How To Clean A Car With A Pressure Washer

Learn how to clean a car with a pressure washer in a more productive and efficient way than going to a car wash.

Cleaning Your Car With A Pressure Washer

Most people perceive washing their car as a time-consuming and labor-intensive task. However, it is indeed true because with a garden hose and a detergent, scrubbing it, again and again, is really a time-consuming process.

On the other hand, there are people who want to wash their car on a weekly basis to keep it clean and shiny, but they don’t want to spend the time it takes. That’s why they go to the car wash instead, but fail to understand the time it takes and the cost is indeed not worth it.

Fun Fact: Car washing with a pressure washer in summer is a fun-filled activity. It reduces stress and can have a positive effect on your overall health.


Irrespective of whether you are a car lover who washes his car time and again or a person who thinks washing a car is a tedious job and doesn’t have much time.

In any of the above case, washing your car using a pressure washer is the most effective and productive method for maintaining the outlook of your car.

What Is The Best PSI For Car Washing?

Any pressure washer capable to generate 1500PSI to 3000PSI of pressure is deemed best for pressure washing the car. This pressure is enough to remove dirt and tough stains from your car’s body without damaging its paint job.

Furthermore, a pressure washer with a GPM between 1.4 to 2.6 is best for washing your car at home.

Which Type Of Pressure Washer Is best For Cars?

Electric Pressure Washer Or Gas Pressure Washer

Each pressure washer type has its own features and its own pros and cons. However, the selection completely depends on what type of pressure washer you want according to your budget and need. Have a brief look at each type!

Electric Pressure Washers

Electric pressure washers are lightweight, easy to use, and economical. Their motor is powered by electricity, producing a 500PSI to 4000PSI pressure, depending on the model.

These types of pressure washers have a low price as compared to gas pressure washers because they are mostly made from plastic material.
However, this doesn’t mean that they will disappoint you on power.

Gas Pressure Washers

On the other hand, gas pressure washers are heavier but more powerful than electric pressure washers.

They are capable to generate more pressure and more water flow than their electric counterparts. Additionally, they have a strong and durable build structure for longer product life.

Unfortunately, they are noisy to operate and difficult to move due to their heavy build and structure.

Our suggestion: Electric pressure washers are more convenient for use at home since they are lightweight, easy to handle, and easy to store. Additionally, you can adjust the pressure according to your desired cleaning task.

The purpose of this article is to describe how to use a pressure washer on a car for proper washing. But before reading that section, you might want to spend a few minutes looking at the benefits of pressure washing your car at home.

Benefits Of Using A Pressure Washer For A Car

Pressure washing your car at home comes with many advantages. Not only it saves your time and money but it is also best for your ride.


Washing your car yourself avoids the hassle of going to the car wash. Just connect the pressure washer to water and an electric source, and start washing.

It saves you a lot of time which you normally spend going to the location or maybe some extra time you spend in a queue, waiting for your turn.


Getting your car pressure washed at home saves you a lot of bucks.

For example, if you pay on average $20 per wash then it is safe to say that while using a pressure washer you will save each penny after the 6th or 7th wash. See, how economical it is to use a pressure washer to wash your car.

Save Your Car From “Hurting”

If you go to a public car wash, your car may experience little bruises and scratches on its shiny body.

It’s because you never know how much dirt and debris the car wash brushes are holding.  Also, automatic car washes do not clean the tough-to-wash parts of your car.

In contrast, washing your car at home with a pressure washer reduces the risk of scratches because you can wash extra carefully. Moreover, you can pressure wash every nook and cranny of your car easily.

In order to take advantage of these benefits, let’s jump directly to the main section where you will get the best insights about how to properly and efficiently clean your car while using a pressure washer.

Steps To Wash Your Car Using A Pressure Washer

  • After following other precautionary measures (read them below this section), park your car where you want to wash it.
  • Make sure all its doors are completely closed and the windows are rolled up so water cannot get in.
  • If you are using an electric pressure washer, look for the electrical outlet where you can easily plug it in.

1. Rinse Your Car With Plain Water 

After parking your car:

  • Connect your pressure washer with a water source.
  • Connect the desired nozzle for rinsing.
  • Start your electric pressure washer by plugging it into an electric source or if you have a gas pressure washer start it by pulling its recoil cord.
  • Start rinsing the car while staying almost 1 foot away from the body for precautionary measures. While spraying on more delicate parts like headlights, windscreen, and mirrors, take extra care.

Usually, you should rinse your car with plain water first, before spraying the cleaner or detergent on the body.

Try using a 25-degree or a 40-degree nozzle(whichever suits you and your car) to rinse your car beforehand.

Be sure to start by spraying at low pressure so that you can easily see how well the pressure is cleaning.

Consequently, all the loose dust, dirt, mud, and debris on the body, windows, and tires will be easily removed.

Pro Tip: Never Pressure wash the engine compartment. You will regret it!

  • Make sure you’re using the correct nozzle. 

Choose the right pressure nozzle when washing a car with a pressure washer because if the nozzle is emitting too much pressure then you may damage your car’s paint job.  Or in severe cases, high pressure can damage the windows of the car.

