What Soap Can I Use With My Pressure Washer? Ultimate Guide

Published by: | Updated: January 25, 2023
JCS Refresh What Soap To Use For Pressure Washer

Do pressure washers need special soap?

You bet, and so do certain jobs.

Surprisingly, various soaps can help you avoid (or cause) damage to the surface you’re cleaning.

In this article, we’ll go over the basics of using soap while pressure washing and what options are best.

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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?

Our team services many cities near Everett and Seattle.

Contact us for a free quote.

Can you use any soap in a pressure washer?

No, you can’t just use any soap with a pressure washer.

First, different surfaces require different products depending on the dirt or grime you’re trying to remove. 

Second, choosing the wrong product can lead to several problems, including ineffectiveness or, worse- surface damage or blockages (inside your pressure washer).

For example, detergents that don’t use eco-friendly ingredients are harder to break down, add to waste, and are poisonous to plants and waterways.

Quick answer – What soap do I use for my pressure washer?

Now that you know what to look for, here are some top picks for different surfaces and stains.

All-Purpose Cleaners: Safe on most surfaces, such as wood, vinyl, plastic, metal, and concrete, all-purpose cleaners are versatile, but they are often mild and do not target specific stains. You can use these for projects that require a light cleaning.

House and Siding Cleaners: These products are excellent for cleaning outdoor surfaces such as your roof, siding, gutters, and wood. Similar to all-purpose cleaners but with added stain removal for algae, moss, and mildew buildup.

Window and Glass Cleaners: These are safe on glass and stainless steel surfaces but may contain a healthy amount of ammonia. For streak-free windows, vinegar is frequently added to window cleaning solutions.

Dish Soaps: Dish soaps are a kitchen staple but popular in washing windows. 

Remember that these aren’t effective on other surface types and must be used cautiously because they can clog your machine if not diluted properly.

Concrete and Driveway Cleaners: These stronger soaps may contain organic-based acids. 

These cleaners remove oil, rust, grease, tire marks, and other dirt from your driveways and sidewalks. 

To learn more about pressure washing your driveway, read our full guide.

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Degreasers: Degreasers are another heavy-duty soap added to dissolve even tougher oil, dirt, grease, soil, and road tar on outdoor surfaces and equipment.

Deck and Fence Cleaners: A cleaning and brightening cleaner is ideal for removing dirt, mold, mildew, and algae from wooden decks and patios. Additionally, these might contain oxalic acid, an excellent chemical to get rust stains off your fences.

Vehicle Detergents: Unlike most car shampoos, these are designed to be less foamy to avoid clogging your pressure washer’s nozzle. They also contain no caustic or dangerous ingredients that could damage the paint on your car.

Frequently asked questions

The following are some frequently asked questions that homeowners have about pressure washing soaps.

If you have a question that isn’t answered here, don’t hesitate to contact us, and someone from our team will get back to you.

What soap should I use to pressure washing windows?

Windows are frequently made of delicate materials that are easily damaged, so it is critical to use a milder soap.

You can clean glass with a pressure washer-safe window cleaner or a mild dishwashing liquid. 

Professional window cleaners frequently combine this with ammonia or white vinegar to create a powerful solution. 

You can learn more by reading our article: what window soap should I use when pressure washing?

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Can you use laundry detergent in a pressure washer?

Some people make DIY pressure washer soaps at home using laundry detergent, which is inexpensive and may work temporarily.

On the other hand, they aren’t designed for pressure washers and may damage the parts as they run through inside your machine. 

Phosphates, used in most laundry detergents, balances the pH of the solution and is also shown to be toxic to the environment.

Can you use car wash soap in a pressure washer?

We don’t recommend using car wash soap in your pressure washer. 

Most car wash soaps produce a lot of bubbles and foam, which can damage the nozzle.

Instead, use a specialized vehicle detergent and degreaser safe for pressure washers. They effectively clean dirt and remove caked-on grease and oil stains from your vehicles, minus the foam.

JCS Refresh What Soap To Use For Pressure Washer

Is Dawn Dish soap safe for pressure washers?

Professional window cleaners often use Dawn. This soap is safe but should be appropriately diluted as it is still dish soap, and these may clog pressure washers.

Can you use Fabuloso in a pressure washer?

We don’t recommend it. 

Fabuloso is fantastic for interior surfaces like floors and walls in your living room and bathroom but not for outdoor surfaces like wood and concrete. Fabuloso is also hazardous to plants.


Before beginning any cleaning project with your pressure washer, ask yourself these two questions when picking out your soap: Is this effective and safe on this surface? Are the ingredients safe for my machine and the environment? 

If both of your responses are yes, you’re well on your way to success.

However, if you’re still learning how a pressure washer works and how to use a pressure washer, don’t worry, we are here to help.

Thanks for reading!