Are Pressure Washers Dangerous? [ANSWERED]

Using pressure washers carelessly or unsafely can be very dangerous resulting in nerve damage or amputation. This occurs when a simple skin cut comes in contact with the pressurized water. Water will then be pushed very deep into the skin which could result in serious damage to tissue and nerves. Pressure washers can also cause debris to fly up and injure you if you are not careful.

Pressure washers are extremely effective at removing tough to get out stains from things like dirt, paint, and other materials from surfaces but what could possibly go wrong when you’re spraying water with a force of 4,000 pounds per square inch of pressure? Are pressure washers dangerous to use?

Like using any piece of equipment, it is important to understand and follow the guidelines for using a pressure washer to ensure your safety. Pressure washers can be dangerous, but by following the right safety precautions, you can use a pressure washer without fear of an injury. Read on to discover the different ways to be safe and enjoy using your pressure washer.

Man pressure washing side of buidling on scaffolding

Related Reading: How to Use Patio Heaters Safely [QUICK GUIDE]

Why Pressure Washers Can Be Dangerous

When a strong force of water is sprayed directly towards the body it can cause high-pressure water injection.

High-pressure water injection is when the pressure from the water when aimed at the skin causes trauma. Although injuries may appear minor or not up show at all, there could be damage to underlying tissue.

If this damage is not treated it can cause infection. Up to 30% of pressure washer injuries require amputation or surgical requirements.

Infections can occur due to high-pressured water entering the body beneath the skin. This can relate to other high-pressured products too that use gas, oil, and paint.

If a pressure washer causes injury, seek medical attention.

The following video demonstrates how to use a pressure washer on Kärcher products. It also explains the different types of pressure washers, variations in their power, and how the difference in power produces different results.

All machines when purchased will come with an instruction manual that offers guidance on how you are to use it. The manual will also provide safety cautions, inform on how to set up and operate, give usage tips, and will suggest troubleshooting ideas and shutdown procedures.

Additional precautions to keep in mind are:

  • If there is an electrical fault or damaged wiring, seek assistance from a qualified electrician.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear.
  • Do not point the pressure washer at other people or animals. Do not let children operate the pressure washer.
  • Do not use a petrol-powered washer in an enclosed area. Store in a ventilated area.

Why Your Pressure Washer Can Be Dangerous While Not In Use

You should read the instruction manual before using your pressure washer so that you know how to operate it correctly.

Being well reversed on the instruction manual can reduce injuries as it will tell you how to build your pressure washer correctly. Not all pressure washers arrive built and you may be responsible for putting your own equipment together. Building it right first time can stop hazardous situations.

After building your pressure washer, conduct a test run. By conducting a test run, you can safely identify where your washer is not working.

Pressure washers become heavy once built. It is not safe to operate from heights or from ladders. The weight of the machine may cause you to lose balance, resulting in falls.

There is a safety latch in the handle which should be used when not operating the machine. This will prevent from unnecessary spraying when you are not ready for it.

After you have finished washing, release excess pressure from the gun. To remove excess, squeeze the trigger until you feel it release. If you do not release before dismantling your equipment, the excess pressure will go into your hand and cause injury. Your machine may also be hot after use, let it cool down before packing away.

How to Limit Danger When Using Pressure Washers – 7 Tips

The best way to use a pressure washer safely is to follow some precautions when using one. 

1. Read Your Manual

Knowing how to use your pressure washer correctly is the first step to being safe while using it. All pressure washers come with a manual that includes information about specific features of the model, instructions on using and taking apart, water temperature, and water pressure.

Be sure to read your manual from beginning to end to ensure that you do not miss any important information about your pressure washer. Most manuals are not that long, so this will not take very long to complete, but it is important that you do this.

2. Consider All Possible Dangers

The best way to avoid dangers is to be aware of them. You should consider what could possibly be dangerous to you while using your pressure washer. This could be a slippery surface, an uneven surface, distractions, pets, children, or even nearby traffic. 

Consider making a list of any potential dangers prior to using your pressure washer. Then, plan for how to best avoid them.

3. Wear Proper Safety Gear

It is a common occurrence for people to wear improper safety gear while using a pressure washer like sandals or shorts, or not wear safety goggles. Many pressure washer injuries can be prevented just by wearing the proper safety gear.

