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How to Clean Your Car With a Pressure Washer

Some of us love taking extra care of our cars, which includes giving it the best treatment. This can include waxing the exterior and making sure the interior is also cleaned. On the other hand, some of us have not paid attention to our car in ages and the only time the car has been washed is when it went through an automated car wash a month ago.

If you hate washing your car because it is time-consuming, then we have the perfect solution for you—pressure washers. The days of automated car washes and cleaning it with a bucket and sponge should be left behind – if you want to clean your car efficiently, a pressure washer is the best way to go.

​Not only do pressure washers take less time to clean your car, but they also use less water compared to more conventional car washing methods. They are known to be more effective because instead of trapping the dirt against the sponge and the vehicle, pressure washers remove the dirt away from your car, and you don’t even have to touch it. Read more to learn about how to clean your car with a pressure washer.

Steps to Clean Your Car With a Pressure Washer

Choose the Appropriate Pressure Washer

Before washing your car, always keep in mind to use a pressure washer with the right power. PSI, which stands for pounds per square inch, depends on your water flow (GPM: gallons per minute). The higher the PSI, the greater the force of the water will be when it leaves the washer. The higher the GPM of the water, the more water the washer will release to clean your car.

The cleaning units of the pressure washer depend on the combination of force and the amount of water a pressure washer releases. A good pressure washer, on average, will produce 2800 to 3000 cleaning units. Washing a car with a pressure washer will require around 1900 to 2200 cleaning units. The great thing about pressure washers is that they are much more effective and efficient than a basic garden hose.

Where a garden hose will release a water flow of 7 and a PSI of 40, a pressure washer can easily release 1.5 GPM and 1700 PSI. This huge gap makes all the difference in the world when you’re cleaning your car. Not only will a pressure washer do a better job, but it will also save you lots of time and water.

Relax it’s not as complicated as a relay switch of a well-pump. You got this!

Guide to Nozzles

When choosing the pressure washer, keep in mind two features— the pressure level and the nozzle size.

The right pressure level for your car will be around 1200 to 1900 PSI. This is the perfect PSI for a car and the user won’t have to worry about damaging the exterior of their car. The best GPM for a pressure washer is around 1.4 to 1.6 GPM. It is not hard to find the best pressure washer for cars – if you find both of these requirements in a pressure washer; chances are you’ve probably found the right one.

There are various nozzles that you can choose for your pressure washer. Using the right sized nozzle is crucial to clean your car properly and to keep your car’s paint job intact. The nozzle size is a little tricky to choose because there are various sizes that can be used with a pressure washer. Make sure to choose the right size so that the water is evenly distributed across the whole surface of your car. It’s always good to keep in mind that a narrow pressure washer tip covers less surface area but uses more pressure. A much wider tip covers more area but uses less pressure.

There are four colors of tip degrees – red, yellow, green and white. The red tip is zero degrees, which means it has extremely high pressure. It is not suitable for cars and is mostly used to clean buildings and stains from cement. The yellow tip is 15 degrees, which is still a lot of water pressure. It is mostly used to clean dirt and grime off of sidewalks and is not recommended to clean cars. The green tip is 25 degrees, which might not be the ideal nozzle for a car, but it can work to clean wheels and remove mud from the exterior of the car. It can also be used to give a pre-rinse to the car before the actual wash. The green tip is also used to remove debris from hard surfaces. The white tip is the widest with a nozzle of 40 degrees. This is the perfect nozzle for cleaning the exterior of a car. Since the tip is wide, it can easily clean a large surface very quickly. It can also remove detergent from your car very quickly.

Park Your Car in a Good Spot When Washing It

It is essential to choose the right parking spot before washing your car. Make sure to park your car in an open space – away from other cars or other objects that might get in the way. Since the water pressure of the pressure washer is really high—and the 40-degree nozzle covers a lot of surface—other cars or objects can get damaged very easily. If you have a big driveway, that would be the ideal space to park your car in before washing it. You can even park it in the street, but make sure it’s fairly empty. If you’re using an electric car pressure washer, which is recommended over gas pressure washers, make certain that you have access to power or electricity so that you can power your pressure washer. You’ll also need to be near an outlet so you can use your washer.

