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What Is The Best Pressure Washer Detergent?

    soap bubbles from pressure washing detergent

    While pressure washing can be extremely effective with getting rid of tough dirt and grime, sometimes you may need extra help, or want the finished product to even brighter. Why is finding the best pressure washer detergent is key for a successful clean with your washer. A detergent can be used in many pressure washers to help pull up tough dirt. Before reading any further, you should make sure that your pressure washer can accommodate a soap or detergent. Some pressure washers do not have the ability and you could potentially damage it.

    You might be thinking, can I use dish soap in my pressure washer? It may be the most convenient and cost-effective to open up the cabinet and grab the dish soap, but this practice can also cause more harm than good. The only time typical household soap can be a suitable option if when using Dawn soap to pressure wash a vinyl surface only. However, this can also create too many suds that you will not be able to wash away. The best practice is to find a detergent that will match the job you want to have done. Household cleaners can be extremely problematic for pressure washers, particularly if they contain bleach. Bleach can corrode the inside of the unit and damage it beyond repair, so avoid bleach, no matter how diluted, in a pressure washer. If you must use bleach, you should apply it to the surface area BEFORE you use the pressure washer and spray it away.

    What’s the Difference Between Different Pressure Washer Detergents?

    There are dozens of pressure washer detergent options, and simply grabbing the multipurpose option might not meet your expectations for a finished surface. First, try your best to assess the type of dirt or grime you need to clean up. You’ll also need to consider the type of surface you’re cleaning. For instance, a degreaser would be a great option for aluminum siding as the detergent will be able to pull off the dirt with ease. Other detergents contain aluminum brightener, which is great for aluminum surfaces and stainless steel. Some detergents contain a wash and wax component, so this is really only suitable for painted surfaces to clean and maintain. For wood surfaces, using a detergent that is wood-specific will help to not damage the finish and can help make it look as good as the day the finish dried. Some degreasers have a low foam option that can be good for a variety of surfaces that do not have tough stains, or even for cleaning pieces of equipment. For the toughest level stains, look for a high alkaline product that can be used on heavy equipment, grease hoods, and dumpsters.

    Pressure Washer Detergent and Your Car

    When using a pressure washer to wash your car, you likely will consider using the car wash soap you already have as the detergent. If you decided to this, you should always dilute the soap with water because it will not foam the same. (Use a 1:1 ratio to dilute car wash soap) If you have a soap injector, you will be able to just the pressure washer as a foam gun like at self-serve car wash stations. The injector will apply soap prior to the engine pumping water. If you do not have an injector, you can still use diluted car wash soap but it will be more like spraying your car with soapy water.

    Gas or Electric Pressure Washer Soaps

    If your pressure washer is equipped with a reservoir or container for detergents and soaps, it won’t matter if your unit is powered from gas or if it is electric. What matters more is the type of surface area in which you are cleaning and the amount of dirt you need to clean. Take a concrete driveway that has oil stains on it. You could potentially use any pressure washer that can accommodate a PSI of 1700 or greater to clean oil from concrete. The problem is that it is going to require much more than just water to clean it up. And there are so many methods you could use. One particularly cost-effective method is to use Coca-Cola because the acidity of it can actually help remove oil stains. Do not pour any Coca-Cola in your pressure washer, but instead, you can pour some over the stain and let it sit. This will generally only work well with fresher oil stains. Depending on how long the stain has been there, the soaps and methods you might use will change. If it is a rough stain that has been there for a long time, you’ll want to use a degreaser and have it sit for a few hours before you pressure wash the stain away.

    DIY Pressure Washer Detergent

    Maybe you’d rather some a basic detergent that you can put together yourself. These recipes can be used in any pressure washer that can support soaps or detergents. One option if you are looking to kill mold or mildew, and are not really worried about dirt or grime, is a simple vinegar and water solution. Use 3 parts white vinegar and 7 parts water to kill off any mold or mildew build-up, but again, this is not going to help with dirt or grime.

    Here is a recipe that is simple and basic. It might not be able to get out the toughest stains the first go around, but it will work on any surface.


    ⅓ cup laundry detergent powder

    ⅔ cup all-purpose household cleaning powder

    4 cups of bleach

    1 gallon of water

    Before putting together the solution, you should apply a face mask and safety glasses to ensure that none of the harsher chemicals get in your mouth or eyes. Also, wear gloves to protect your skin.

    Step 1: Mix together the laundry detergent and household cleaning powder and leave it overnight.

    Step 2: The next day, put on your gloves, face mask, and safety goggles. Then mix the bleach with the water and stir them with a wooden spoon. Then, slowly stir in the cleaning powder. Do not let the ingredients settle, and do not stir too quickly. Stirring too quickly can create too many bubbles. If suds accumulate, you can leave the solution to sit overnight.

