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How to pressure wash a car: 8 Steps for a Great-Looking Car

Pressure washing a car is the most effective way to clean it.

It removes all the dirt, dust, and debris built over time.

It also gets rid of any stains or marks on the paintwork.

And finally, it protects the car from rust and corrosion.

You’ve decided it’s time to clean your car, but HOW? 

How do you do it quickly with the least hassle? 

How can you get your car looking it’s absolute best? 

How Can You Make Your Car Look Like It Just Came Off The Lot?! 

You have a couple of options, but pressure washing a car seems the best method for a great-looking car. Now I am guiding you on How To Pressure Wash A Car.

If you’re looking to get your car sparkling clean without damaging it, you’ll need a pressure washer with the right features. But besides having a suitable pressure washer, there are a few other things you’ll need to have on hand when washing your car with a pressure washer.

Pressure Washer Features

When it comes to selecting the right pressure washer for your automobile, there are a few things to look for:

Electric Pressure Washer

First, you’ll need an electric pressure washer. Gas pressure washers are too powerful for little cleaning chores like washing automobiles and trucks.

Pressure washers with electric pressure are less powerful but more versatile because they use less force and produce less wear on your equipment. Make sure you choose an electric pressure washer with the appropriate PSI for your cleaning needs.

The Right PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch)

You can use a pressure washer with a 1200 to 1900 PSI. It’s the safe PSI for car washing, which won’t damage the paint on your car’s surface.

The Correct GPM (Gallons per Minute)

The GPM (gallon per minute) is the amount of water a pressure washer shoots out in one minute. A higher GPM indicates a more powerful pressure washer; a lower GPM implies a smaller quantity of water will be released from the machine simultaneously.

You’ll want to avoid pressure washers with a GPM that’s too high because the machine will use more water than necessary, and you could potentially damage your car’s paint. Instead, choose a pressure washer with a GPM of 1.4 to 1.6 for the best results when washing your car.

The Right Nozzle

There are different types of nozzles for pressure washers, each with a specific purpose. For example, when performing a pressure car wash, the best nozzles are the green 25-degree or white 40-degree nozzles.

Always start with the green nozzle to remove loose dirt or grime on your car’s surface. You can then switch to the white nozzle for a more thorough cleaning.

Soap Nozzle

Aside from the water output nozzle tip, a soap nozzle may be required for releasing car wash soap or detergent. You can’t discharge the detergent in most pressure washers without a soap nozzle. As a result, when applying detergent, you’ll need to change your water output nozzle tip for the soap nozzle.

The Right Detergent

When using a pressure washer to wash your car, you’ll need to use a detergent designed for pressure washers. These detergents are more concentrated than traditional car wash soaps, so you’ll need to dilute them before using them. For most pressure washer cleaning solutions, you’ll need to add one quart of detergent for every gallon of water.

Foam Cannon

A foam cannon is a tool that attaches to your pressure washer and allows you to apply soap in the form of thick, clinging foam. That is a great way to apply soap evenly over your car’s surface and ensure that it stays wet for the duration of your wash. Foam cannons typically come with adjustable settings so that you can control the amount of soap dispensed.


To wash your car, you’ll need a water source. A garden hose is the most common way to supply water to a pressure washer. However, if you don’t have a hose, you can fill up a bucket with water and pour it into the pressure washer’s tank.


You’ll need a bucket to hold your car wash soap or detergent. When mixing the soap with water, it’s best to use a ratio of 1 quart of soap for every gallon of water. Once you’ve mixed the soap and water, pour it into your bucket, and you’re ready to start washing your car.

Wash Mitts or Sponges

Wash mitts and sponges are essential for washing your car by hand. These tools help loosen and lift dirt and debris from your car’s surface without scratching the paint. When choosing a wash mitt or sponge, select one that’s soft and absorbent.

Drying Towels

After you’ve washed your car, you’ll need to dry it off to prevent water spots from forming. Drying towels are designed to absorb water quickly and leave your car’s surface streak-free. Microfiber towels are a great option for drying your car, as they’re gentle on paint and effective at absorbing water.

Useful Pressure Washer Addons For Car Cleaning

  • Variable jet nozzle settings: This design will make it much easier to clean various vehicle sections without causing harm.
  • Nozzle attachments: They will help you control the spray’s direction. You might use an angled nozzle to spray water upwards and clean the wheel arches.
  • An attachable foamer bottle: This is more convenient than a container you must carry with you.
  • A longer hose: The hose should be at least five meters long, so you don’t have to move it around the car.
  • Wheels: If you need to relocate the pressure washer, it’ll be much easier if you have wheels in the machine.

Best Place To Wash Your Car

There are plenty of places to wash your car, but finding the best place can be tricky. Here are a few things to keep in mind when searching for the perfect spot to wash your car:

1. Make sure the location has plenty of space. You’ll need enough room to move around the car and room for all your supplies.
2. The area should be well-lit to see what you’re doing.
3. Look for a spot with access to a water hose and an electrical outlet. You’ll need both of these things to operate a pressure washer.
4. If possible, find a location with a drain to make it easier to clean up when you’re finished.

