Should I Hose or Pressure Wash My Car?

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Keeping your car clean is an essential part of its maintenance. But regular trips to a car wash service can be expensive, which is why many prefer to do the car wash at home. The question now is do you use a pressure washer or a garden hose? We conducted a detailed comparison between the two to help you decide which one is better for your vehicle.

A pressure washer cleans your car better than a hose because you have control over the spray angle and direction. Since pressure washers generate more pressure, it loosens more dirt than a hose while using less water.

Pressure Washer vs. Hose Comparison

If you are in a hurry, here is a quick look at the pros and cons of a pressure washer and a hose. There are probably a lot more we can list here, but the focus is on those that affect car wash.

For the rest of this article, we will show why a pressure washer offers more benefits and makes cleaning cars – or any vehicle – easier. First here are the pros and cons of hosing a car. If you need a pressure washer now, the Sun Joe SPX3000 is the way to go.

Car Hose Washing Pros Car Hose Washing Cons
More affordable than a pressure washer Consumes a lot of water
Less likely to scratch car paint No spray angle control
Portable Time consuming
More convenient than hand scrubbing Requires hand washing
Widely available Can only remove light dirt

Now here are the advantages and disadvantages of using a pressure washer. We will look at these more in detail shortly.

Car Pressure Washing Pros Car Pressure Washing Cons
Uses less water than a hose Too much pressure can damage car paint
Removes dirt better than a garden hose Costs more than a hose
Spray angle and direction control Requires fuel or electricity
Removes dirt in hard to reach spots Heavier than a hose
Faster cleaning time Parts may require repair at some point

Should You Hose a Car?

Yes you can use a garden hose to wash your car. It is cheaper than buying a pressure washer and you almost certainly have one already.

A hose can remove dust and a bit of dirt on a car. But it cannot get rid of dirt stuck in the tires, the chassis and the nooks and crannies of the vehicle. A regular garden hose cannot produce the kind of pressure that a pressure washer does, so you will need to do a lot more hand washing.

With a hose, soapy water, wheel brush and some microfiber towels, you can get the job done. But it is going to take more time. It can be uncomfortable during the heat of summer and more so during the cold season.

A garden hose also uses more water than a pressure washer. Hoses cannot generate the kind of water that pressure washers can. So you have to use more to remove less dirt.

Even if you use a lot of water, dirt stuck in the tires and other crevices of your vehicle may remain. It would require hand cleaning to get rid of them.

Why You Should Pressure Wash Your Car

A pressure washer can remove dirt, mud and road grime faster and much better than a hose. It uses less water but because of high pressure, is able to get rid of caked dirt, animal droppings and other stuff stuck on your car.

When it comes to car wash we want it done as quickly and efficiently as possible. A pressure washer such as the Westinghouse WPX3200 does exactly that. Here are some of the biggest benefits.

You can control the angle spray and direction of the wand much better compared to a hose. The combination of directional control and pressure leads to faster cleaning.

If you have ever tried to loosen dirt from under the chassis, you know how hard that is to do with a regular garden hose. With a pressure washer you just need to point the nozzle and it does the rest.

You can change the pressure on your pressure washer as required. By adjusting the valve or replacing the nozzle, you can fine tune the cleaning procedure.

Bottom line: a pressure washer makes it easier to clean a car. You get more done in less time while saving on water usage.

How to Pressure Wash Your Car Correctly

The pressure washer should be set at 1900 PSI or lower. You should also only use the white (40 degrees) or green (25 degrees) nozzle tips. Do not use yellow or red nozzles because they are too powerful and can damage the car.

Whether you are using a 2-stroke or 4-stroke pressure washer, the process is the same. This video shows you how to clean a car with a pressure washer. If you would like to read instead, follow the steps below.

Required Tools and Materials

  • Pressure washer
  • White nozzle tip 40 degrees
  • Green nozzle tip 25 degrees
  • Foam cannon
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Car wash soap
  • Car wash mitt
  • Microfiber towels

Step 1

The first thing you have to do is get rid of as much loose debris and dirt as possible. Put the green 25 degree nozzle on the pressure washer. Stand 18-20 inches from the car. Focus the spray on the tires, wheels and wheel wells.

Once you are done with those, remove the green nozzle and replace it with the white 40 degree tip. You will be using this for the rest of the vehicle exterior.

Spray from the roof and down towards the windows, windshield and all the way down. Be as thorough as possible.

Step 2

Put some car wash soap in your foam cannon. Hook the foam cannon to the pressure washer. Cover the car with foam, starting from the top all the way down.

There should be a layer of foam all over the car. The foam not only dissolves dirt but it also serves as protection so the pressure washer won’t scratch the paint.

There are a lot of car wash soaps available and your car manufacturer might even recommend one. Look for one that has lubricating properties as it helps loosen dirt.

Step 3

Pour car wash soap in the bucket and add some water. Grab your car wash mitt, dip it in the bucket and start scrubbing. Begin at the roof and work your way to the other parts.

Work on one section at a time. Rinse the mitt and repeat as necessary. You might have to repeat this a few times depending on how much dirt there is.

Step 4

Use the white 40 degree nozzle to rinse your car. Rinse thoroughly to get rid of all the soap, foam and any remaining dirt. Focus on the nooks and crannies of your car as soap and foam could still be there.

Once all the soapy residue is removed, use a microfiber towel to dry the car. Wipe as you normally would, no pressure required.

Tips and Warnings

Remember that the 1900 PSI level is the maximum you should use for regular car wash. You may want to start at 1500 PSI and increase it if dirt will not come off.

The closer you are to the vehicle, the stronger the pressure will be. For most car washing, 18-20 inches is a good place to start. You may need to come closer to get rid of some grime. However you should maintain the 18-20 inch distance when washing the windows.

You should only use car soap and detergents that are compatible with your vehicle and the pressure washer. Some pressure washers do not work with car shampoos, but others do. Do some research first and check your owner’s manual before proceeding.

Take your time. Pressure washers work best when you use the right nozzle and apply the correct amount of pressure. The rinsing is probably going to take the most time, but with patience you should be able to water everything off.