Washing your car is one of the simplest ways to maintain its finish and keep your investment looking sharp. Several popular car washing methods may be best for your situation depending on your vehicle, when you last washed it and how dirty it is. For example, many prefer pressure washing versus hand washing a car.
Hand washing is excellent for carefully scrubbing delicate areas on the car and ensuring a thorough and detailed clean. On the other hand, power washing your truck or car achieves higher efficiency and can help remove caked-on mud and grime from heavy use.
Read on to learn how to power wash a car properly and whether it’s the right choice for your circumstances.
Can You Pressure Wash a Car?
You can use appropriate power washers to clean your car faster and more effectively. Since pressure washers are powerful tools, you should follow standard best practices to ensure your car’s safety and get the results you want.
The steps below explain how to clean a car with a pressure washer:
1. Choose the Right Pressure Washer
When choosing a pressure washer to clean your car, pay attention to two factors — its power rating, measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), and its water flow, measured in gallons per minute (GPM). A higher PSI means the water will come out in greater force, and a higher GPM means more water will release per minute. Multiply the GPM by the PSI to determine a water pressure’s cleaning units.
2. Select the Right Nozzle
Make sure you have the right type of nozzle on your pressure washer before using it on your car so the water distributes evenly across your car’s surface. Some nozzles — such as the 0-degree nozzle — create too much pressure to use on a car safely. A 40-degree nozzle may be best for your car’s surface, while the 25-degree nozzle may work well with your vehicle’s wheels or a truck bed.
3. Park Your Car in a Flat Area Away From Obstacles
Be sure to position your car in an ideal spot for power washing. You need a wide, flat surface away from other cars or objects the high-pressure water could damage. Clear your driveway for washing or park your car in the street by your home to prepare it for cleaning.
You also need access to an outlet to power the washer. Remember to watch for the cords as you clean!
4. Rinse Your Car Before Applying Detergent
It’s best to remove mud and other debris from the car’s surface with an initial rinse before applying car cleaner. Be sure to stand several feet away from the car before moving closer as you get a feel for the power washer.
Once you’ve thoroughly rinsed your car’s surface, apply the detergent by hand or use your washer’s detergent tank to spray it onto your car.
5. Rinse the Soap Off and Towel Dry Your Car
Switch to the 40-degree or manufacturer-recommended tip to rinse the detergent off your car. For best results, hold the power washer at a 45-degree angle, start at the top of your car and rinse downward. When the soap is gone, use a towel or soft cloth to dry your vehicle.
Can a Pressure Washer Damage Your Car?
Pressure washers can eliminate dust and grime from your car’s surface in seconds, and they use considerably less water than a traditional hose to achieve similar or better results. However, the nature of pressure washing means you need to take precautions while using one to wash your car. Certain pressures and nozzles can damage your car’s exterior if used improperly. You could also damage your tires or let water into the car’s interior.
Be prepared to follow best practices before you begin washing to ensure your vehicle remains safe throughout the process.
Tips for Safely Power Washing Your Car or Truck
Pressure washing can be a quicker, easier way to clean your car. By following a few simple guidelines, you can remove grime and buildup from your vehicle with a pressure washer while keeping your car safe and free from damage.
Adhere to the following tips to keep your vehicle safe and get the best wash possible:
- Test your washer on the road first: Spray your washer on the pavement before aiming it at your car to get a sense of its pressure and ensure you’re standing far enough away from your vehicle for a safer washing experience.
- Ensure your windows, doors and trunk are closed: It’s easy to forget basic steps like these as you get ready to spray your car down. Double-check all car openings before starting the wash to keep your interior secure.
- Let your detergent set: Leave the soap on your car’s surface for about five minutes or according to its packaging before spraying it off for optimal results.
- Move the washer consistently: Move the pressure washer consistently in even lines to ensure an even wash.
Other Options to Clean Your Car
There are many other car washing methods, depending on how dirty your car is and how much time you have to clean it.
If you’d prefer not to pressure wash your car but want to avoid a commercial car wash, you can always clean your car by hand. All you need to hand wash your car is a couple of buckets, some soap and a sponge or soft rag. You may also want a towel to dry your car after you’re finished.
Soap With Wash Mitt
This method combines hand washing and pressure washing. Start by covering your car with soap after the initial rinse. As the detergent sets, use a wash mitt or cloth to wash your car. After cleaning each panel, spray it down with a pressure washer — it’s best to start lower and work your way up to avoid spraying sections before they’re scrubbed.
Pressure Wash and Follow Up With Hand Wash
This method takes the most time and results in the most thorough clean. Start by rinsing with a power washer, applying soap and rinsing it as you would for a typical pressure wash. Then, go over the exterior again by hand with a soapy cloth. This is essentially a second wash to catch any spots the pressure washer might have missed.
What Surfaces We Can Help Clean
After you’ve cleaned your car, reach out to Perfect Power Wash and have us pressure wash your driveway or home to give your property a like-new shine! We can efficiently remove algae, moss, lichen, grime and more from surfaces such as siding, brick and stone, asphalt and wood.