A helpful guide for finding the best pressure washer chemicals and detergents to help the outside of your house sparkle and shine like it’s supposed to.
Does the outside of your home ever get dirty and grimy, and just looks like it could use a wash? That’s where pressure washers come in super handy, especially once the winter goes away and spring is in the air.
If you do have a pressure wash on hand already, that’s amazing, now you just need to figure out what to put in it.
Finding chemicals and detergents that go into your pressure washer is easy, but not all the detergents act the same way and you may find yourself frustrated after washing your siding and not having it as clean as you planned.
Because detergent is an essential aspect of a pressure washing job, you need to find the best one for the task at hand. Some machines have detergent tanks attached to them and have special detergents created specifically for those machines. Others can accommodate different solutions to get the job done.
How A Pressure Washer Works
When using a pressure washer, the detergent gets mixed with water and then is sprayed onto your surface which you are cleaning. You can purchase a detergent tank separately if your pressure washer doesn’t have one attached. You may also use a water bucket and a soap solution, but you’ll have to lug it around with you as you use your pressure washer.
You’ll need to use good quality detergent to ensure you don’t harm the surface you are cleaning such as your house siding. That would be an expensive fix.
You also don’t want to use a chemical mixture that could be harmful to your skin, so it’s a good idea to do your research when finding the best pressure washer chemicals.
Soap vs. Detergent; What’s The Difference?
Soaps are made with natural ingredients that don’t pollute our rivers, lakes and oceans. Detergents have more synthetic chemical compounds which are stronger than soaps. Sometimes you can find environmentally friendly detergents too, which act more like a soap than a detergent. Environmentally safe pressure washer detergent is milder, like soap, and is less harmful to delicate surfaces.
*This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.
The Best Pressure Washer Chemicals
If you are asking what is the best detergent to use in a pressure washer, look no further than my best pressure washer chemicals guide! There are a lot of options on the market, but not all may be a proper fit for your unit. Once you are set up with all the details and knowledge on each soap option, you can pop over to Amazon and get it delivered straight to your door. With Amazon Prime, it could be there tomorrow. Check out this list of high-quality pressure washer cleaners.
The Simple Green Oxy Solve Total Outdoor Cleaner is the best pressure washer chemicals and is effective for cleaning wood, composite, metal, fabric, vinyl, concrete, plastic, asphalt, and more. It can remove mold, stains from algae and mildew and grease as well.
This is a non-toxic formula which is safe for skin and the environment.
You can clean up to 600sq ft with one bottle.
It is a safe non-toxic cleaner for all things in and around your home which you can clean with a pressure washer. Don’t use it indoors, even though it is non-toxic.
The Simple Green Oxy Solve House + Siding Cleaner is specifically formulated for cleaning siding of your home.
If you have algae, grease or mildew, then this is a perfect cleaner as this cleaner uses the power of peroxide to battle those monsters.
This biodegradable and non-toxic solution is safe for your skin, kid and pets.
One container can clean up to 6400 sq ft.
The Sun Joe House + Deck Cleaner is a good quality cleaning solution that can be used for cleaning many surfaces with grime, grease algae and other stains.
You can use this solution with a mop and brush or in a pressure washer. The options are yours!
This is a buidegradable, non-toxic solution and is sage to use.
It is made for the Sun Joe pressure washer machines but can be used with other machines as well.
The Simple Green Oxy Solve Concrete And Drive Cleaner is made to remove any kind of grease from the driveway and patio. It is not harmful to plants and trees before it is non-toxic and biodegradable.
It is non-corrosive and is effective on oil stains and grease.
You can use this solution on it’s own with a brush, or use it in a pressure washer.
This is a concentrated solution which makes approximately 11 gallons of cleaner!
The Karcher Multipurpose Cleaner is a quicker, better cleaner which is specially formulated to work in tandem with your pressure washer to help you clean more quickly and thoroughly.
It is a highly concentrated solution which makes up to 20 gallons of cleaner when mixed with water.
