Articles & Advice

Pressure Washing Techniques For a Deep Clean

by Jon Nunan

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While the success of many household cleaning tasks simply depends on choosing the right cleanser for the job, there are some cases where the labor involved in removing a film or stain is just too much. Perhaps the stain is bound too tightly to the surface of what you want to clean, or the affected area is simply too large for vigorous hand scrubbing to be a viable option. If this scenario sounds familiar, your solution might require a bit more power.

Common Pressure Washing Situations
You may have seen professionals pressure washing, or maybe even done it yourself. For handling enormous cleaning tasks like buildings, walls, parking areas, heavy equipment, or even statues, a pressure washer is often the right tool for the job. Pressure washing is the preferred cleaning method for removing pollution and fuel emission residue on structures in urban areas. It is also an excellent method of removing mineral, lime, and hard water deposits. Homeowners, especially those who like to work on their own cars, will find that pressure washing is great for grease and oil stains in the garage or driveway; it can even remove graffiti!

DIY vs. Professional Pressure Washing
There is most likely a home improvement center or hardware store in you area that will rent you a pressure washer (or at least point you in the right direction to find someone who will). Make sure that you talk to the people you rent the machine from about the task you plan to use the power washer for to see if they have any advice about technique or particular cleaning solutions you can add to make the operation go smoother.

In professional hands, this is an efficient, effective cleaning alternative that will often save money over more labor-intensive methods. If you've never used a pressure washer before and are unsure of how they work, you may consider hiring a professional for the job. Because of the amount of power involved in pressure washing, an inexperienced user can unintentionally cause a great deal of damage. Situations like cleaning windows or siding with a powerwasher require a delicate and skilled hand, so even if you are confident in cleaning stains from concrete in your driveway, you might consider hiring someone for these kinds of jobs.

Powerwashing Techniques
Power or high-pressure cleaning is a directed blast of internally heated water, often discharged at five gallons per minute, under up to 3,000 pounds per square inch of pressure. For specific cleaning and stain removals, certain chemicals or solvents are added. For specific or environmentally safe cleaning needs, there are several other blasting methods:

With soda blasting, there are the advantages of being environmentally safe, and no pre-masking is required. It cleans multi-layered surfaces, and it is non-corrosive and safe to perform around food equipment.

Sandblasting is intended for jobs that require some stripping and abrasion.

Dry ice blasting shoots dense dry ice pellets that turn to a harmless gaseous substance on impact. This option leaves an instantly dry surface, and it is also safe around food equipment.

Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.