What’s Better – Pressure Washer Or Hose To Wash A Car?

If you own a car, you’ll have to wash it at some time or another. Taking a car to the car wash is a hassle and can cause damage to your car. So washing your car at home is safer and easier, but what’s best for cleaning a car, a hose or a pressure washer?

Why Use A Hose To Wash A Car?

Most homes have a garden hose, so to use it for car washing is no hassle. It allows the fast conveyance of water from the tap to the car without struggling with buckets. But there are some disadvantages, you still have to exert pressure on dirt and stains to remove them.

This will usually entail buckets of soapy water, cloths or sponges full of cold, soapy water, that ends up snaking up your arms and getting you soaked. Probably not so much of a problem in the summer, but quite uncomfortable when the weather’s a bit cold. Hosing the suds off the car makes the whole job a lot easier, but you still have to hand wash the car.

So using a hose compared to actually hand washing a car is much more convenient. But how about using a pressure washer?

Why Use A Pressure Washer To Wash A Car?

There can’t be too many people who’ve not seen someone pressure washing a car, but is it safe? That’s the first question people ask when they see cars being washed with pressure washers. The answer is, yes, as long as you are responsible and stick to these basic rules.

Don’t Use Too Much Pressure

For safe car washing, only use a pressure washer with a PSi rating of no more than 1900 PSi. 

Keep Your Distance

Stand at least 18 inches away from the car, the closer to the car you are the more powerful the spray will be. You can increase or decrease pressure by moving closer to, or further away from the car.

Use The Correct Nozzle

Start by wetting the car using the white nozzle, this is a lower pressure nozzle and is safe to use on a car without damaging the paintwork. Change to the black nozzle and apply detergent (make sure it’s car washing detergent) allow the detergent to work into the dirt. Change to the green nozzle to rinse the suds completely.


Pressure washer companies produce specific detergents for car washing, these have been specially formulated to work in their machine without causing any clogging up or damage to the internal components of the pressure washer. They are also designed to clean the car without causing damage to the paint and they dry streak-free.

For more detailed instructions on how to wash a car with a pressure washer click this link.

Pressure Washer Vs Hose Which Is Best To Wash A Car?

Let’s look at as many pros and cons as we can find to see which is the best way to wash a car. 


Easily transport water from the tap to the carNot very powerful
Makes rinsing the suds easier than by handNo directional control
No extra cost as most people already own a hoseNeed to hand wash the car
Less likely to damage the car through too high water pressureUse of bucket for soap
Slower water flow can help lessen drying timeWet rags and sponges

Pressure Washer

How to wash a car with a pressure washer
Pros Cons
More direct powerToo much power can damage the bodywork
Lifts dirt easierExpensive to purchase
On-board detergent dispenserRunning costs (electricity)
Easier to clean wheelsMore care needed on stickers, decals etc
Easier to clean under chassisTime-consuming to change nozzles
Less water usageLonger start-up procedure
Different angles and spray patterns for more or less power flowPossible electrical damage as water can be forced into electrical components

What’s Best In Our Opinion

As you can see from the tables, there are pros and cons to both the hose and the pressure washer when it comes to car cleaning. If you own a pressure washer you’ll know just how much faster the actual car cleaning is compared to a bucket and hose. If however, you don’t own a pressure washer and you have no other use for one, then it’s probably not worth the expense.

In our opinion, time’s money so we would choose the pressure washer every time. Not only does washing a car with a pressure washer save time, but it also saves water (up to 80% in many cases) and uses way less detergent too.

If after reading this, you want to know more about pressure washers, go to our best pressure washers guide by following this link.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to pressure wash a car?

It is safe to pressure wash a car as long as you don’t use too much power. No more than 1900 PSi, stand at least 18 inches from the car and only use detergent approved by the pressure washer manufacturer.

What PSi to use when pressure washing a car? 

Never use more than 1900 PSi when pressure washing a car, as any higher can cause serious damage to the paintwork and even damage the body of the car.

What nozzle to use when pressure washing a car?

When pressure washing a car, only use the white, green or black (detergent) nozzle. Any of the other nozzles are too powerful and will damage the car.

Is it better to pressure wash or hose a car?

There are pros and cons for both arguments whether it is better to pressure wash or hose a car. But using a pressure washer takes less time, uses less detergent, and less water (up to 80%).

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