Professional Automotive Detailing 101: How to Choose the Right Pressure Washer

Professional automotive detailing, how to choose the right pressure washer

Pressure washing a car can make it look new once again, and should be a tool that every auto detailing professional knows how to operate effectively. Pressure washers operate by blasting water at high pressure and high speeds in order to remove even the smallest bits of grime and dirt. Some experts maintain that cleaning a car with a pressure washer can take a third of the time it would take to clean a car manually. There are lots of pressure washers on the market currently, so how do you know where to find a cost-effective option once you become an automotive detailer?

Continue reading to discover how auto detailing pros choose which pressure washer they use.

Gas or Electric? A Brief Guide for Auto Detailing Students

First and foremost, auto detailing pros have to choose between gas and electric pressure washers. Gas powered pressure washers typically cost more than electric washers, and there is the added cost of it being powered by gas rather than electricity, but this is usually offset by their extended life span. Gas washers usually are powered by better parts, like Honda engines, that typically will have a longer life span than electric washers. Gas powered washers also put out roughly twice the cleaning power as electric washers, but come with the added risk associated with this extra power.

How Much Power do Auto Detailing Students Really Need?

This step is rather easy for auto detailing students, as a pressure washer that is purchased for an auto detailing shop basically has one job—to make cars look amazing! Using a pressure washer to clean cars fortunately doesn’t require immense power, and so you don’t have to splurge on a huge unit. Pressure washer power is usually measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), which measures how many pounds of pressure are applied in one inch squared of space. The PSI required to shine a car are roughly between 1300 and 2000 PSI, which enables professional automotive detailing workers to purchase an affordable machine without the risk involved with some higher powered units.

How Auto Detailing Pros Set Up their Pressure Washers to Maximize Cleaning

Auto detailing pros make sure that they select the right nozzle for a cleaning job. A 40 degree nozzle is best suited to clean the outside of cars because it provides a wider spray area and works well on light grime. For cleaning wheel wells or car undercarriages, try a 15 degree nozzle that provides a more direct and heavier water load that can blast away tough grime. Also, applying soaps and detergents can be helpful when cleaning automobiles, and most pressure washers today actually come equipped with built in soap and detergent tanks that allow them to flow out with the water. Keep in mind, a larger nozzle must be used when using both water and soap simultaneously.

Safety is Key in Auto Detailing

Higher powered pressure washer models need a greater amount of caution, requiring that auto detailing specialists use proper safety gear in order to protect themselves against both materials that may shoot back at you and skin breaks due to direct contact with the water jet. Safety goggles and proper skin coverage are crucial when using pressure washers, as Howard Mell, M.D. and spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians, explains that the real danger with pressure washers stems from a small skin break taking on water and fluid that penetrates deep into the tissue and causes a bacterial infection. As is the case with all duties in an auto detailing shop, safety should always be the first priority when performing a job, and consider only using a higher powered pressure washer when absolutely needing the power for grime that is really caked on.

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