Rinse Your Car

Before you start your cleaning your car, always make sure to rinse it first. Chances are, your car is going to be covered in debris and mud, which can easily stick to the surface. You can use a green (25-degree) tip nozzle to pre-rinse your car. Stand a few feet away from the car when you first turn on the water pressure and slowly inch closer while testing the pressure of the washer. Always keep in mind to close all the car doors and roll the windows up before spraying your car with water. If you don’t, this small mistake can ruin the interior of your car. If you feel like the water pressure is too high, first point the nozzle at the ground. This will not only help you test the pressure but also protect the exterior of your vehicle.

The items you will need to clean your car are a water outlet, an electrical outlet, a 25-degree tip and a pressure washer. Start by plugging your pressure washer into an electrical outlet and by attaching the pressure washer to a water outlet. Then attach the 25-degree tip to the nozzle of the washer. Lastly, turn on your pressure washer and simply spray the surface of your car with the water.

Most people forget to wash certain parts of the car, so let us mention them here, so you can keep them in mind – make sure to wash your tires because they have a lot of debris, dirt and grime on them. Wash the hubcaps, too.

Apply Detergent to Your Car

List of Detergents You Can Use to Clean Your Car

Make sure to dilute these detergents with water before you apply them to your car. For this step, you’ll need a bag of detergent, some water, a bucket, a cloth and of course, the pressure washer. The first step is to pour detergent and water into a bucket to dilute the detergent. To learn more about the water to detergent ratio, check the back of the detergent box. The second step is to fill the detergent tank of the pressure washer with the detergent you just diluted. If your pressure washer does not have a detergent tank, you can simply apply detergent to the car with a cloth.

When turning on the pressure water, make sure to switch the setting on the pressure washer, so you actually spray detergent on your car rather than more water. Spray the detergent on your car – make sure to apply detergent from the bottom up to prevent streaking.  You can either wash the whole car at once or wash one side at a time – it’s totally up to you. Leave the detergent on the surface of the car for at least five minutes.

Rinse Detergent Off of Your Car

Before you start rinsing your car, it is important to make sure that the PSI of your pressure washer is safe to use for your car.

The best PSI to wash your car with is 1900 to 2200 units. If it’s lower than 1900, the water pressure might be too low to clean your car properly. If it’s above 2200, it might seriously damage the exterior of your car. Always check the water pressure before spraying your car with water.

To rinse the detergent off of your car, also make sure to use a 40-degree tip because it will clean the surface much faster. A good tip is to hold the pressure washer at a 45-degree angle and rinse downward from the top. Make sure to have a towel nearby so you can easily wipe the exterior of your car after rinsing it.

Before turning on the pressure washer, make sure to switch the output from detergent to water. Otherwise, you might just spray more detergent on your car instead of water. After turning on the output source, simply rinse the detergent off.

Once you are done with rinsing, make sure to use a soft cloth or a clean towel to dry the car. Congratulations! You’ve successfully washed your car.

Cleaning your car with a pressure washer is not only hassle-free but also effective. Regularly washing your car with a pressure washer is a quick way to clean your car and make it look new. Whenever you’re washing your car, make sure to follow these simple steps and your car will be clean in no time.

Now that you know how to clean your car with a Pressure Washer, here are some pressure washers available in the market that you can choose from.

Best Pressure Washers for Cars

Sun Joe SPX3000

The Sun Joe pressure washer is undoubtedly one of the best. It is powered by an 1800 watt, 14.5-amp motor. It offers 1.76 gallons of water per minute (GPM). The motor generates up to 2030 PSI. The best thing about this product is that it is quite affordable. The maximum water inlet temperature is 104 degrees.

The Sun Joe pressure washer can be used to clean your car and various other things. You can use it to clean your driveway, boats, decks, patios, lawn equipment and even buildings. It comes with detergent tanks, which can be easily removed. It also comes with 5 spray tips (0, 12, 25, 40 degrees) and soap which can help you clean whatever surface you want with your preferred water pressure. To learn more about this pressure washer, read our detailed review here.

Stand-Out Features

  • 2030 PSI rating
  • 1.76 GPM
  • 1800 watt motor
  • 2 year warranty
  • Dual detergent tanks, which can be removed easily



  • Affordable

  • ​Can be used for various tasks
  • ​Strong water pressure
  • Extra long power cord
  • 5 quick spray tips
  • ​Not durable
  • ​Hose connector might leak

Power Pressure Washer

The power pressure washer has a motor of 2200 PSI, which is great for washing cars. Not only is the motor strong, but the design of this pressure washer is also one of a kind. The motor of this pressure washer generates less heat but more power. The power pressure washer comes with a 35 feet long power cord and a 20 feet long hose. It also has a soap dispenser. The best part about this pressure washer is that unlike other washers, it has a very low sound level. To learn more about this pressure washer, read our detailed review here.

