How to Clean Your Vehicles with a Pressure Washer

Since most of us hit the road every day, our vehicles can become major collectors of dirt and grime. For cars, trucks, motorcycles, and even bicycles, a pressure washer is an easy and effective tool to get our vehicles clean, and for us to get more enjoyment from their use. Find instructions and helpful tips below for cleaning your vehicles at home with a pressure washer.

Tips to Get Started on Your Car or Truck

  • Always check your vehicle manufacturer's cleaning instructions.
  • Always use the least aggressive nozzle or nozzle setting possible for cleaning.
  • Test your PSI to avoid damaging paint and finish.
  • Spray from farther away or adjust pressure down when cleaning windows, lights, handles, and wipers.


  • Spray lightly with water to pre-rinse the vehicle.
  • Apply detergent with the detergent nozzle to the vehicle with your pressure washer from the bottom to ensure you don't miss a spot.
  • Check your detergent instructions to determine the amount of time the detergent needs to stay on the vehicle to help break down dirt and grime. For especially tough areas, you may also use a brush.
  • Rinse the vehicle from top to bottom.
  • Towel or air dry.

Pressure Washing Motorcycles

Your pride on two wheels can look its best when you use the right equipment and cleaning techniques.

Tips for Your Motorcycle:

  • Always check your vehicle manufacturer's cleaning instructions.

  • Keep your distance. Always keep your pressure washer nozzle several inches from painted and finished surfaces to avoid damage, especially on surfaces with decals.

  • Hand wash and lightly rinse areas like wheel hubs, lever joints, swingarms, oil and water coolers, bearings, chains, electrical components, seats, and grips.

  • Do not hold the water jet in one spot for too long on tires in order to avoid overwearing damage.

  • Dry the motorcycle well.

Pressure Washing Bicycles

Careful cleaning and care of your bicycle can contribute to a longer life for your equipment. Here are some tips to properly clean your bike with a pressure washer.

Tips for Your Bicycle:

  • Always check your manufacturer's cleaning instructions.
  • Depending on usage, a light cleaning every 2-3 months should be sufficient to achieve clean equipment and keep finishes and parts from becoming damaged.
  • Make sure your bicycle is standing firmly before you begin to spray. You can attach your bike to a tree, wall or bike rack.
  • Start with low pressure and work your way up or move in closer to remove tough grime. This will help avoid damage to paint, decals and stickers.
  • Use a flat-jet nozzle to create a jet that is as soft as possible, and do not aim the jet directly at the chain, bearings and seals. Otherwise, you could inadvertently press water and dirt into parts, accelerating wear.

How to Choose a Pressure Washer

Consider cleaning tasks around the house, on the job and for your vehicles where a pressure washer can really come in handy. STIHL offers pro-level, gas-powered pressure washers for tough jobs like construction site cleaning, as well as electric homeowner models with a compact design that are perfect for performing outdoor jobs such as cleaning vehicles, sidewalks, driveways, decks, and patio furniture.