This is a helpful guide for finding the best pressure washing 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 or look like it could use a wash? That’s where power 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.
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How a Pressure Washer Works
When you use a pressure washer, whether it’s an electric pressure washer or a gas pressure washer, the detergent or liquid soap gets mixed with water and then is sprayed onto the surface that you are cleaning. Most pressure washers come with a soap tank attached, but you can purchase a detergent tank separately if your pressure washer does not come with one attached to it. Alternatively, you can also use a water bucket and a pressure washer soap solution, but you’ll have to lug it around during the cleaning process.
You’ll need to use good quality detergent to ensure you don’t harm the outdoor surfaces 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 to find the best pressure washer chemicals for the job.
Pressure Washer Soap vs. Detergent
Natural soaps are made with ingredients that don’t pollute your rivers, lakes, and oceans. Detergents have more synthetic chemical compounds, which are stronger than soaps. These chemicals could potentially harm plants or pollute the natural water bed flowing underground. However, sometimes you are able to 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.
The Best Pressure Washer Chemicals
If you are wondering what is the best detergent to use in a pressure washer, look no further than your 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 buying guide with a list of high-quality pressure washer cleaners.
The Simple Green Oxy Solve Total Outdoor Cleaner is a multi-purpose cleaner that can effectively clean surfaces like wood decks, patio furniture, composite, metal, fabric, vinyl, concrete, plastic, asphalt, and more. It removes stains left by mold, algae stains, mildew, tough grime, and grease as well.
This is a non-toxic formula that is safe for the 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 the water pressure from the pressure washer. Don’t use it indoors, even though it is non-toxic.
The Simple Green Oxy Solve House and Siding Cleaner were designed specifically for outdoor use, more specifically cleaning the siding of your home.
If you have algae, grease, mold, or mildew, then this is a perfect cleaner for these specific jobs. To make the job easier, this cleaner uses the cleaning power of peroxide to remove dirt and other stains from the siding of your house.
This biodegradable and non-toxic solution is safe for your skin, children, 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 option is yours!
This is a biodegradable, non-toxic power washer soap and is safe 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 are made to remove any kind of grease from specific surfaces like the driveway and patio. It is not harmful to plants and trees since it is non-toxic and has a biodegradable formula.
It is also non-corrosive and is effective on oil stains and grease.
You can use this solution on its own with a brush or use it in a pressure washer.
This is a concentrated solution that makes approximately 11 gallons of cleaner!
The Karcher Multipurpose Cleaner is a fast cleaning solution that is specially formulated to work with your pressure washer to help you clean more quickly and thoroughly.
It is a highly concentrated solution that makes up to 20 gallons of cleaner when mixed with water.
It is truly an all-purpose cleaner and works well on concrete, driveways, sidewalks, patio 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 that creates 16 gallons of soap per one gallon of concentrated solution.
It is easy to use with pressure washers for a satisfying cleaning experience and is compatible with a direct-from-concentrate soap system; no mixing is 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 also 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 combines the power of washing with waxing, so you don’t need to do extra steps when cleaning your vehicle.
TheKrud Kutter Multipurpose Cleaner is a commercial strength formula created to remove tough stains from wood, vinyl, and aluminum.
This is one of the better 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 your driveway and patio. Petroleum, 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, and carpet flooring. It is also safe to use in your power 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, including vehicles, floors, and machinery.
It comes in a 1-gallon container.
If you need a pressure washer cleaning solution 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 lines, and rust stains quickly and easily.
It features a special patented buffering process that makes this product safer than other acid-based bottom cleaners.
It is not eco-friendly and is a respiratory irritant so use it 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 is made from natural animal fats and herbal leaves. Detergents are made from different chemicals, and they might not be so great for your health. Detergent is much stronger than soap and can come in handy for those tough and stubborn stains.
When selecting a cleaning option for your outdoor cleaning, it’s important to select a detergent or soap from a reputable brand that specializes in cleaning solutions.
Why You Should Not Use Household Soap 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 that the pressure washer uses. Household soaps have a fast foaming formula and can be like a foam cannon if you use it with a pressure hose or pressure washer.
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 having a nice silly bubble bath. Certain cleaners are made from appliances that can work at specific pressures.
So when you are looking for a pressure washer detergent, just make sure you choose one that is designed specifically for pressure washers. Your owner’s manual on your pressure washer should recommend cleaners and the amount of cleaner you should be adding to the washer.
Your pressure washer will last longer if you follow the manufactures directions.
Chemicals Found in Pressure Washer Detergents
Chemical labels and product descriptions often use the words’ cleaners’, ‘sanitizers,’ and ‘disinfectants’ on their labels. Cleaners are for dirt removal, sanitizers kill bacteria, and disinfectants 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 used for rust removal. Vinegar is often great for kitchens, windows, and produces too. It also helps neutralize odors and is safe for many things except wood.
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 your 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 detergent is your solution. If you are going to wash your concrete driveway, the house, the patio, or even the 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 could make you lose your warranty too. They can also cause your pressure washer to break. To keep this from happening, it’s best to use specified 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 the surface.
How Do I Use the Detergent?
Some detergents require you to mix them with water before you use them, 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. This is why it is important to 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:
- Mix your detergent if needed.
- Add solution to the onboard detergent tank.
- Turn on the switch.
- Use a low-pressure nozzle to apply the soap to your surface.
- Move the spray gun around the surface slowly to apply the soap evenly.
- 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.
- Wait for a few minutes for the detergent to work its magic.
- Use the high-pressure nozzle to apply water to the soaped-up surface and wash all the soap off.
- When you are finished with your pressure washer, wash it out properly.
Do Pressure Washers Need Special Soap?
I would advise you to avoid making your own pressure washer soap to avoid the chance of losing your warranty and damaging your machine. Pressure washers do need special soap and detergent to work properly and for a long time.
Can I Use Vinegar in Your 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 Your Pressure Washer?
Yes, Simple Green is a great company that makes a few different pressure washer chemicals. Whichever chemicals you choose, be sure to use them on the surface that the labels specify. You wouldn’t want to wash your concrete with a wood decking chemical as that won’t be effective.
How Do I Add Detergent to My 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 others do not. Your detergent should have that information on the label. After reading the label and either diluting it or not, you can put the detergent into the tank and spray it onto your 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 it 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 lead to your pressure washer 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 so 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 use.
Commercial and professional-grade soaps are often concentrated and need to be mixed with water before use.
Is Biodegradable Soap Essential? When Do You Have to Use One?
It’s never an essential thing to use biodegradable products for stain removal, 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 statement is easily visible on the product labels, and the manufacturer 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 cleaning solutions 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 that 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 cleaning products, 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 if your stain, mold, and mildew are 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 I simply cannot control. A pressure washer is a good tool for outside cleaning, and I whip mine out each spring after a long six months of harsh winter.
My favorite pressure washer chemical are the Simple Green Oxy Solve Total Outdoor Cleaner because I use it to clean your 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 are able to find the best pressure washer cleaning solutions from the list I provided.