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Article by Michael A / November 22nd, 2022

Soap and detergent to use for pressure washing

Pressure washing your home’s exterior is a great way to keep it looking fresh and new. If you’re planning on pressure washing your surfaces, you might be wondering what kind of soap or detergent to use.

You may have heard that dish soap can damage your pressure washer, but is that true? And if so, what’s the best alternative? There are many options, so it can be tough to know which is right for you.

detergent bottles

Understanding the detergent to use for pressure washing is vital because the wrong product will damage your surfaces or equipment. This guide gives you a rundown of the different types of soap and detergent that you can use for pressure washing, as well as some tips on choosing the right one for your needs.

The Difference Between Pressure Washer Soap and Detergent

Before we dive into the different types of soap and detergent, it’s essential to understand the difference between these two terms. Soap is a natural product made from fats and oils. Detergent, on the other hand, is a synthetic product made from chemicals.

When To Use Soap for Pressure Washing

Soap is a good choice for pressure washing surfaces that are not too dirty. It’s also a good choice for pressure washing delicate surfaces like painted walls or cars.

Soap is also the best option if your community has laws or regulations restricting the use of chemicals that can be hazardous if washed down the storm drains. Since soap is a natural product, it doesn’t pose the same risk to the environment as synthetic detergents.

When To Use Detergent for Pressure Washing

The chemical ingredients in detergents effectively cut through tough, caked-on dirt and grime. For this reason, detergent is the best choice for pressure-washing surfaces that are very dirty. These include surfaces where dirt and grime have accumulated for a long time.

You can also use detergent if you’re pressure washing something that is difficult to remove, like mold or mildew. Keep in mind that some detergents can be harsh on surfaces, so it’s crucial to choose one designed for pressure washing and read the label carefully.

Can You Use Regular Soap or Dishwashing Liquid in a Pressure Washer?

If you’re on a budget, you might be tempted to use regular soap or dishwashing liquid in your pressure washer. However, these products are not designed for pressure washers and can damage your equipment.

Regular soap is made for hand-washing and doesn’t have the same cleansing power as detergent. As a result, it won’t clean surfaces as effectively. The soap might also leave a film on your surfaces.

Dishwashing liquid is also not a good choice for pressure washing because it is designed to be used with water that is much cooler than the water that comes from a pressure washer. It can get extra soapy and sudsy, and the foam can eventually gum up and damage your pressure washer’s tubing or other parts.

You risk voiding the warranty on your pressure washer if you use regular soap or dishwashing liquid. So, rather than use regular cleaning solutions, it’s best to invest in a pressure washer-specific soap or detergent. These products go well with high-pressure water, giving you a smooth cleaning experience.

Homemade vs. Store-bought Pressure Washing Soap and Detergent

With the current economic climate, you’ll definitely be looking for ways to save money. As a result, you might consider making your own pressure-washing soap or detergent. But is this a good idea?

The simple answer is no. The market already has a wide variety of pocket- and environment-friendly pressure washer soaps and detergents, so there’s no need to go the DIY route.

Not to mention that making your detergents may be time-consuming and costly. You’ll need time and money to shop for different ingredients. This process can be inefficient, given that you may not find them all in one place.

You might not have the right skills and knowledge to make a safe and effective pressure washing solution. Poor skills could lead to you using the wrong ingredients in the wrong proportions, which can be dangerous.

How To Choose the Best Pressure Washing Soap or Detergent

The market has different brands of pressure washing solutions. With so many choices, knowing which is best for your needs can take time. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a pressure washing soap or detergent:

Intended Use

When selecting your pressure wash detergent, you should consider how you plan to use it. Some soaps are all-purpose and will work well on different surfaces. So if you want one cleaning solution for your decking, metallic fence, or pavement, such detergents would be suitable.

However, if you’re looking for a solution that suits a specific surface, like a car or house, you’ll need to find a detergent specifically designed for that purpose.


If you’re worried about the impact of pressure washing solutions on the environment, look for biodegradable cleaners. Generally, pressure washer detergents and soaps will end up draining into your surrounding landscaping or yard. As such, you should choose a product with environmentally friendly ingredients that won’t harm your pets or plants.

Most manufacturers will display the biodegradable label on the cleaning solution. You can also check the product description to see if it’s safe for the environment.


Pressure washer soaps and detergents can either be concentrated or diluted. Diluted solutions are ready to use, and you can apply them directly to your pressure. Since they don’t require much work, they’re more convenient.

On the contrary, concentrated solutions require diluting them first before adding them to your washer’s detergent tank. The major benefit of a concentrated solution is that you get more bang for your buck because you can get more gallons from a smaller amount.

The Size of the Area You’re Cleaning

The size of the area you’re cleaning will dictate how much pressure washing solution you need. If you’re only cleaning a small patio, you can get away with using a less concentrated solution. But you’ll need a more concentrated solution if you’re pressure washing a large deck.