It is truly an all purpose cleaner and works well on concrete, driways, sidewalks, patios siding and more.
This biodegradable product is made in the USA. the Karcher brand is a trusted brand and is well known in the home and garden section of local retailers.
The Briggs & Stratton Multipurpose Cleaner is another good option for a pressure washer cleaner.
It is a good cleaner for getting rid of dirt, mold and grime.
This is a concentrated container which creates 16 gallons of soap per 1 gallon of concentrated solution.
It is easy-to-use with pressure washers for a satisfying cleaning experience and is compatible with direct from concentrate soap system, no mixing required.
It is corrosive and does not contain bleach.
The Karcher Car Wash & Wax Soap is specially made for washing your car to make your vehicle clean and shiny. This product is very popular and readily available in most retailers in the USA, It is the best pressure washer detergent for cars.
This is a biodegradable product and is highly concentrated. One gallon can make 5 gallons of solution.
It combined the power of washing with waxing, so you don’t need to do extra steps when cleaning your vehicle.
The Krud Kutter Multipurpose Cleaner is a commercial strength formula created to remove tough stains from wood, vinyl and aluminum.
This is one of the best pressure washer chemicals for commercial use.
It takes 2-5 minutes to start working and comes in a 1 gallon container.
You can use this solution on our driveway and patio and [etroleum, ammonia and bleach are not found in this water-based solution.
Simple Green 13005CT Degreaser is an all in one cleaner and degreaser which is safe for sinks, tiles, carpet flooring and is safe for your pressure washer. It is made to cut through tough oil and grease stains.
Overall this is a safer alternative to other toxic cleaners and is non-abrasive and non-corrosive. This solution can be used on almost all surfaces such as vehicles, floors and machinery.
It comes in a 1 gallon container.
For using the pressure washer to clean off the bottom of your boat, the STAR BRITE EZ-ON EZ-Off Hull & Bottom Cleaner is your best bet.
This water based formula removes deposits on boat bottoms, scum line and rust stains quickly and easily.
I features a special patented buffering process makes this product safer than other acid based bottom cleaners.
It is not eco friendly, and is a respiratory irritant so use with caution.
Things to Consider Before Buying Pressure Washer Soap
Soap is an essential aspect when it comes to cleaning because you can’t clean everything with just water. Especially when the stain is made with oil or grease. Soap will help destroy these stains, and pressure washer detergents can help.
Soap is made from natural ingredients containing animal fats and herbal leaves. Detergents is made from different chemicals and they might not be so great for our health. Detergent is much stronger than soap, and some tough stains need it.
If you select a detergent or soap from a reputable brand that specializes in cleaning solutions then you will be on the road to cleaning success with your pressure washer on a sunny Saturday morning.
Why you can’t use regular soaps in pressure washers
You need to use a special soap in your pressure washer. Household soaps and detergents such as dish soap and laundry detergents are not made to withstand the high pressure which the pressure washer uses.
If you’ve ever put too much laundry detergent into your washing machine and had bubbles coming out, you’ll know that bubbles are not too fun to deal with when you’re not have a nice silly bubble bath. Specific cleaners are made from specific appliances which can work at specific pressures. Did I say specific enough?
So when you are looking for a pressure washer detergent, just make sure you choose one that is designed for pressure washers. Your owner’s manual on your pressure washer should recommend specific cleaners and the amount of cleaner you should be using.
Your pressure washer will last longer if you follow the manufactures directions.
Chemicals Found In Pressure Washer Detergents
Chemical labels and product descriptions use Cleaners, sanitizers and Disinfectants on their labels often. Cleaners are for dirt removal, sanitizers jill bacteria and disifectants kill all microorganisms within 10 minutes.