Now that you know what to look for, here are a few potential places to wash your car:
1. In your driveway
2. In a friend’s driveway
3. At a car wash (if you have the proper equipment)
4. At a self-service car wash
5. In a public parking lot (with permission from the owner)

With these tips in mind, you should be able to find the perfect place to wash your car. Remember to be considerate of your surroundings and clean up after yourself when you’re finished.

How To Pressure Wash A Car: 8 Simple Steps

Now that you have all the necessary equipment, it’s time to learn how to pressure wash a car. Follow these simple steps, and your car will look clean.

Step 1: Find a Place to Park Your Car for Car Washing

First, you must find a suitable place to park your car and wash it with a pressure washer. If you have a driveway, that’s the perfect spot. Just make sure to move your car away from any other cars or objects you don’t want to get wet or damaged by the water.

Step 2: Connect the Pressure Washer to an Outlet

Next, you need to connect the pressure washer to an outlet. That is important because you can’t use some electric pressure washers with an extension cord.

Step 3: Adjust the Pressure Washer Settings

Now it’s time to adjust the pressure washer settings. You’ll want to use a lower pressure setting to wash your car, so you don’t damage the paint.

Step 4:  Give Your Car a Rinse

Once the pressure washer settings are adjusted, it’s time to give your car a rinse. Start by spraying water on the ground first to ensure the pressure washer isn’t too powerful. The 25-degree and 40-degree green are safe nozzles to utilize to avoid paint damage.

Then, hold the sprayer about four to five feet away from your car, and move it closer until you’re about one foot away. Spray the water in a downward motion to avoid damaging the paint.

When cleaning windows, side mirrors, headlights, and brake lights keep a safe distance away. However, when it comes to frequently filthy wheels, you may approach closer while cleaning them to fully clean them with greater force.

Step 5: Apply the Detergent to Your Car

Now it’s time to apply the detergent to your car. You’ll want to use a pressure washer detergent specifically designed for automotive use.

Start by adding the detergent to the pressure washer’s detergent tank, if it has one. If not, you can add it to the foam cannon.

Then, switch the pressure washer to the detergent setting and hold the sprayer about four to five feet away from your car. Next, apply the detergent as you did with the water.

Don’t forget to clean your wheels, which can get very dirty.

Step 6: Scrub off Dirt and Grease 

Once you’ve applied the detergent, it’s time to scrub off any dirt and grease on your car. You can use a wash mitt or a scrub brush to do this.

Lastly, clean the wheels, wheel arches, and wheel wells while using the same cleaning solution as you did for the vehicle’s body. That’s because your cleaning cloth may pick up sand and gravel from the wheels and wheel arches after brushing them against your car’s paint.

Step 7:  Rinse off the Detergent From Your Car & Dry It

After scrubbing your car, it’s time to rinse off the detergent.

To begin, you’d have to remove the soap nozzle from the electric pressure washer and replace it with a white 40-degree nozzle. Then change the setting from detergent output to water output. To fully clean out the pressure washer, you’ll also need to spray some water on the ground.

Rinse detergent three to four feet away from your automobile, starting at the top and working your way down. 

It would be best to hold the pressure washer at a 45-degree angle while rinsing. However, if you have bumper stickers on your car, you should rinse them in a front-on approach to avoid peeling.

After rinsing the detergent, you may use a soft cloth or towel to dry your car.

Step 8: Wax Your Car (Optional)

You can wax your car after pressure washing it to protect the paint and make it shine.

To wax your car, you’ll need to use a carnauba wax. Start by applying the wax to one small section of your car at a time. Then, finally, buff it in with a clean microfiber cloth.

Continue until you’ve waxed the whole car. Then, stand back and admire your handiwork!

Car Pressure Cleaning Tips and Tricks

  1. Set the pressure washer to a low-pressure level at the beginning.
  2. When you clean with a heavy-duty power washer, use a nozzle with a large spray pattern (usually the green nozzle tip-25) to prevent paint harm. Otherwise, use the 40-degree nozzle for the task. 
  3. Washing the car on a hard surface (concrete or asphalt) is strongly recommended.
  4. Make sure you never spray inside the engine.
  5. Keep the nozzle further away when cleaning windows, lights, and other delicate vehicle components.

Best Pressure Washer for Cars

We will recommend a medium-duty pressure washer for the task. It may be either a gas or an electric pressure washer, depending on your preference. For example, suppose you only clean your car once in a while. In that case, we recommend using an electric over gas pressure washer. Because they usually generate a lower water pressure that is less likely to harm the paint on your car.

Our top recommendations are:

Last update on 2024-07-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2024-07-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Final verdict on How To Pressure Wash A Car

So, you’ve decided that a pressure washer is the best way to clean your car. 


Now all you have to do is figure out how to pay for it and where you can store your garage or driveway so that no one trips over the hose when they walk. You might also be interested in reading our article about whether or not a pressure washer can wash your house.


Is it dangerous to wash my car with a heavy-duty power washer?

You may easily prevent damaging your car (using a heavy-duty pressure washer) by utilizing the correct nozzle and maintaining the stream safely from the surface.

What is the best car wash soap?

The ideal car wash soap for a pressure washer is a high foaming solution.

Last update on 2024-07-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Last update on 2024-07-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Z Hashan

I’m Z Hashan, an entrepreneur, but more importantly (well, to me at least), a tool head. I’m passionate about all sorts of machines and how they work – it’s in my blood.

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