Stand-Out Features

  • 2200 PSI
  • 35 feet long power cord
  • 20 feet long hose



  • Money back guarantee

  • ​Low noise level
  • ​Expensive
  • ​Heavy
  • ​Unclear manual

Stanley SHP2150

The Stanley powerful pressure washer is perfect to clean even the biggest stains – whether they’re on your vehicle or your driveway, this pressure washer can remove them. It’s ideal for cleaning decks, cement, pavements, pools, outdoor furniture, garbage cans, animal cages and all kinds of vehicles. Whether you have an RV, an ATV, a truck or a car, this pressure washer can handle it all.

It comes with a 25 feet long pressure hose, 4 quick connect nozzles (0, 15, 25 and 40 degrees), a detergent tank and a warranty of 2 years. Not only is this pressure washer compact, but it is also very lightweight so you can easily pick it up while cleaning your car. It offers a pressure of 2150 PSI and a GPM of 1.4. It is pretty expensive, but it is also extremely versatile and will undoubtedly help you with various tasks.

Stand-Out Features

  • 25 feet long hose
  • 4 quick spray nozzles
  • 2150 PSI
  • 1.4 GPM



  • Versatile pressure washer 

  • ​2 year warranty
  • ​Compact
  • ​Lightweight
  • ​Leak-proof connections
  • ​Detergent tank
  • ​Low noise level
  • ​Less consumption of water
  • ​Expensive

More about Pressure Washers

Types of Pressure Washers

Before you buy a pressure washer, it is important to know that there are several types of pressure washers – they are basically divided by their power source and functional capacity.

Electrical Pressure Washer

As the name represents, these pressure washers are usually used at home. All you have to do is connect your pressure washer into an outlet and you can use it to clean your car, your patio, driveway and even your outdoor furniture. The electrical pressure washers are light duty and have a pressure rating of 1300 to 2000 PSI with 2 GPM.

Gas or Petrol Engine

The gas powered pressure washers are not meant for homes. They are mostly used to clean pavements and buildings. Since they are heavy applications, these pressure washers release a lot of exhaust fumes, which are dangerous for the environment. These pressure washers are medium duty and have a pressure rating of 2000 to 2800 PSI with 2 to 3 GPM.

Hydraulic Power Pressure Washers

These pressure washers are usually found at farms or industrial sites. They are not dependent on either fuel, gas or electricity. They are also very light, compact and make very little noise. These pressure washers are pretty heavy duty with a pressure rating of 3300 PSI and more.

What Type of Pressure Washer Is Perfect For You?

When buying a pressure washer, you have to keep in mind not only its features but also what you need it for. If you simply want a pressure washer to clean your car, its best to get an electrical pressure washer.

A good pressure washer will have a low noise level and will be lightweight and compact. When buying a pressure washer, keep the following features in mind:

A soap or detergent tank: Not every pressure washer has one, so make sure that the one you buy does. If your pressure washer has a soap or detergent tank, you won’t have to use a bucket to dilute the detergent with water – you can simply pour it in the detergent tank and then spray it from the nozzle.

Cord storage: A good pressure washer comes with cord storage, so you can easily keep it away when you’re done. The longer the cord, the better, but there should also be space to store it properly.

Nozzles: Another feature that a good pressure washer will have is a variety of nozzle settings. Make sure your pressure washer has at least 4 spray settings so you can change them accordingly.

​Final ​Note

Now that you know how to pick the right pressure washer and how to clean your car with it, here are some precautionary measures that you must follow.  Before starting the pressure washer, make sure to read the instruction manual first. Whenever you’re washing your car, always wear goggles to protect your eyes because dirt, grime and debris can very easily fly into your face and hurt you. The pressure washers can have very high water pressure, so make sure nobody or anything valuable is in the way.

Wondering whether you can power wash your car engine? Click here to learn more about effective ways to clean your car engine. You can also click here to learn more about how to start a pressure washing business.