How to Use a Pressure Washer to Deep Clean

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Why is it that pressure washing a patio or driveway is so darn satisfying? In this post, learn how to deep clean your patio or deck with a pressure washer.

For more outdoor projects and help, get tips on how to stain your deck, how to create a DIY stone walkway, and how to build raised garden beds. These pretty metal garden planters are really nice, too. 😉

How to Deep Clean With a Pressure Washer


When I was working on my outdoor patio makeover, my hands ached from pulling 10,000 weeds…my back fekt like I’d been beaten with a pillowcase full of bricks…and my feet felt like I’d walked to the end of the earth and back…twice.

Tackling the patio or deck makeover is a lot of work, which means, tons of bending, stooping, and carrying.

We don’t always set out to do a massive overhaul, but you start with one small sliver of pie, and before you know it, you’ve eaten the whole doggone pie. Isn’t that how things always go?

I realized after jumping into my own patio makeover that it was useless to have a beautiful patio with crappy landscape beds. Or an overgrowth of weeds littering the areas around the patio. Or gunk built up on every surface.

Before jumping into any patio or deck makeover, you can’t forget that you must clean that deck or patio first.

That means breaking out the pressure washer (eagerly rubbing my hands together).

Before we jump into it, check out this video on how I have used my pressure washer to clean my driveway.

 Using a Pressure Washing to Clean the Driveway



If you’ve never used a pressure washer before, it’s time to get over that fear, my friend. Whether you’ve got a patio or a deck, I can guarantee you that your outdoor space won’t look the same once you’re done using a pressure washer.

I can also put money on it that you’ll find a new obsession with blasting gunk! 🙂

(I participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites).


How to pressure wash your deck or patio. - Thrift Diving

Why Do You Need a Pressure Washer, Anyhow?

You probably wouldn’t be asking that question is you’ve used one. Once you experience the jaw-dropping awesomeness, you can find many reasons why you need one:

  • Your patio is gross.
  • Your deck is a disgusting gray.
  • Your driveway is caked with dirt.
  • Your fence is dull.
  • Your car needs a good washing.
  • You want to create doodle art in your driveway~~> Your neighbors will be envious!

I’ve used my pressure washer on my own patio, including the patio of a home we made over for the patio challenge (see the before and after pics below).


How to Deep Clean With a Pressure Washer - Dirty patio before pressure washing the area. - Thrift Diving


AFTER – Freshly pressure washed patio!

How to Deep Clean With a Pressure Washer - Clean patio after pressure washing. - Thrift Diving


AFTER! – With New Patio Furniture and a Clean Patio!

(P.S. You can see my pretty patio makeover here).



Even if you did nothing else but pressure washed, your patio would look completely different when you’re done. This home in South Carolina, you can see what a dramatic difference it was just from pressure washing!  It looks fresher, doesn’t it??



How to Deep Clean With a Pressure Washer - Dirty patio before pressure washing. - Thrift Diving



You can actually see the patio now and it doens’t just blend into the grass/dirt.


How to Deep Clean With a Pressure Washer - Dirty patio after pressure washing. - Thrift Diving

The fact is that over time, this is simply what happens to patios, walkways, driveways–everywhere that’s exposed to the elements. It makes sense. Especially for decks and patios that don’t get much sun. Sun dries up moist patios and decks, but without direct sunlight, mildew and mold thrive in the dampness. And then your patio and deck turn black like this.

How to Deep Clean With a Pressure Washer - Dirty patio needs pressure washing. - Thrift Diving

My driveway has always taken a beating. It’s a light colored concrete and shows every little bit of dirt! (I think it would be easier to have black asphalt so that I could hide the gunk, but I do think light-colored driveways are prettier).

You can see how the top of my driveway was pressure washed, but the bottom wasn’t done yet. Huge difference!!


How to Deep Clean With a Pressure Washer - Pressure Wash Driveway - Thrift Diving


I’ve also used my pressure washer on my fence, which has been the most dramatic! I thought over time that wood just magically turned gray and stayed that way. HA!

But appartently, underneath that gray, the beautiful, original wood is still there, and all you have to do is pressure wash it to bring it back to life, as you can see with my fencing. The lower corner of the door is pressure washed; the top part isn’t.


How to Use a Pressure Washer - Pressure washing a dirty fence. - Thrift Diving


It was hard to see the dirt on my fence, but once the water hit it–BOOM! It was like magic.

If your deck looks this dingy gray color, pressure washing will help to restore it.


How to Use a Pressure Washer - Pressure washing a fence. - Thrift Diving


How to Use a Pressure Washer to Deep Clean

So I’m sure I’ve convinced you why you need one, right?

But you need to know how to use it. There are some things you want to keep in mind as you prep to use a pressure washer to deep clean.

Watch this video I shot with all you need to know for using a pressure washer to deep clean a patio (and other surfaces):



TIP: Take “BEFORE” pictures before you start! You won’t believe the difference when you compare the two afterwards!


STEP 1: Blow off all the dirt first (and remove stuff).

I’ll admit that I haven’t always been good about doing this part. Usually, I just want to jump right into pressure washing because I can’t wait to see the gunk blasted. But you really shouldn’t skip this part.

The pressure of the water is so forceful that if you don’t sweep or blow away dirt, leaves, and sticks, that stuff can blow back up into your face or someone else’s face! We don’t need to take out an eye! Use a broom or RYOBI blower to clear it off.

Also, make sure that you remove anything that could get damaged or fly off towards someone.


How to Use a Pressure Washer - Remove debris with a blower before pressure washing. - Thrift Diving


STEP 2: Gas or Electric?

