A garden hose, soap, and elbow grease can take care of many a clean-up job—if you want to spend all day on it. But if you have better things to do, a pressure washer speeds up all sorts of onerous tasks, from scrubbing grime and mildew from siding and getting oil stains off a driveway to cleaning a deck or patio, sprucing up outdoor furniture, degreasing a grill, and even washing a car.
Pressure washers use either a gas engine or an electric motor, a pump, and a concentrating nozzle to boost water pressure from your hose connection by 30 to 80 times. Though a garden hose alone delivers water pressure at about 50 pounds per square inch, pressure washers can generate 1,500 to 4,000 psi. That’s a lot of power. And when operated properly, they blast away stains without damaging the surface material beneath.
But despite the benefits, they can cause serious injury—and few consumers may appreciate just how serious. A pressure washer’s powerful spray is hazardous when misdirected, strong enough to damage skin in an instant. Lacerations are the most common injury, followed by bruises, punctures, and eye injuries.