How To Pressure Wash Trucks

There are 2 types of trucks, the small trucks that are more like cars with a small flat bed at the back, and the large haulage trucks that we call lorries in the UK. Washing either uses the same process but one takes longer than the other. Washing large trucks or lorries can present one or two problems but the overall result is worth the hassle.

If you are a lorry driver in the UK, you’re vehicle is going to need cleaning every week due to the dirt and salt on British motorways. That’s a big job and a big chunk out of your days off. Using a pressure washer can save you time and get your lorry showroom clean and ready for the next job.

How To Clean A Lorry With A Pressure Washer

Pressure washing large trucks and lorries presents us with a few more problems than cleaning small trucks, vans and cars. Why? Because of the: size, area to be washed and the water supply. If you own a large lorry, you probably rent storage space for it to be parked when not in use.

These storage facilities sometimes have access to a clean water supply. But as often as not, there is no water, so how can you wash the truck with no running water? The answer to this question is usually, bring your own. You’re going to transport your pressure washer to the site, it’s not that difficult to fill up a water tank and bring that along as well.

Petrol Or Electric Pressure Washer?

Gas Pressure Washer

Assuming there’s no power at the lorry park, a petrol-powered pressure washer will be your best bet. You can get portable cordless electric models but they seem to lack sufficient power for cleaning lorries. We find hot water works best on road salt but never hotter than around 65 C (150 F) and if it’s a hot day you can get away with using cold water.

Pressure Washing A Truck – A 4 Step Guide

This is the easiest way we’ve found to be sure the whole truck is done quickly and thoroughly.

Wash one area at a time, start at the front, then either side and end with the back of the truck.

  1. Rinse the truck
    Starting from the bottom, spray the whole of one side of the truck. Be sure you’re using the white (40 degree) nozzle, and get the underneath as well. The chassis is where a lot of salt accumulates and it can corrode the metalwork if it’s not regularly removed. It’s best to stand around 2 to 3 feet away from the truck to start with, you can always move closer if you need more power. If you have any decals or detailing always move back slightly to lower the pressure, and wash from the middle out to either side
  2. Apply the detergent
    Change to the black (detergent ) nozzle and work from the bottom up to avoid any streaking. Always make sure the detergent you’re using is compatible with your pressure washer and take care around the windscreen and mirrors. Move in closer to get the wheels and make sure to get all of the chassis but be careful around any electrical components.
  3. Give the detergent time to work
    Check the bottle, but most manufacturers recommend that the detergent soaks in for around 5 to 10 minutes. Don’t allow the suds to dry out, this might mean respraying some areas, especially if it’s a hot or windy day.
  4. Rinse the truck
    After the allotted time has elapsed, change to the white (40 degree) nozzle, turn off the detergent supply, aim the wand at the ground and spray to clear all soap suds from the system. Then rinse the truck from the top down. 

How To Wash A Flat-Bed Truck

The flat-bed of a truck can get really dirty and can need more power to clean it properly. First be sure to sweep any loose debris away before you use the pressure washer. Use the green (25 degree) nozzle and get right into those grooves. Then follow the detergent and rinsing sections above.
For smaller trucks, vans, and cars head over to our how to wash a car with a pressure washer page by clicking this link.

Safety Tips To Remember Before Pressure Washing A Truck

You can be handling upwards of 3000 pounds per square inch (PSi) of pressure that’s more than enough to do serious damage to human flesh. Always follow these safety guidelines to prevent accident or injury.

  • Keep your feet firmly on the ground
    Don’t be tempted to climb a ladder to get to the top of the truck, 3000 PSi and ladders don’t mix. It’s hard enough controlling that thing with both feet planted on the ground and using 2 hands. If you’re struggling to reach the top use an extension pole and brush attachment.
  • Be aware of other people
    If you share the yard with other people remember they have their own stuff going on. It’s easy to asume they’ll be careful but it’s safer to assume they’ll do something stupid, that way you can avoid any injuries.
  • Look out for potential trip hazards
    When you start up the pressure washer, you’ll need all of your concentration on keeping the flow going in the right direction. So remove any obstacles before you start, to avoid any accidents later on.
  • Protect yourself
    Always keep your arms and legs covered, wear boots or closed in shoes, wear gloves, goggles, consider a face mask and if the pressure washer is particularly loud and you have sensitive ears, wear some ear protectors.
  • Use the correct pressure
    It’s not recommended to use more than 1900 PSi on cars, trucks, lorries or boats. Any higher can damage paintwork.
  • Use the correct nozzles
    The highest degree nozzle that’s considered safe for trucks is the 25 degree green nozzle. Never use anything higher than this to avoid damage.
  • Regulate the power
    To increase or decrease the pressure of the water or the power of the jet, just move either closer to or further away from the truck.

By always following these safety guidelines you’ll get your truck clean quickly, efficiently and safely.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I pressure wash my truck?

You can pressure wash your truck as long as you use the correct PSi and the correct nozzles.

Is 2000 psi safe for washing a vehicle?

2000 PSi is not safe for washing a vehicle, nothing above 1900 PSi is safe to wash a vehicle.

Can you lower psi on a pressure washer?

You can lower the PSi on a pressure washer by stepping away from the object being washed. Some models have power regulators on the pump but it’s far simpler to just stand further away from the object.

What is the best pressure washer for trucks?

Most pressure washers are capable of cleaning trucks, just make sure you buy a model from a reputable brand and check the reviews. If you’d like to see our picks for the best pressure washers, click here.

How many PSI is a typical car wash?

A typical car wash is 1000 PSi that’s just over half the maximum pressure recommended for washing cars.

Are power washer tips Universal?

Power washer tips are not universal, they nearly all use the same colour code but one companies nozzles will not necessarily fit another companies machine.

How far can a pressure washer reach?

How far a pressure washer can reach depends on the PSi, a 2000 PSi should reach up to 30 feet.

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