Here is a list of chemicals found in most pressure washer detergents and soaps:
- Oxalic acid
- Sodium hydroxide
- Potassium hydroxide
- Sodium hypochlorite
- Citric acid
Citric acid is made to remove stains from wood and concrete while oxalic acid is for removing rust. Vinegar is often great for kitchens, windows and produces too. It also helps neutralize odours and is safe for many things except wood. Check out my list of things vinegar is great to use on and things vinegar should not be used on. Sodium hydroxide is something that dissolves fats and oils while sodium hypochlorite is a strong disinfectant that is good for stain removal. Bleach is good for sanitizing and disinfecting and ammonia is good for glass and stainless steel.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pressure Washer Chemicals
Can Dish Washing Soap be used in Pressure Washer?
No, dishwashing soap cannot be used in your pressure washer. I am a blue dawn believer all the way, and it’s hard to resist the temptation to simply add blue dawn to the pressure washer to wash down my siding but it’s not a good idea.
Dishwashing soap is abrasive and it could remove the waxing from your car and simply clog up and damage your pressure washer. Use proper pressure washer chemicals to avoid this situation.
Should I Use Soap or Detergents?
Whether you should use soap or detergent in your pressure washer depends on your pressure washing needs. If you are washing your car, truck or boat, then the detergent is your solution. If you are going to wash your concrete driveway, the house, patio or even decking then you’ll want to use soap.
Why you can’t use regular soaps in pressure washers
Regular soaps can damage your pressure washer and void your warranty too. They can also make your pressure washer break faster. Best to use specified best pressure washer chemicals.
Chemicals such as vinegar, citric acid, oxalic acid, bleach, sodium hydrochloride, ammonia, potassium hydroxide, and sodium hydroxide are found in pressure washer detergents. These chemicals are used to break down mud grease and dirt. The water from your pressure washer will help remove all that soap and grime from your surface.
How Do I Use the Detergent?
Some detergents require you to mix it with water before using, and others are ready to go pre-mixed solutions. You’ll need to check your label to see which kind you bought.
If you don’t know how to use your pressure washer detergent then you may not get the best washing results so you should read the instructions on your pressure washer before using the detergent.
Thank goodness it’s not a difficult piece of equipment to use.
Most of the time, they work like this:
1. Mix your detergent if needed
2. Add solution to the onboard detergent tank
3. Turn on the switch
4. Use a low-pressure nozzle to apply the soap to your surface.
5. Move the spray gun around the surface slowly to apply the soap evenly.
6. Some pressure washers have a rotating nozzle for rubbing purposes. If you are working on a vertical surface, move your nozzle up and down to avoid streaking.
7. Wait for a few minutes for the detergent to work its magic.
8. Use the high-pressure nozzle to apply water to the soaped up surface and wash all the soap off.
9. When you are finished with your pressure washer, wash it out properly to make the product last longer.
Do Pressure washers need special soap?
I would say to avoid making your own pressure washer soap to avoid voiding your warranty and damaging your machine. For this reason, pressure washers do need special soap and detergent to work properly and for a long time.
Can I use vinegar in my pressure washer?
Yes you can, but I wouldn’t advise it. Vinegar, over time, can deteriorate rubber parts of your pressure washer and it can also void any warranty your pressure washer has on it. Even diluted, vinegar has strong disintegrating properties.
Can I use simple green in my pressure washer?
Yes simple green is a great company which makes a few different pressure washer chemicals. Whichever chemicals you choose, be sure to use it on the surface which the labels specifies. You wouldn’t want to wash your concrete with a wood decking chemical as that won’t be effective.
Can I use laundry detergent in a pressure washer?
Laundry detergent is made to clean clothing, do not put it into your pressure washer. It could harm your machine.
How do I add detergent to my pressure washer?
Some detergents need to be diluted and other do not. Your detergent should have that information on the label. Then you’ll put the detergent into the tank and spray onto your grimy surface.
Can you power wash without detergent?
You can use plain water to power wash if you need to. Detergents and soaps will help loosen the dirt and grime on your surfaces which will make cleaning more efficient. If you have a grease or oil stain, then you’ll want to use detergent, but if you are just washing dirt off the siding of your home, just water will be fine.
