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13 Things You Shouldn’t Pressure Wash

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.

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pressure washing houseBeth 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 you use high pressure. From there, water can damage insulation and electrical wiring, and even spur mold growth. A high-powered pressure wash can also dent aluminum and vinyl siding. While you’re at it, these are the other home maintenance projects you can skip.

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electrical box on houseChristian Delbert/Shutterstock

Electrical panels and meters

Even on the exterior of your home or in your yard, do not pressure wash fixtures housing electricity. Though built to withstand a rainstorm, pressure washing can force water into cracks and crevices, leading to damage and costly repairs. Make sure you’re avoiding these common electrical fails too.

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asphalt shinglesESB 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. Once you squeeze the trigger, the powerful recoil on the spray wand can throw you off balance and off a ladder. Here’s how to know when to replace your roof.

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Brick Wall Of BuildingThelma Lanteigne/EyeEm/Getty Images

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 air flow, which shortens the life of the unit. If your air conditioner suddenly stops working, it might need a thorough (yet gentle!) clean, or it might be one of these issues.

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peeling lead paintJoyce 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. Remember to always protect yourself during lead paint removal with a respirator like this one. Lead paint can cause serious issues in children, like developmental adults, and is extremely dangerous when ingested in chips or dust. If your house was built before 1978 (the year lead was banned in paint) you should get your paint analyzed. Here are some other home repairs that are too dangerous to ignore.

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crumbling brickFamily Handyman

Old mortar

A pressure wash damages 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, and that can cause your walls to become unstable. On the bright side, if your brick walls do fall down, you can use them to make an outdoor pizza oven—brick ovens make the best pizza!

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dog running through the backyard with a frisbeeStefan Cioata/Getty Images

Living things

This one is a no-brainer (hopefully!). Never pressure wash humans, pets, or plants. The force of water coming from a pressure washer can cause physical harm. It can even penetrate skin, and will most certainly destroy your plants. Even if your dog loves water, you shouldn’t be washing them any more often than this.

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Ceiling Fan Front PorchJohn Wollwerth/Shutterstock

Painted surfaces—that you want to stay painted

A pressure wash 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. For cleaning inspiration, check out these incredible before-and-after pictures.

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exterior shot of a window of a house with dark shutterscarminesalvatore/Getty Images


Don’t pressure wash windows! The high pressure can break them, causing you a major headache (and expense) to replace. Instead, wash your windows with these tried-and-true tricks.

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a black pick up truck in the drivewaySolidago/Getty Images


Using a high pressure wash to clean your vehicle can actually 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, and never attempt to pressure wash under the hood! It could force water into cracks and crevices and cause serious damage. If you’re considering going to a car wash instead, here are 7 reasons why you should think again.

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outdoor landscaping lit up at nightFamily Handyman

Outdoor light fixtures

How many pressure washers does it take to wreck your backyard mood lighting? 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.

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clean guttersIndy Edge/Shutterstock


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 less intense flow of water. Gutters can withstand rainstorms, but not the extreme power of a pressure washer. Choose this gutter cleaning tool instead of a pressure washer, and make sure you’re not using your ladder like this.

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power washing stained chairiMoved Studio/Shutterstock

Stained wood

A pressure wash pulls stain right off wood surfaces. Maybe that’s your goal, but if you intend to keep stain on wood, don’t use a pressure washer to clean it. Here are 12 more things you should never do to your deck.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman

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