Typically pressure washers are equipped with 5 types of nozzles including a zero-degree (red) nozzle 15-degree (yellow) 25-degree (green) and 40-degree (white) nozzle. There is a 5th nozzle for spraying soap and detergent.

You ought to know that every pressure washer varies in its ability to generate pressure, therefore you cannot say which nozzle is best for washing your car. You can easily understand this from here, if

A pressure washer with a pressure of 3000PSI will throw a water jet at an extremely high pressure of 3000PSI with its red nozzle. But on the other hand, if a pressure washer capacity is 2000PSI then its red nozzle will have less pressure than the other one.

That’s why you have to check which nozzle is suitable to wash the car.

A general rule of thumb is that it should not be too strong that it strips the paint from your car and should not too weak and wide like a shower in the washroom.

  • Spray At Ground to Check The Pressure And Spray Angle

It is better to check the pressure and area of spray by spraying at the ground first . Go ahead with this nozzle and pressure if you are certain that it will clean efficiently and does not damage your car’s paint or body parts.

2. Apply Detergent/Soap To Completely peel Off Dirt and Grime

Some pressure washers have detergent tanks on board while others have foam cannons.

The detergent or soap can be applied by hand with a wash mitt if you do not have a detergent tank or foam cannon. Apply the detergent to your car by following these simple steps to properly wash your car:

  • Dilute the Concentrated Detergent First

Dissolve the detergent in a bucket according to the detergent manufacturer’s directions. Pour this solution into the detergent tank of the pressure washer.

  • Connect The Soap Nozzle

Connect the black nozzle (made for soap spray) because you cannot spray soap and detergent without it.

  • If Using A Foam Cannon

If you are using a foam cannon, fill the cannon bottle with this solution and attach it to the pressure wand.

Note: It is important to always use a detergent made for pressure washers because other detergents can damage the pump of the pressure washer.

Start Spraying Detergent

Start sprinkling detergent on your car while standing 1 to 2 feet away. You can move closer to the car if you feel the stains are difficult to remove.

  • Spraying Detergent In A Sequence

Detergent should first be applied to the top and then slowly move to the bottom, in this way there is minimal chance of streaking.

  • Use Wash Mitt To Apply Detergent With Hands

When applying the detergent with your hands, use a soft wash mitt to remove the tough dirt and grime gently. This process might be time-consuming, but it is the best way to clean your car thoroughly.

Apply detergent in straight lines along the length of the car to prevent streaks.

  • Use Scrubbing Brush Attachments

You can also use the scrubbing brush attachment with the pressure washer to remove stubborn stains and mud cakes.

3. Give It a Break

You have to leave the detergent in the car for 3 to 5 minutes. That will help to lose all the mud cakes, grime, and oil stains from the Car’s body. After 1 minute you can spray some water to make sure it does not dry out and leave streaks.

4. Rinse The Detergent To Get The Cool Look Of Your Car

Now it is time to remove the detergent from the car’s body to get it a clean and shining look.

  • Use a Wide-Angled Nozzle

Now rinse the detergent with either a 40-degree or 25-degree spray which has wide coverage angles.

  • Rinse In A Sequence

Always wash your car in a sequence like moving the pressure wand from top to bottom and from left to right, as rinsed earlier to prevent streaks.

5. Dry The Car To Prevent Rusting

Now that the car has been washed and completely rinsed, it is time to dry it.

Take a towel or soft fabric that can absorb the water well without damaging the paint job.

The cloth or towel can be gently rubbed over the body until all moisture is absorbed.

Safety Tips For Pressure Washing – Before Washing The Car With A Pressure Washer

Using a pressure washer is a fun and enjoyable activity but it can become hazardous if it is not handled carefully.

The following precautions should be taken prior to using a pressure washer for car.

Always Stay Focused And Alert

Don’t ever underestimate the power of water especially when it comes from a pressure washer.

Keep your senses open and firmly grasp the pressure gun so that you don’t lose grip on it because when high-pressured water comes from the pressure washer it may damage your property.

Use Safety Gear

Always use shoes which protect you from slipping in the water.

Don’t Shoot Directly. 

Do not wash your car with direct pressure.

The direct pressure from the pressure gun can damage the paint job of your precious vehicle so always point the nozzle slightly downwards while washing.

Protect The Plants and Surroundings

You should never use a pressure washer near plants or trees as it can damage them greatly. Always try to wash your car away from plants and small trees.

Watch For Windows And Glass Panes

The glass windows in your home are susceptible to damage if pressure is exerted on them.

Close the windows before using the pressure washer, or even better, wash your car away from the building, if possible.


You can easily clean your car every weekend by following this complete guide about how to pressure wash your car. You can save a lot of time and greatly increase the longevity of your car by following these simple steps. Eventually, your car remains well maintained, and its paintwork remains intact for a long.

Flinn Milan

Flinn Milan is the content director at Washwith. He is responsible for developing helpful content in collaboration with other hard-working team members. Over several years, his content strategy is mainly focused on describing and highlighting every product with its positive and negative points

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