Important Tips – What Kind of Soap to Use in Pressure Washer

Not every detergent or soap will work well for your pressure washer. The workings of a pressure washer are quite different, which is why different types of detergents are needed to do different types of jobs. 

Other than getting a glimpse on what kind of soap to use in pressure washer, the users will also have to understand the mixing ratio of water and detergent in order to achieve perfect cleaning. Otherwise, it is going to be a hard time or you may end up taking a longer period to wash off stubborn stains and grimes.


Manufacturers will label detergent depending on what they clean and most of the labels will be either cleaners, sanitizers, or disinfectants. Sanitizers kill bacteria, cleaners remove dirt while disinfectants kill organisms within 10 minutes of application.

  • Vinegar - Ideal for countertops, windows, and brass door handles – and practically any other surface 
  • Citric Acid - Ideal for tougher stains on your wooden deck or driveway
  • Oxalic Acid - For rust removal
  • Bleach (Sodium Hydroxide + Sodium Hypochlorite) - Works as disinfectant and sanitizer. If you need a stain remover and disinfectant, you want a product that contains Sodium Hypochlorite; but for soaking greasy stains, Sodium Hydroxide is the ingredient to look out for, and it works well for glass and steel.
    However, one must be very careful when handling bleach, it is recommended to wear gloves to avoid direct contact with the skin.
  • Ammonia - Main ingredient in glass and stainless steel cleaners

What Are You Cleaning

what kind of soap to use in pressure washer

Specific items will call for specific detergents. What you need to pressure clean the driveway will be different from what you need to foam your car.

Can you use dish soap in a pressure washer? Well, there is a debate around this. While some people do not recommend it as it would hurt the eyes – of either the person using it or a pet if it comes into contact with the spray – others say that the only matter is the ratio of detergent to water that you add in your pouch.

This school of thought believes you can use any pressure washer cleaner solution as long as you figure the concentration levels you need.


Various Types of Detergents

Detergent for Cars

Karcher Vehicle Detergent is hailed as one of the best detergents for cars when using a pressure washer. The way a detergent foams matters when using a pressure washer and this particular one foams just right. It also has some wax that will leave the car quite shiny with no annoying residue.

This detergent is quite concentrated, which is one of its main selling qualities. One jug can be mixed with close to 20 gallons of water to make the ideal car washing detergent. It is safe on all automobile finishes too.

Want to know what are our top choices for electric pressure washers? Read more here.

Detergent for Woods

For the woods material, Sun Joe House and Deck Cleaner not only does a thorough job but is also easy on the wood finishing. Since it contains no harsh additives, this product is ideal for wood, brick, fences, and practically any siding.

It is harmless to the hands too and so it can be used with a brush to scrub dirt off surfaces. Also, just because it is gentle on hands doesn’t make it gentle on stains. The cleaning power of this product is great.

Detergent for All-Purposes

If you can’t be bothered buying a product for each of your cleaning needs, you may want to try Karcher Multi-Purpose Cleaner. This product is a combination of ingredients that cater to all types of surfaces without ruining anything but still doing a decent job. It is biodegradable too, which makes it safe for the environment.

In order to clean hard surface such as concrete, it is recommended to go for the gas pressure washers. This type of washers is highly suitable for heavy-duty tasks.

DIY Homemade Solutions

You don’t have to use store-bought solutions all the time as some homemade solutions could be an ideal pressure washer detergent substitutes.

For instance, vinegar is one of the most versatile products used for DIY cleaning and it works excellent for most stains when using a pressure washer. 3 parts white vinegar mixed with 7 parts water is not only harmless to your plants and surfaces, but it also does the job quite well.

However, it may not be ideal for very greasy surfaces, but it does well for wooden surfaces and everyday cleaning. It is mostly recommended for mold and mildew.


Is Pressure Washing Detergent Harmful to the Environment?

Manufacturers label their products appropriately so you know that they are safe for usage. Any commercially available detergent is expected to be safe for the environment as it has passed vetting procedures, but you should still look at the ingredient list first before your purchase.

Can you skip washing detergent altogether? Well, it depends on what you are trying to clean. Cheese and other greasy foods will stick at the bottom of your dish and so nothing short of warm water and detergent will remove that.

Final Verdict

Undeniably that with the help of detergent when using a pressure washer indeed helps a lot in our daily routines. However, it is recommended to take note that certain detergent can be harmful to human's hands therefore putting on safety glove is important.

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