Tips for (Safely) Cleaning Your Home with a Pressure Washer

Pressure washers can be used to clean driveways, sidewalks patios, decks, siding and fencing.

But if you’re not careful, a pressure washer can damage softer surfaces like wood.

Here are some tips on how to use a pressure washer to clean your home:

  • Use a wide tip on softer surfaces to reduce the chance of damage.
  • Find the distance from the tip to the surface that cleans best without causing damage.
  • When cleaning wood, move the tip with the grain of the wood to avoid damage.
  • Use a cleaner made for pressure washers, and the tip made for applying cleaners.
  • Do not use chlorine bleach in a pressure washer; use oxygen bleach instead.
  • Use a surface cleaner attachment on your pressure washer when cleaning large horizontal areas.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information


Of course, you’ll be using water for just about all of your exterior cleaning chores, why not make that water work a little harder by using a pressure washer. Now, a pressure washer is essentially a gasoline motor or an electric motor that powers a compressor that will multiply the PSI or Pounds per Square Inch of the water coming out of your water hose by 60 to 80 times.

Now, this model from Generac produces 2700 PSI, now that’s plenty to clean just about anything outside your home. I mean patio furniture, brick, fencing, decking, all of that type of cleaning is made a lot easier with a pressure washer. But that’s also powerful enough to cause all kinds of damage, so there are a few things you have to consider.

First of all, the selection of the nozzle which determines the spray pattern you have. Naturally, the wider your spray pattern, the less intense that pressure is. If it’s a little more narrow, that when you really need to be careful, because that’s when you can gouge fencing or any type of wood decking. So you have to be very careful when you’re selecting the right nozzle. Here are a few other tips.

Experiment with the distance you keep the cleaning nozzle from the surface by slowing moving it closer until you find the optimum cleaning range. On bare wood, it’s usually best to move the tip parallel to the wood grain, this will help prevent splintering.

Another way you can make your pressure washer work even better is by using the proper cleaner. Now, if you have a reservoir on your pressure washer, like I have here, it’s as simple as using a cleaner that’s designed for use in a pressure washer, pour it in, then use the tip that you use to apply the cleaner to the surface that you’re working on. It’s that easy. Now, if you don’t have a reservoir, you can always use the old garden, pump up sprayer to do the exact same thing. Now, I wouldn’t recommend using chlorine bleach, because it’ll damage your pressure washer and void your warranty, and might even kill a few plants around the house. If you feel like you have to use some type of bleach, use oxygen bleach, or one that’s formulated for use outside your home.

Now, if you’re cleaning a lot of horizontal surfaces, like driveways or maybe a deck, here’s a great tip to make that go a lot easier. This is a little accessory, it’s a horizontal surface cleaner that attaches to your pressure washer wand. And then, the real secret is here below, it keeps the nozzles in constant motion and at a consistent height off the surface that you’re cleaning. So that you don’t have any damage and get a nice, even cleaning over whatever horizontal surface that you’re working on.


  1. There are several pressure washers that have an after the pump in-line pick-up specifically designed for chlorine applications. However, the manufactures recommend flushing the pick-up and lines before storage. If you live in the south, Florida, chlorine is a must to kill mold and algae. Your video is not completely accurate and may misinform consumers. Please amend the video and notify me when complete.
    Thank you, Matt

  2. Matt,

    Thanks for providing feedback on Danny’s video, but I believe your request to “amend the video and notify me when complete,” request is a bit of a stretch isn’t it?

    They produce top notch home improvement videos here on Today’s Home Owner. Videos that are factual and work in 90% of the situations a homeowner encounters. For most homeowners this video is perfect, giving them just enough information so they do not destroy their siding and can produce nice results. Sure, by spending more money people can get a post-pump filtered unit, but install one themselves.

    However, the intent of this video is to provide basic power washing principles and techniques to the homeowner, which it does very well.

  3. I watched one of your programs and you showed how to use a product to clean off mildew from bricks, etc and I thought you said it was mildew be gone and was sold at Home Depot, but we tried to find it and didn’t see it. Please let us know what the correct name is and where to find it..Thank You

  4. I would like to see how to work on a foundation that had sunken into the ground and needs repair. Without the expensive machinery and labor. Thank you.

  5. Last night, a storm just passed through my town and left the side of my house a bit muddy from the rain splashing it up onto it and so I am going to be having some pressure washing done this afternoon. However, I am so glad that you mentioned the need to use a wide tip so that there would be less damage, because I will definitely be making sure that whoever does cleaning heeds by that advice. However, what type of softer surfaces were you talking about above?

  6. Awesome read. I find alot of people don’t utilize pressure washers or power washers. There very easy to use and super portable. I actually own my own pressure washing company its the best clean you can get. Additionally if there are stains not coming off the surfaces try adding a soap mixture to the water.

  7. Hey we are a pressure cleaning company in miami and I am I’m looking for the same thing as lynell. Where could I find your product? Tried home depot and had no luck.

  8. You have to be so careful with some of these nozzles as the turbo lances are so powerful they can tear your flesh. I got caught out myself once and my hand was very sore for some time. They should have better warning signs on the packaging and also on the equipment itself.


  9. You need to remember to keep the pressure washing wand moving at all times. If there’s a stubborn stain you probably need a better detergent, not more pressure! Hiring a professional power washing company is also the best way to avoid damaging exterior surfaces around your house.

  10. Great read, pressure washing is not used enough. I see so many houses that need cleaning due to algae but don’t bother. Believe it or not but property value and resale can go up when you do something as simple as cleaning the exterior of your home. No brainer…use a pressure washing service for your next job.

  11. I have a practically new pressure washer and used bleach to clean the roof… The pressure washer will not start ( its a pull cord type) My bother told me in a later conversation that bleach probably destroyed the pump. Can that be true? That fast?

    • Hi, Dorothy,
      While we can’t know what happened to your pressure washer, we can say that significant exposure to bleach leads to corrosion and makes a pressure washer ineffective.
      There’s a good chance you’ll need to visit the home center for a new pressure washer.
      Thanks for your question.


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