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Pressure Washing: Do’s and Don’ts

Are there oil or paint stains on your driveway? Or maybe your home’s vinyl siding is looking dingy beneath several layers of dirt and dust. If you want to clean your concrete driveway, vinyl siding, front walk, patio, garbage cans, or fence, a pressure washer can make the task a lot easier. Though it’s a convenient piece of equipment to have around, there are some things to remember in order to operate one safely. This week, I have some of the do’s and don’ts involved in operating a pressure washer.


  • Do wear goggles to protect your eyes from the spray. Wearing pants (instead of shorts) to do the job is a good idea as well.
  • Do change the spray angle of the nozzle on the pressure washer to suit the cleaning task.
  • Do move the sprayer from side to side in an even way while cleaning a wall, fence, or section of siding.
  • Do adjust the pressure of the water to suit the type of job you want to complete.
  • Do wait until the gas tank of the device has cooled down before trying to refill it.


  • Don’t focus the pressure washer in one place for too long. This can cause damage.
  • Don’t forget that the force of water coming out of a pressure washer can cut into your skin or cause other injury.
  • Don’t move your sprayer upward on a wall or section of siding. Instead, work your way downward so the dirty water slides off of the surface.
  • Don’t use your pressure washer while on a ladder. For this job, it’s best to stay on solid ground and leave the ladder in your garage.
  • Don’t loosen or adjust your grip on the pressure washer when it’s in operation.

Things That Should Not Be Pressure-Washed

Avoid using a pressure washer on wood siding. The high-pressure water can seep beneath the wood, damaging insulation and wiring. The water left behind can also lead to mold growth. Stained wood shouldn’t be pressure-washed either. The powerful spray of this device can remove stain from wood!

Another item to avoid when using your pressure washer is your outdoor air conditioning unit. The metal fins on an outdoor air conditioning unit are somewhat delicate, and they can be damaged, loosened, or crushed by the fast and strong flow of water. Damaged fins will prevent the unit from working efficiently.

More items not suitable for pressure-washing include:

  • Old, damaged bricks
  • Asphalt roof shingles (the water will remove the grains from the shingles)
  • Electrical meters or panels
  • Windows or window screens
  • Outdoor light fixtures
  • Plants, even large ones

Now that you know the do’s and don’ts of pressure-washing, it’s time to get out there and wash away that dirt! If you have just one job to tackle, I would think about renting a pressure washer from your local hardware store instead of purchasing one. This handy piece of equipment can give your driveway, siding, or fence a new lease on life. Thanks for reading. – Alan

Alan Bernau Jr

Alan Bernau Jr. is the founder and owner of Alan’s Factory Outlet. He has helped more than 50,000 homeowners design and install custom carports and garages over the last 20 years.

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