If you’re like most people, you probably don’t give much thought to what kind of cleaning solution you use in your pressure washer. After all, as long as it gets the job done, nothing else matters, right? Well, the type of solution you use can make a big difference in the results you get.
In particular, people often use bleach in pressure washers because it is an effective disinfectant and can kill mold and mildew. But is using bleach in a pressure washer the best way to get things spotless? Some people swear by it, saying that bleach is the key to a perfect pressure wash.
Others argue that it’s too harsh and is a surefire way to ruin your pressure washer or damage surfaces. So, what’s the verdict? Should you use bleach in a pressure washer or steer clear?
Read on to find out everything you need to know about using bleach in a pressure washer.
Is It Safe To Use Bleach in a Pressure Washer?
The simple answer is no. You shouldn’t fill your pressure washer tank with pure bleach and spray it all over your grimy surfaces. Here’s why.
Generally, bleach removes tough stains from surfaces or color from fabric through the bleaching process. The main component, sodium hypochlorite, reacts with dirt, mold, or mildew and breaks it down, making it easy to wash away.
In other words, when you use bleach on a surface, it breaks down the stain or color into smaller molecules. This breakdown makes the original stain or color less concentrated and, as a result, lighter in color or no longer visible.
This concept may sound like a good thing (and it is when you’re trying to get rid of tough stains). However, it also means that bleach can break down other things, like the materials your pressure washer is made of.
For example, using bleach in a pressure washer with a plastic tank will break down the plastic over time, causing it to become brittle and eventually crack. Bleach is a corrosive chemical that can eat away at the seals and gaskets in your pressure washer pump, causing it to leak. It will also damage other sensitive parts of your pressure washer, like the valves and hoses.
So, while using bleach in a pressure washer may seem like a good idea, there are better solutions for cleaning your surfaces. If you frequently use undiluted bleach in your pressure washer, the corrosion will build up faster and cause more damage. In some cases, using bleach can void your pressure washer’s warranty.
Top Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Bleach to Pressure Wash Your Home
Aside from the damage bleach can do to your pressure washer, there are other reasons you shouldn’t use bleach when washing your home. These include:
It Can Be Dangerous for Pets and Plants
Bleach is toxic and can cause irritation if it comes into contact with the skin, eyes, or mouth. Pets are especially vulnerable because they often have sensitive noses and mouths.
They also tend to put their noses close to the ground, where overspray from a pressure washer can easily reach them. Concentrated bleach can also damage plants by killing the roots and leaves.
It Can Damage Home Surfaces
Bleach can also damage different surfaces in your home, like painted surfaces, wooden decks, and patios. The chemicals in bleach can break down the finish on these surfaces, making them more susceptible to staining and fading.
Bleach can also eat away at sealants and grout, leaving your surfaces unprotected. For instance, if you use bleach to clean your roof regularly, the chemicals can break down the sealant around your chimney, causing water to leak into your home.
It’s Not Eco-friendly
If you’re looking for an eco-friendly way to pressure wash your home, using bleach is not the answer. Bleach is a harsh chemical that can pollute the environment and harm wildlife. It can harm the bees, birds, and other species around your home.
Bleach could also flow into the storm drains and eventually make its way into the waterways. This process can damage the delicate ecosystem and harm the fish, plants, and other wildlife that depend on it.
Is There a Safe Way To Use Bleach in a Pressure Washer?
While we don’t recommend using bleach in a pressure washer, we understand that some people may still want to use it. Fortunately, you can use bleach in your pressure washer as long as you dilute it properly. That means getting the water to bleach ratio right.
Here is a brief guide on how to dilute bleach for a pressure washer:
- Mix one part bleach with four parts water in a bucket. These proportions are the best if you use a five to six percent bleach concentration. If the concentration is lower, you can use three parts water to one part bleach.
- Prepare your hose. You should check the hose to ensure no jams or gunk are clogging it. If there’s any clogging, clear it before attaching the hose to the pressure washer and starting the cleaning job.
- Set up the rig: Place the filtering part of your siphon into the bleach bucket. You should follow the manufacturer’s instructions when connecting your pressure washer’s hoses. If you’re using a gas-powered pressure washer, ensure the area is well-ventilated before starting it up.
- Use a soap tip on your lance: When applying the bleach solution, you should use a soap tip on your pressure washer’s lance. The tip will create a more even distribution and prevent streaks.
