Cleaning Tips, Guides & Resources

Dos and Don'ts When Pressure Washing Your Home

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Outdoor or backyard hard surface cleaning without special equipment is not impossible, however, it isn’t as effective either. In fact, pressure washing exists because other methods of cleaning stubborn outdoor grime simply fall short. Apart from this, outdoor cleaning projects are very different and more difficult than indoor cleaning tasks. 

When it comes to home exterior cleaning, a pressure washer is 10x more efficient in eliminating hard dirt and substances caused by prolonged exposure to the elements. Of course, pressure washing your home is only a good idea if you know what you’re doing! The fact of the matter is that this high-powered piece of equipment can cause a lot of damage to your home’s exterior if it is misused. With that said, there’s no need to be afraid of attempting a DIY pressure washing of your home but rather prepare yourself for the project to ensure that you are using the equipment safely while achieving a desirable result.

So, let’s get right to MaidForYou’s all-inclusive list of dos and don’ts when pressure washing your house exteriors.

The ‘Dos’ When Pressure Washing Your Home

man wearing black boots pressure washing pavement tiles

  • Because pressure washers are extremely powerful machines, a do-it-yourselfer should start on a low setting, and gradually increase the pressure once they have the hang of it. Even then, the machine should not be used on the highest setting as this will likely cause damage to the material or finish. Instead, inspect the area each time you increase the pressure; when it seems to be effectively cleaning the surface, stick to that setting.
  • Keep your arms and hands steady when using a pressure washer. It takes a bit of practice to learn how to handle the machine; therefore, it is advisable to do a few trial strokes in a safe, outdoor area.
  • Always keep the pressure washer in motion when applying it to your home exterior. This means not holding it in one spot for more than two or three seconds. The water pressure needs to be evenly distributed across the surface which is why a sweeping motion is advised.
  • Stand at a distance when you begin pressure washing your home exterior. You should be at least two feet away from the surface especially when cleaning siding and/or painted materials. 
  • Always test your pressure washer out on an inconspicuous area to ensure that it does not have a damaging effect on the surface. Check the area for denting, etching, and peeling after testing the equipment.
  • Remove/unplug any electrical fixtures that are not water-resistant. As far as outdoor outlets are concerned, cover them with waterproof tape.
  • Clear the space around your home or the ‘splash zone’ before you pressure wash the exteriors. More importantly, make sure fragile items are not in the line of fire.
  • Use makeshift stilts and sheets of plastic to protect flower beds, plants, and vegetation. Be sure to angle the pressure washer in such a way that the cleaning solution does not affect the soil/mud around your home.
  • Stick to a mild cleaning solution as opposed to toxic cleaners. Depending on the outdoor substances you are trying to remove, there may be a few, good alternatives to harsh chemicals. 
  • Apply the cleaning solution from the bottom and move upward; when rinsing the cleaner off, start from the top and finish at the bottom.

The ‘Don’ts’ When Pressure Washing Your Home

pressure washing dirty pavement tiles

  • Don’t increase the water pressure while the equipment is in motion. You may not be able to handle a sudden jump in power and end up spraying or denting a material by accident.
  • Don’t use a higher water pressure on the surface until you have tested it out on an inconspicuous area of the material. Even a slight increase may be damaging to paint or other types of finish and hence, must be tested beforehand.
  • Don’t use a high-temperature of water. While hot water is generally advised for removing tough grime by loosening or breaking it down using heat, with this piece of equipment, it is the pressure that makes it effective in cleaning up outdoor materials/surfaces. 
  • Don’t use the same nozzle on every area. The different pressure washer accessories are intended to cover wider or narrower areas and hence, offer varying water pressures as well.
  • Don’t use the pressure washer to clean windows (even on a low setting). Exterior windows have seals that are easily damaged or weakened when pressure of this nature is applied. Leave your windows to be cleaned manually after you have finished pressure washing your home. 
  • Don’t angle the spray too much as this decreases the pressure applied to the surface. The grime should be sprayed head on and/or perpendicular to the surfaces for 100% effective results. When pressure washing areas where the sprayer cannot be held straight, consider using a pivot nozzle or increasing the pressure as needed.
  • Don’t use excess cleaning products as a strong cleaning solution is not necessary. As long as you are using the appropriate water pressure, a mild cleaning solution will suffice. 
  • Don’t attempt DIY pressure washing your home unless you have mastered the techniques and handling of the machine. Remember, misusing a high-power pressure washer can damage your property.

Perhaps, the most important ‘do’ is to hire a professional pressure washing service to clean your home exterior and surrounding property. Be sure to do a thorough research of the costs involved before committing to any one company.  Along with the benefit of high-end pressure washing equipment and accessories, professionals understand the varying water pressures to be applied to different surfaces/materials and finishes for safe and effective results. Nevertheless, do-it-yourselfers looking to give this project a go may do so keeping in mind these important dos and don’ts when pressure washing your home.

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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