Here’s the Right Way to DIY Pressure Wash Your House

Put safety first while getting your siding sparkling clean

Lauren Murphy
Written by Lauren Murphy
Updated June 22, 2022
A man cleaning with a high water pressure cleaner
Photo: Andrea Obzerova / EyeEm / Getty Images
Difficulty

Simple

Saturday skill builder.

Time to complete

2 hours

Cost

$20–$30

You might need a few supplies.

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What you'll need:

TOOLS

  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Hose
  • Pressure washer
  • Safety goggles
  • Ear protection

SUPPLIES

  • Pressure washer detergent
  • Drop cloths
  • Duct tape

Pressure washing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to clear away dirt and grime from your home’s exterior. Pressure washers are very powerful machines that spray water at a pressure so high that it can cut through skin and cause injury or damage to your home if you’re not careful. Continue reading to learn how to pressure wash your house the right (and safe) way.

Buying the Right Pressure Washer

Choose a pressure washer that's meant to work on the type of siding you have. Vinyl siding can withstand a powerful pressure washer, while aluminum and wood siding requires a less powerful washer. 

If you don’t already have a pressure washer in your arsenal, head to your nearby home improvement store. You can either rent or buy a pressure washer and its accessories. If you’re cleaning the exterior of your house to help it sell quickly before you move, consider renting one so that you don’t have to lug it to your next home with you. But buying one may be more convenient if this will be a repeat job over the years.

Prepping to Pressure Wash the Area

Power washers are powerful and can damage the more fragile items on your home’s exterior. You should:

  • Remove light fixtures and decorations

  • Cover nearby plants with a drop cloth secured with duct tape

  • Clear the area of toys, bikes, etc.

  • Tape over electrical outlets

Safely Pressure Washing Your Home

Pressure washers spray water at such a high velocity that it can injure you or others if you’re not careful. Wear safety gear to protect yourself and make sure your kids and pets are out of the way before you begin.

Wear safety goggles, work gloves, long clothes, boots, and hearing protection when pressure washing. Some additional safety tips for pressure washing include:

  • Don’t use a ladder—the pressure could knock you off balance

  • Never aim the pressure washer at anyone

  • Don't’ use a gas pressure washer in an enclosed space

Be thorough, attentive, and careful while pressure washing. If you drift off in a daydream, you could cause some serious damage to your home, yourself, or your loved ones. Pressure washing isn’t necessarily difficult, but it requires some focus. Here’s how to get it done in five simple steps.

  1. Hose Off Siding

    Grab your garden hose and thoroughly spray down your siding, working in sections to break it up. This will help loosen dirt and debris before you wash it. If you want your house perfectly clean and you don’t mind getting sweaty in the process, you can take a scrub brush to it.

  2. Set Up Pressure Washer

    Mix water and a pressure washer cleaning detergent in a 5-gallon bucket. If you’re not sure what detergent to use, read the manual that came with your pressure washer for guidance. Try to use a detergent with mildewcide in it that will get rid of the grimy green mildew growing on the side of your house.

    Then, set up your pressure washer—your machine’s manual has instructions for this. Hook it up to your garden hose and select the appropriate nozzle for the job.

  3. Wash One Section at a Time

    Whether you’re cleaning a five-bedroom, three-story craftsman or a small, single-story ranch home, you should break the task up into sections. Not only will this method make the task feel more manageable, but it will also encourage you to be more thorough and focused while you pressure wash. Work on a six-foot section at a time.

    Pressure wash from the bottom up to avoid annoying drips of water and suds running down the side of the house.

  4. Inspect and Let Dry

    Before you put away the washer, take a good look at your work. Look out for any spots you accidentally missed or stubborn dirt that’s still hanging on. Go over these sections with the pressure washer again as needed.

    Once it’s finished, you can put your pressure washer away, remove the drop cloths and tape you set up, and allow your sparkling clean siding to dry. Make sure it’s completely dry if you’re painting your siding.

DIY Pressure Washing a House vs. Hiring a Pro

There are several DIY pressure washing pros and cons to consider.

Pros

DIY pressure washing is less expensive than hiring a pro if you’re renting the machine instead of buying it outright. Renting a pressure washer costs between $35 and $175 per day, while hiring a pro to pressure wash your house costs between $100 to $1,800, depending on the size of your house.

Cons

On the downside, pressure washing can be dangerous if you don’t take the proper safety precautions. And if you accidentally cause damage to your home, it could cost you in the long run. If you’re not interested in taking on the project yourself or you don’t have the proper safety gear, hire a professional power washer to do the job.

Additional Questions

Is it safe to pressure wash my house?

Yes, but the water pressure is very powerful. If you’re not careful, it can put a hole in your wall or cause injuries to yourself or others. But there are several pressure washing tips you can follow to pressure wash safely, including wearing safety gear at all times.

What should I put down before pressure washing?

Remove lights and decorations from your siding before taking a pressure washer to it, then put down tarps or drop cloths over your lawn, shrubs, and garden plants to protect them. Secure the cloths in place with duct tape.

Should I use soap when power washing my house?

It’s not necessary, but you can absolutely use soap or detergent when pressure washing your house. Washing with a mixture of soap and water will ensure your siding is spotless when you’re finished.

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