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Do You Have to Use Bleach for Pressure Washing?

Do You Have to Use Bleach for Pressure Washing?

The Tri-Cities area of East Tennessee is a wonderful place to own a home. It is an area home to all four seasons, with hot subtropical summers and contrasting cold, wet winters. 

With the beautiful Doe River and Watauga River running through East Tennessee, there is tons of access to great fly fishing, with brown trout, rainbow, and the occasional brook trout to boot. Living in Elizabethton, Johnson City, Kingsport, and the rest of the region is an absolute outdoor lover's dream. 

However, because of the drastic contrast between seasons, you may find yourself looking at your property, wondering what to do about the buildup along your sidewalks from salt and build-up of grime or mildew. Maybe it's time to wash down your house to bring it back to its original glory.


At some point, pressure washing is the solution to care for your wide variety of outdoor surfaces.

But, with all the different detergents and chemicals, how do you know exactly what is safe and effective? Is pressure washing dangerous? Can it damage your home? One of the most pressing questions that we are often asked is whether or not you must use bleach when pressure washing, and we have an answer that may surprise you!

What Is Bleach?

It may be a silly question, but to answer the question of whether or not bleach is a must-have for pressure washing, we must start with a general idea of what bleach really is. 

Bleach, in its simplest forms, is the generic name for any product that contains sodium hypochlorite to remove color or stains by “bleaching.” Bleach is also great for sanitation as it is useful in controlling bacteria, viruses, and algae. Most bleaches are oxidizing agents which remove electrons from other molecules. 

Pressure Washing with Bleach

While it may sound like a good time to load up some bleach into your household pressure washer and go to town, it's not always the most effective way to clean all surfaces. Bleach does, in fact, remove mold and mildew from surfaces; it can also kill vegetation and remove the color from clothing. 

Want to pressure wash your metal building? Using bleach can corrode many metals due to its classification as an oxidizer. Bleach is not ALL PURPOSE. 

However, if you decide to pressure wash with bleach, make sure to have the correct dilution for your equipment so that you do not damage your power washer or your house.

Pre Application Method

One method for using bleach is to pre-apply a dilution and simply wash it off with water using a pressure washer. It is as simple as

  • Make a solution of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water. 
  • Pour bleach mixture into a garden sprayer container. Make sure to follow instructions on how to add chemical solutions to your sprayer.
  • Soak the area thoroughly with the sprayer using the solution.
  • Once the surface is covered, use a pressure washer to rinse off the solution.

Pressure Wash with Bleach Solution

Another easy method is to use a pressure washing solution that includes bleach. To do that, all you need to do is:

  • Make a solution of the pressure washing cleaner, power laundry soap, 1 quart of bleach, and a gallon of water.
  • Stir the solution until everything is well mixed
  • Pour a small amount of solution into the pressure washer.
  • Begin pressure washing outdoor surfaces.

It is imperative to wear safety gear, including goggles, gloves, waterproof boots, and an apron. Because bleach can irritate the skin, follow directions regarding first aid if any bleach solution splashes on skin.

With all of that said, do not fear using bleach, as it is a highly effective compound when used the way it is intended.

Other Options

“Safer Choice” Detergents

Pressure washing with bleach may be effective in certain situations, but what if you would rather use something less caustic or better for the environment instead. 

There are several other products on the market that are endorsed by the EPA as a “safer choice” that won't cause harm to wildlife, vegetation, or waterways. In fact, many of these are completely nontoxic, which is good to know if you have children or pets. 

Vinegar and Water

Another option is a solution of 3 parts white vinegar and seven parts water. This solution is a low-hazard one and will help kill mold and mildew without damaging plants. However, this approach will not help when it comes to dirt and grime.


Because of concerns around chemicals and detergents, sometimes it is best to play it safe and just use straight H2O when pressure washing. While it may not be able to get rid of all the buildup caused by dirt and grime, mold, and mildew, pressure alone can get your surfaces clean enough.

With all of the choices there are to make when pressure washing, sometimes it makes more sense to hire a professional to make the right one for you. Cates Pressure Washing can help mitigate “analysis paralysis” by assessing the situation and using the correct detergents for your pressure washing project. 

With over 20 years of experience, technicians from Cates Pressure Washing have access to safe, eco-friendly detergents to keep your property looking beautiful while protecting the environment and your family. We know how important it is to keep your property looking pristine.  Contact the team at Cates Pressure Washing today for more information on how we can “take the pressure off” of pressure washing.