Can Pressure Washing Damage Your Windows?

11 March 2019

Pressure washing is an excellent way to clean windows and make them sparkling. After all, what better way is there to make your glass sparkling clean than with a blast of water, which is environmentally friendly? The question remains, however, about whether you can damage windows with the kind of pressure that these machines can provide.

Although the basics of pressure washing are easy, it still takes a little finesse to clean items like windows. Yes, you can damage the panes and the window housing if you are not careful. Here are some tips on how you can do the job with good results.

Assess Window Condition

One of the most important steps to ensure that you do not damage is to inspect your windows before you begin cleaning. Look for cracks in the glass and broken window seals. Broken seals are evident when you see condensation between the panes of glass in double-paned windows. Defective seals will also manifest themselves through loose panes. If you see any of these problems, fix them before you clean. Make sure all caulking and other repairs are sound before beginning. Broken seals, in particular, can be damaging as water can invade your home and damage its contents.

Learn How to Use your Pressure Washer Properly

Another way to ensure that you don't damage your home's windows is to learn how to properly use your pressure washer. Watch one or more YouTube videos that show proper technique. You can also search for tutorials issued by the pressure washer brand that will further explain how to use the device. Another great source of information is personnel at the store where you renter your pressure washer. These individuals often have practical advice that you won't find in written instructions or in YouTube videos.

Prepare the Area

Remove all screens as pressure washers can easily tear through them. Make sure all windows are tightly closed. Water the soil beneath the windows to be cleaned. This step helps dilute any chemicals that are contained in the cleaning solution used. You'll also need to ensure that all electrical outlets near those windows are off and/or covered.

Make sure the pressure washer is working properly by giving it a test run in an open space before you apply the stream to the windows. You should also have safety glasses as well as protective gloves for your hands.

Place Soap in the Reservoir

Several multi-use soaps specially formulated for pressure washers are available. Among the formulations to consider are Sun Joe, which is designated for cars, but can also be used for cleaning windows. Simply Green, which you can also use to clean siding and decks, is another choice. If you want to go the natural route, vinegar has long been known to make windows bright. Just make sure that the reservoir is free of any other chemicals before you add new ones.

Use the Right Wand and Recommended Pressure

Pressure washers come with a selection of nozzle tips or wand attachments that give you a choice of how wide you want the water to spray. A nozzle with a zero-degree width will provide a pinpoint forceful spray that will certainly break glass. Choose the lightest setting and select a tip that ranges from 40-degrees to 60 degrees.

Not only must you be careful of the spray width, but the PSI (pounds per square inch) rating of the water stream is also important. You should select a lower pressure when cleaning the delicate surface of windows. The pressure washer you use should have the flexibility of a variety of PSI settings to ensure that you don't damage any surfaces.

The third consideration involves how far away you stand when aiming the spray at your windows. Even though you have a chosen a wide fan of water, the device will still extend a tremendous amount of pressure. Start by standing about 10 feet away from the window surface and gradually walk toward the glass. The recommended distance is about three to five feet away, but by walking slowly toward your windows, you should be able to get a feel of whether the stream is doing a good job.

Applying the Soap and Rinsing the Windows

After turning on the pressure washer, aim the soapy spray at approximately a 45-degree angle to the window and trim. Using this angle will help lift and remove dirt from the trim and windows more effectively than if you hit the area head on.

After you clean your windows, you must still rinse them. Turn off the machine and make sure that all of the soap is out of the reservoir. Change to a general use tip with a 15-degree to 20-degree angle, which provides a stronger stream that will remove soap residue and dirt that has loosened from the window surfaces and trim. Start at the top of windows and work downward to ensure that all residue and dirt is removed. Allow several days to pass so the area completely dries before applying primer and paint.

When you are done with cleaning, check that caulk and glazing is still in good condition. The general rule is you can clean windows with a pressure washer, but you must remain extremely careful when doing so. Some pressure washer manufacturers recommend that you don't clean double-paned windows on your own as these surfaces are more prone to damage than single pane windows.

Get Our Professional Pressure Washing Help

If you are unsure about your skills for pressure washing windows, you can always have the job done professionally. Contact us at Edwin's Pressure Washing Land O' Lakes for more information on cleaning windows and for a FREE quote on our services.