How to use electric pressure washer

How to use an electric pressure washer

It’s getting to that time of year when everyone is cleaning off the garden furniture, scrubbing down patios and driveways, and generally giving everything a good spring cleaning in time for summer.
If you want to get all these cleaning tasks done the good old-fashioned way, with a bucket, brush, and cloth, then be my guest, but a much easier way to deal with it all is to use a pressure washer.
Pressure washers come in many varieties, with the main ones being petrol pressure washers, cordless pressure washers, and electric versions. With the goal of keeping this article short and to the point, we are only going to be looking at how to use electric pressure washers in this article, although we will compare them to the others just for informative purposes.

What can I use an electric pressure washer for?

The answer to this is for pretty much anything that needs cleaning outside the house. As already mentioned, electric pressure washers are great for blasting off garden furniture, cleaning BBQs, making the car, caravan, kids’ bikes, etc. look like new, and when used with various attachments, you can clean your windows, and even scrub your patio back into life.

You should avoid using a pressure washer near things that are easily damaged, such as fragile materials, your flower beds, and even painted fences and walls if the paint is a bit old or it could start it flaking or even peel it off. However, with the use of adjustable nozzles, you can work on more fragile surfaces. We even have an article on cleaning wooden garden furniture with a pressure washer that you can read by following the link.

here’s a strangely satisfying time-lapse video of someone cleaning their driveway with an electric pressure washer-

How do electric pressure washers compare to petrol and cordless models?

When it comes to raw power, you can’t beat a petrol pressure washer, but to be perfectly honest, unless you are trying to clean up on an industrial level, you really don’t need one, and an electric or cordless pressure washer is more than enough for the home. All that extra power from a petrol model comes with a fair bit of extra noise too.

Both electric and cordless pressure washers run much quieter than petrol ones, there’s no need to have fuel cans lying around, and there are no fumes. They also tend to be cheaper and easier to use, but which is the better of the two?
There’s no correct answer to that of course, it all depends on your needs and preferences. The advantage of cordless models is that you can move around quite freely and don’t necessarily need a mains water supply. However, they are limited in running time by their batteries, and I’ve also found that most are less powerful than corded electric pressure washers.

Electric pressure washers have to be plugged into the mains electric and connected by a hose to a water supply such as an outdoor tap, and this limits your movement somewhat. Having said that, even with only a few metres of power cord, they have enough range for most people’s gardens, and the biggest advantage that they have over the other two main types of pressure washer is that you don’t have to worry about running out of fuel or battery power.

If you want to know how much louder a petrol pressure washer can be than an electric one, compare this next clip to the one above-

How to use an electric pressure washer

Before switching on your pressure washer, you should take a brush and go over the surface that you intend to clean to get rid of any surface dust or dirt as this will reveal if there are any cracks or chips in the material that might be made worse by a high-pressure blast of water.

Plug the machine in

Next, make sure your machine is plugged into the mains. If you are going to use an extension cable, make sure it is a waterproof one, or you risk damaging your tool and even electrocuting yourself and the reality won’t be as funny as this-

Connect your hoses

Connect your garden hose to the water inlet on your pressure washer. A lot of pressure washers come with plastic fittings, but I prefer brass hose connectors and so I swap mine for these. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to do this, as your plastic ones will be fine if they are new, I just thought I’d mention it in case you’d like to improve the quality of your connectors in the future, or if you have higher than usual water pressure coming straight out of the garden tap.

Connect the spray gun and choose a nozzle

Connect the spray gun to the pressure washer, and choose an appropriate spray nozzle for the job at hand. Most pressure washers come with a selection of color-coded spray nozzles, and each color will represent a spray angle, with the zero-degree angle nozzle being the most powerful and nozzles with increasing angles being less and less powerful. Your instruction manual that came with your pressure washer can give you more information on this.

Fill the detergent reservoir if needed

If you’re going to be using a pressure washer detergent of some kind then now is the time to fill up the detergent reservoir on the main body of the pressure washer. Some of these products will just pour straight into the reservoir but others might be a concentrate and need watering down first, so check the instructions on the bottle or container.

Purge the machine before switching it on

Before switching on the power, you need to do a couple of things. Firstly, check that the spray wand is either turned off or set onto the lowest pressure setting, so there are no big surprises when you switch it on. Secondly, you need to purge the air out of the machine, and you do this by removing any accessories before turning on the water supply, and then squeezing the trigger on the spray wand with the motor switched off. With this completed, you can turn the machine on.

Let the pressure washer run for 2-3 minutes

With the motor running, it is a good idea to leave the machine idle for a few minutes before trying to use it, but don’t exceed five minutes o you can cause damage through overheating the water pump. After around 3 minutes, the machine should be primed and ready to go to work.

Things to remember when using an electric pressure washer

Always remember to hold the nozzle at least six inches from the surface that you are cleaning, sometimes more, and never, ever, point it at another person. You also need to be very careful not to get any of your body parts in the way of the water coming out of the spray wand or you could cause yourself serious injury

You might not feel ‘cool’ to be wearing safety equipment when using a pressure washer, but safety glasses to protect your eyes from debris, and ear defenders to help deal with the noise are recommended, especially if you buy an electric pressure washer with very high psi. If you take a quick look at this article on chainsaw safety, you’ll see the kind of eye and ear protection I’m talking about. By the way, safety glasses only work on your eyes, and are not a fashion accessory-

Once you’ve finished cleaning with your pressure washer, switch the power off on the machine and then unplug it. Next, purge the air out of the machine by squeezing the trigger, as you did before you started the machine, and then switch off the water supply. Disconnect the spray wand and hose and drain the water out of them as well as you can before packing it all away.

That’s all for this article, but our website is loaded with helpful how-to posts, so please check them out!

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message:

View all posts by Terry Smith

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *