How to Wash Your Car With a Pressure Washer

Cleaning a car with a pressure washer is an easy and fun way to keep your car clean. Choose the right pressure, nozzle and car cleaning accessories to have your car shining like brand new. 

Car Washing with a pressure washer is a lot easier than hand washing your car and it uses considerably less water. However, you need to be very careful while using a pressure washer because if you don’t do it right you can end up chipping the paintwork, soaking the interior and ruining the tyres.

One of the reasons you should pressure wash your car yourself is that the automated car washes are not as safe and better than a hand wash, especially on the undercarriages and wheels. And also, the brushes used in the automated car wash have rocks, dirt, and debris that can scratch paint off. 

Whether you want the job done quickly or you are someone who likes to wash your car every week, pressure washer is an efficient and effective method for cleaning the exterior for your car. Moreover, a pressure washer makes washing more fun. Here are some useful tips to wash your car with a pressure washer.

How to Pressure Wash Your Car

Pick the Right Pressure Washer

If you are buying a pressure washer washing cars, you need to make sure you buy one with the appropriate pressure that is measured in PSI (pounds per square inch) and water flow i.e. GPM: gallons per minute. 

PSI is the measure of force with which the water leaves the tip and GPM measures the amount of water the tip will release.

Look for a pressure washer that gives around 2500-3000 Cleaning Units for pressure washing your car. Cleanin Units is a combination of amount and force or water produced by a pressure washer. 

Both gas and electric pressure washers but gas pressure washers give much more pressure and have greater cleaning capacity which might be too strong for light projects like pressure washing a car or curtains.

Hence, an electric pressure washer that can give 2000 PSI is a more suitable choice than a gas pressure washer. Any unit that gives water with a pressure of 1200-1900 PSI makes a good car pressure washer.

Choose the Right Nozzle

Nozzles come in different types that give different kinds of spray patterns. Using the right size of the tip is crucial to clean your car effectively and without stripping off the paint job. 

The correct size of nozzle will distribute water easily and evenly across the entire surface for best pressure washing practices. 

The red and yellow spray nozzles are high-pressure tips and cover less surface area which is not suitable to use on cars. 

The green one, with 25-degree spray pattern and less pressure, is useful for flushing rocks, dirt, and other debris and clean wheels and truck beds, and rinsing mud off the entire car. Furthermore, check out this amazing guide about presser washer nozzles.

Use the green tip for pre-wash rinse. The white tip is a good choice for cleaning a large area quickly making it ideal for cleaning cars and rinsing off the soap.

Pick a Suitable Spot to Park Your Car

Park your vehicle in an open space, preferably from other cars or objects or you can cover those objects before washing it. 

A large driveway or street is a good spot for pressure-washing cars. 

If you are using an electric pressure washer, you will need to be near an outlet to power your washer as many washers cannot connect with extension cords. 

Rinse-Off the Top Layer of Dirt and Grit

Before applying any soap, use the green or white tip to make sure you rinse the vehicle and not strip paint, lights, windows and other delicate surfaces on the car while washing. 

Make sure all the windows are rolled up and the doors and trunk are closed completely to avoid water from getting inside. 

Start from 4-5 feet away from the car and move closer gradually after testing your pressure washer. 

Test the pressure washer by spraying some water on the ground before spraying it on the car. Moreover, discover this awesome guide about the pressure wash a pool and spa.

Apply Detergent

Usually, pressure washers have a separate detergent tank to put cleaning detergents. Make sure that you use a cleaning soap that is compatible with your pressure washer. 

Also, do remember to dilute concentrated soap with water before applying it on your car. 

Set the tip to the least powerful setting and widest spray pattern to apply a layer of detergent on the surface of your car.

Let the soap sit for a while and rinse it off before it dries up to prevent streaks of detergent that will need to be buffed out afterwards.

Rinse Detergent

Use a 40 degree tip to rinse the soap off of the car. Hold the washer in such a way that you spray the water a 45 degree angle downwards from the top of the car.

