How To Wash Car With Pressure Washer

How To Wash Car With Pressure Washer? Quick & Easy Way 2024

Granted, the number of cars on roads has increased as compared to the ‘90s, but there’s nothing that comes close to the peace and tranquility experienced by taking your car on a drive at night or even during non-rush hours. Go ahead and name another such experience. I’ll wait.

While we get to enjoy our rides so much, it’s only fair we respond in kind and treat our cars with the care and respect they deserve. Keeping them nice and shiny is one of the ways of showing our love for cars.

But the thing is, they get dirty too often, depending on the environment and their usage. Sadly, most of us are too busy to keep them properly cleaned. Which is where pressure washing comes in. If you’ve ever wondered, “Can I pressure wash my car” and “How to wash car with pressure washer?” read on ahead to find out.

Can I Pressure Wash My Car – Why Would You Want To Do It In The First Place?

Can I Pressure Wash My Car

It’s a good practice, and recommended by experts, to have your car washed at least once every two weeks. But of course, we are often faced with the choices of partying with our friends or binge-watching an entire new tv-series, or… washing the car.

Well, the choice is pretty much straightforward.

But the good news is that pressure washing your car takes care of your above ordeal by helping you clean your car quickly, efficiently, and effectively.

Pressure washing uses less water than a hosepipe and also cleans much better. And pressure washing is undoubtedly easier than hand scrubbing.

However, do it wrong, and you can soak your interior, ruin your tires, or worse: end up with scratches that will ruin your paint job!

With that said, you can pressure wash your car and do it safely too! We have prepared these few tips on how you can do it so. So, stick around till the end to learn more.

What Pressure Washer Nozzle Is Safe For Car?

One of the first things you should remember when washing your car with pressure is to choose the best nozzle. This is because it lets you control the power (PSI: pounds per square inch) first – if you use too much, it will damage your car; use too little, making the job longer and harder.

What Pressure Washer Nozzle Is Safe For Car

Using the proper nozzle also lets you answer how many gallons of water to wash a car with pressure. Again, you want just the right amount of water flow (GPM: gallons per minute) to do an excellent job without wasting water.

PSI and GPM make up “cleaning units,” which are the combination of force and the amount of water a pressure washer can produce. It can be represented as:

[PSI x GPM = Cleaning Units]

For example, a typical garden hose can produce around 280 Cleaning Units.

40 PSI x 7 GPM = 280 Cleaning Units

The recommended PSI for cars is 1200 – 2000, depending on where you are cleaning. If it’s the fragile windows, use lower PSI. Moderate for car bodies. And high PSI to clean tires.

A typical pressure washer for cars needs around 2,400 cleaning units.

1600 PSI x 1.5 GPM = 2400 Cleaning Units

Here are a few tips for pressure cleaning your car with different nozzles and at different settings.

  • Use nozzles with a 40 degrees tip (usually in white color) to clean large areas fast – suitable for cleaning car surfaces and rinsing off the detergent.
  • Use nozzles with a 25 degrees tip (usually in green color) to clean wheels and car bed, and rinse off the mud from the car surface – also suitable for pre-wash rinse.
  • Choose a pressure washer with a power setting between 1200 – 2000 PSI
  • Try to maintain water flow between 1.4 – 1.6 GPM
  • Use lesser power for windows, lights, and other fragile areas
  • Start your pressure washer by keeping it pointed at the floor and NOT the car, so nothing harmful is discharged toward the car
  • When in doubt, always use lower PSI and stand a bit further from the car to prevent any damage to the car

Can You Pressure Wash A Car Engine?

The safe and less tedious answer to “can you pressure wash a car engine” is no. However, it is possible to clean a car engine safely with a pressure washer. You should do it every once in a while, too, as the car engine is an essential part of your car.

With that said, taking your car to an expert is still recommended to properly clean your engine.

But it will be worth it if you don’t mind spending the extra time to take some measures before cleaning your engine.

Can You Pressure Wash A Car Engine

Here’s how to pressure wash a car engine:

  • Cover all electrical components with plastic bags or saran wrap to prevent shorting out electrical components. Here are a few things you should cover:
    • Battery wiring and terminals
    • Spark plugs
    • Alarm systems
    • Alternator connections
    • Distributor cap
    • Cabin air filter box
  • Pay special attention to not spraying inside the engine
  • Around 1,500 PSI should be enough for pressure washing the car engine
  • Wipe everything as dry as you can and
  • Give the car enough time to dry before turning it on – to be extra safe, give it a whole day to dry.

