Is It Safe to Pressure Wash a Car?

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We often get asked whether it’s safe and risk free to pressure wash a car so we got our expert to break down the pros and cons and advise if it will leave any lasting impacts on your car.

This in-depth insight will look at whether you should switch from the traditional method of washing your car, with a bucket and sponge, to using a pressure washing system instead.

Pros and Cons of Pressure Washing a Car

Before you make a decision on whether you want to try to pressure wash your car, it is a good idea to look at some brief pros and cons before looking into the process of pressure washing your vehicle.


It is an easy method of car washing and requires a lot less elbow grease than the traditional bucket and sponge hand washing process.
When used correctly, pressure washing can actually reduce the chances of scratching the paintwork as you will not be rubbing dirty sponges into the car’s paintwork.
The process of washing your car using a hose is a lot slower than the use of a pressure washer.
Depending on how the pressure washer is used, detergent is not always needed unlike the hose and bucket methods of washing a car.


When a pressure washer is used incorrectly, there is a chance of scratches and dents being caused to a car’s body work opposed to the use of the hose or bucket method.
Pressure washing uses extra water and electricity compared to the manual method.
If your toes are not covered and protected by sturdy shoes, the pressure washer can cause injury as the jet is very powerful.
A car should never be pressured washed on a pebbled or shingled surface, as the pressure washer may cause pebbles or stones to hit a car and it will unfortunately cause significant damage to a vehicle’s paintwork.

So, Is It Safe?

Yes, when used correctly, a pressure washer offers many more advantages than disadvantages, especially if you’re looking to speed up your washing process.

However, when used incorrectly, it can cause more harm than good so using it in a safe environment and with the correct precautions are essential.

In the rest of this guide, we’ll run through some of these key things to consider or you can check out our how to guide for step by step instructions.

You’ll want to take extra precautions if you have a wrapped vehicle, refer to this guide for more info on washing wrapped cars.

PSI and Variations of Nozzles

PSI stands for ‘Pound per Square Inch’ and it is used to calculate the rate of air pressure that is transmitted through a pressure washer. The higher the rate of PSI equals the higher rate of air pressure which will be transmitted through a pressure washer nozzle.

It is important to be cautious of the type of PSI rate that is safe for use on a car’s body, because if the PSI is too low it will not clean the surface of the body sufficiently and if the PSI is too high it will cause damage to the appearance of the body which will result in the body needing costly repairs.

The recommended rate of PSI which should be used for washing a car is between 1200 to 2000. You should always keep the tip of the gun at least 1m from the car to prevent scratches.

It is also important look at the types of nozzles that are used within the process of pressure washing. Here is a table which explains the different types of nozzles and how they are used.

Type of NozzleBest Use Case
Red Nozzle: 0 degreeThe red nozzle is high pressure and it is suitable for removal of stains on cement. Due to its harshness it is not to be used on cars.
Yellow Nozzle: 15 degreeThe yellow nozzle strips paint and dirt from pavements, so as it is good for stripping paint, it is not a good idea to use this nozzle on a car’s paintwork.
Green Nozzle: 25 degreeThe green nozzle removes mud and dirt from hard surfaces. It can be used to clean wheels and for a pre-wash rinse and to rinse mud off a car’s surface.
White Nozzle: 40 degreeThe white nozzle is ideal for the general cleaning of a surface of a car, it also quickly cleans large areas and it is handy for rinsing off detergent.
Black Nozzle: 65 degreeThe black nozzle is a detergent applicator nozzle, it distributes detergent evenly.

Consider Using Snow Foam

Snow foam is a great way of using a pressure washer to clean a car, the snow foam prevents dust and dirt from being dragged along a car’s paintwork, as the foam dissolves some dirt particles.

However you should keep in mind that snow foam is a pre-cleaner, and this alone does not clean the whole exterior of a car. The method of using snow foam is also very fast and efficient, as the whole process is straight forward.

Read More: Best Snow Foam Lance for Cars

Final Thoughts

Pressure washing a car can be easy, quick and straight forward as long as the equipment is used safely and sufficiently.

The type of nozzle which is used is important and the nozzles used will vary for each type of wash. Avoid washing your car in direct sunlight as it will make the cleaning process more difficult.

A last reminder is, always keep the pressure washer nozzle at least 1m away as this will help to prevent any unnecessary damage that a pressure washer can cause to a body of a car.