Pressure Washing Houses (5 Simple Steps) – Single and 2-Story

Published by: | Updated: February 1, 2023
JCS Refresh How To Pressure Wash a House

While we all know the importance of keeping the inside of our homes clean, the outside is often overlooked.

Pressure washing your home regularly does more than just increase its curb appeal; it also protects your property from damage and makes your home a healthier place to live.

In this article, we’ll teach you how to pressure wash your entire house from top to bottom, so you can rest easy knowing that your loved ones are always protected, and your home is in great shape. 

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About The Author

Meet the expert behind this article. 



Co-owner & Service Director

Hey there, I’m Cody. 

A decade of residential and commercial pressure washing led me to start JCS Refresh. Now I can share my knowledge with folks like you. 

Reading from Washington State?

Contact our team for a quote and you might meet me in person.

Quick Answer

If you want to dive right in, here’s how you can pressure wash your home in 5 easy steps:

  1. Inspect all surfaces
  2. Clear the area of any obstructions
  3. Prep your machine
  4. Apply soap from the bottom up
  5. Rinse from the top down

However, if you want to learn more about how to carry out this task safely and properly, as well as additional tips and tricks, we recommend that you keep reading.

Quick questions before starting

It may appear to be a large and daunting project, but here’s what you can expect.

How difficult is this to do?

It can be hard because it requires a lot of physical labor and time, especially if you haven’t cleaned your house in a long time.

JCS Refresh How to Pressure Wash a House

How much do materials cost?

  • Pressure washer – $160 to $380 or $40 to $100 per day if renting.
  • Detergent or soap – $15 to $35 per gallon depending on the type of cleaner or if it has a stronger concentration to target specific types of dirt.
  • Extension wand – $88 to $180 for an extension wand that reaches up to 18 feet. 
  • Pump sprayer – $10 to $25, depending on the size.
  • Plastic sheet protectors – $10 to $26, depending on the number of pieces. 
  • Duct tape – $6 for a piece or $27 for a 3-pack roll.

How much PSI is needed to pressure wash a house?

Since you’ll need to tackle different materials, use between 2500 PSI and 3000 PSI.

What nozzle is best to pressure wash a house?

Like PSI, choosing a nozzle varies. 

You can use the 25-degree and 40-degree nozzles for most surfaces, but depending on the surface and the type of dirt, you may need to switch to another nozzle. 

JCS Refresh Pressure Washer Nozzle Chart

What should I spray my house with before pressure washing?

Before pressure washing, spray the surfaces with soap and allow them to sit for about 10 minutes before rinsing.

If you buy your machine and supplies, the total cost will be between $289 and $673. 

The price may decrease if you rent a unit, but remember to factor in transportation, pick-up, and return fees.

How to pressure wash a house

Scrubbing grime and stains by hand or with a garden hose takes much longer, but a pressure washer can do the job in a fraction of the time. 

A standard garden hose has a PSI of 40, which doesn’t do much, and uses 50–70% more water than a pressure washer.

Here’s the best way to pressure wash a house in five easy steps:

1. Inspect all surfaces

It is critical to determine the type of material you will be cleaning. 

Most houses have a mix of brick, vinyl, wood, and concrete. Examine all areas for stains, such as rust, loose dirt, debris, and vines stuck to the surface.

Look for window casings, caulking areas, door edges, and other areas where water can get in. You want to make sure these areas are avoided while washing.

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2. Clear the area of any obstructions

Remove any toys, furniture, or other items that could get wet. 

Cover electrical outlets and holes with duct tape, and protect your exterior lights with plastic sheet protectors. 

Next, cut any branches that may appear too close to the house. 

3. Prep your machine

Now is the time to start your pressure washer

Instructions may differ depending on whether you’re using a gas or electric-powered, so read the manual. Additionally, ensure your high-pressure hoses are properly connected.

If you still need to figure out how to connect your pressure washer, read our detailed guide on how to use a pressure washer, which covers gas and electric-powered machines.

Lastly, with your regular garden hose, give your plants and bushes a quick rinse to prevent them from absorbing as much soap while you’re cleaning.

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4. Apply soap from the bottom up

Attach your soap nozzle tip. 

The soap nozzle is usually black and applies soap at the lowest pressure. Begin using your cleaner from the bottom and work your way up. 

This bottom-up spray technique helps avoid streaks. Let your soap sit for 10 minutes. Do not let it dry. Work in sections to avoid streaks, and you’re ready to rinse.

Start with those stains if you need to clean a specific stain on a surface. For example, if your surface has rust stains, remove them before cleaning the rest. Then, use a pump sprayer to apply soap in the same manner and rinse.

It’s also a good idea to read the labels on detergents and chemicals, especially if you’re using a strong one. Moreover, use a safe cleaner for your machine and plants.

5. Rinse from the top down

Attach your pressure washing nozzle. Then, use the widest spray first, the white or 40-degree nozzle, and switch if you need to. 

Most vinyl siding and brick walls can be cleaned with a 40-degree nozzle. However, it’s always best to adjust your distance before attaching a lower-degree nozzle because that usually fixes the need for a slightly stronger force of water. 

Rinse from the top down, and if unsure, test your distance and pressure in a smaller area.

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How to pressure wash a 2 story house

Pressure washing a two-story home is a breeze now that you know the basics. 

