5 Pressure Washer Detergents and 7 Things to Consider Before Buying [Bonus: Homemade Detergent]

By Power Tools

August 12, 2021

Years ago, when I had my first pressure washer and I was in a ‘get er done’ mood I used some laundry detergent on one of my cleaning projects.

pressure washer detergent and chemical guide

Which was a mistake….your concrete driveway and your underwear don’t (or at least shouldn’t:) have much in common.   There are delicate wash jobs and aggressive wash jobs and it only makes sense that they each require different chemicals.  This of course isn’t a zero sum game.  Just as you can wash your hair with bar soap, you will get better results with shampoo.

So it’s best to use a pressure washer detergent, and you’ll get good mileage out of a bottle, depending on the size of your project.  See some top picks reviewed below.

Now another big factor, is water temperature.  Just like washing greasy dishes, hot water helps. They do make hot water pressure washers but for most of us that’s not a choice.  Doesn’t mean we don’t have other options, even with a standard pressure washer.  

The popular Sunjoe SPX3000  has a max water inlet temp of 104 degrees Fahrenheit (typical max temp of a home hot water heater is 120 degrees Fahrenheit). So you could run some warm water through your pressure washer, but that would be complicated and no reason to push the max temperature specs of our machine.

Better is to have a bucket of hot water and the same detergent handy as we are working.  Let the pressure washer do the majority of the work, and then scrub by hand any problems areas with the hot water mixture.  Or even easier do a hot water pre-wash (ie: dump a bucket of hotwater on the driveway) to loosen things up.

There are not many pressure washer soaps, detergent available in the market so it is recommended to use concentrated detergent for the best result. Or you can also think about preparing something homemade.

Pressure Washer Detergents: TOP 5 Selections

1. Karcher Concentrated Vehicle Detergent


If you are looking for a solution to clean your car with ease and without leaving any spot then this is the one you are looking for. When combined with the Karcher pressure wash and car washing system you will receive a perfect wash.

You have to buy this pressure washer detergent in 1-gallon size. But wait! This is highly concentrated which makes it very affordable as it makes up to 20 gallons of ready to use solution. This means only a cost of $1.15 per gallon (approximately). And you do not need a gallon to wash. This has very good customer satisfaction.

Furthermore, if you want to use your hand for those sneaky, hard to reach areas; don’t worry; it is gentle enough for your hand. This product will give you spot-free shine, leave no spot or residue.

2. Krud Kutter HS01 Green Pressure Washer Concentrate: Best Pressure Washer Detergent for House sliding cleaning


When power washing your House and sidings, one thing that results in great difficulty is those tough stains from mildew, moss, fungus, algae. This unique product has a chemical compound that is called “SPOREX”. This special chemical makes it a tough contestant for those stains!

It can easily dissolve with the toughest stains from dirt, oil, grease, bird droppings etc. resulting in a nice clean surface. It also slows down the return of those stains keeping you tension free for a while.

This comes as concentrated in a gallon pack. Use this detergent with a 1:10 ratio of water. This way you can get up to 11 gallons of ready to use a mixture that covers 2000sq. ft.

This claims to be a biodegradable solution, making it an environment-friendly solution.

3. Simple Green 18202 Concrete and Driveway Cleaner: Best Detergent for Concrete Cleaning


Simple Green products are always a good choice. And this one is very good for power cleaning your driveway and concrete. This one comes in 1-gallon pack size. When mixed with water it can make up to 11 gallons of cleaning solution.

This cleaning agent removes oil, grease, grime and most stains from concrete walkways, patios, driveways, sidewalks. It is also gentle for manual use.

4. Krud Kutter DF01 Blue Pressure Washer Concentrate: For Deck and Fence Cleaning


This Krud Kutter Deck and Fence cleaner come in 1 gallon concentrated bottle size. Prepare a 1:10 concentrate mixture and put it on the pressure washer. Apply power washing with this on vertical surfaces of deck and fences covered with stains. Leave the solution to settle on the surface for 3 to 5 minutes but do not let the solution to dry. Remove the solution siphon and pressure wash with clean water.

This mixture is guaranteed to provide you with the best result. Removes grease, oil, tree sap, even gray weathering on wood.

Read Also: Best practice to clean your deck

5. Simple Green 11001 Clean Building Cleaner Concentrate: Best All Purpose


This Simple Green product is an all-rounder. It can be used for multiple items around your home. Here is fun math! It takes around ½ oz. of this product and 31.5 oz. water to prepare a 32 oz. bottle. So buy once forget for the year! Check the price and do the math.

