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5 Facts about Pressure Washer Detergents

Published on Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Pressure Washer Detergents Guide

Nothing speeds up the pressure cleaning process better than adding heat and chemicals.

The heat helps for two reasons.

  • Heat loosens up the greases and oils
  • Heat gives the water more energy to interact with the materials

Chemicals like surfactants, degreasers, and oxidation removers help clean faster in different situations and on certain surfaces. Some surfaces don’t respond well to some chemicals, though, so caution must be exercised when using chemicals.

Downstream vs Upstream Nozzles for Pressure Washers

1) Downstream vs Upstream Injection

Downstream injection introduces the chemicals after the pump, and upstream injection puts the chemicals in before the pump.

Be careful about which types of chemicals you’re putting in when using upstream injection. Some chemicals wear down the parts of your pump more quickly than others.

Downstream injection needs to be done with a soap nozzle, which sucks the detergent into the line since it isn’t getting pulled in by the pump. Without a soap nozzle, the detergent won’t get pulled into the line.

Types of Detergents and Chemicals for Pressure Washers

2) Types of Pressure Washer Chemicals & Detergents

  • Bleach – a dilute solution of sodium hypochlorite used for sanitizing, disinfecting, and lightening the color of materials
  • Surfactant – lessens the surface tension between a liquid and solid (makes water wetter)
  • Foaming Agents – used to make a detergent foam more, helping the chemical to stick to the surface longer (usually used on vertical surfaces)
  • Scent Covers – masks the scent of harsh chemicals like chlorine or bleach, replacing it with a more pleasant odor
  • Chemical Boosters – chlorine enhancers boost the effectiveness of bleach-based products
  • Environmentally-Friendly – biodegradable detergents help lessen impact on the environment and help meet regulatory guidelines about wastewater disposal

Harmful impact of pressure washer detergents on the environment

3) Harmful Impact on Environment, People, & Animals

Some pressure washer chemicals can be harmful to the environment, people, and animals, and those require special disposal techniques. In addition to being unsafe, the added cost of special disposal also puts a dent in your profit margins.

The Power Wash Store sells biodegradable, environmentally-friendly detergents. We also sell some chemicals that help to mitigate the harmful effects of bleach and supply the soil with needed nutrients and blooming agents.

Make sure to read the labels and MSDS to ensure safe use.

Residential vs Commercial pressure washing

4) Consumer/Residential vs Commercial/Professional

Casual pressure washer users who just wash their car every once in a while or clean out their garage every spring generally buy pre-mixed detergents in 1-gallon jugs or 5-gallon buckets. It’s more expensive by volume, but more practical than buying concentrated 55-gallon barrels.

Professional cleaners and contractors generally buy their detergents and soaps in large volumes. These chemicals come in concentrated form, and the contractors dilute/mix them as needed. Because they’re buying in bulk, professionals pay less per ounce.

Detergents and chemicals dried onto painted surfaces

5) Do Not Let Detergents Dry on Painted/Treated Surfaces

Absolutely do not let your detergents or chemicals dry on painted or treated surfaces. It can damage the surface’s integrity and shorten the life of the paint/treatment. When washing a house on a hot day, it’s a good idea to wash (soap and rinse) one side at a time, especially if that side is exposed to directly sunlight.

Get detergents from PWS in PA


You have questions. We have answers. Power Wash Store of Central PA has all the pressure washers, equipment, accessories, detergents, and services you could possibly need to get the job done. If all you need is information, we have that too. We can teach you the best way to clean between vehicles with limited space, clean roofs with steep angles, or even just suggest certain products to help you get things done.

We’ve been in this industry for a long time. While we’ve been here, we’ve picked up some tricks of the trade. Contact us for tips/advice on how to be more efficient or inquire about our products.