How does a soap injector work on a pressure washer?
The soap injector is a piece that is attached to the end of the spray gun and it takes the liquid detergent from the bucket and mixes it with pressurized water before spraying onto your cleaning surface.
What is the best pressure washer soap for cars?
For cleaning your car, the best cleaning solution is the Sun Joe Car Wash Soap. It is the top-rated car washing liquid that is safe for wax and sealants.
Can I use bleach in my pressure washer?
No. Household bleach can damage the rubber seals and rings in the pump which will ensure your pressure washer is not working correctly. Bleach is also dangerous to inhale for you, your kids and your pets. If you are going to use bleach anyway, just make sure to cover the plants around your home and that the water doesn’t go into ponds, rivers, lakes, gardens and stormwater drains.
Any difference between professional and consumer-grade soaps?
Consumer grade soaps are often created by the manufacturer as grab and go products which are pre mixed and ready to use. Only a handful of consumer grade products require the addition of water before using.
Commercial and professional grade soaps are often concentrated and need to be mixed with water before using.
Is Bio-degradable soap essential? When do you have to use one?
It’s never an essential thing to use biodegradable products, but it sure is a good choice to do so. Biodegradable soap will not harm pets, plants and kids. Water waste that ends up in the storm drains should not have chemicals in them due to their effect on algae growth which deprives the ecosystem of oxygen. When you are cleaning close to a river, try to ensure your pressure washing detergent does not contain phosphate.
Many pressure washer cleaners are now biodegradable and won’t harm your plants and landscape. Many of them are endorsed by the EPA as a “safer choice” and are orally non-toxic. Your children and pets will not be hurt if the chemicals are ingested.
The safety status is easily visible on the product labels and the manufacture should have more information on their website. If you need more details, look for the MSDS sheets for detailed ingredients and the risk they provide.
How does soap/detergent work
Soap and detergents work when hot water is added to the soap substance which then initiates a binding protocol between the water molecules and the soap molecules. The soap attaches itself to the grease and grime, and the water helps wash the soap and grime away. Hot water will disperse grime and grease faster than cooler water will.
Making Your Own Pressure Washer Detergents
You can make your own pressure washer soap or detergent, but I don’t really recommend it.
There are already many green and environmentally friendly choices for pressure washer chemicals on the market, so there shouldn’t be much of a reason to make your own. You also won’t really be saving yourself much money after you get all the ingredients together and then spend time mixing the right amounts to create your cleaner.
Most pressure washer soaps which you can purchase pre mixed and ready to go make up more than 30 gallons of solution, so it really goes a long way.
Pressure washers also require specific cleaners which you may not be able to replicate in your home. If you can’t make it properly, you risk damaging your pressure washer and then your warranty won’t cover any of that damage.
But with that being said, you can make your own solution for a pre cleaning scrub down.
You can use white vinegar to pre treat your stains, not putting it into the pressure washer but directly spraying it onto your stain. Then power up the pressure washer with water and spray it off.
You can use bleach on if your stain, mold and mildew is outside and not near plants. Again, don’t put it into your pressure washer, but on the stain directly.
You can also pre-wash your stains with hot water in your power washer before putting vinegar or bleach onto the stain to help loosen to grime too.
Final Words On Pressure Washer Chemicals
I’m hoping by now you understand the importance of soaps and detergents in power washers. I, same as you, have a desire to keep things clean, and curb appeal can be tough to maintain due to weather and other elements we simply cannot control. The pressure washer is a good tool for outside cleaning and I whip mine out each spring after a long 6 months of harsh Canadian winter.
My favourite and best pressure washer chemicals is the Simple Green Oxy Solve Total Outdoor Cleaner because I use it to clean my siding and the driveway, and it’s always worked. If you are cleaning a more commercial space then the solution you need might need to be stronger than the simple green. If you need a super-strong industrial cleaner then the Briggs & Stratton is your tool.
Enjoy cleaning the outside of your home, and I hope you were able to find the best pressure washer chemicals.