Properly using and maintaining your pressure washer will increase its lifespan and as a result save you money on repairs or replacements.
For pressure washing business owners, ensuring that their pressure washers are in proper working condition is of utmost importance.
Educating employees as to the best usage and maintenance practices for using their machines is crucial.
There are a number of important usage guidelines to be aware of when operating a pressure washer.
One question that we have encountered quite often is concerning whether or not you can use bleach in a pressure washer.
Is it safe for the machine? How can you use it properly?
Let’s discuss this common area of interest in more detail, and provide insight for casual cleaners and business owners alike.
Is It Safe To Use Bleach In A Pressure Washer?
The short answer to this question is that no, it generally is not safe for your machine to use bleach in a pressure washer.
If you were planning on filling up your tank with straight bleach in order to have it sprayed all over those grimy surfaces that you want nicely cleaned, you should definitely scrap that idea.
Bleach is a general term given to products that are used to remove color from fabric or to remove stains from surfaces in a process known as bleaching. These bleaches commonly consist of a diluted solution of sodium hypochlorite, or “liquid bleach”.
Bleaches work by reacting with pigmented or coloured compounds, and changing them into colourless compounds, which will give them a clean look. This is often a technique applied to household surfaces that have been affected by heavy mould or grime that has caused discolouration.
The problem with using pure bleach in a pressure washer is the real potential for the chemicals in the bleach to corrode the internal workings of the pressure washer, as well as the hose and nozzle.
If the corrosion build up is left unattended, it will likely render the pressure washer useless within a short period of time, especially if the machine is being operated with pure bleach frequently.
It is also important to note that damage to a pressure washer caused by bleach will often void the manufacturer’s warranty.
How Much Bleach Is Safe To Use?
As we discussed previously, using pure bleach in your pressure washer will almost surely cause damage that is potentially irreparable.
However, it is possible to incorporate bleach into an acceptable mixture that has been diluted enough to prevent the harsh chemical compounds from affecting the machine’s function and integrity.
The most important part of creating a bleach solution that is safe to use in your pressure washer is finding the right ratio of bleach to water and other important components.
Below we have provided a step by step process guide to create a safe bleach mixture for your machine.
- Mix together four parts water to one part chlorine bleach. This is best for a 5 – 6 percent bleach mix. If you are using a 3 percent mix, a three part water to one part bleach ratio will work.
- Once you have created your bleach solution, put together your pressure washer lance and connect it to the hose, then connect your hose to the washer.
- If you have access to a soap tip for your pressure washer lance, these are typically going to work best with bleach solutions.
- Keep the stream pressure on a low setting when using the pressure washer to spray your bleach mixture. A low pressure will help mix the solution and provide a consistent spray pattern to evenly coat your surface(s).
- When you have finished spraying your bleach solution, be sure to clean out your pressure washer by running a few cycles of pure water through the machine. This will help remove any leftover bleach that could settle and cause corrosion damage.
How To Work With Bleach Safely
It is incredibly important, especially as a business owner, to ensure that your workers have all of the necessary power washing safety gear for working with bleach.
This includes equipment like protective goggles or other eyewear, an apron, full skin coverage clothing, bleach impervious gloves and bleach proof footwear.
If a situation arises in which bleach comes into contact with the skin, follow the manufacturer’s first aid recommendations and directions.
It is also important for operators to be aware of the potential for bleach to cause chemical reactions. When it is mixed with an acid, chlorine gas will form, which is commonly known to irritate the skin and cause damage to lung tissue if inhaled.
If mixed with ammonia, the gas produced can potentially be explosive.
Educate yourself and/or your employees on the dangers of working with bleach to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.
There are a number of potential bleach alternatives that can be used if you decide that bleach is not the best choice for your cleaning plans.
We have listed a few of these alternatives below for your consideration.
- Distilled White Vinegar
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Baking Soda
These three bleach alternatives will provide a less toxic and corrosive cleaning agent. While you can use these by manually applying/scrubbing on the surface you’re cleaning, it’s probably not a good idea to run them through your machine.
The best alternative is to purchase soap or detergent that is formulated to use in pressure washers. These are made for the machines and would be the safest to use.
You can also choose the type of soap or detergent depending on the surface type you are looking to clean (e.g., wood fence, cleaning a concrete driveway, vinyl siding on a house).
Pressure washing with bleach can be a very effective method for achieving that bright and shiny surface clean that you are looking for.
However, if used improperly, bleach can cause significant damage to your pressure washer, and can also create health and safety hazards for machine operators.
We cover these topics in detail so that homeowners and business owners can feel confident in their ability to work with bleach safely and efficiently.