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What Kind of Soap Should I Use In My Pressure Washer?

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There are many options for soaps and detergents to use in your pressure washer.


If you just want to skip to the product and not understand the why this is my favorite general purpose pressure washer soap: Karcher Multi-Purpose Cleaning Detergent Soap.


It’s important to understand the difference between them and how they each work in your machine. The important thing to keep in mind when deciding which cleaning product to use is what you will be using it for. You will need to use a different cleaning agent depending on the toughness of the stain and the surface you are trying to clean.

To successfully use soaps and detergents with a pressure washer you must use them properly. The key is to use detergents and soaps like a dishwasher does.

Dishwashers combine water, soaps, and pressures to tackle stains and grime.

It is helpful to have hot water to activate the cleaning agents, but pressure, water, and soaps/detergents will get the job done just as well without hot water.

Soap

Technically soap is considered to be a natural detergent.

Made with naturally occurring, raw fats, and plant and animal oils combined with salts to produce a dissolving agent. Because pressure washer soaps are more natural cleaning products, they are biodegradable and can enter water systems without much of a concern.

Just to be safe though, double check the active ingredients in the soap you use before letting the excess water wash into a storm drain.

Soaps are more effective with lighter cleaning tasks because they can dissolve and break down grime, dirt, and stains. However, the one complication that soaps can pose is that they can bond with untreated water and create blockages….especially in electric pressure washers which typically don’t have as much power as their gas counterparts.

Detergent

Detergents are man-made cleaning chemicals that are not biodegradable. This means that the water and chemical detergent mixture should not be allowed down regular drains and should be properly disposed of.

Besides the environmental threat of using synthetic detergents, there are no issues with using detergents with untreated water. There is not an issue with creating a blockage in the pressure washing system.

When To Use a Soap

Soap is a great cleaning agent for lighter cleaning jobs, but not so great for tougher grime stains. If a task cannot be handled with water pressure alone, then adding soap can be an easy solution to start tackling the stain.

There are many surfaces that soap and water in a pressure washer can be used on surfaces including vehicles, boats, driveways, and patios.

Because soaps are biodegradable cleaning agents, they offer safe outdoor cleaning options and can be used without worry of chemical contamination.

When To Use a Detergent

Detergent is a stronger cleaning agent than soap, and because of this, it can do damage to some surfaces.

Though, it is a great cleaning agent to use for siding, windows, concrete, wood, and vehicles. If detergents are used for cleaning vehicles and other painted surfaces, the mixture should be diluted enough not to damage the paint.

The benefits of using detergent over soap is that detergent can be used with untreated water without forming blockages, doesn’t leave behind residue, and can tackle tougher stains.

But again, detergents are not biodegradable cleaning agents, they should be processed and dealt with accordingly.  Don’t wash them down drains.

Soaps and detergents are two great cleaning agents on their own, but when combined, they are an even more effective cleaning solution.

Deciding which cleaning agent to use starts with figuring out if you need to use soap, detergents, or both. After that, you can start looking through the various options for each based on what you are planning to clean.

There are so many product options out there that could be listed, so please decide what your use will be and then decide. Here is a list of some of the better selling products on Amazon that may be helpful:

On SaleBestseller No. 1
Simple Green 8541813566 Oxy Solve Total Outdoor Pressure Washer Cleaner
247 Reviews
Simple Green 8541813566 Oxy Solve Total Outdoor Pressure Washer Cleaner
  • Cleans a wide variety of surfaces such as wood, composite, vinyl, metal, fabric, plastic, wicker,...
  • Lifts dirt, grime and stains from mold, mildew, moss and algae
Bestseller No. 2
Karcher Multi-Purpose Cleaning Detergent Soap Cleaner for Pressure Power Washer, 1-Quart
489 Reviews
Karcher Multi-Purpose Cleaning Detergent Soap Cleaner for Pressure Power Washer, 1-Quart
  • The Karcher Promise: Cleaner. Quicker. Best-in-class cleaning performance.
  • Karcher detergents are specially formulated to work in tandem with your pressure washer to help you...
Bestseller No. 3
Briggs & Stratton 6826 Multi-Purpose Cleaner and Concentrate for Pressure Washers, 1-Gallon
76 Reviews
Briggs & Stratton 6826 Multi-Purpose Cleaner and Concentrate for Pressure Washers, 1-Gallon
  • Cleaning solution for pressure washers
  • Perfect for removing dirt, mold and mildew from multiple types of surfaces
Bestseller No. 4
Simple Green 8541813567 Oxy Solve House and Siding Pressure Washer Cleaner
169 Reviews
Simple Green 8541813567 Oxy Solve House and Siding Pressure Washer Cleaner
  • Cleans house siding including vinyl, aluminum, stucco, wood and brick
  • Removes stains and discoloring from algae, moss and mildew
Bestseller No. 5
Simple Green Oxy Solve Concrete and Driveway Pressure Washer Cleaner - Removes Stains from Mold, Mildew and Oil on Garage Floors, Sidewalks, Walkways...
107 Reviews
Simple Green Oxy Solve Concrete and Driveway Pressure Washer Cleaner - Removes Stains from Mold, Mildew and Oil on Garage Floors, Sidewalks, Walkways...
  • Cleans driveways, walkways, patios and masonry
  • Eliminates tough oil stains, rust stains, grease, automotive fluids, tire marks, exhaust buildup and...

Pressure washing is an effective cleaning method, but sometimes pressurized water is not enough to get the job done.

Make sure to also read the directions that came with your pressure washer. Some gas and electric models prefer either soap or detergent.

Adding soaps and/or detergents takes your pressure washers cleaning ability to next level.


Author: Matt Hagens

Matt Hagens

Hi, I’m Matt the owner of Yard Care Life. I love to be outside working on my lawn, planning my next project. I created this website to help people like you find the best products for yard care and great advice. Learn more about me and find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

7 thoughts on “What Kind of Soap Should I Use In My Pressure Washer?”

  1. Name some products. Dish soap? Dawn? liquid biodegradable laundry soap? Jeeze! Help us out here.

  2. This was very useful. The wrong soap is harmful to your pressure washing equipment and the surfaces being cleaned! Thanks for sharing.

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