How to Pressure Wash Your Car?

Pressure washing your car is a crucial activity which helps you to maintain your car dirt free. You can easily pressure wash your care without giving your car to the garage and wait for your car to be pressure washed by the mechanic. A pressure washer is an effective equipment which helps in removing dirt from your car and maintaining the appearance as well. Washing your car with the help of a pressure washer is incredibly easy and efficient job, provided you stick to some basic guidelines.

 Pressure washer operates on the principle of supplying high-pressure water as an output from pressure washer nozzle. Water enters the pressure washer at a low pressure. A gas engine or electric motor powers a pump, which ejects the water through a hose and a nozzle at a higher pressure.

Let us delve deeper into the topic, as it is a crucial and interesting one, when it come to OUR CARS! Utmost important here is not only the procedure but also the equipment we are going to use, therefore lets us quickly and very briefly know about the pressure washers before we move onto the main content – How to pressure wash your car?

Select an Ideal Pressure Washer and Nozzle             

Suitable Pressure Washer

The most important step involved in selecting the best pressure washer for your particular car is to know the technical specifications specific to the pressure washer. For instance, appropriate power or PSI i.e. pounds per square inch and water flow with units GPM: gallons per minute.

  • Pounds per Square Inch (PSI Value) – Primarily, the higher the PSI value, the greater will be the force of the water when it releases from the tip of the washer.
  • Gallons per Minute (GPM Value) – The higher the GPM value of the pressure washer, the more volume of water the washer will eject.
  • Cleaning Units – Cleaning Units is a product of force and volume of water a pressure washer can release. As illustrated in the equation below:

PSI x GPM = Cleaning Units

1000PSI x 2GPM = 2000 cleaning units:

Ideally, a pressure washer with approximately 1,900  to 2,800 cleaning units is the most appropriate for washing a car.

Now, that you are well aware of the technical aspects of the pressure washer you are going to purchase, the next step is to know which type of pressure washer among the multiple choices available in the market, will best suit your specific requirement.

Comparative Analysis of Gas Pressure and Electric Pressure Washer

Gas Pressure Washer

They are more powerful, more durable and are a better choice for bigger and tougher tasks, for instance, cleanings decks, depending on the model, second-story exterior parts. Gas pressure washer offers increased mobility as they do not need the user to be near a power outlet.

Typically, few gas pressure washer models crank with a manual pull start feature, however, few models do embody an electric starter

Fuel – Choosing the right kind of fuel for your gas pressure washer is by far the most important aspect, and one should strictly adhere to the manufacturer’s requirement for the same.

Disadvantages: Expensive. Require higher maintenance. Noisy and produce fumes. These are heavier and larger in size as well.

Electric Pressure Washer

They serve best for smaller and lighter tasks, for instance, cleaning vehicle and patio furniture. They do not produce noise and are lighter in weight. They can be turned on by a flip of a switch easily and are much cleaner to operate.

Disadvantages – These produce less power and are not very portable as they require to be plugged into an electric source. Durability could be an issue as the component parts are made of plastic

Suitable Nozzle:

  • A 15-degree nozzle tip removes the dirt stick to your car doors and back of the car. It also helps in removing the stains developed on the surface. It covers the less surface area as the tip of the nozzle is narrow.
  • A 25 tip degree nozzle is suitable if are looking to rinse your car. It helps in cleaning your car wheels and removes the debris clogged in hard surface. It is normally green in color.
  • A 40-degree tip is suitable for cleaning the surface of your car. It will help in cleaning the detergent that you had applied on your car. It covers the large surface area as the tip diameter is wide.

Pre-Requisites to Washing the Car


It is imperative to park your car in an open space, far away from other cars or things so that they do not get wet or damaged by the water unnecessarily. A huge driveway, big lawn garden or street is highly recommended. If you are using an electric pressure washer, ensure that you have access to an outlet as well, so that you can power the washer. Note that essentially, not all electric pressure washers are compatible to be used with extension cords. Therefore ensure that an outlet to use your washer appropriately is close in your vicinity.