How To Make Car Wash Soap For Pressure Washer?

How To Make Car Wash Soap For Pressure Washer

Of course, every cleaning job is incomplete without soap. Now, you can use regular car wash soap if you plan to use it with a hand application. However, you can’t use regular car wash soap in a pressure washer (unless specified). This is because a typical car wash soap is meant for manual application and produces a lot of foam and bubbles, which can clog up your pressure washer and damage it.

Special detergents can be used with a pressure washer, but you can also make your own car wash soap for a pressure washer. You would want to learn these because they are effortless to make and can be prepared from ingredients you probably already have around the house.

Laundry Detergent

To use laundry detergent in a pressure washer, you must pay close attention to its ingredients. For example, one such ingredient is phosphate. Phosphate can change the PH of the water as well as, after dissolving, make hard deposits. Both of these factors can damage the pressure washer. And when dumped into the environment, they can also damage the ecosystem.

So, make sure your detergent is phosphate-free before using it in the pressure washer. You can use laundry detergent powder in different mixing ratios, depending on concentration, foaming, bubbles, etc. Try mixing one tablespoon and one gallon of water and see how it goes. Then you can add more detergent or water accordingly.

Dishwasher Liquid

The same principles as laundry detergent apply here – make sure no harmful chemicals are present. The popular recipe for DIY dishwasher liquid for pressure washers is:

  • 14 ounces of regular dishwashing liquid
  • About one teaspoon of Borax (a powdery white substance widely used as a household cleaner)
  • Fill the remaining container with water to make up to one gallon of the mixture.

You can reuse this one gallon of soap solution, which can last you for a whole season. Just remember to store it in a cool place or even in a refrigerator.


This is our favorite method of making eco-friendly DIY car wash soap. Here’s how you can make it:

  • Take ½ cup of vinegar or around 4 ounces
  • Mix with one gallon of water

That’s all! This mixture works just as well as any commercial cleaner and doesn’t cost you as much money. You can also use this mixture for washing vinyl siding.

Recap And The Final Step

To clean your car while keeping the job quick and easy, begin by pre-rinsing your car with a pressure washer to remove excess dirt. Then apply the car wash soap that you made yourself.

Although the pressure washer would have already completed most of the hard work for you, still don’t forget to scrub. Now, go ahead and rinse and clean. Make sure no soap and foam remain on the car body, especially around the doors and window seals.

Finally, dry the car with a high-quality microfiber detailing towel so no water stains appear on the car. If you have a blow dryer designed specifically for drying cars, that’s even better – touch-free work is always preferred when cleaning cars.

Lastly (which is actually to be done first), if you want to clean your car engine, do it first. Only do it after taking a reasonable amount of time adequately cover electrical connections to protect against any electrical shortage. Take extra care not to spray directly inside the engine. Remember to appropriately dry the car engine and give it enough time to dry on its own. Read more about Pressure Washer problems on our website.


Is it safe to wash a car with a pressure washer?

Yes, it is safe to wash a car with a pressure washer. It is the preferred method as it prevents the wastage of water while also making the cleaning job quick, effective, and easy. Just make sure not to use too much water pressure, as it can damage the car or the paint job. The recommended pressure is 1200 – 2000 PSI.

How many PSI does it take to wash a car?

It takes approx. 1200 – 2000 PSI to pressure wash a car. Use lower PSI for fragile areas such as lights or windows. Increase the PSI to clean the surface of the car. The tires and car bed require higher PSI because the dust, mud, grit, etc., are deposited firmly. However, do not exceed the 2000 PSI limit. Also, it’s better to use lower PSI to prevent damage when in doubt.

Can you wash a car with a 3000 PSI pressure washer?

3000 PSI is too high to clean a car with a pressure washer. It will damage the car paint and even cause the chipping of the paint. Your pressure washer will have a setting to reduce the pressure. However, if not possible, stand a lot further from the car and use a 40-degree tip nozzle to prevent any damage.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *