How to Pressure Wash a Car

How to Clean Your Car With A Pressure Washer

How do professional car washers clean cars in a few minutes when it takes most people a few hours? They don’t use a bucket of sudsy water and a cloth chammy to take off most of the grime. They use a pressure washer.

These days, it is fairly inexpensive to buy a consumer-grade pressure washer, and you might be able to use it clean your car, home siding, deck, and lots of other things.

It is fairly easy to use a pressure washer to clean a car, but it can take some getting used to. Also, you always have to remember that these units can deliver thousands of pounds per square inch of water to your vehicle’s exterior. It is important to use these machines carefully. Take it slow when you are just starting out.

Which Pressure Washer Should You Buy Or Rent To Clean Your Car?

If you are going to rent or buy a new pressure washer, be sure to choose the right one for the types of jobs you need it to do. If you are just going to use it to clean your car, deck, fence, and siding, a lower-powered powered model will probably be the best choice. They are less expensive and less powerful. You pay less, and you run less risk of doing damage.

Power Washer Recommendation
Kärcher - K5 Premium - 2000 PSI Electric Power Induction Pressure Washer corded - With Vario Power & Dirtblaster Spray Wands - Pressurized Hose Reel & Adjustable Detergent Tank - 1.4 GPM, Yellow/Black
  • Powerful Performance: The K 5 last longer than universal motors and delivers exceptional cleaning results! Water-Cooled induction-motor and non-corrosive N-COR pump.
  • Pressure Regulating: Use the Vario Power spray wand for light-duty jobs, and a patented Dirt Blaster spray wand for superior cleaning performance on tough-to-clean surfaces.
  • High Pressure Hose: Comes equipped with a generous 25' kink-resistant high-pressure hose that offers plenty of reach, as well as an onboard pressurized hose reel for simple storage
  • Onboard Detergent Tank: Features an onboard removable detergent tank for easy soap application, while an adjustable flow dial allows you to control how much detergent is applied
  • The Karcher Promise - Cleaner. Quicker: 2000 PSI and 1.43 GPM Motor. Adjust by twisting the Vario Power Spray Wand for effective and surface-friendly cleaning. Perfect for cleaning concrete, pavement, driveways, patios, decks, sidewalks, RVs, cars, boats, homes, fencing, and more.

Look for light-duty or consumer-grade pressure washers. These generally produce about 1,000 to 2,000 PSI, and this should be adequate for your needs. These cheaper models are not really intended for daily use, but they are find for a home handyman who just wants to do chores on the week-end. Visit our post on pressure washer reviews for more details on our other recommendations.

Get Started With Your Pressure Washer

Make sure that you park your car so you can wash it without constantly hitting your garage or house. Also, be sure to get people and animals out of the way. The high-pressure stream of water can actually causes injuries. If you have kids, remind them that the pressure washer is not a toy, and they are not allowed to use it without proper supervision.

Are there some scratches or dings on your vehicle? It might be prudent to cover these spots with a small strip of tape. The high pressure of the water can actually get under the paint. It can also aggravate an existing dent.

Once you are ready to start, connect your washer to your hose. Turn on the water, and make sure that you prime the pump and hose with water. You never want to turn the machine on before you fill the pump with water. Once you are sure you have water in the pump, you can start the washer’s motor.

Your first step will be to rinse the entire car with clean water. This should get rid of most of the accumulated grime on the surface. After you have rinsed off the grime, apply a car wash detergent to your entire vehicle. Make sure you purchase a product that is intended for cars, and also make sure that you follow the package’s instructions.

Attach the twenty-five degree tip, and start washing off the soap. Begin at the top of your vehicle and make your way to the bottom. Keep moving the spray so you do not risk damaging your car with an intense spray in one spot for too long.

It is better to make several passes than to hold the spray in one spot for too long. As you get more adept at using your pressure washer, you should get more graceful at this task.

Make sure to set your machine to a lower pressure around pin stripes or decals. If you need to clean your truck bed or wheels, you might need a higher pressure. Again, it is better to start at a low pressure and work your way up if you are not sure how your washer works.

After you wash off the detergent, you can follow that step off with a rinse solution. This final rinse can prevent water spotting and protect your vehicle. Now you can chose to let your vehicle dry in the air or wipe it down with a soft cloth. Either way, you should have a clean car in record time!

Last update on 2023-12-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


I've worked in the landscaping industry ever since college. I love being outdoors and working on DIY projects around the farm.