Can you use Dish Soap in a Pressure Washer? Best Detergents to Use

A detergent or soap is very important when using a pressure washer to clean home exteriors. A blast of water alone will not help in getting rid of greasy dirt and grime. So, can you use dish soap in a pressure washer?

Yes, you can use dish soap like Dawn in a pressure washer as long as you dilute it with water. However, dish detergent may not be effective in dealing with all forms of dirt on surfaces. You may have to use a recommended soap for pressure washer for perfect cleaning results.

Can you use Dawn in a Pressure Washer?

Even with the best pressure washer in the world, you will need a detergent to make your surfaces cleaner. Using a detergent while cleaning comes with plenty of benefits. From fast grease cutting to a sparkling germs free surfaces.

A recommended detergent or soap can be used in a pressure washer in two ways. You can put it in a detergent reservoir on the machine or in an external tank connected with a hose to your pressure washer machine. 

While there are plenty of detergents out there, some can be too harsh to your pressure washer machine and to the environment. Dawn dish soap is one of the best formula to use in your pressure cleaner. Other than having great grease cutting power, Dawn will not damage your pressure washer or harm plants around.

To ensure that the soap does not clog your cleaning system, dilute the detergent with enough water so that it becomes less thick or sticky. Also run clean water in the machine after using so that any drops of the detergent does not gum up the pump. A lot of people have used Dawn in pressure washers without any problem.

Can I use Regular Soap in a Pressure Washer?

Detergent or soap is an effective additive for combating stains, dirt, mildew and algae on your patios, house siding, driveways and decks.

Having said that, some of these products may have detrimental effects environmentally, on your surfaces or on the cleaning machines.

Cleaning solutions comes with different types of ingredients ranging from chemical to natural. You should consider using biodegradable and Eco-friendly cleaners to prevent environmental damages. Also take necessary precautions when using chemical based cleaners. This include covering plants around and using away from kids and animals.

Using a regular soap in a pressure washer is not a great deal either. Unspecified products can damage landscaping or strip paint from your surfaces. Regardless of where you use the ordinary soap, it can damage the interior parts of your pressure washer if it contains harsh ingredients.

What kind of Soap can I use in my Pressure Washer?

The purpose for cleaning primarily determines the kind of product or cleaning method to use. To begin with, a pressure washer alone is pretty enough for tackling ordinary jobs. A soap or detergent will be needed for cleaning tough dirt and grime such as oil stains.

Secondly the nature of intended surface you are dealing with is critical factor. Don’t use household cleaning agents like hand soap, dishwashing detergent, or glass cleaner on the paint. They aren’t formulated for use on a cars and may strip off paint or the protective wax.

Last but not least, the cost of using a dish soap can be pretty higher when dealing with a large project. Using dawn in a pressure washer for example can be economical when handling small jobs and very expensive for commercial or large scale tasks.

Pressure washer detergents are formulated for specific use. Using unspecified pressure washer cleaner can end up damaging your surfaces. If you are not sure about the kind of soap to use in your pressure washer, simply use water.

A multipurpose cleaner will also be the next great option, the soap can be used on numerous surfaces such as concrete, siding, fences and deck among others. For vehicles, you may have go for a specified vehicle cleaner to avoid any damage to the paint work. Further, biodegradable and environment friendly products are safe to use around home.

Best Pressure Washer Soaps (Detergents)

Using the right soap for a pressure washer makes cleaning effortless and safe. I have tried a number of soap in my pressure washer for cleaning my vinyl siding, driveways, patios and walkways. Of all the detergents I have used, the following were gentle on my outdoor surfaces but tough on the grime:

1. Karcher Multi-Purpose Cleaning Pressure Power Washer

I found this to be my overall best. Karcher Multi-Purpose Cleaning Pressure Power Washer is a versatile cleaning formula that works for almost every surface in my home. I have safely used it on my patios, vinyl siding, driveways and walkways. Also, there was no gumming up witnessed in my pressure washer.

Interestingly, this is a budget product that dilutes to 20 gallons of washing soap from 1 gallon of concentrated detergent. I have no problems when cleaning around plants and lawn grasses. This biodegradable formula has not harm them in any way.

2. Sun Joe SPX-APC1G All-Purpose Heavy Duty Pressure Washer

If you have been looking for a heavy duty pressure washer cleaner, then your search should stop at Sun Joe SPX-APC1G All-Purpose Heavy Duty Pressure Washer. This is an incredible pressure washer detergent for handling heavy cleaning requirements.

You can use this soap on almost every outdoor surface in your home. It is biodegradable and versatile for use on driveways, walkways, exterior walls and patios. This product is quite pricier and you should be aware of it especially if you are on a tight budget.

3. Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner

Simple green is a popular name in household cleaners. Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner is a non-toxic, biodegradable formula that is fragrance-free. You will love it for power washing your exterior home surfaces. It meets the Green Seal GS-37 Standard, implying that it’s safer for human health and environment.

Although effective at cleaning of all forms of dirt, grime, and oils without heavy scrubbing, this product is not great at cleaning non-porous surfaces. You can use it on your outdoor fabrics, wooden fences and more. This is a concentrate solution that should be diluted to use.

4. Briggs & Stratton 6826 Multi-Purpose Cleaner

This is a multipurpose cleaner suitable for various outdoor surfaces. Briggs & Stratton 6826 Multi-Purpose Cleaner can safely be used on house siding, deck, fence, driveway, and walkway. It effectively remove dirt, mold, and mildew from outdoor surfaces.

One gallon of this great pressure washer soap produces 16 gallons of wash solution. This didn’t sound good to me since I’m used to one gallon producing 20 gallons in the rest of the products I have used. I also had to make many passes for my surfaces to get clean and this made the soap to get finished faster.

5. Karcher Car Wash & Wax Soap for Pressure Washers

If you have a car or operating related business, you should not be left out. Karcher Car Wash & Wax Soap for Pressure Washers is what you should be having in your garage. You can use this formula on your car without worries. This biodegradable soap is safe on all car paint works.

The biodegradable formula easily breaks down and lift all sorts of dirt from your car panels. At the end of cleaning, you get a spot-free rinse with flawless results. One gallon of this car pressure washer soap will produce 20 gallons of wash when diluted. This formula should not be used on other outdoor surfaces.

How to use your Pressure washer Soap

Most soaps for pressure washers are concentrated thus need to be diluted. Using a detergent in full-strength form can be uneconomical and unhealthy to your pressure washer. When diluted, a detergent covers a large project and will not clog your machine.

Specified pressure washer soap will come with manufacturer’s instructions on how to dilute and use. However if you have to use a dish soap in your pressure washer, here is what to do:

  • Get a dish detergent that has a super degreaser properties like Dawn Dish Soap
  • Mix 1/3 cup of the dish detergent with 1 gallon of water, do not make the mixture too soapy
  • Pour your diluted soap mixture into your pressure washer detergent tank
  • Use low-pressure spray nozzle to apply solution to the surface that you are cleaning
  • Let the soap sit for 5-7 minutes to penetrate soils and don’t allowing it to dry before rinsing
  • Adjusting to a high-pressure setting, rinse the soap and any residue
  • Use a garden hose to saturate plants and grass after cleaning to rinse away any soap


A recommended dish soap like dawn can be used in a pressure washer for cleaning of driveways, walkways, patios and other surfaces. But it advisable to use specified detergents formulated for pressure washers. Remember to read and follow manufacturer’s label instructions before using any cleaning product in your pressure washer.

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