You've probably seen some version of this video: filthy brown driveway turns sparkly and bright after being blasted with a supercharged spray of water. As anyone who's ever tried this at home can attest, what seems like magic is reality if you have a pressure washer. "Pressure washers are designed to forcefully spray water with enough power to remove tough grime on outdoor surfaces," explains The Home Depot pressure washer merchant Eva Rodriguez. But is it actually worth it spend several hundred dollars on a pressure washer (or power washer, as some folks call it)?
If you love having a sparkly-clean car, a pressure washer is a game-changer. But what else can it do? Here, Rodriguez shared 10 different ways to use this wonder tool for deep-cleaning your home and belongings. Clean a few of these a few times a year instead of hiring a pro, and the purchase will pay for itself.
Most Popular Ways to Use a Pressure Washer
These are the reasons people end up in THD to buy one, regardless of how many other functions they might serve.
"Driveways experience harsh weather and lots of foot traffic," explains Rodriguez, but can be tricky to clean by other means when they're concrete. Enter the pressure washer, which should be able to easily remove dirt from the surface.
2. Home Exteriors
Want to revamp that paint job without actually having your house re-painted? Or revive a suddenly grimy-looking stucco? "All types of home exteriors can be pressure washed, but house siding and brick are the most popular," says Rodriguez.
Pressure washing isn't just about looks. "Cleaning a wood deck [with a pressure-washer] is also a safety improvement, preventing mildew from growing after long periods of rain," says Rodriguez. She recommends holding the nozzle 2–3 feet from the wood surface while you blast it.
If a painted surface is already flaking and needs to be removed, call on your pressure washer.
5. Outdoor Furniture
"Use a pressure washer to clean plastic, vinyl, or wood outdoor patio furniture," says Rodriguez, who advises doing so in a wide-open space (like the back yard) so you don't get any other items wet.
Lesser-Known-But-Also-Genius Ways to Use a Pressure Washer
Anyone on the fence about this purchase might be interested in learning what else you can do with one.
6. Prepping for Painting
You can use your pressure washer to clean any outdoor surfaces before a paint job. This includes patio furniture, fencing or even the exterior of the home itself.
7. Front Entrance Stairs and Walkways
Want an instant boost to your curb appeal? Look at the front porch. "The stairs and walkways of your home can likely use a good cleaning," says Rodriguez. "A pressure washer can do the job in 10 minutes!"
"Using a pressure washer to rid of gunk stuck between tiles makes for a good end-of-summer project," Rodriguez points out. "Drain your pool and let it completely dry. Sweep up any debris that accumulated. Begin washing the walls with a pressure washer detergent from bottom to up, and remember to catch any algae that may be growing."
9. Outdoor Toys
Use the low setting on your pressure washer to clean bikes, wagons, slides, and playsets, says Rodriguez: "Start with a 40-degree nozzle, since these surfaces may gouge easily. Be sure to use a non-toxic soap on kid-friendly surfaces."
10. Garbage Cans
To remove smells and germs from leftover trash, give the cans a once-over with the pressure washer. Rodriguez advises leaving "just enough detergent and water mixture in the bottom of the bin for an interior clean, let it sit for an hour, and then remove it and spray the sides."
How to Choose a Pressure Washer
The two most important factors to consider, according to Rodriguez, are: How often will you use it? And what types of cleaning do you anticipate using it for? "The cleaning power of a pressure washer is measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI, and gallons per minute, or GPM," explains Rodriguez. "These metrics will give you an idea of the force and pressure the washer produces and how fast it cleans."
For lighter-duty projects, like car washing and cleaning outdoor furniture, Rodriguez recommends the ONE+ 18V EZClean 320 PSI 0.8 GPM Cordless Cold Water Power Cleaner. Look for lighter-weight models, as well as bonus features like an adjustable nozzle, steel wand, or an onboard detergent pack. "The power cord should also have a built-in ground fault circuit interrupter to prevent electrical shock," Rodriguez adds.
For "a variety of everyday cleans," she recommends the RYOBI 2300 PSI 1.2 GPM High Performance Electric Pressure Washer.
And for more frequent or higher-power cleans, Gas Pressure consumer models might be what you need. (If you're going to get one to clean the deck, siding, and driveway regularly, this might be the way to go.) "This type also has a longer range, cleaning up to three times farther than most electric power washers," says Rodriguez. "Look for a gas pressure washer with 2,000-3,100 PSI rating and up to 2.5 GPM. Features to consider include a premium overhead valve engine, a heavy-duty frame with large wheels or a pro-style steel spray wand with multiple spray tips."
And last, for "heavy duty washes," Rodriguez recommends the RYOBI 3300 PSI 2.3 GPM Cold Water Gas Pressure Washer with Honda GCV190 Idle Down.
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