dish soap in pressure washer

Can You Use Dish Soap in a Pressure Washer? (How to Dilute)

In Tips by Jamie

Pressure washers do wonders when it comes to removing tough dirt and grime stains. For basic clean-up jobs, water alone will often do the trick. However, you might find that adding soap or detergent to the water might help with particularly stubborn spots. If you’re in a pinch and lacking pressure washer cleaner, you might be wondering if regular dish soap is a suitable alternative.

Yes, you can put dish soap in a pressure washer without causing any problems, although it’s extremely important to always dilute the dish soap before use. Diluting 1/3 cup of soap with 1 gallon of water is the recommended mix. However, true pressure washer detergents are much more effective. 

People use all sorts of cleaning products for their pressure washers, and while most methods are safe and efficient, there’s plenty of penitential pitfalls that can damage your machine, the surfaces you’re cleaning, or even cause harm to yourself or others.

With dish soap, the risks are minimal, but knowing the essentials will help you make the best decision. To help you stay well-informed about your appliance, we’ve done some research and answered the most common questions concerning the use of dish soap in a pressure washer.

How to Dilute Dish Soap for a Pressure Washer?

All soaps and detergents should be diluted in water before use, even products made specifically for pressure washers. Products made for pressure washers come with diluting instructions on the label, but with alternatives like dish soap, it’s up to you to get the measurements right and save yourself the headache of a damaged machine or sudsy mess.

For dish soap, mix 1/3 cup of soap with 1 gallon of water. Blend well to ensure all the soap has dissolved. If a gallon is too much water, then 1tbsp of soap in 1 to 1.5 quarts of water will do. You can increase the amount of soap for heavy-duty stains on durable surfaces, such as concrete or roofing tiles, but always moderate.

Also, for some types of pressure washers, it’s recommended to use hot or warm water in the diluting process, while for other types of pressure washers, room-temperature water is suggested. For this, it’s important to refer to your user’s manual.

Can Dish Soap Damage My Pressure Washer?

Diluting the dish soap will go a long way towards preventing damage to the machine. Since dish soap is usually gentle, biodegradable and free of harsh chemicals, most dish soap brands won’t harm the various parts inside the machine during use. However, if soap is left to dry on certain parts, clogs or cracks can occur. So, after the clean-up is done, be sure to run non-soapy water through the pressure washer to rinse out any residual soap.

Will Dish Soap Be as Effective as A Proper Pressure Washer Cleaner?

Pressure washer soaps and detergents are specially formulated for breaking down the types of stains that pressure washers are commonly used for, such as grease, oil, rust, mildew, and excessive dirt buildup. For this reason, dish soap won’t match the effectiveness of pressure washer cleaners.

What Kind of Soap Should I Use in My Pressure Washer?

The most important factor to consider is the type of surface you’re cleaning. Even a mild, properly diluted dish soap can leave grime spots on certain materials, such as the surface of your car. If you do decide to go with dish soap, stick with the standard, liquid, grease-removing variety.

Detergents that are made specifically for pressure washers are certainly the best way to go. But these, too, require careful attention because there’s a wide variety of types, and each is formulated for specific purposes. Be sure not to use a pressure washer detergent that can cause damage to unintended surfaces.

There are several reliable varieties of pressure washer detergent that are multipurpose and safe to use on any surface, so if your cleaning needs aren’t specific, then these are your best bet.

Do You Even Need Soap in A Pressure Washer?

The beauty of pressure washers is that they are often strong enough to do the job with regular, untreated water. Some people prefer to avoid soaps and detergents to save on costs and to prevent the spread of potentially harmful chemicals.

However, soaps or detergents do have their benefits. Since pressure washing can cause a gradual breakdown of certain surfaces, the least amount of time you wash, the better. And using cleaning agents will help with getting the job done in the shortest amount of time possible.


Pressure Washer Soap FAQs

Can you use dawn dish soap in a pressure washer?

As far as dish soap goes, Dawn is probably the best brand to use in a pressure washer. Not only is Dawn mild, non-toxic and eco-friendly, it also has a strong degreasing formula that can break down and wash away sticky stains.

Can you use Pine-Sol in a pressure washer?

Pine-Sol is a popular choice for use in a pressure washer. Mix about ¼ cup of Pine-Sol in a gallon of water for proper dilution. Same as when using other detergents in the pressure washer, it’s good to rinse off the cleaned surface with regular water after the cleaning.

Can you use laundry detergent in a pressure washer?

Laundry detergent can also be used in a pressure washer. As with dish soap, it’s important to know how much to use, how to dilute it, and which surfaces should be avoided. Start with a minimum amount and test it before adding too much.

Can you use bleach in a pressure washer?

There are people out there who use bleach in their pressure washers. A little bleach will certainly get rid of stubborn discoloration and stains, especially stains in wood decks. However, it’s best to avoid the use of bleach due to a number of risks involved. First of all, the corrosiveness of bleach can easily damage the pump, leaving you with a ruined pressure washer—and many pressure washer brands do not cover any damages from bleach in their warranty.

Another serious hazard with bleach is the possibility of inhaling toxic water vapor that’s produced by the pressure washer. And even with cautious use, there’s always the chance of bleach stains occurring.

So, ultimately, we advise against it. Even if bleach may seem like the only solution to a pesky stain, there are safer products to use (such as detergents made specifically for pressure washers) that will work just as well.

Final Thoughts

There are many options when it comes to adding cleaner to your pressure washer, and dish soap is one of the better ones. While it might not be as effective as stronger cleaning agents (and it can cause soap-splotches on certain surfaces) we say go ahead use it if you’re in a pinch.

As always, consult the user’s manual before making any decision. Not all pressure washers are the same, and some may not be designed to handle soaps or detergents of any kind.