If you are not using a variable nozzle to adjust width and power of the spray, stand a little further away from the car. 5-4 feet from the car is a safe distance to prevent any kind of damage.

You can use an attachable car brush to finish the washing job quicker. Clean the wheel areas at end if you are using the same scrub brush to clean the tyres, wheel arches and the paintwork. 

This way you will avoid rubbing small stones and grit that is picked up from the wheels and wheel arches against the paint.

Dry It Up

Use a leather chamois to dry your vehicles as they are super gentle on paint and absorb water perfectly well. Also, they are reusable and last for a long time.

To use a leather chamois the right way: unroll it and lay it flat on one area of the car. Pull it toward you slowly while keeping the cloth in contact with the car completely. Additionally, check out these amazing pressure washers for house cleaning.

When it has soaked up a lot of water, wring it out. Dry up every section of your car’s surface like this and wring water out of it and put it back in its container.

Pressure Washer Features and Attachments for Car Cleaning

There are several attachments and features that you want to look in a pressure washer for easy car washing. 

You will need a pressure washer with a longer hose, wheels, adjustable nozzle settings, an attachable foamer bottle and nozzle attachments.

Longer Hose

You need a longer garden hose that is at least 6-7 metres long so that you can easily pressure wash a car without having to move around the entire vehicle.


Wheels on a pressure washer make pressure washing your car easier if you have to move it to a safer place.

Adjustable Spray Nozzle Settings

Adjustable jet nozzle is crucial to clean several different parts of the car without damaging your car’s paint, windows and lights.

Attachable Foamer Bottle

Most pressure washers come with attachable foamer bottles that make using a pressure washer a lot easier than a container you have to carry around with you. Additionally, check out these amazing ultrasonic cleaners for suppressors.

Nozzle Attachments

These attachments allow you to spritz in the difficult-to-reach areas. They change the direction of the spray so you can reach the areas you can’t reach with a straight nozzle such as wheel arches.

Foam Cannons

A foam cannon is the best tool for washing a vehicle. It has a large container of soap that connects to the high pressure hose and provides a much thicker and richer foam to wash dirt and mud from the vehicle with the accelerated power. 

A foam cannon doesn’t usually come with pressure washers, so you will have to buy a suitable foam cannon separately. 

Look for a foam cannon that has a dedicated spray tip and quick connect fittings that allows easier switching between rinse to wash with foam cannon mode.

Things To Keep in Mind While Pressure Washing Your Car


  • Avoid spraying too close from the surface or directly at panel gaps with a high pressure hose.
  • While applying detergent, be careful not to let it dry or it will cause blemishes which can be hard to take off.
  • Avoid using a high pressure spray on old tyres or where the paint is chipped to prevent peeling.
  • Do not let the high pressure water spray from the nozzle hit the same spot for too long or you might end up chipping the paint off or cutting the body.
  • Don’t use a rotary nozzle attachment on the car.
  • Do not spray the engine bay and other parts under the hood.


  • Make sure to test the pressure of the spray by spraying it pointing at the ground for the initial burst of water.
  • Make sure to read the owner’s manual of your pressure washer before you start using a pressure washer. This will help you find several safety and innovative tips and tricks about attachments and washer maintenance.
  • Add only that detergent in the detergent tank which is compatible with your washer pressure and also suits your car.
  • Part the car on concrete instead on the gravel to avoid the risk of stones hitting the paintwork.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes in case you accidentally spray the water from the pressure washer on your foot which can be very painful.
  • Roll up the windows and trunks properly and check inside the car after spraying for leaks.
  • Wear protection for your eyes as the debris and dirt can flow off and get in your eyes while spraying the wheel wells.
  • Make sure to dilute the concentrated detergents properly.
  • Wash the car from top to bottom to push the grime, mud and dirt downwards.
  • Thoroughly rinse the sponges and brushes that you are going to use to avoid any grit on the brush to be dragged across the paint job.