- Apply the bleach solution: Wet the area you’re going to clean with plain water first. Then, apply the bleach solution evenly across the surface. Start from the top and work your way down to avoid streaking.
- Keep the pressure low: Use a low-pressure setting when applying the bleach solution. High pressure can cause the bleach to splash and cause streaks.
- Don’t leave the bleach on for too long: Once you’ve applied the bleach solution, let it sit for about five minutes before rinsing it off. It can damage the surface if you leave it on for too long. Rinse the area thoroughly with plain water to remove all traces of the bleach solution.
- Clean your pressure washer: After you’re done pressure washing, clean your pressure washer using pure water to remove any traces of bleach. Bleach can damage the pump and hoses, so cleaning your pressure washer thoroughly after each use is important.
When Is It Appropriate To Use Bleach in a Pressure Washer?
Although bleach and a pressure washer aren’t the perfect combination, there are some instances where it may be necessary. These include the following:
Mold and Moss Treatment
If the surface you’re power washing has mold, water alone or pressure washing with soaps and detergents may not be enough to remove it. The detergents may only remove the visible moss and mold, but the roots of the problem will still be there. In this case, you may need to use a diluted bleach solution to kill the mold and moss at the root.
If you’re power washing an area with biohazards such as blood or other bodily fluids, you’ll need to use a bleach solution to disinfect and sanitize the area. Bleach can kill bacteria and viruses on contact. However, you should wear protective gear, such as gloves and a mask, when handling such cleaning.
Heavily Discolored Surfaces
Sometimes, surfaces can become heavily discolored due to dirt, grime, or other buildups. In these cases, using a pressure washer with plain water may not clean the surface. You may need to use a diluted bleach solution to help remove the stubborn buildup.
When Should You Not Use Bleach in a Pressure Washer?
Although there are some instances where using bleach in a pressure washer may be necessary, there are also some cases where it’s not appropriate. These include the following:
If you’re power washing a painted surface, you should avoid using bleach. Bleach can damage and discolor the paint. If you must use bleach, test it on a small, hidden surface area first to see if there’s any reaction.
Bleach can wreak havoc on delicate surfaces such as wood. It will strip away the natural oils and finish, leaving the surface vulnerable to damage. If you must clean a delicate surface with a pressure washer, use plain water or a mild soap solution.
Cleaning Areas With Plants
If you’re power washing an area with plants, avoid using bleach. Bleach can kill plants and grass on contact. If you must use bleach, be sure to keep it away from any plants or grassy areas.
You’re Not Comfortable Handling It
Bleach is a corrosive and toxic substance that can cause serious health problems if not used properly. Inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact can all lead to health complications. If you’re uncomfortable using bleach, it’s best to avoid it altogether.
Around Pets and Children
Pets and kids have one thing in common: they’ll be all over the place, including where they’re not supposed to be. This character means that when you’re pressure washing with bleach, they may come into contact with it.
There’s a high risk that they’ll ingest or inhale the bleach, which can lead to serious health problems. If you must pressure wash with bleach, be sure to do so when pets and children are not around.
What Alternatives Can You Use Instead of Bleach?
If you’re not comfortable using bleach or you want to avoid the potential risks associated with it, there are some alternatives you can use. These include the following:
Vinegar: Vinegar is a natural cleaner that you can use on various surfaces. It is also effective in removing mildew, mold, and grime. You can mix equal parts vinegar and water to create a cleaning solution.
Hydrogen peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful oxidizer that can kill bacteria and viruses. It is also effective in removing stains.
Baking soda: Baking soda is a gentle abrasive that can clean various surfaces. It is also effective at removing stains and odors.
The best thing about these alternatives is that they’re less corrosive and toxic than bleach. However, using them in your pressure washer is probably not the best decision. Consult your pressure washer’s manual or an experienced professional before using these solutions.
Let Professionals Handle the Pressure Washing
If you think that a surface is too messy and that only pressure washing with bleach can help, it’s best to let the professionals handle it. Pressure washing is already risky and can damage your surfaces, and adding bleach to the mix can make it even more dangerous. The best thing is to take a step back and let the professionals handle it.At Advantage Pro Services, our professionals have been offering cleaning services, including pressure washing, to Houstonians for over 20 years. We know what it takes to get your surfaces clean without damaging them. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.