You can use it for cleaning almost anything! For your cars, lawn, patios, sidings this one is a good choice. This is also biodegradable. Although it is not odorless you can deal with it!

Ultimate 7 tips for final detergent selection

The difference between pressure washer soap and pressure washer detergent

  • Soaps and detergents are very similar in chemical properties still they a major difference. Soaps are formed by natural products like starting with fats and oils which are obtained from plants or animals. These are combined with high-pressure steam while producing fatty acid and glycerin. Combining the fatty acid with salt produces soap.
  • Sodium soaps are converted into bar soaps and potassium salt is used for liquid soap.
  • Soap breaks down when mixed with water or oil due to its hydrophilic and hydrophobic ends
  • Detergents are produced from man-made chemicals
  • Soaps are used for skins and detergents are used for clothes

When to use soap and when to use power washer detergent?

Soaps are biodegradable and do not possess a threat to the environment. But soap mixes with sodium and magnesium in hard water to create an insoluble mud type residue. This white residue can stick to your surface.

On the other hand, the detergent does not have this problem.  The special benefit of detergent is that it is engineered for different cleaning surfaces.

The most effective solution is to combine the soap and detergent together.

How does a pressure washer detergent, nozzle and injector work?

This is a very interesting process! The proper blending of soap or detergent with the power washer water flow is very important. This introduction of detergent can be done in two ways. Before entering the pump (upstream) or after leaving the pump (Downstream).

Downstream pumping systems provide multiple options. This downstream injection system is equipped with a nozzle with a variable pressure adjustment capacity. A venturi injector is used for making a pressure differential which will draw the pressure washer detergent from the container into the system.

In the upstream delivery system, a float system is necessary to produce zero pressure which delivers the chemical into the system. So the downstream system allows more option for chemical delivery.

Is pressure washer soap, detergent or other chemical solution safe for your environment?

Pressure washer detergent and other chemical solutions must be environment-friendly as the chemicals mix with the ground which will mix with rainwater underground. So be sure to check the label if it is biodegradable.

Cleaning is good but you need to take off your environment too!

Difference between Residential and Industrial pressure washer soap, detergent and other chemical solutions and which one to use?

The math is simple. Industrial things like pressure washer car soap come in large barrels. Industrial pressure washer detergent is supplied in concentrated condition. And the residential grade comes in pre-mixed condition.

If you pressure wash around your home a few times a month then you should go for the residential pressure wash soap or chemicals. Buying a residential pressure washer detergent like vinyl siding cleaner will cost you some extra bucks per gallon. At least you do not have to worry about diluting the concentrated chemicals.

And finally, if you pressure wash for living the industrial range is for you. Why? It comes in a large barrel and concentrated. Just use when you need it. This will save you some money.

What kind of soap to use in pressure washer [Foam or no foam?]

If you love to play with foam then choose carefully. Let’s discuss here. First, read the label on the pressure washer detergent bottle. Some of them can cause little foam. If you want less foam its good! On the other hand, if you want more foam then using foam cannon might be a good idea.

Using a foam fun party to wash your car is a great idea!

Your detergent might not be able to provide you with a foam fiesta you are looking for. You know what? I love the view of a car covered with foam.

There are some pressure washer soaps available on the market. A foam cannon combining with a pressure washer is a great combination.

You may consider my opinion. Less foam for your driveway and more foam for your cars!

Read Also: Selection of great car pressure washers

Read Also: Top foam cannon for pressure washers

Prepare Homemade Pressure Washer Detergent

Thinking about an eco-friendly pressure washer detergent is excellent. Although, you may not get the same result as you will get with a chemical detergent, yet let’s try this.

This requires some crazy simple ingredient for preparing a homemade detergent that works. Mix 2/3 cup of household cleanser powdered with 1/3 cup of phosphate-free laundry soap. Mix these with a gallon of water.

The mixing has to be proper for a good result. Pour this solution in the pressure washer detergent tank and start cleaning.

You may have to use this process more than once to get a good result. Mildew buildup can be a challenge for this detergent to overcome. To get over this you can use vinegar on mildew.

This is helpful for plants, keeping them away from chemical detergents.

Before I Let You Go

Using some good detergent with a pressure washer is a solid way of getting a good result.

And you can also try making something of your own at home. This might not be as powerful as the chemical ones.

I suggest not to use hot water unless you have an industrial pressure washer. Pressure washer detergent or soap is excellent for removing grimes.

If you’re here because you’re going to wash your vinyl siding, you might also like our article on  best siding cleaner.