What PSI Is Safe for Washing Cars?

From time to time, your car is bound to get a little dirty. If you do use it everyday without washing, it would get really nasty and accumulate so much dirt that it might discolor your car beyond recognition. The truth is sometimes, you may not have the time to wash the car yourself because of work and tight schedules. However, it’s highly recommended that you wash your car at least once in a week. In that case, you would have to do the needful by either taking it for a car wash or you wash it yourself with a pressure washer. 

As several people would assume, washing a car thoroughly isn’t as easy as washing or cleaning the bathroom sink or kitchen counter, especially if you are not using a pressure washer. I’m sure if you ask up to a hundred people to choose between washing cars and doing home chores, 90% will opt for the latter. Washing a car goes way beyond just providing a bucket of water. It requires dexterity, the right pressure washer, a number of good cleaning agent, probably a shampoo and soap, and PSI. To get your car glittering, you will need at least, a couple of hours to get it done. 

Do You Need a Pressure Washer to Wash Your Car ? 

If you really don’t want to spend your morning washing a car and cleaning water, you will need a pressure washer. Pressure washers or power washers, as opposed to buckets will get your car body washed in less than 20 minutes. With the right pressure washer, you will have no trouble cleaning your car – from the body to the wheels, getting rid of specks of dusts to mold. If you wish, you can wash your car everyday with no trouble. 

However, you will need to be careful when washing your car because you need to wash with the right pressure. Else, you will ripping off the body paint of your car, which is ugly. 

That’s brings us to what PSI means. 

What is PSI? 

PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch) is a rating that shows the amount of pressure a pressure washer discharges its water. All pressure washers have a PSI and GPM (Gallons Per Minute) which refers to the maximum amount of water flow. PSI and GPM are the two factors that determine the cleaning power of your pressure washer. This is done by multiplying the PSI by the GPM. 

Pressure washers are powerful hoses that spray pressurized water at a certain PSI. That is between 1500 – 3000 PSI. How safe the pressure washer is for your car is determined by the PSI factor and the GPM. 

What PSI Is Safe for Washing Cars?

Finding the right pressure washer and PSI for your vehicle is essential. If you use a pressure washer with a high PSI, it can damage the paint of your car. Likewise if you use a pressure washer with a very low PSI, it won’t be forceful to get rid of all the dirt and debris on your car. That makes it ineffective. 

The safest pressure washer for your car should have a PSI between 1200 and 2200. Anything above that range is detrimental to the paint of your car. Anything below that won’t be enough to clean your car properly. 

What Is the Best Pressure Washer to Use? 

There are two types of pressure washers that you can find in the market – the electric and the gas-powered pressure washers. 

The electric pressure washers discharge between 1300 to 1700 PSI of water. The gas-powered pressure washers are more powerful and discharge between 2000 and 5000 PSI water. 

Unless you really want to rip, strip, or lift the paint of your car off, electric-powered pressure washers are more ideal to use. Gas-powered pressure washers may be too powerful for a car wash. However, you can still use a gas-powered pressure washers if you use it with the correct nozzle. 

Can the Type of Nozzle Affect the PSI? 

If you have a high-powered pressure washer at your disposal, and you are afraid that it would strip the body paint of your car, don’t panic. There is still a way around it. 

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What you need to do is use the pressure washer with the right nozzle. There are four different kinds of nozzles – 0°, 15°, 25°, and 40°. These nozzles are usually color-coded,  which differentiates each of them from the other. The red color stands for the 0°, yellow and green stands for 15°, white for 25°, and black for 40°.

The red-colored nozzle discharges a single powerful get of power, which can strip the paint of your vehicle. It isn’t suitable for use on cars. If your car is full of mud, the yellow-colored nozzle can be used, but it’s best you don’t use it so close to your vehicle. The green, white, and the black-colored nozzles discharge water evenly at different streams and are best used for washing cars.

To be safe, start with 15° pressure nozzle. From here, you can adjust the distance to 25° and 40°, depending on the amount of debris and mud you want to clean. Most electric-powered pressure washers works best at 25°, up until 40°.

Are There Any Benefits of Using a Pressure Washer? 

Pressure washers are time savers. For most people looking forward to eliminating stubborn stains, mold, and debris on their cars, using pressure washers can do that beyond your imagination. 

The use of pressure washers will reduce the amount of scrubbing and cleaning agent that you have to put into. It’s far more effective and less time-consuming than handwashing. 

Safety Precautions While Using a Pressure Washer 

Your safety is important and that’s why you need to be extra careful while using a pressure washer. Before you intend to use a pressure washer, you should wear goggles or safety glasses. If the pressure washer is noisy, wear hear protection. Put hard shoes and wear gloves as well. 

Also, if you are unaware of how strong the pressure washer is, a great way to know that is by gauging the distance. Spray the ground from a foot or two to ascertain the safety of the pressure washer. If you go too close with the nozzle at first, your washer may lift off the paint. Maintaining a distance with the washer is the best way to avoid damaging the paint. 

Despite the clear advantages of using a pressure washer, not everyone likes to use it. As regards the right amount of pressure, not everyone is conversant with PSI or type of nozzles. Hence, they stick to washing their cars by hand. 

Also, pressure washers are costly to use. If you wash your cars frequently, you may be spending as high as $500 a month, due to the amount of water consumed. So you have to know the factors involved before opting to use a pressure washer. 


Other than the high water consumption, pressure washers are highly effective machines. With the right nozzle, the right cleaning agent, and PSI, pressure washers will get your car sparkling. Your time and efforts are also saved while using a pressure washer. 

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