Can a Pressure Washer Break Windows?

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If you look up the question “can pressure washers break windows”, a lot of sites say yes. But you have probably seen it done before. So can it work? While a pressure washer can break windows, there are ways to prevent it from happening. In this post i will show how it is done.

A pressure washer can wreck windows if not handled properly. To avoid damage, use a white, 40 degree spray nozzle and spray three feet away from the window. Set the PSI to 1300-1700 and the GPM to 1.5.

The Dangers of Pressure Washing Windows

Pressure washers can remove caked dirt, mildew, mold and other tough stains because of its power. But this is also the reason why it can break windows, glass and other delicate surfaces.

Pressure washers need at least 2000 PSI to remove paint, but that is going to shatter window glass. While high PSI is great for stripping paint and dirt removal, it is very bad for windows.

Using the wrong spray nozzle is another risk. The red, yellow and green nozzles concentrate too much water on the target. This is fine for hard stains but will damage glass.

If you apply the wrong amount of detergent, it can leave glass stains. Cleaning is in two parts, washing dirt away with water and soap/detergent and rinsing. If you apply the wrong cleaning solution or nozzle, damage will ensue.

If you are not experienced pressure washing windows, it can be risky. Cleaning windows needs more precision and care than a driveway. Put too much pressure on a window and it will break, so you have to be careful..

How to Pressure Wash Windows Correctly

All right, so now you know the risks. Having said that, it is possible to pressure wash windows safely. These steps show how it is done.

What You Need

  • Pressure washer
  • Soapy water or other window cleaning solution
  • Safety glasses or full face mask
  • Gloves
  • Close toe shoes or boots
  • Tarp or canvas
  • Electrical tape (optional)
  • Telescoping wand (optional)

If you don’t have a pressure washer yet, I suggest the Craftsman Electric Pressure Washer CMEPW1700 as it is perfectly suitable for windows. It packs power but not enough to damage the surface.

If the window is on the second floor, don’t use a ladder. Get a telescoping wand instead. My pick is the BE 24 FT Telescoping Wand as it makes multi-story cleaning easy.

Step 1

Cover or move everything that should not get wet. Move outdoor furniture away or put tarp over them. Or you can just move the furniture far from the area. If there are power outlets nearby, put electrical tape over them.

Close the windows so the pressure washer doesn’t spray water inside your house. Examine the windows for any cracks. Fix it before you start. You don’t want those cracks spreading or breaking from the pressure.

One more thing: if the windows have screens, remove them. Even if you use the lowest setting there is a chance they could break.

Step 2

Prepare the pressure washer. If it is gas, put fuel if you have not done so yet. If electric, plug it into the power outlet.

In most cases water is enough to clean windows. If there is a lot of dirt, you will need a cleaning solution.

Put the cleaning solution in the pressure washer tank. Consult your owner’s manual for what type of cleaning solution to use. If the manual doesn’t say anything, just mix a small amount of dish soap with water.

Open the tank and pour enough of the mix until it reaches the fill line.

Step 3

Put the white, 40 degree nozzle on the pressure washer. These days you just have to snap the nozzle on. With an older model you might have to use a screwdriver.

Do not use the red, yellow or green nozzles. They are too strong and the force will break the window. The black nozzle is gentle enough, but you will use that to apply the cleaning solution later.

Set the pressure washer PSI to 1300-1700 or the lowest setting available. Too much pressure and the window will crack.

How you adjust the settings depends on the pressure washer. In most cases you just need to turn back a dial to the desired level.

Step 4

Put your safety gear on. You should also wear gloves to protect your hands, long pants and long sleeved shirt. Put closed toe shoes or boots on.

If all of this sounds too much, keep in mind that pressure washers are powerful tools. Accidents can happen and if the window shatters, you should have maximum protection.

The goggles are there to protect your eyes and the gloves are for your hands. The shoes or boots are essential in case the spray hits you.

Step 5

Stand at least three feet from the window. If you can be 8 feet or 10 feet that is even better. You should only move closer if needed. But do not come any closer than 3 feet. Even with a white nozzle and low PSI, being too close risks damage.

Position yourself to the side of the window. Do not spray directly in front of the window. The pressure will be too much.

Still standing to the side, aim the nozzle at the window. Turn the pressure washer on. Move the spray tip from side to side until you have sprayed the entire window.

Repeat these steps for each window you have to clean. If you have to clean second floor widows, use a telescoping wand. Attach this to your pressure washer and extend as needed.

Telescoping wands can reach up to 24 ft. so you will have no problems reaching that second floor window. And there is no need to use a ladder either.

Tips For Pressure Washing

The white nozzle is ideal for windows, but you can also use the black one or both. You could for instance, start by washing the windows with water.

Then you add detergent or soap to the tank. Put the black nozzle on and apply the soapy mixture. Finally, empty the tank, pour fresh water and put the white nozzle back on to wash the soap off.

Another option is to start with the black nozzle. Put the nozzle on and add the soapy mixture. Then you wash it off with water using the white nozzle. Others like to use the white or black nozzle only.

A turbo nozzle is a handy tool for cleaning upper story windows. It isn’t as effective as a telescoping wand, but it can work if the window isn’t too high up. A turbo fans out the water in a spiral so that it can go higher.


Always double check the PSI. Even if you use the right nozzle, too much PSI is liable to cause damage. If you notice the pressure suddenly rising, turn the pressure washer off right away.

There are risks with using pressure washers, and one of that is slight kick back. This is why you must never use one a ladder. The force may be slight, but it might knock you off and cause injury.

Do not pressure wash windows when it is raining. For one, it is dangerous. You could slip due to the excessive dampness. Second, there might be too much water.

If you are using an electric pressure washer, that is another reason to avoid cleaning during rain. You do not want the power cord to make contact with rainwater or any wet material. Electricity and water do not mix.

Never attempt to pressure wash without safety gear. Even if you are using a light nozzle, you must never take this for granted. Wear your safety gear and also make sure the pressure washer is working.

Regular maintenance is essential for any pressure washer. Electric pressure washers need less maintenance than gas, so keep that in mind too.