What Makes a Pressure Washer Good At Cleaning?

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Pressure washers are incredible machines. These versatile tools will save you an immeasurable amount of time and effort when completing many jobs around the outside of your home! Traditionally, pressure washers were used for paving flags around your home, but they are now frequently used for walls, fence panels, conservatories, sheds, cars and much much more! 

A pressure washer is designed to remove dirt and debris from various hard surfaces using the pressure or force of water to do this. But what makes a pressure washer good at cleaning and so good at what they do? What makes them so worth the additional cost on just soap and a firm brush? Because let’s be honest – they are definitely worth paying for! 

Have you checked out our Best Pressure Washer Buyers Guide?

The Science Behind the Pressure Washer

Water is used in almost all cleaning situations to some extent or other, and there is a very good reason for that! Water molecules actually have a small amount of electrical polarity, which means they tend to stick to things (these things will then remain stuck to them when the water washes away). 

If you then increase the pressure of this water to the extent that a pressure washer does then you really cannot go wrong! The water pump in the pressure washer will increase the pressure of the water so much that it is forced out of the nozzle at such a high speed it hits the surface with high kinetic energy which knocks the dirt away. To put this into perspective – the water jets are pushed out at between 1500 to 3000 psi (pounds per square inch) – that’s over 100 times the pressure of the air around us! 

On top of this, many pressure washers now allow for an attachment to be added with detergent (or sometimes this can be added into the actual water tank itself). Detergents are designed to break down dirt and grease, which means that the dirt will then stick to the water molecules even more, and wash away even easier! 

We know – so simple and yet so clever! Keep reading to find out exactly how pressure washers work their magic! 

How Do Pressure Washers Work?

There are many different parts of a pressure washer that come together to make it work as well as it does! It’s important to understand the job of each part so you can fully understand how they do what they do! 

  • Water inlet – The water inlet is basically how the water comes into the pressure washer. This is normally via a hose that connects to the pressure washer (or a tank attached to the pressure washer if you aren’t lucky enough to have an outdoor tap!).
  • Electric motor – The electric motor (or sometimes petrol-fuelled motors for much bigger, more commercial pressure washers) powers the pump (which is arguably the most important part of the pressure washer).
  • Water pump – Without the water pump, you just don’t have a pressure washer! The water pump works at such fast speeds it can be hard to imagine! The pump works the water up into a frenzy so that it is built up to high pressure! It will pull one way to pull water into the water tank, then push the other way at high speeds to force the water out once it is pressurised. These water pumps normally work at between 4 to 8 litres per minute (for standard domestic models)! Which is hard to even imagine, but explains why pressure washers are so good at cleaning! 
  • High-pressure hose – The tube that comes out from the washer is reinforced with wire mesh and high-density plastic so that it can cope with the pressure of the water that is shooting through it! This then passes through to the nozzle!
  • Nozzle – last but not least! The nozzle shoots the water through a small hole which adds to the pressure that is exerted on the surface that you are trying to clean. The small hole makes sure that it will be a narrow, high-pressure jet of water that hits the surface, making it more effective in cleaning! This will often have adjustable settings that allow you to change the way in which the water hits the surface, and sometimes allows a cleaning detergent to be added, to make a pressure washer even better at its job! 

Have you checked out our Best Pressure Washer Buyers Guide?

The trick behind all of these parts working together is that they create an immense amount of pressure to force that stubborn dirt off whatever surface you are working with. But alongside this, although it is powerful and hits at such a high speed (Which you will know if you have ever been sprayed with a pressure washer!, because it is only water it won’t damage the actual hard surfaces that you are hitting because they are so much stronger. 

TOP TIP: Make sure to try the pressure washer on a less obvious area before you do the whole area! There have been instances when the surface you are working with is already weak or damaged (such as grouting between flags) and the pressure of the washer can be too much for it and cause a lot more damage! 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you clean a pressure washer?
Your pressure washer does such a good job of cleaning, it can be easy to forget that it will need cleaning itself at some point! Make sure to remove the inlet filter and clean this to make sure there are no blockages. Also, inspect and unblock the actual nozzle of the hose (this can be done with a small pin or needle if you are careful not to stretch the hole as this will reduce the pressure). 

What is the difference between pressure washers and power washers?
Pressure washers and power washers are more or less the same things, however, there are some key differences. A pressure washer will use cold water and a set pressure to force away the dirt (although can work with most temperatures of water), whereas power washers only use pressurised hot water. 

About Thomas Paxton 368 Articles
Hey there, I'm Thomas Paxton, your Tool Guru with a Twist! I've been knee-deep in the world of tools since I was a little tinkerer in my dad's shed. Now, I'm running my own website where I share my passion for tools and gardening products through buyers guides and insightful tips. I've got the knowledge and experience to break down complex concepts into simple, easy-to-understand language. I purchased Tools Review from Mike Jones at the start of 2023, he has done a sterling job of building the site and I hope I can continue in his success! When I'm not writing guides, you'll find me in my garden or garage, putting my skills to work and pushing the boundaries of creativity. So, whether you're a pro or just starting out, join me on this adventure, and let's conquer DIY projects together!

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