Pressure Washer Safety

Read this guide to learn the facts about pressure washer safety.

Pressure washers can be used to clean vehicles, decks, fences, patio furniture, the exterior of your house and many other items around your home.

But they can also cause serious injuries or death if not operated properly.

Knowing these simple pressure washer safety tips will keep you, your family, your pets and your neighbors cat safe when operating a pressure washer.

Old Wood Deck

Pressure Washer Safety Tips:

  • Never use a pressure washer indoors and always operate your pressure washer in a well ventilated area.  Carbon monoxide is an invisible poisonous gas that can cause severe injury or even death. While operating your pressure washer if you begin to experience dizziness, nausea, headache, fatigue or irregular breathing turn off your pressure washer and get to a well ventilated area with plenty of fresh air.  If your symptoms continue, seek immediate medical attention. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms please DO NOT drive yourself to the hospital.  Have your spouse, neighbor or friend take you or call for emergency assistance.
  • Always wear safety goggles or glasses.  Although the field of medicine has had some major advances in the last couple of decades, to my knowledge an eye transplant is still not a possibility.  You’re only given one set of eyes and they are not stronger than high pressure water.  Protect your eyes at all times.
  • Wear proper hearing protection.  Some pressure washers are loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage. Although it would be nice to not hear my wife nagging all the time, damage to your ears can never be repaired and hearing aids are really, really expensive.  I could buy a pretty decent used truck for what my father spent on his hearing aids.
  • Wear gloves to protect your fingers and hands. Having a fingernail blasted off by a pressure washer would equal a very bad day.
  • Wear boots or other leather footwear.  Never wear sandals, flip-flops or open toed shoes while operating a pressure washer.  The pressure generated from a pressure washer is strong enough to take that little toe clean off. Keep your toes where they belong, wear proper footwear.
  • Do not spray close to electrical outlets, electrical meters, electrical wires or power lines. Electricity and water DO NOT mix.  EVER!
  • Keep the nozzle at least 3 to 4 feet from the surface you are spraying.  This will hopefully keep you from removing the paint from your truck and you’ll be far enough away to prevent water ricochet from causing damage to you.
  • Do not operate your pressure near children or pets. Although I’ve been tempted a time or two to clean little Johnny’s poop covered butt with a pressure washer from a very far distance, please do not ever do that.
  • Never point your pressure washer nozzle at yourself, another person or animal.  Do not use the pressure washer to clean your dog after he’s been swimming in the pond. Water from a pressure washer can penetrate the skin and cause severe internal damage.
  • Maintain good footing and balance.  If you lose your balance you could fall and end up spraying the skin off your face.
  • Pressure washers should only be operated by adults in good mental condition.  If you’re three sheets to the wind wait until tomorrow to pressure wash your truck.  You’ll thank me later for this advice.
  • When cleaning wood use the correct high-pressure nozzle so you don’t damage the wood. Although wood on trees will grow back, the wood on your deck will not.
  • Always test a small hidden area first. You never know what you’ll find under that old deck stain.
  • When using an electric pressure washer, always plug the unit into a GFCI outlet.
  • Hold the spray wand properly.
  • Engage safety latches when not spraying.  The safety latches are there to protect you from yourself.  Use them.
  • After turning off your pressure washer, point the wand in a safe direction and release any pressure in the hoses and nozzles by squeezing the trigger prior to disconnecting hoses and nozzles.
  • The pressure washer engine and pump will be hot after use.  Use caution.
  • Allow your pressure washer to cool before storing.
  • Never put fuel in a hot engine.  Spill a little bit of fuel in the wrong spot and you’ve got yourself a nice little inferno.

Refer to the safety stickers on your pressure washer and your operator’s manual for additional safety tips, rules and additional information.  Also, the CDC has put together a nice fact sheet which contains additional pressure washer information and safety tips.  You can read the CDC guide here.

If you have any questions or comments about pressure washer safety please feel free to contact us via phone, email or the comments section below.


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Jack Hayes

Jack Hayes is the Head of Internet Marketing at LawnMowerPros and the editor of this blog. You can often find him creating featured articles, DIY guides, custom graphics and much more.