The Wash Procedure:

The wash procedure is broadly divided into three parts for the ease of comprehension of the user. The steps are –

  1. Rinse your Car,
  2. Apply detergent to your car and
  3. Rinse detergent off the car.

Let us have a detailed look into each of the above steps:-

1) Rinse the Car

Most of the users forget this utmost important step, and this step is often omitted by in many directions to use guides. It is very crucial to rinse your car prior to applying the cleaner, in order to spray off any mud or debris from the surface. It is recommended to begin washing at a distance of 4 to 5 feet from your car and slowly move closer post testing out your pressure washer. Following are the steps to follow when you are going to begin rinsing your car:-

  • Plug the pressure washer into an electric source of power supply
  • Fix the pressure washer to an appropriate water outlet
  • Attach a 25-degree tip to the nozzle of the pressure washer
  • Turn on your pressure washer and spray water across the entire surface of the car

Ensure that you rinse the wheels along with the body of the car. Rinsing the tires may require a closer cleaning distance so that you can remove all of the dirt from the tire grooves. When you are using the washer on your car, try to spray the water downward on the car’s body. When washing with a pressure washer the first thing to do is to spray down the entire car from almost three feet away so as just, to wet it from the roof to wheels, wells, and tires. This helps to begin the softening or loosening of any caked on dirt and/or grit. Then move on to cleaning the wheels and tires and pressure rinse them then if any pre-treatment is needed to remove bugs or tar, apply that and spray down the grooves with cleaner prior to pressure rinsing the rest of the grit and dirt from the entire vehicle. Try to keep the tip of the wand approximately 12 inches away from the paint.

Note: It is advisable to spray some water from the washer on the ground that prior to rinsing the car, in order to check the pressure of the water.

2) Apply detergent to your car

Several pressure washer models have uniquely designed compartments for cleaning detergents. Ensure that you use a cleaning detergent which is compatible or suitable to be used with your pressure washer model.

Note: It is imperative to remember that detergents are usually sold as concentrates and therefore need to be diluted with water prior to their application on the car.

Following are the steps to follow when you are going to apply detergent to your car:-

  • Mix the detergent with water in a bucket to dilute the detergent concentrate

Follow the instructions given by the detergent manufacturer to make sure that you are using the correct amount of water, and the water to concentrate ratio is appropriate.

  • Fill the diluted detergent solution into the detergent tank of the pressure washer

Adjust the setting on the pressure washer to make sure that you will be spraying detergent solution rather than only water onto your car surface. In case the pressure washer model does not have a detergent tank, then apply the detergent manually by hand with the help of a cloth.

  • Spray the detergent on the body of your car

Begin with spraying the detergent from the top of the car and gradually work your way downwards. You can either wash one side of the car at a time or wash the entire body of the car at once. Let the detergent solution remain on the body of the car for almost five minutes.

3) Rinse-off of detergent solution from your car

It is advisable to use a 40-degree tip to rinse the detergent solution and foam off of the car. It is highly recommended to hold the washer at an angle of 45 degrees and rinse towards the ground from the top of your car.

  • Change the tip of the washer to from 25 degrees to 40-degree tip
  • Adjust the settings for the output method changing it from the detergent tank to water source
  • Rinse the detergent off

Turn on your pressure washer and spray water across the entire surface of the car. Based on your choice, select either a towel or soft cloth (keeping in mind the car body and paint) to dry the car after it has been rinsed thoroughly clean of all the detergent.


Following the above steps sincerely will aid you in cleaning your car successfully with the help of a pressure washer, hence improving the appearance of the car and nevertheless saving your time and conserving our natural resource – water! Periodic washing of your car with a pressure washer is not only a fast but also an efficient way to enhance the visual appeal of your car and also prolong the life your car paint. Also, save money of re-painting. Make sure you follow the above steps every time you wash your car, to keep it looking its best!

Word of Caution: Remember that a pressure washer is a power tool and not a toy. Having said that, If you love your car, sure you will have fun washing it with a pressure washer!


Hi, I'm James. The Chief Editor at I worked in Pressure Washer industry for a few years, and I thought to share my knowledge about pressure washer on our blog with my team.

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