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Pressure Washer: How Many PSI?

Wooden chair cleaning with high pressure washers
Pressure washers have a lot of uses. To figure out how much PSI you need from your pressure washer, think about what you’ll be using it for.

Pressure washers come in a lot of different strengths. The strength of a pressure washer’s stream is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). If you’re looking for a pressure washer, it’s a good idea to take PSI into account. With a pressure washer, there is such a thing as too much power. Too powerful a stream can damage more fragile surfaces and objects. Also, the more pressure you have, the more collateral spray you’ll have as well. So, it’s important to keep in mind what you’ll be using your pressure washer for.

Different Pressure Washers For Different Jobs

Electric Pressure Washer

Electric pressure washers usually have about 1200–1900 PSI. These are ideal for most home cleaning applications, like washing your car, grill, patio furniture, and smaller decks or patios.

Residential Gas Pressure Washer

Higher-grade gas pressure washers have about 2000–3000 PSI, and are better for heavier jobs like cleaning large decks and patios, the siding on your house, your boat, or utility vehicles. If you do a lot of off-roading with your truck or ATV and get it caked with mud and dirt, you’ll want one of these. If you use one of these to wash your car, use a low pressure nozzle.

Industrial or Commercial Grade Gas Pressure Washer

If you’re using your pressure washer to strip flaking paint, you want as much pressure as possible. Commercial and industrial grade pressure washers boast streams of up to 4000 PSI. Don’t use this on your car, as it can dull the clear coat on your paint. These washers are able to remove graffiti from most surfaces.

Nozzles for Pressure Washer

Remember, a lot of the actual pressure of your stream has to do with the nozzle you use. Most pressure washer nozzles are color-coded:

  • Black: a low-pressure nozzle for dispensing soap
  • White: 40 degrees, low pressure
  • Green: 25 degrees, medium pressure
  • Yellow: 15 degrees, high pressure
  • Red: 0 degrees, highest pressure

As a general rule, you should use the lowest pressure nozzle that can still get the job done. If you use too high a pressure, you could cut or scratch the surface you’re washing. For more information on which pressure washer is right for you, check out our Pressure Washer Buying Guide.

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