best to use cold water when washing your car.


2. Get Rid of Loose Dirt and Debris

After getting your pressure washer ready, it is time to do a preliminary wash. Using a 40-degree nozzle tip, wash your vehicle with cold water to remove any loose dirt and debris. Do the same for your car’s tires, wheels, and wheel wells, but use a 25-degree nozzle tip this time.

When blasting away loose dirt and debris, make sure to start from the top, specifically the roof of your car. From there, work your way down to the lower panels of your vehicle.


3. Cover With Foam

car pressure washing

While a quick rinse may do now and then, using cold water to clean your car is not enough. You will need a car pressure cleaner or soap to achieve a deep clean. Of course, using a soap specially formulated for cars is important.

Fill a foam cannon with the car soap of your choice, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Attach the cannon to the pressure washer and spray a generous layer of foam to cover the whole vehicle. Let the foam sit for a few minutes so it can work its magic. The soap will loosen up stubborn dirt and grime, allowing you to rinse them off easily later.


4. Get Scrubbing

Now, it is time for some elbow grease. Take a car wash mitt and scrub your car, working from top to bottom. Make sure to break it down into sections so you don’t miss a spot. Dip your mitt into a bucket of water and car soap throughout the process. This freshens up the mitt and removes excess dirt while scrubbing.


5. Use the Right Pressure Setting

It is imperative to use the correct pressure washer pressure for car cleaning. If you use a pressure setting that is too high, you might end up denting your vehicle or chipping away the paint. Worse yet, you may break the glass windows and blast water inside the car. Generally, the pressure level you should use when washing a car is 1,200 and 1,900 PSI.

To be safe, start with the lowest pressure setting and work your way up. This way, you can gauge how much pressure your car can handle and adjust as needed.


6. Use the Correct Nozzle

Nozzle tips come in different sizes. The smaller the tip, the more concentrated or narrow the stream of water. Hence, smaller nozzle tips tend to spray water with more force. It is best to stick to the 40-degree nozzle (the white tip) for car pressure washing. You can use the 25-degree nozzle for cleaning your car’s tires, wheels, and wheel wells.


pressure wash vs hand wash a car 7. Make Sure to Rinse

Finally, it is time to rinse. Using a 40-degree nozzle tip, spray your vehicle with clean water. As with the soap, make sure to work your way from top to bottom. Don’t miss any sections, particularly the areas around the doors and window seals where soap can gather. Keep rinsing with clean water until it runs clear.


Can You Pressure Wash a Car?

Pressure washing a car is a great way to clean your car effectively and efficiently. Of course, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you run the risk of damaging your vehicle. Using a pressure setting that is too high or a nozzle tip that is too narrow could dent your car, chip away the paint, and even break glass. Make sure to use the correct pressure level and nozzle when pressure washing your vehicle, or hire a professional to do it for you.


Pressure Wash vs Hand Wash a Car

While there is no shame in washing your car the old-fashioned way, pressure washing offers more benefits. These benefits include the following:

  • Easier and Faster. A pressure washer makes it easier to clean your car in a shorter amount of time. You don’t have to spend hours refilling your bucket with water or turning your hose on and off. Applying soap all over your vehicle is faster and easier with a pressure washer.
  • More Water-Efficient. Pressure washing saves more water than hand-washing a car. Because the pressurized water is more powerful, it takes less water to blast away dirt and debris than a normal hose.
  • Better Results. A pressure washer offers a deeper clean and better results. It can remove dirt and debris from the tiniest cracks, which isn’t the case with regular hand washing.


Consider Hiring the Pros

As you can see, you can easily clean a car with a pressure washer, but you can just as easily damage it. To make sure you protect your vehicle from the potential risks, it is best to follow the tips above or hire a professional to wash your car for you.

Washh offers residential and commercial pressure washing services. Call us today at 704.321.8000 or contact us online for a free estimate!