Safety should be a priority, especially in a multistory home where fall injuries are more likely. 

The same steps apply when cleaning, with a few exceptions that are especially important to keep you and your unit safe.

Get an extension wand that reaches at least 18 feet

The safest way to pressure wash a 2-story house is to buy an extension wand that extends up to 18 feet and 24 feet for a 3-story home. This wand can rinse and apply soap to even the most difficult-to-reach places.

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Shut the water off when changing wands

When changing wands, make sure to turn off the water supply. Remember that you’re dealing with high-pressure water, which can harm you and the surface you’re cleaning.

Connect your extension wand

Finally, attach the extension wand and begin pressure washing.

Safety considerations

Be sure to keep these safety considerations in mind when pressure washing your house. 

Always point your wand in a safe direction

The high-pressure water from your machine is extremely powerful but capable of extreme damage. So point it away from other people, pets, or plants.

Do not use a ladder

Opt for an extension wand instead. If you’re using a ladder, the weight of the rod, combined with the amount of pressure, can throw you off balance and cause you to fall.

Wear protective equipment

Dirt, debris, and chemicals could get into your eyes. Make sure always to wear goggles.

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Do not use a pressure washer for indoor cleaning

Pressure washers, especially gas-powered ones, are unsafe to use at home or in confined spaces. So instead, do regular scrubbing inside and only use your pressure washer outside.

Don’t pressure wash lead paint

Lead paint can be very hazardous. Consult with a professional before pressure washing lead paint.

5 Tips for pressure washing a house

Now that you know how to wash your home safely, let’s talk about efficiency, material, and machine safety. 

Here are five tips we believe you should know when pressure washing a house:

1. Inspect the material of your house

Take a look at the entire house and the surfaces you’re cleaning. 

You’ll need to know which areas to target, how much pressure to apply, and which areas to avoid so that no water gets inside the house.

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2. Use a safe detergent (for your machine and the environment)

Opt for plant-based detergents that are also machine-safe. 

We have heard many stories about pressure washers being damaged because homeowners add car or kitchen soap. 

While some dish soaps are effective at removing oil stains, others can clog the machine and contain chemicals that harm water systems.

3. Ensure you don’t run out of gas

This causes a vapor lock, which causes your engine to lose its power. Ensure your machine has also cooled down before refueling, as it usually gets hot after about 30 minutes to an hour of cleaning.

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4. Test a small area first

Start with the broadest spray and hold your wand about 12 inches from the surfaces. Check for any chipping or damage. If the pressure is too weak for the surface, try having your wand closer before switching to a higher-pressure nozzle.

5. Consider investing in a heavy-duty pressure washer

Ideally, you’ll want a PSI of around 2900 to 3200 PSI and good GPM levels. If you want to know more, you can read our article on GPM vs. PSI.

You can still get by with a light or medium-duty pressure washer, but cleaning a surface takes more time and effort. You can rent or hire a professional if buying is not an option.

Before and after pressure washing a house 

You can do wonders with a pressure washer. 

Take a look at this job we recently did.

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Frequently asked questions

Here are some of our reader’s most common questions.

If you have a question that still needs to be answered here, please contact us, and someone from our team will get back to you.

What’s the cost to pressure wash a house?

Having your house pressure washed typically costs between $0.20 and $0.50 per square foot, which means a 500-square-foot driveway will cost between $100 and $250.

What size pressure washer is best for a 2 story house?

We recommend a heavy-duty pressure washer, 2900 to 3200 PSI, and a GPM of 2.5 to 4.

How often should you pressure wash your house?

We recommend you pressure wash your house once or twice a year or as needed. 

To more more about specifics, visit our full guide about how often you should wash your house.

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Can you pressure wash a brick house?

You bet! Yes, you can pressure wash a brick house. To see some fantastic work, visit our article, before and after pressure washing brick houses.

Should you pressure wash your house?

Yes, pressure washing is the fastest and most efficient way to clean the exterior of your home.

What is the best time to pressure wash a house?

Pressure washing a house is best done between March and November, just before winter and when you’re preparing your home for repainting. 

To learn more, visit our article about when you should pressure wash your house.

How to pressure wash a house with mildew

When pressure washing a mildew-infested house, work in sections. 

Spray one section with your cleaning solution and let it sit for 30 seconds before pressure washing it at the lowest setting. Repeat the process if there are still any left.

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How much water does a pressure washer use?

A typical pressure washer will use between 2 and 4 GPM or 120 to 240 gallons per hour. 

That may surprise you, but it’s not much, mainly when cleaning. That is similar to 2 to 3 full baths of water for 1 hour of cleaning.

What does pressure washing do to shingles?

Pressure washing can damage shingles. In addition, the high pressure on the shingles can loosen the granules and cause unnecessary wear and tear. You can opt for manual brushing instead when cleaning shingles.

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The exterior of your home becomes dirty over time, and if it is not maintained, it can deteriorate and change color. 

Pressure washing your house regularly provides a healthier environment for your family to live in a while also extending the life of the materials in your home. 

When pressure washing a house, keep three things in mind: inspect the surfaces to be cleaned, follow safety precautions, use appropriate equipment, and protect your machine.

if you’re reading from Washington State, learn more about our house washing services.

Thanks for reading!