Tips for Using Pressure Washer Soap and Detergent

Once you find the right soap and detergent for your needs, it’s essential to use it correctly to get the best results. Here are some tips for using pressure washer soaps and detergents:

  • Start by reading the label carefully
  • Pre-treat tough stains
  • Test the detergent on a small area first
  • Rinse the surface after pressure washing to avoid streaking or damages by harsh chemicals
  • Dilute the detergent properly
  •  Never mix different cleaners together.

These tips will help you get the most out of your pressure washing soap or detergent. You’ll also avoid damaging your pressure washer or the surface you’re cleaning.

Some of the Best Pressure Washer Soaps and Detergents

Now that you know what to look for in a pressure washing solution, here are some of the best products on the market:

Krud Kutter Pressure Washer Concentrate

This multi-purpose washer is ready to use and effective for removing tough stains like tree sap, mildew, mold, grease, and bird droppings. It’s ideal for almost all surfaces, including wood siding, tile roofing, masonry, walls, walkways, and more. The key features include the following:

  • Biodegradable
  • Anti-corrosive to protect your pressure washer
  • Makes 11 gallons
  • No scrubbing; leave it for a few minutes, then wash it off.

Sun Joe All-purpose Pressure Washer Cleaner

This detergent is an all-purpose pressure washer concentrate that you can use on almost any surface. You can use it to clean grime off vinyl, brick, wood, metal, or other surfaces. Its outstanding features include:

  • Biodegradable
  • Concentrate formula to last longer
  • Cleans all surfaces.

Karcher Pressure Washer Multi-Purpose Cleaning Soap

This soap is the best if you’re strapped for cash, as it’s very affordable. Besides its low cost, you can make 20 gallons of cleaning solution from a single gallon. You can use the solution on fences, boats, cars, pavements, and more.

Key features include:

  • Biodegradable
  • Suits all surfaces
  • Concentrated.

Simple Green Pro HD Heavy-Duty Cleaner

You can use this heavy-duty pressure washer on different surfaces. It can quickly remove greasy buildup, oil stains, mildew, and algae. You can also use it to prep surfaces for painting.

Key features include:

  • Cleans all surfaces
  • Non-corrosive, so it can clean stainless steel and aluminum
  • Concentrated formula
  • Non-toxic and safe.

Simple Green Oxy Solve Total Outdoor Pressure Washer Cleaner

This product is one of the most environmentally friendly soaps you’ll find on the market. In addition to being biodegradable, it’s on Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly list. It contains hydrogen peroxide, which is safe for cleaning various surfaces.

Key features include:

  • Biodegradable and non-toxic
  • Safe for water and landscape
  • Uses peroxide power to clean grime
  • Suitable for all surfaces
  • Can make up to 21 gallons.

Professionals Know the Best Soaps and Detergents To Use for Pressure Washing

While you can choose pressure washing soaps and do the job yourself, hiring a professional like Advantage Pro Services is always best. We have been providing pressure washing services in Houston for over 20 years.

As a result, we understand the best pressure washing soaps and detergents that will clean your surfaces without causing any damage. We also have access to the best products on the market, so you can be sure that we will leave your surfaces sparkling clean. Check out our services and contact us to learn how we can help you.


What kind of soap is best to use in a pressure washer?

The best soap to use in a pressure washer depends on the surface you’re cleaning. It’s best to choose a soap that works well for all surfaces, such as Krud Kutter Pressure Washer Concentrate and Sun Joe All-Purpose Pressure Washer Cleaner.

Can I use any detergent in a pressure washer?

No, you can’t use any detergent in a pressure washer. Some detergents are too harsh and can damage your pressure washer. You should only use pressure washing solutions specifically designed for pressure washers.

Do I need to use detergent with pressure washer?

While you don’t necessarily need to use detergent with a pressure washer, it will help remove tough stains using low pressure. When you power wash without detergent, you only rely on the water’s high pressure to remove dirt and grime. High pressure may damage some surfaces, so it’s best to use detergent.

What do I mix to pressure wash my house?

If you’re cleaning a typical house, you’ll need one or two buckets of a mixture of water and detergent. You can use a ratio of 1:1 for water and soap, meaning that for every gallon of water, you’ll add one gallon of detergent. If the house is extra dirty, you can use a 1:2 ratio of water to soap.

Is a detergent tank necessary for a pressure washer?

A detergent tank is not necessary for a pressure washer, but it can be helpful. A detergent tank allows you to mix the soap and water before adding it to the pressure washer. You don’t have to stop and mix the soap and water while you’re cleaning.

If you use a detergent tank, ensure it’s compatible with your pressure washer. Some tanks are only compatible with specific models of pressure washers.

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