Take the guesswork out of which areas of your home are safe to pressure wash
Over time, the exterior of your home can become covered in built-up dirt, debris, and grime. While some of that buildup (like dirty or discolored concrete patios) can be unsightly, some of it (such as mold and algae) can actually damage your home if it’s not properly removed.
Homeowners can tackle these messes with ease by hiring a pro or using a pressure washer themselves. This tool works by turning water from your hose into a targeted cleaning stream you control using a hand-held wand attachment. While wielding one of these wands may make you feel like a cleaning wizard, you’ll need to be mindful of where you’re spraying—not all parts of your home can withstand the intense power of pressure washing.
Parts of the House That Can Be Pressure Washed
There are few things as satisfying for homeowners as a DIY project that can be done quickly while creating a big impact, and power washing definitely fits that bill. A pressure washer can remove years of built-up grime in a matter of seconds, which is exactly why it’s so important to make sure you’re only using it on surfaces that are safe for this type of cleaning. Otherwise, you can do irrevocable damage before you’ve even realized it.
You can safely pressure wash these areas:
Unstained decking made from natural wood
Vinyl, aluminum, and cement siding
Concrete slab (including walkways, patios, and driveways)
Children’s outdoor toys
Outdoor furniture and cushions (as long as it’s made of composite wood or plastic)
Power Wash With Care
Of course, some items aren’t so clear-cut. For example, you can power wash clapboard siding, but only if it’s newer than 1978 (if it was manufactured or installed before then, power washing may release harmful or toxic materials like lead into the air).
Additionally, you actually can pressure wash gutters as long as your machine has an attachment that allows you to direct the water into them from overhead, and if you can reach them without using a ladder.
A note on safety: It’s never recommended to use a pressure washer while standing on a ladder—doing so may cause a dangerous recoil that could lead to serious injury.
Parts of the House That Can’t Be Pressure Washed
Any list of places that are unsafe to pressure wash around your home will be incomplete because there are just too many variables to make a definitive list. It’s best to avoid power washing any surface that’s close to an electric source (yes, this even includes areas that are otherwise okay to clean this way).
Additionally, turning that magic cleaning wand on your vinyl siding can turn into a big no-no if there are nearby plants that can easily be damaged by the water stream.
You should avoid pressure washing these areas:
Decking made from composite materials or that has been painted with stain
Stucco, painted, or brick siding
Electrical panels or meters
"Most aluminum on a home, like the siding and gutters, is painted," says Leslie Rogers Jr., Angi Expert Review Board member and owner of Clear Pane Windows Plus in Deland, FL. "If pressure is applied, the paint will come off and show the raw aluminum."
When You Should Call a Pro
If you’re unsure of whether an area of your home is safe to clean, you can always opt to err on the side of caution and call in a pressure washing professional. They will be able to determine if power washing is the best option, if you should instead use a method called “soft washing,” or if you need to outsource the job to an expert. A professional power washing job costs nearly $300 on average for a 1,500-square-foot home.