When to Use a Cold Water Pressure Washer

The question of when to use cold water with a pressure washer is debatable. Some argue that hot water is more effective at cleaning. Others are convinced cold water is sufficient. Are there more merits to using one over the other?

For most pressure washing tasks that clean dust and dirt, a cold water pressure water combined with a cleaning solution will work just fine. It’s not until you have cleaning projects on surfaces with oil and grease that you would consider using a hot water pressure washer.

There are many scenarios where people use cold water pressure washers. These washers are more affordable than hot water washers and are also quite versatile. Let me share some instances where cold water pressures are used.

Washing Houses

If your house siding looks dirty from dust and dirt buildup, use a cold water pressure washer to quickly remove the unsightly appearance. Use a cleaning solution to soap and loosen up the dirt particles. Then rinse off the dirt. The pressurized water coming from the washer is enough to lift and remove the residues.

Some professional house cleaners will use hot water pressure washers because they have the money invested in such machines. Hot water is used more specifically when there’s mold and mildew around because it’s more effective at disinfecting and killing bacteria and spores.

Driveways Covered in Dirt or Soil

Residential driveways can look dirty from prolonged exposure to the elements. Dirt and leaves get blown onto these surfaces year round. Sometimes a sweeping is not enough to clean driveways. Pressurized cold water can forcefully remove dirt and stains quickly and easily.

For dirty driveways with stubborn stains, consider using a cleaning solution. There are multi-purpose detergents made for pressure washers that you can use. Most washers have an onboard detergent tank where you can pour the solution into. It mixes with the pressurized water to provide an extra boost to the cleaning power.

While most driveway stains can be removed with cold water pressure washers, hot water pressure washer might be needed when it comes to cleaning oil and grease stains. If you have an old car that leaks oil or if you’ve been working on the car, the stains created can be a little bit more challenging to get out. It’s just the chemistry of the stain, which hot water can better break up and clean.

When Removing Dried Paint

It is generally recommended to remove old paint before priming and painting a new coat of paint onto a house. The process helps give the new paint it’s shine and improves the adhesion between the house surface and paint.

Cold water pressure washers can remove old paint more quickly than hand scraping old paint off. Blasts of pressurized water lift old paint chips and washes away dirt and grime with ease. Just be careful and check if the old paint on the house is from 1978 or earlier. Paint before this time contains lead, and you should take precautions when working with substances that have lead in them.

When Cleaning Certain Automobiles

If a vehicle has oil or grease on it, then a cold water pressure washer will not clean the automobile.  If the vehicle has dirt, soil, grass, dust, or other particles, a cold water pressure can be used.  It would be wise to look at your vehicle owner’s manual to see what type of cleaning solution or detergent to use.

The vehicle paint might be a concern since cold water can remove paint. However, if the paint is not chipped, cold water is good for cleaning.  If the paint is chipped, proceed with caution, or consult an auto-body expert.

When Removing Graffiti

Although it could be considered unusual, cold water pressure washers will remove graffiti. You may want to allow the cleaning solution time to soak the graffiti to ensure that is removed effectively by the cold water.  In most cases, the combination of the water pressure and cleaning solution will break up and remove the graffiti. 

When Removing Gum

While gum can be difficult to get off, using a pressure washer can quicken the process. A focused blast of pressurized water will in time lift the gum off the surface of whatever it’s stuck onto. Definitely beats scraping and pulling the gum off on your hands and knees.

Cold water is enough to get the job done. Some will argue that the hot water will help disintegrate the gum. However, it’s kind of overkill. Just stick with cold water.

When Cleaning Windows

While it is not harmful to use a hot water pressure washer on windows, it is not necessary.  There is no sanitary concern, and using cold water is less expensive. The cold water will remove the dirt and particles from you windows.  

Although it is highly unlikely that oil or grease would be on a window, it is only during that time that you might want to use a hot water pressure washer.  Cold water will work ninety-five percent of the time. 

When You Need a Pressure Washer Convenient to Transport

Hot water pressure washers are often larger and heavier than cold water pressure washers.  If you do not have a truck to haul the washer in, a cold one is much easier to transport. A cold water pressure washer will fit in the back of an SUV, or even in the trunks or back seats of most cars.  You need a truck or trailer to haul a hot water pressure washer.

The issue of transporting could be a problem for a new business owner or someone who does pressure washer cleaning as a side hustle.   If you are in the business of washing houses or equipment, a hot water pressure washer will do you no good if you have no way to haul it. 

When on a Tight Budget

Many new businesses are on a tight budget. Hot water pressure washers are much more costly than cold water pressure washers.  If your trade does not include industrial cleaning, then a cold water pressure washer will suffice for your business.  

There are some significant differences in cost between various pressure washers.  You really need to conduct research and determine if you want an electric pressure washer or one that is operated by gasoline.  Depending on the frequency and type of use, you will need to decide if you want a commercial or non-commercial pressure washer. Those factors along with whether the pressure washer uses hot or cold water will affect the price.

Cost Differences in Pressure Washers

Hot Water Pressure WashersCold Water Pressure Washers
Electric (Non-Commercial):  $2500.00-$3000.00Electric (Non-Commercial): $900.00
Electric (Commercial):    $6000.00-$12,000.00Electric (Commerical):  $1220.00
Gasoline (Commercial): $3000.00Gasoline (Commercial): $1100.00

When Cleaning in Warm and Cool Weather

A cold water pressure washer can be used if the weather is warm or even in cool, fall weather.  There is no danger of freezing cracks and crevices during spring, summer, and fall weather. However, if the temperature is below thirty-three to thirty-four degrees Fahrenheit, or will be soon after the cleaning, a cold water pressure washer should not be used.  Although cold water pressure washers are less costly, the damage you could do to your home by using them in cold weather would cost more than you would save.

Final Thoughts

Cold water pressure washers can be used in many situations.  Warm weather, removing dirt, soil, and other particles, and chipped paint are the best circumstances in which to use a cold water pressure washer.  Remember: A cold water pressure washer should not be used in cold weather or when grease, oil, and grime are present on the surface.

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