  • Boots: You should always wear closed-toe shoes or boots when using a pressure washer. Steel-toed shoes are recommended over rubber ones because highly pressurized water can tear through the rubber.
  • Gloves: Wearing gloves will improve your overall grip, which can prevent other injuries in and of itself. Hands are one of the most common body parts that become injured when using a pressure washer. If you can protect them just by wearing gloves, avoiding an injury is that much easier.
  • Long Pants: If you are cleaning sidewalks or pavement, you want to wear long pants to avoid the jet of water streaming down against your legs. Because of the highly pressurized water, long pants also prevent your legs from being hit by debris that could break the skin.
  • Safety Glasses: Your eyes can be easily irritated by water, let alone by pressurized water. Just like long pants prevent your legs from being hit by flying debris, safety glasses can also protect your eyes from any debris. Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from things like dirt, sand, and rocks being propelled by the pressurized water.
  • Hearing Protection: An electric pressure water does not generate much noise, so hearing protection should not be necessary. If your pressure washer is gas, however, it is likely to be very loud. The high decibel of the motor could damage your hearing, so hearing protection is recommended.

4. Do Not Play With Your Pressure Washer

A pressure washer is not a toy, so you should never use it like it is one. Never aim your pressure washer at people or pets like a giant water gun. Warn people to avoid crossing in front of your water stream to avoid their injury. Pressure washers should never be operated by children.

Always aim carefully at what you mean to clean. If you are using a high-velocity nozzle on your pressure washer, avoid breakables like windows. You should use a low-pressure nozzle on these types of materials.

5. Keep the Safety Latch on While Not Spraying

Many pressure washers contain a safety latch that prevents the trigger from being engaged. When you are not using your pressure washer, always engage this safety latch to prevent injury and accidental spraying.

Never place your pressure washer gun down without making sure the latch is on. You should also never leave a running pressure washer unattended. If you have to leave your pressure washer for more than a minute, you should turn it off to prevent accidents. It is not good for the pressure washer to be running without being used, so turning it off is an easy fix for this problem.

6. Never Use a Gas Pressure Washer in an Enclosed Area

Never use a gas-powered pressure washer in an enclosed area because the gas emits carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless and can be deadly. 

Even if you open windows the carbon monoxide will eventually build-up, which can lead up to unconsciousness and death. Do not risk an accident by using a gas pressure washer in an enclosed area.

7. Depressurized Before Putting Away

When you are finished using your pressure washer, turn it off, and then squeeze the trigger to release any remaining pressure inside the hose. Even if a pressure washer is turned off, pressure is still inside and could cause serious harm if released improperly.

Do not detach the spray gun, the hose, or the nozzle before you have squeezed the trigger to release any remaining pressure. Removing the spray gun before following this step means that highly pressurized water will be released directly into your hand, which could cause injuries.

Surfaces You Can and Cannot Pressure Wash

Pressure washers cannot be used on every surface as they can become damaged.

Surfaces that should not be pressure washed are:

  • Wood paneling (including stained)
  • Areas containing electrics (including outdoor lighting)
  • Old brickwork
  • Vegetation such as plants and hedges
  • Painted areas
  • Gutters

Surfaces you can pressure wash are:

  • Driveways
  • Fibre and vinyl siding
  • Hardwoods
  • Patios
  • Vehicles (when using the right type of pressure washer)

There are different types of pressure washers for different surfaces. For example, there are pressure washers that can be used on cars, pressure washers that can be used in the home, and pressure washers that can be used cordlessly.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Pressure Washer?

Now that you know how to safely use a pressure washer, you are ready to get started. There are many different benefits to using a pressure washer.

  1. Pressure washing is easy for everyone: With pressure washing, there is no need to scrub and spend lots of energy trying to get something clean
  2. Pressure washing saves time: By using a pressure washer you are cutting out the time needed to gather supplies for cleaning and reducing the amount of time needed to clean an area.
  3. Pressure washing boosts curb appeal: Removing dirt and stains from outside areas of your home will raise its overall attractiveness. You will be the talk of the neighborhood in no time.
  4. Pressure washing is safe for the environment: Pressure washing does not use chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Many traditional cleaners have chemicals in them that hurt our environment, so any way to help reduce this effect is a good one.

What Is PSI On a Pressure Washer?

Depending upon these different surfaces, different pressures can be used to achieve desired results.

Pressure measurements are called PSI – Pounds per square inch. PSI is used when measuring strengths of gasses or liquids.

Gauges can help you when measuring pressure on a running machine. These gauges can be found on the apparatus itself.

By knowing what PSI is, you can see when your machine is being overused, and you can see what pressure is required to achieve positive, effective results.

Pressure can be reduced or increased depending upon the surface type that needs cleaning. You do not need to use the same pressure for all surfaces.

Related Reading: 9 Fun Things to Do With A Pressure Washer


A pressure washer can be very dangerous if used improperly. It is important to follow all safety guidelines to ensure an accident resulting in injury does not occur.

As long as you use a pressure washer safely, there should not be an issue with using one for cleaning. After all, they are an efficient way to clean with minimal effort.