How To Use A Pressure Washer

By Phil Benevides on Home Maintenance, How To

Tips and Important considerations when using a Pressure Washer

Here at A Concord Carpenter we love tools and believe the right tool for the job can save you time and money, but ultimately you’ll get better results when you use the BEST tool for the job. When it comes to cleaning outdoors, nothing does a better job, faster than a pressure washer. But misuse of a pressure washer can have the opposite effect on your project. Check out these important tips on how to use a pressure washer.


Nozzle Choice

Nozzle choice is important to get the best results for the application you are using your pressure washer for. Nozzles are marked by degree and often color coated to delineate the width of the fan of the spray. A wide spray, for example 40-degrees, is good for soft material, like wood. A thin stream or a 0-degree spray is good for tough stains on concrete or to strip offending build up from a surface or weeds from cracks in driveways.

IDEWALT DXPW4240 Pressure Washer Review

Spray Pattern

The spray pattern you use during operation is important and can have a major impact on the results of your wash. Start spraying from a distance of 4 feet and work your way closer until you get the desired cleaning effect. Don’t get too close to the work surface as you may gouge or damage the work surface. Once you find the appropriate distance maintain this distance throughout your cleaning.



You can work from top down or from the bottom up, but keep your pattern consistent and use an overlapping pattern to prevent streaking. Whether you choose to work from the top first or the bottom depends on the surface you are cleaning.

Be sure to spray your surface at an angle, a direct spray from a powerful pressure washer can force dirt and grit into the surface rather than wash it away. When rinsing a clean surface be sure to spray with the nozzle pointed down or away in the same direction to promote left over dirt and debris to flow down and away from the surface.

DEWALT DXPW4240 Pressure Washer

Detergents and Chemicals

If you are using a detergent, degreaser, or any other chemical to accelerate your cleaning you should prepare the area around your work surface and ensure you are wearing the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

To mitigate the effect of chemicals on your landscaping you can pre-soak your plants around the cleaning area with a generous amount of water to dilute any possible chemical contamination.

To thoroughly protect your plants and flowers you can set up tarps over them to prevent any direct contact with chemicals. If you do so, remember to use an opaque tarp and minimize the amount of time the plants remain under the tarp during hot days.

Eye protection should ALWAYS be worn during pressure washer operation and when using harsh chemicals gloves, long sleeve, and pants should be worn to prevent contact with skin.

Using a detergent is an important step when staining a deck.

DEWALT DXPW4240 Pressure Washer Review

Take extra care

A pressure washer is an extremely powerful tool and you should take extra care near windows, electrical components like lights and exterior outlets, and fragile components of your home or deck. The strength of the pressure washer could damage these parts of your home and worse could force water in and behind the exterior of the home accelerating rot and promoting mold.

Consider the direction of spray against some specific areas. Never spray up under clapboard siding or shingles. You could drive water up and under the protective surfaces of your home. Same concept goes for your roof, spraying up under shingles can drive water up and under your roof which could develop into a consistent leak and promote rot.

As I mentioned a pressure washer is powerful so be sure to wear PPE and treat the nozzle like a gun and NEVER point it at anyone or anything you don’t intend to spray. Also the kick back of the sprayer can be tough to handle so stay off ladders and ensure you have solid footing and handle the wand with both hands during operation.

Interested in purchasing a pressure washer for yourself now that you know how to use a pressure washer? Check out this review of the DEWALT DXPW4240 here on A Concord Carpenter.

DEWALT DXPW4240 Pressure Washer

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About the author

Phil Benevides

Carpenter / Assistant Editor

Phil is a 28-year old Air Force Veteran who decided to transform his passion for construction and home improvement into a career. Inspired by his Grandfather who built his home from the ground up with his bare hands in Portugal, he received his formal training in Carpentry at the North Bennett Street School in Boston, MA.Phil continues to grow his skills as a carpenter and leader, while exploring new products, methods, and tools!

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