Pressure washing your house can remove years of wear and tear in just a single day. This tutorial will walk you through the process, with detailed instructions for siding, second stories, gutters and more (plus optional instructions for painting after).
Tools and materials
Besides a pressure washer, you’ll need a few other tools and materials to clean your house. You may need everything on the list below, or you may just need some things depending on the size of your house, the type of siding you have, etc.
- Pressure washer. You need a decent amount of pressure to clean most types of house siding, including wood, brick, aluminum and vinyl siding. Use around 2,000-3,000 PSI.
- Cleaning solution. You can get the job done without a siding cleaner, but it’s better to use one. Choose a product based on your conditions (if you need to remove mold, old paint, etc.).
- Safety gear. It’s important to wear safety gear (PPE) when pressure washing. Use safety glasses, gloves and hearing protection (if you’re using a gas-powered model).
- Scrub brush. If you need to remove mold, mildew, rust or old paint, you may want a brush to scrub the surface. Use a brush with soft, synthetic bristles.
- Extension wand. If you have a 2-story or 3-story house (or just a tall single story), you’ll need an extension wand for your pressure washer. Choose one based on the size of your house.
- Gutter cleaner. If you have gutters, you’ll need a gutter cleaner attachment for your pressure washer. Use this in conjunction with an extension wand.
- Plastic sheeting. If you want to protect your doors and windows, you may want plastic sheeting for cover. Use heavy-duty sheeting, if possible.
- Garden sprayer. If your cleaning solution isn’t safe for pressure washers (if it contains bleach or any other corrosive chemicals), you’ll need a garden sprayer.
- Paint, applicator, scraper. If you want to paint your house after pressure washing, you’ll need a few gallons of paint, an applicator (roller, sprayer, etc.) and a scraper.
If this is your first time using a pressure washer, read our guide on how to use a pressure washer to learn the basics. Then, follow the instructions below to pressure wash your house (step 5 includes what to do for 2-story and 3-story houses).
Step 1: Prepare house
Remove any objects that are blocking the house (furniture, pottery, etc.), then use your plastic sheeting to cover anything that can’t be moved (doors, windows, etc.). Make sure any openings are completely sealed so water doesn’t get inside, and double check anything electrical.
Step 2: Set up pressure washer
Figure out where to set up your pressure washer (it doesn’t really matter where since you’ll be moving it around the house as you go), then connect your garden hose, high pressure hose and spray gun. Turn on your water supply, but don’t start your pressure washer yet.
Step 3: Prepare cleaner
Prepare your cleaning solution following the manufacturer’s instructions, then fill your pressure washer (some models have an onboard detergent tank, others have a siphon tube that you put directly in your solution), or fill your garden sprayer if you have to use one. Now, start your pressure washer.
Step 4: Clean gutters
If you have gutters, connect your extension wand and your gutter cleaner and clean them first (using plain water, don’t use your cleaning solution for this). Work from one end to the other, spraying away from downspouts to avoid clogging them. If you need to clear a clogged downspout, point the nozzle directly down it and spray until water flows through it smoothly.
Step 5: Clean siding
Divide your house into sections of about 10 feet wide and one story high (for example, a 2-story house with a 20 ft. wall would have four sections: top left, top right, bottom left and bottom right). Starting with the top story, repeat this step one section at a time.
Connect the 65° nozzle (usually black), or use your garden sprayer, and spray the cleaning solution onto the siding (spraying from the bottom to the top of the current section). If you have a scrub brush, use it to scrub the surface, otherwise let the solution soak for a few minutes. Then, switch to the 25° nozzle (usually green) and rinse the cleaning solution off (this time, from top to bottom).
Step 6: Finish up
Take down your plastic sheeting, put away your equipment and make sure you properly dispose of any leftover cleaning solution (for those who used chemicals). Wait at least 24 hours for the house to dry before putting any exterior decor back up (or before painting).
Step 7: Painting
Use your scraper to remove any old, peeling paint. Prepare your new paint following the manufacturer’s instructions, then use your applicator to begin painting the house. Start with the eaves, then the siding, then the trim, and make sure you apply the recommended number of coats (two coats is standard, but again, follow the manufacturer’s instructions).
Frequently asked questions
The most common questions about pressure washing a house are answered below. For other questions, you can reach out to us at any time. If you have a question about a specific product, you may need to contact the manufacturer.
How much does it cost to pressure wash a house?
The average cost to pressure wash a house is between $0.25-0.35 per square foot, which includes labor and supplies. This comes out to $600-840 for the average single family home. Keep in mind, this doesn’t include gutter cleaning. Expect an additional $0.50-1.00 per linear foot for gutters.
Is pressure washing bad for your house?
Pressure washing your house is completely safe as long as you know what you’re doing. While there’s no denying that too much pressure can damage siding and other exterior materials, it’s easy to prevent this; simply use the right nozzle and don’t spray too close to the surface.
Can you pressure wash a house with bleach?
Bleach should never be used in a pressure washer. It’s not only corrosive to the parts, but it’s dangerous to both humans and animals as an airborne mist. If you need to use bleach to remove mold or mildew, we recommend applying it with a garden sprayer and then using your pressure washer to rinse it off.
What is soft washing a house?
Soft washing is just pressure washing with low PSI. It’s advertised as a separate service, but it’s really just the ideology that you don’t need super high pressure to clean a surface; instead, you’re better off using a good cleaning solution and lower pressure.