These are the 8 things you should never clean with a pressure washer

Steer clear of using a pressure washer in these areas, experts warn

Dark grey table and chairs on patio with colourful cushions
(Image credit: Future PLC / Claire Lloyd Davies)

Pressure washers are a fabulous addition to your cleaning equipment kit, and they'll do a fantastic job of cleaning certain areas of your garden. But there are some things you should never clean with one of the best pressure washers, and it's important to know what these are before you do some irreparable damage. 

The best pressure washers can make certain chores a lot easier, as their powerful jet stream can wash away dirt, grime, and debris with ease. They'll save you hunching over and scrubbing a surface for hours on end, apart from with the things you should never clean with a pressure washer. These surfaces should instead be cleaned by hand.

'Pressure washers are an amazing piece of equipment to have, using their powerful stream of water to instantly get rid of dirt on materials that would otherwise require a lot of scrubbing', says Steve Chilton, Gardening and Outdoors Expert, LeisureBench. 'But because of their power and the force of water that is sprayed, pressure washers can actually really damage some surfaces and materials.'

8 things you should never clean with a pressure washer

So what are the things you should never clean with a pressure washer? We've asked the experts and rounded up their advice into this handy guide, which will ensure you can use your pressure washer correctly, without causing any damage.

Headshot of gardening expert Steve Chilton
Steve Chilton

Steve Chilton is a gardening and outdoors expert from LeisureBench, an industry leading retailer of outdoor products. Steve has expertise in the overall outdoor sector, covering everything from gardening to outdoor furniture placement and design.

1. Gutters

Back of grey house with open doors and black gutters

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you're wondering how to clean gutters, using a pressure washer is not the route to go down, according to the experts. 'Plastic gutters can't really withstand the power of a pressure washer, so it's better to manually clear gutters or hire professionals to do the work for you', Steve says. 'Although using a pressure washer would make sense in concept, it's not worth damaging a section of your guttering and ending up needing it replaced.'

2. Windows

White house with black framed windows and sliding doors

(Image credit: Future PLC)

No one really looks forward to cleaning windows - they can be awkward to reach and it's hard work trying to get a streak-free finish. Though it's tempting to use your pressure washer to speed up the process, this won't end well.

'The glass in windows is not able to withstand high pressure, meaning you could break the glass and frame and injure anyone nearby', explains Rowan Cripps, Founding Director, Infinite Paving. 'Instead, you should squeegee or gently wipe the window clean using a dedicated window cleaner or a homemade mix.' 

3. Roofing

Back of sand coloured house with two tier roof and windows

(Image credit: Future PLC)

The roof might not be high on your cleaning priority list, but when the time does come to venture up there, don't be tempted to take your pressure washer with you. The high-pressure water can dislodge or damage the roofing materials, leading to leaks and other issues, evening going as far as replacing a roof.

'Roofing can be expensive to replace, so it's better to clean it using a specific roof cleaner, or even better if you can hire professionals to do a thorough job', says Steve from LeisureBench. 

4. Wooden furniture

Patio with wooden table and chairs and cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you want to keep your best wooden garden furniture set looking lovely for years to come, you'll want to avoid using your pressure washer when cleaning it. Anything made from wood, including fences, sheds, and patios, should be cleaned manually, as the power of a pressure wash can cause the wood to splinter and crack.

Learn how to clean garden furniture without a pressure washer instead. 'You can clean wooden furniture using an equal amount of white vinegar and warm water in a bucket', says Laura Harnett, Founder, Seep eco cleaning. ' This will remove algae and grime that has become ingrained over the winter.'

5. Old brick

White bricked wall house with plants and blue door

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Bricks that are looking a little worse for wear reign high on the list of things you should never clean with a pressure washer. If they're crumbling at all or looking a little loose, you'll need to remove any dirt and grime by hand, as a pressure washer will only speed up their deterioration. Cleaning with white vinegar is a handy hack for cleaning brick, and though it will take you longer, you won't cause any damage.

6. Painted surfaces

Patio with painted wooden benches and fire pit

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you've incorporated any garden paint ideas into your garden design, save yourself having to repaint them sooner than you'd like and clean painted surfaces by hand. 'Using a pressure washer on any painted surface is likely to make it start peeling and chipping', Steve explains. 

That's not the result you want if you spent the whole of last weekend learning how to paint a fence. Instead of using a pressure washer, grab a bucket and fill with warm, soapy water, then clean any painted surfaces with a sponge. The paint will last much longer. 

7. Outdoor cushions

Dark grey table and chairs on patio with colourful cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Wondering how to get mould and mildew out of outdoor cushions? Well, a pressure washer definitely isn't the answer. 'The pressure from the water jets could force water inside the cushions and unless it’s a baking hot day it will take forever to dry and could cause damp and mould to grow inside the cushions', explains Laura from Seep. 'The pressure will also damage the surface of the fabric and remove its water repellent coating,’  

To clean outdoor cushions, it's best to use a soft cloth and warm, soapy water, and mixing in some white vinegar to remove any mould.

8. Electrical equipment

Red lawn mower on grass behind house

(Image credit: Cobra)

It almost goes without saying that outdoor electrical equipment is one of the things you should never clean with a pressure washer, but we know how tempting it can be to speed up this unwelcome chore! Clean your best lawn mower, chainsaw, generators, and any other electrical equipment by hand, or you risk water seeping into the components. Aside from completely ruining the equipment, this is also poses a serious safety hazard. 


What can you use a pressure washer on?

While there's a long list of things you should never clean with a pressure washer, there's also many things that can be cleaned with a pressure washer, easily and effectively. Learning how to clean a concrete patio for example is much easier with a pressure washer, as is cleaning your driveway.

'Cleaning a concrete driveway can be difficult, especially if there are any stubborn oil, rust or grease stains residing underneath or nearby your vehicle', says Rowan from Infinite Paving. 'As concrete is such a tough material, it can also withstand the force of the device, meaning using a pressure washer is an excellent way to save time, especially for larger driveways.'

You can also clean decking with a pressure washer, and outdoor furniture that isn't wooden, stained, or painted. Metal furniture should also be avoided, as this is prone to rusting. 'You can easily use a pressure washer to blast your units clean, such as tables or chairs, but make sure to check any instructions to make sure pressure washing is suitable', Rowan advises.

Can you pressure wash glass?

Anything made with glass should not be cleaned with a pressure washer. 'The high-pressure spray is too powerful and can cause the glass to break', explains Ivo Iv, Founder, Decor Home Ideas. 

Windows should therefore not be cleaned with a pressure washer, as the last thing you want is the glass to crack and break. 'This is especially more likely on single-glazed windows', explains Steve from LeisureBench. 'You should use a specialist glass/window cleaner on your windows, or hire professionals to clean your windows for you.'

Now that you know which things you should never clean with a pressure washer, you can go about using your device properly and safely. And remember, there's still lots of chores your pressure washer will make easier!

Katie Sims

Katie Sims has been writing for Ideal Homes since spring 2022. She qualified from her Master’s in Media and Journalism in 2021 and has been writing freelance since. She has worked on Ideal Home’s ecommerce team where she researched the best home products on the market, and on the news team, researching the latest trends for feature pieces.