What Does Pressure Washing Do: Power Washing Detailed Guide

What Does Pressure Washing Do

Pressure washing, also known as power washing, is a versatile and effective cleaning method that uses pressurized water to remove dirt, stains, mold, and other contaminants from hard surfaces like siding, decks, driveways, and more. In this comprehensive guide, we will explain what pressure washing is, what it can clean, how it works, the difference between pressure washing and power washing, and provide tips for DIY and professional jobs.

What is Pressure Washing?

Pressure washing, sometimes called power washing, refers to the use of a special washer that projects pressurized water through a nozzle to clean dirty exterior surfaces. The washer uses an electric or gas-powered motor to drive a water pump, which pressurizes the water to between 500 to over 5,000 PSI (pounds per square inch) then flows it through a trigger-controlled wand and nozzle.

The high-pressure water jet scrubs away built-up grime, grease, mud, chewing gum, mildew stains, loose paint, and more. Pressure washers allow you to thoroughly clean large surface areas much faster than hand scrubbing or using a garden hose alone.

How Does a Pressure Washer Work?

A pressure washer works by using an electric- or gas-powered engine to power a water pump. This high-pressure pump pressurizes the water flow, then projects the water through a nozzle at high velocity to clean surfaces. Pressure washers also often heat the water to aid cleaning efficacy. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Engine: Powers the water pump. Can be electric or gas.
  • Pump: Pressurizes the water to 500-5000+ PSI. More pressure = better cleaning.
  • High-pressure hose: Transports pressurized water to the nozzle.
  • Nozzle: Shapes the intense jet of hot water to scrub surfaces clean. Different spray patterns available.
  • Heating element: Many units heat the pressurized water up to 250°F to help dissolve grime.

By combining high water pressure, heat, and specially-designed nozzles, pressure washers blast away caked-on contamination faster and more effectively than regular hoses or scrub brushes.

What Can You Clean with a Pressure Washer?

Pressure washers can be used to clean and restore a wide variety of hard outdoor surfaces around your home and property, including:

House Exteriors

Outdoor Areas


Cars, trucks, boats, RVs, ATVs, and heavy equipment. Great for wheels, undercarriages, engines, and more.


Lawn furniture, grills, outdoor play equipment, animal pens, and more. Awesome for grease stains!

Pressure washing blasts away years of accumulated dirt, mildew, tree sap, pollen, vehicle exhaust, mud, and other grimy buildup that routine cleaning cannot remove. It restores outside areas to like-new condition quickly and with satisfying results.

Pressure Washing vs. Power Washing: What’s the Difference?

The terms “pressure washing” and “power washing” are often used interchangeably, but there are some subtle differences.

Pressure washing refers to the use of pressurized water alone to clean surfaces. The water pressure is the cleaning agent. Pressure washers provide between 500-3000 PSI typically.

Comparatively, power washing uses even higher water pressures from 1500 up to 5000 PSI or more along with other aids like hot water and cleaning solutions to boost cleaning performance.

So in a nutshell:

  • Pressure washing = pressurized water
  • Power washing = very high-pressure water + heat + detergents

Both successfully clean, but power washers employ additional tools to handle extremely dirty or delicate jobs. Power washers also tend to use more electricity or gas.

Now that you understand the difference between pressure washing and power washing, let’s go over some fundamental pressure washer types and tools.

Pressure Washer Types, Features & Accessories

Pressure washers come in electric and gas-powered designs at various capability and price levels. Higher-end professional models have larger motors, heavier frames, dual lances, larger tires, and longer hoses for durability during all-day use. Homeowner/DIY models offer lighter yet still robust construction with helpful features at lower prices.

Basic pressure washer components standard across most all units include:

Motor Types

  • Electric: Plug into an outlet. Best for small residential jobs. Less powerful.
  • Gas: Use a gas engine like a lawnmower. Higher PSI. For big commercial jobs.

Water Pump

Driven by the motor. Pressurizes water in the system. More pressure = better cleaning!


Interchangeable nozzle tips alter the water jet pattern and intensity. Different nozzles for various applications.

Hoses & Wands

  • High-pressure hose: Safely transports high-velocity water.
  • Trigger wand: Controls water flow to spray nozzle. Includes safety lock.


  • Surface cleaners
  • Rotary brushes
  • Detergent tanks
  • Extenders
  • Sandblasting kits

These optional add-ons enhance efficiency and customization for specialized jobs.

Understanding the standard and optional components available helps determine which pressure washer type best suits your cleaning challenges.

Is Pressure Washing Effective for Cleaning?

Absolutely! Pressure washing provides deep-down cleaning not possible any other way without immense scrubbing effort. The pressurized water literally blasts contaminants off on a microscopic level much faster and more completely.