That’s kind of the big question sometimes when it comes to which tools you should buy. If you were to ask my husband, he’d swear by gas-powered tools. For me, I’ve used both, and I find the electric tools less intimidating (and…um…better for the environment–hellooooo!). I’ve had the experience of gas spilling and stinking up the garage, so if I can eliminate that annoyance (and hazard), I’m game!

I’ve used both the gas-powered RYOBI pressure washer and the RYOBI electric pressure washer and I’ve not noticed a difference in how they perform. Of course, the gas-powered one has more PSI (pounds per square inch, related to pressure) at 2,700 PSI or 3,100 PSI, but the 2,000 PSI electric pressure washer has done juuuuust fine for the many times I’ve happily used it!

Keep in mind the electric is cheaper than the gas-powered, too!


How to Use a Pressure Washer - RYOBI Electric Pressure Washer. - Thrift Diving


STEP 3: Choose the Right Tip

This is something I learned when I started using my pressure washer:

You better choose the right nozzle, or you’re going to destroy something.

Each colored nozzle is made especially for certain surfaces–gasp!

I had no idea when I first started using pressure washers.

It’s no wonder that I almost ruined the rubber floor mats for my minivan! Little did I know, I used the most powerful spray pattern and ended up “eating” through the surface of one of my mats. Be very careful here.

Each nozzle has a spray pattern made for a certain type of surface.

The RYOBI electric pressure washer comes with a turbo nozzle (the big black one), and two other nozzles with different spray patterns. The yellow pressure washer tip is for high pressure and the blue pressure washer tip is for a low pressure that can be used with soap. You’ll see them stored right on top of your pressure washer.


How to Use a Pressure Washer - Spray nozzles are used for different surfaces. - Thrift Diving


How to Use a Pressure Washer - Changing the nozzle of a pressure washer - Thrift Diving


This is a great video to watch that explains each type of nozzle and when to use each!



STEP 4: Test It Out First!

Now that you know which nozzle to use, you definitely need to test it out first in an area that’s not visible. That way, if you ruin something, it’s not going to be so noticeable. Let’s just hope you don’t ruin anything. Just choose an area that’s out of sight and make sure your nozzle works properly on that surface.

STEP 5: Getting It Done Faster!

If you’ve ever pressure washed a driveway or patio, you know long it can take sometimes, right?

The best way to tackle these large areas is with a surface cleaner to get it done faster.

It attaches in the same way a nozzle does, but because it’s about 11″ wide, you’re doing a larger surface. You’ll still need to move slowly, pulling back gently, letting the pressure washer and surface cleaner do their job.


How to Use a Pressure Washer - Using a surface cleaner - Thrift Diving


You’re going to feel like you want to push this baby back and forth, like a scrubbing motion, but that’s not needed and won’t work. Just slowly pull it back towards you, letting the pressure washer and the surface cleaner do all the work.

In my experience, you need to go over it several times before moving on to the next spot, or else it will leave ugly swirl marks that look like crop circles. Trust me–I did this in my driveway when I had no idea what I was doing. It was not pretty!

STEP 6: Start High, Working Your Way Down

This is pretty common sense, but when you’re pressure washing, don’t waste your time starting low and working up. Aim high, and let the water clean the gunk as it drips off the wall or fence. Gravity is your friend!

STEP 7: Take AFTER Pictures!

Show off what you’ve done! Seriously, it will look amazingly different! Post them on social media and get gasps from your friends and family. They won’t believe the difference, either.

How to Properly Store Your Pressure Washer

This is one area I’ve always done poorly: properly storing my pressure washer. Watch this quick tutorial from RYOBI Landscapes on how to prepare your electric pressure washer for storage. If you’ve got a gas-powered pressure washer, watch this tutorial here on how to use pump protector, which protects the pistons of your pressure washer and seals them from damage.



Safety: Be sure to “suit” up!

I can’t forget to include some safety info. Just be mindful of these things when using a pressure washer:

  • Always wear safety glasses so you don’t get things in your eyes.
  • Always wear long pants and sleeves to protect your skin.
  • Never put your fingers in the way of the spray! Sounds like common sense…but I’ll be honest–hubby did this once to “wash his hands.” Shaking my head…You can imagine the surprise he got. This is a big no-no. A BIG NO-NO!
  • Keep the spray away from your toes! No flip-flops, even though it’s the peak of summer. Always wear closed-toed shoes.

Pressure Washing



Here’s the finished Before and After of the patio makeover of a house that needed a bit of pressure washing.

This “before and after” patio looks absolutely stunning and I can’t believe how a little bit of pressure washing, landscape beds, and new patio furniture completely transformed this outdoor space!


Patio Makeover


A Little Pressure Washer Fun

And last but not least….before getting started with a pressure washer project, I always love to get a little creative with my pressure washer! I’m sure this isn’t recommended, but this is too good to not share! Before starting any project, I always spell out something fun! It makes the job a little more interesting, especially for your neighbors. 😉


RYOBI Rocks Pressure Washers


Do You Use a Pressure Washer Around Your Home?

What’s the most dramatic difference you saw when using it? If you’ve never used one, why not? Leave a comment below to chat about it!



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  1. hey, this is a completely awesome post of deep cleaning through pressure washer with great images of cleaning (before & after). I like the way of your writing with images.

    I like the post, keep up the great work.

  2. Thank you! This was great information. Very in depth anyone who reads this article will be more ready to clean there house in the proper way

  3. I would also like to know how you attached the art to the brick wall. what did you use? thanks

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