How to Clean Your Car With a Pressure Washer? (7 Steps)

how to clean your car with a pressure washer

With a pressure washer’s capability of releasing water at higher pressures while consuming less water in car cleaning, it’s much more efficient than a garden hose. It also makes the process easier and faster.

It’s the answer for minimizing effort and time in car washing. But another question for first-timers would be “how to clean your car with a pressure washer?”

Pressure washing a car is a breeze, but you should do it with caution. Always make sure to choose and switch to the appropriate nozzle as well as spray at a distance and a downward angle.


What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial


To achieve the best cleaning results when cleaning a car with a pressure washer, you must use the appropriate cleaning tools and products. But if you don’t have a pressure washer, you can always go to a self-serve car wash for pressure washer cleaning your car. Anyway, below is the list of things you will need:

1. Car Pressure Washer

The ideal pressure washer for car washing would be an electric pressure washer. It’s powerful enough to spray off road grime, bird droppings, and other debris. Avoid gas pressure washers, as compared to electric pressure washers, they are way too strong for a job as light as washing a car or truck.

The right pressure washer must also have the appropriate PSI (pounds per square inch), which is the amount of force in the water released from the wand. The appropriate PSI setting for car washing that’s safe to use and won’t damage your car is 1200-1900 PSI.

Another feature that’s necessary for a car cleaning pressure washer is the right GPM (gallons per minute), meaning the amount of water flow per minute, which is 1.4-1.6 GPM.

2. 25-Degree Nozzle, 40-Degree Nozzle, and Soap Nozzle

There are different pressure washer nozzles, each with different capabilities. There are three particular nozzles needed for washing your car.

  • 25-degree nozzle (green) – It is capable of flushing away debris from any hard surface, which makes it good for pre-wash rinsing, particularly on the wheels, truck beds, and also on muddy surfaces on a car.
  • 40-degree nozzle (white) – It can clean a large area quickly, which makes it suitable for pre-wash rinsing the surface of a car and for rinsing off detergent from a car.
  • Soap nozzle (black) – This is the designated nozzle for spraying soap on a car.

3. Pressure Washer-Compatible Detergent

There are detergents specially designed for use in pressure washing a car. Make sure that you use that type of car wash soap when you pressure wash your car.

4. Cloth

If your pressure washer doesn’t have a detergent tank for spraying detergent, you can just apply detergent with a cloth.

5. Foam Cannon

A foam cannon is another alternative for applying detergent if your pressure washer doesn’t have a detergent tank. You’ll just have to attach it to the pressure washer’s wand. Any foam cannon can attach to most pressure washers.

But even if your pressure washer does have a detergent tank, you can still reinforce your pressure washer with a foam cannon. It would increase foam generation, which helps prevent scratches by lifting the abrasive dirt on your car and allows a more thorough cleaning without leaving any swirls.

6. Two Buckets of Water

In some cases, the mere use of a pressure washer does the trick. However, when tough dirt is present on your car, it would also require scrubbing with a solution. So you would need two buckets of water, one for mixing with the soap and the other for rinsing the wash mitt you use for scrubbing.

7. Microfiber Wash Mitt

A microfiber wash mitt is the best option for scrubbing a car’s surface, as it is gentle and traps in the grit it catches from the car, keeping the car’s surface clean as well as swirl and scratch-free.

8. Microfiber Towel

A microfiber towel is highly recommended for drying a car, as it’s a gentle and highly absorptive towel that can dry your car without leaving streaks.

Step by Step Instructions

Using a pressure washer when cleaning your car makes the job easier. But to achieve great results, you must be careful too. Find out the proper way of cleaning a vehicle with a high pressure hose below:

Step 1. Park in a Spot Ideal for Pressure Washing

It would be ideal to park in a wide, open area like a large driveway or street. And there shouldn’t be any other cars or objects around that may accidentally get wet or damaged while you are using pressure washer on car. There should also be an outlet for plugging in your electric pressure washer.

Step 2. Rinse the Car to Remove Dirt and Debris


Before rinsing your car, you should make sure that the car windows, doors, hood, and trunk are all closed to prevent the inside of your car from getting wet. Then plug in your electric washer into your electrical source.

You should also make sure the pressure of the water coming from the electric washer isn’t too strong by doing a test spray on the ground. Then, give your car a good pre-wash rinse, spraying off all the dirt and debris. You are going to start with the use of the 25-degree nozzle, spraying the tires and wheel wells.

Next, you will switch to the 40-degree nozzle to rinse your car’s exterior. You must at least be one foot away from your car when you spray water on your car. But when spraying fragile parts like side mirrors, windows, headlights, and brake lights, you must move back a bit.

You should start spraying water from the top, working your way down. Don’t spray straight on but rather at a downward angle to avoid damaging the car paint.

Step 3. Spray the Detergent Onto the Car


Prepare your car washing solution by diluting it with water. Then pour it into the pressure washer’s detergent tank. And change the nozzle to the soap nozzle.

However, some pressure washers don’t have a detergent tank. If yours doesn’t, you can apply the car wash soap by hand with a cloth or use a foam cannon.

Just unscrew the cannon from its detergent container, fill the container with your car wash soap, screw the cannon back onto the container, and snap it into the pressure washer.

You can also adjust the sud output with the fan adjust as well as switch the output from water to soap with the soap adjust.

Once you’re all set, apply the car wash soap to the entire vehicle starting from the bottom going up to prevent streaks. You must also start spraying from a distance of two to three feet.

You would then move closer in a gradual manner to get rid of tough mud and bugs if needed. Get about six inches closer to the wheels to get rid of stubborn brake dust, road salt, and other dirt. Let the soap sit for five minutes before rinsing it out.

Step 4. Scrub Off the Stubborn Dirt


If the dirt on your car is not so bad, merely using a pressure washer would suffice. But if you notice stubborn dirt on it, you would need to scrub it off. To do the job more efficiently, do the two-bucket method with soapy water and water for rinsing.

First, dilute your cleaning solution in a bucket, then apply it to your car with a wash mitt, and scrub starting from the top, going down. Scrub one section at a time and make sure all the dirt is removed from the entire surface area of your car. Each time you finish scrubbing a two feet by two feet area, rinse the wash mitt.

An easier way to scrub off stubborn dirt would be to use a brush attachment. When using this, wash the wheels and wheel arches last so you wouldn’t rub on your car’s surface any stones or grit that got caught on the brush. Also, make sure to thoroughly rinse the brush after using it, so it’s clean for the next use.

Step 5. Rinse Out the Detergent from the Car


For rinsing out the detergent, you would first switch to the 40-degree nozzle and change the detergent tank output to water output.

But before spraying your car, spray some water out onto the ground to flush out the soap remaining in the system. When you rinse detergent from your car, rinse downward at a 45-degree angle, starting from the top, going down.

Step 6. Wipe the Car Dry


Once your car is finally free of dirt and soap, wipe the car dry using a microfiber towel.


A pressure washer works wonders for car owners, especially those who hate doing the long, laborious task of washing their car. Its great cleaning power and efficiency lessen the time and effort spent in cleaning a car.

Just carefully follow the steps provided on how to clean your car with a pressure washer, and your car will be spotless in no time. But remember to do it with caution.

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