Advantages of pressure washing include:

  • Cleans better than any manual brushing can
  • Pushes cleaners deep into pores for maximum stain removal
  • Won’t harm most surfaces if used properly
  • Cost-effective for handling large areas
  • Restores full aesthetic appeal

Plus, there’s something infinitely satisfying about demolishing layers of deep-stained yuckiness quickly with a powerful high-pressure spray!

Guidelines for effective pressure washing:

  • Always check the surface material first to ensure it can withstand high-pressure. Wood and delicate stone may require lower pressures.
  • Apply cleaners and let soak before power washing when dealing with extremely stubborn gunk.
  • Use the appropriate nozzle spray pattern and intensity adjust as you go. Test hidden areas first.
  • Get help managing the wand’s backlash force on taller structures. Kickback is intense.
  • Take all standard electrical and chemical safety precautions.

Follow those tips, and pressure washing will whip exterior surfaces into spectacular shape with minimal hassle compared to laborious hand scrubbing!

Pressure Washing Cost: DIY vs Professional Service

You can rent or buy pressure washers ranging from $100 basic electric models for small jobs up to gas-powered commercial warriors costing $1,000+. Professional contracted services typically charge an average of 10 to 25 cents per square foot, with minimum service charges around $200.

Determine the most cost-effective option for your specific needs:

Rent or buy your own pressure washer when:

  • Cleaning a smaller single-story home or medium-sized outdoor space
  • Comfortable using power equipment safely
  • Want the flexibility to pressure wash whenever needed

Hire a professional pressure washing company if:

  • Cleaning a very large or multi-story home
  • Requires tall ladders or scaffolding to access areas
  • Has delicate surfaces like historic wood or stone
  • Prefer ensuring the job gets done quickly & correctly without handling equipment rentals

Both DIY and contracted cleaning solutions have pros and cons regarding capability, cost, convenience, safety, cleaning effectiveness, and more. Carefully decide which approach best fits your specific exterior maintenance objectives.

Pressure Washing Maintenance Tips

Like all motorized utility equipment, proper use and care maximize your pressure washer’s cleaning performance and service longevity. Follow these basic guidelines:

  • Flush the system with fresh water after each use to prevent mineral deposits
  • Check and change nozzles regularly since they clog easily over time
  • Use non-corrosive chemicals and detergents made specifically for pressure washers
  • Clean debris filters often to avoid pump damage issues
  • Store indoors rather than risk freezing temps cracking components
  • Follow all manufacturer maintenance recommendations for your model

And the most important tip of all — always point the high-pressure spray nozzle firmly at the cleaning surface rather than randomly waving it around! Pressure washers readily cause injury or property damage when handled irresponsibly. Respect the intense power squeezing that trigger unleashes!

Safety Precautions When Pressure Washing

Pressure washers churn out amazing cleaning power, but also pose risks if misused like any heavy-duty equipment. Heed these key safety guidelines:

General Safety

  • Read owner’s manual thoroughly before use
  • Ensure automatic safety locks enabled
  • Keep children and pets away
  • Avoid spraying electrical items
  • Don’t power wash asbestos siding
  • Take precautions on ladders/scaffolding
  • Watch footing on slippery surfaces

Chemical Safety

  • Use only approved detergents
  • Prevent chemical overspray drifting
  • Wear eye protection and gloves
  • Promptly clean spills

The high-pressure water jet scrubs aggressively. Improper spraying technique can damage surfaces or cause injury. Again, never point the wand at anything you do not intend to spray!

Okay, now that you know the immense cleaning capabilities pressure offers and how to wield these intense power washers safely, let’s get that house gleaming! Just take care to prepare properly, start gently, adjust pressure and technique as you go, and we promise you’ll be grinning ear-to-ear as layers of grossness melt away.

Contact Sullins Suds Pressure Washing if you’re around Dawsonville GA area for professional pressure washing services!

Don’t Stop Here

More To Explore
How To Pressure Wash a Rug
How To Pressure Wash a Rug: Washing, Drying, and Maintaining

Pressure washing a rug requires careful attention to detail to avoid damaging delicate fibers. Follow these steps for optimal results:
1. Preparation
2. Choose the Right Pressure Washer
3. Detergent Selection
4. Test Spot
5. Even Application
6. Rinse Thoroughly
7. Allow to Dry

By contacting us, you open the door to a world of possibilities and collaboration. Whether you prefer to send us an email, give us a call, or connect through our contact form, we are here to listen and respond promptly. We value your time and are committed to providing exceptional customer service, so don’t hesitate to contact us today. 

Get In Touch

Contact Sullins Suds

Contact Our Sales Team