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How to Wash Your Car With a Power Washer

I may have already mentioned this in one of my pressure washer reviews, but washing my car is one of the few things I truly enjoy. If it was up to me, I would do it every day. Once I got my hands on a pressure washer for the first time, it was like a dream come true.

However cleaning your car with a power wash is not a game, but it can be fun provided you know how to do it. If you choose the wrong type of nozzle for the job you can end up not cleaning your car properly or worse, damaging the paint job!

spray car with pressure washer

Go Electric

Before I get on with handing out advice on how to pressure wash your car I have to run a few things by you first. Since your car has glass windows and a delicate paint job you don’t need a lot of pressure, so you might be better off getting an electrically powered unit.

They are cheaper, lighter, more compact, easier to use and maintain in general. I mean sure, you can set a gas-powered pressure washer to a lower pressure count, but why spend money on something you will never use to its full potential? That being said, let’s get on with the information you’re looking for.

Why and How Often

I try to wash my car in two to three-week intervals regardless of season. You see your car is constantly exposed to weather elements such as intense heat or cold, salt, either through air or snow, direct sunlight, acid rain or perhaps several of these combined together.

Salt for instance is highly corrosive, and if you live next to an ocean you better develop a habit of washing your car often. Also, during winter salt is used on snow-covered roads, which means it will stick to the bottom of your car potentially damaging the vehicle’s chassis and engine.

Stuff like dirt and mud is also harmful to your car because it contains a fair bit of moisture even when it dries out which causes your car to rust. This creates more drag which results in more fuel consumed (and more money out of your pocket). So, now you see that washing your car is more than just an issue of good looks. With the help of a pressure washer you should be able to get it done in no time.

The Right Way of Pressure Washing Your Car

The first thing you need to do is hook up your pressure washer to a hose. After that choose a 25 or 40 degree nozzle and turn on the washer. Rinse your car with water alone to get rid of the dirt, mud, and salt that is stuck to your beloved four-wheeler.

apply detergentAfter you have gotten the entire vehicle wet you can start applying detergent. You can either apply it by hand, or you can use the soap tip on your pressure washer. One thing you should keep in mind is to never use anything other than the detergent that is approved for use with your pressure washer. Even if you are applying it by hand don’t use stuff like dishwashing liquid, shampoo, or soap as it will strip off the wax finish and make the paint job look less shiny.

To make sure you clean every inch of your car try to cover smaller sections. You should be standing about 3 to 4 feet away unless the water jet is too weak in which case you can get closer. Always remember to aim the wand at an angle to the car in order to avoid scratches. I usually aim the wand on mine at a 25-degree angle.

angle wandAs I pointed out most of the mud, dirt, gunk and salt will stick to the bottom of your car. I know most people skip cleaning the bottom of their car or simply forget to do it (we’ve all done it). However, for the reasons stated above it is important. In order to make it easier on your back get an angle extension wand. This makes washing the bottom of your car an absolute breeze.

Avoid keeping your car sprayed with detergent for more than ten minutes. After that switch to water only and rinse the car with the 40 degree nozzle. That’s it!

However, before I finish up I have to address some safety issues. Even though you are probably used to washing your car wearing sandals or open-toe footwear, and washing your hands and feet right after you are done, never, and I mean NEVER do that while using a pressure washer! The spray coming out of the wand is too powerful, and the last thing you need is a trip to the ER!


Washing your car using a pressure washer is incredibly easy and efficient provided you stick to some of the guidelines I have just laid out. Remember a pressure washer is a power tool, not a toy. That being said, I hope you have fun!

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