    Didn’t use all of the detergent? Use a funnel and store it in an empty milk jug. It would need to be stirred before the next use to bring up any ingredients that started to settle.

    How Does a Pressure Washer Soap Injector Work?

    Many pressure washing units have a chamber to store soap, and you need to put the washer on the lowest pressure setting to disperse the soap. It will spray very little water and just helps will the application of soap. You’d get the same results if you poured the soap directly on the surface. Some jobs would benefit, or at least be faster, if you could just take care of it all in one go. This is where a soap injector, or chemical injector, attachment for your pressure washer could be very handy. It brings the soap into the stream of water to allow for higher pressure soap/water combination. The injector uses the venturi nozzle to provide a high-pressure stream of water into the injector along with the soap.

    Common Problems with Pressure Washer Detergent

    If you are ready to go to clean up a tough stain and find that your pressure washer is not picking up any detergent in the chamber, there may be just a few simple reasons for it that are easily fixable. Check the chemical hose and make sure that it is properly connected and not leaking from the sides. You should also check your settings. Soap will typically only come out if your pressure washer is set to low pressure. Often, the water supply to the pressure washer may be too high and is therefore not able to produce the soap texture you were expecting. You can close the water supply valve slowly to allow for less water and then spray the soap until it starts to sud. The hoses and attachments for chemicals can also become clogged for a variety of reasons. You can test this by removing the high-pressure hose and starting the unit. If it siphons, start putting pieces together until it stops siphoning to determine exactly which part is causing the issue. You may find you only need to replace one small part and do not need to go buy another pressure washer unit.

    Benefits of Homemade vs Store Bought Pressure Washer Detergent

    There are a lot of benefits to making your own detergent than using a store-bought bottle. The most obvious is that it can be a lot less expensive. If you already have the materials around your house, you’re using things that may not be frequently used so you are reducing the amount of waste. You also know exactly what is in the homemade detergent so you do not need to worry about inhaling unknown chemicals, or chemicals you cannot pronounce, in a store-bought bottle. You will not have any surprise allergic reactions as well since you are in control of the ingredients and can plan accordingly if you are aware of any known allergies to any of the materials.

    Of course, you do not need to go with a homemade pressure washer detergent if you do not want to. There are dozens of options for pressure washing detergent on the market, and it really just depends on you. Determine the surface you are cleaning, the type of dirt or mess you are cleaning, and whatever your preference is. Below you can read more about different store-bought detergent ideas, or check out our blog for specific jobs. Read here for the best pressure washer detergent to use on a car.

    Best Pressure Washer Detergent for Concrete

    Concrete is a tricky surface to clean as the small little indents can have years of built-up grime stuck inside. While you may feel that a basic detergent and a pressure washer will clean it up, you may find that some of that dirt will linger without the correct pressure washer detergent choice. There are several factors you should consider to get the best possible clean for your concrete surface, and only one of them is the detergent.

    For the detergent, we recommend a heavy duty cleaner. Concrete can take a punch, so the heavy-duty cleaner is the best option as it is guaranteed to pick up everything. If you are just working with a small area and know what source of the dirt, such as an oil stain, there are a ton of different methods you can try. Some people have had like putting cola on top of an oil stain and letting it sit for a few hours.

    How Do I Get Rid of Pet Urine On Concrete?

    You might be asking, how do I remove pet waste from concrete? Pet waste is tricky because even with soap, somehow the smell can come back on a hot summer day, even if you had just clean it that morning. What is the best pressure washer detergent for pet stains? We recommend pre-treating the pet waste areas with a vinegar and water mix before you use soap. Use a 2:1 ratio of water and vinegar since vinegar tends to overpower. Let it sit for just a few minutes, then apply the soap on top of it. For any stain on concrete, you should absolutely have the soap sit for at least 5-10 minutes so it can seep into every little piece. Keep an eye on it too, as you need to reapply the soap if it starts to dry.

    Best Way to Rinse Concrete

    The most crucial factor with pressure washing concrete is how you rinse the surface. While fun, you cannot simply spray away the soap however you wish. You should rinse the soap in even motions and slowly. Taking your time to rinse the surface will prevent streaks and allow you to really clean up the entire surface of the concrete. A turbo nozzle can be helpful with speeding up the job and can help reach those hard to reach sections as well. Your concrete surface will be looking fresh, with no lingering smells, as long as you follow this method.

    Recommended Detergents

    General DetergentSoap InjectorCar Wash Soap
    Concrete CleanerHouse And Siding Soap Cannon

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