13 Things You Should Never Pressure Wash

Updated: May 23, 2024

A pressure wash can serve a valuable role in home maintenance, but don’t get carried away! Pressure washing can do more harm than good.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
Learn more.

1 / 13
pressure washing house
Beth Van Trees/Shutterstock

Wood Siding

While it’s possible to pressure wash wood siding correctly, you can also force water up and under the exterior surface if your water pressure is set too high. If water gets under the siding it can damage insulation, electrical wiring, and even spur mold growth. A high-powered pressure wash could also dent aluminum and vinyl siding, so learn the proper techniques first if you plan on using a pressure washer to clean your siding.

2 / 13
electrical box on house
Christian Delbert/Shutterstock

Electrical Panels and Meters

Do not pressure wash any fixtures housing electricity, even those on the exterior of your home or in your yard. Though built to withstand a rainstorm, pressure washing can force water into cracks and crevice and cause damage and costly repairs.

3 / 13
asphalt shingles
ESB Basic/Shutterstock

Asphalt Shingles

Never pressure wash your roof if you have asphalt shingles. The water pressure strips away the granules that protect your roof. Not to mention, using a pressure washer in a high place is dangerous— when you squeeze the trigger the powerful recoil on the spray wand could throw you off balance and off a ladder.

4 / 13
fixing ac fins with butter knife home air conditioner

Air Conditioners

For cleaning your air conditioning unit, don’t reach for a pressure washer. The intense flow of water can bend or crush the delicate fins and restrict airflow, which in turn shortens the life of the unit. Instead, straighten cooling fins using a butter knife and use a vacuum and a much gentler water flow to rinse away debris.

5 / 13
peeling lead paint
Joyce Vincent/Shutterstock

Lead Paint

Never remove lead paint with a pressure washer. Lead paint should be carefully contained when removed, not blasted into the air and surrounding surfaces. Don’t forget to check out these tips for pressure washer maintenance.

6 / 13
crumbling brick

Old Mortar

A pressure washer will damage weathered brick houses and other landscaping surfaces with mortar. Any loose material, especially on older structures, will be blasted away by pressure washing on a high setting. Instead of a pressure washer, use this method to clean hard water stains off of brick.

Also, here’s how to pressure wash your whole house so that the new coat of exterior paint will stick better and last longer.

7 / 13
pressure washer stream

Living Things

This one is (hopefully) a no-brainer. Never pressure wash humans, pets, or plants. The force of water coming from a pressure washer can cause physical harm — even penetrate skin—and will most certainly destroy your plants.

When you pressure wash appropriate surfaces, always wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from debris.

8 / 13
Ceiling Fan Front Porch
John Wollwerth/Shutterstock

Painted Surfaces That You Want to Stay Painted

A pressure wash will easily chips paint off most surfaces, so only use a low-pressure flow of water to wash painted items such as a porch floor or painted outdoor furniture.

9 / 13
broken window
SeDmi/Shutterstock

Windows

Don’t pressure wash windows! The high pressure can break them, giving you a major headache and an expensive window to replace. Instead, wash your windows the right way with these tried-and-true window washing tips from professionals.

10 / 13
car under hood
Alexxndr/Shutterstock

Vehicles

Using a high-pressure wash to clean your vehicle can cause small dents and even chip the paint, leaving it vulnerable to rust. If you do use a pressure washer to clean your car, always set it to a low-pressure setting. Find out the unusual uses for pressure washers.

And never, ever attempt to pressure wash under the hood! It could force water into cracks and crevices in your vehicle’s engine and cause serious damage.

11 / 13
FH02JUN_02631_065
Family Handyman

Outdoor Light Fixtures

Though outdoor lighting can withstand rain and other weather elements, you should not pressure wash these fixtures. You’ll risk forcing water into cracks and causing damage. Learn how to install low-voltage outdoor lighting yourself.

12 / 13
clean gutters
Indy Edge/Shutterstock

Gutters

Though tempting, you should never clean out the inside of your gutters with a pressure washer. It’s best to remove debris by hand and then rinse the inside clean with a garden hose. Learn how to clean gutters without ladders.

Gutters can withstand rainstorms, but not the extreme power of a pressure washer. Choose this gutter cleaning tool instead of a pressure washer.

SHOP NOW

13 / 13
power washing stained chair
iMoved Studio/Shutterstock

Stained Wood

A pressure wash pulls stain right off wood surfaces. If stripping stain from your deck is the task you are trying to accomplish, then blast away! But if you intend to keep stains on wood, don’t use a pressure washer to clean it.