Harsh winters can take a toll on home exteriors. Dirt and grime can build up on exterior home surfaces throughout the winter, affecting the appearance of the siding of a home and outdoor entertaining areas. 

Power washing is a great way to give a home a fresh, clean look. But, there’s more to power than buying or renting the right equipment and getting to work. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that there are many risks associated with using power washers. For instance, the CDC says strong spray from power washers can cause serious wounds that initially seem minor. However, such wounds can lead to infection or disability if left untreated. In addition, if manufacturer safety instructions are not followed, electric shock can occur due to improper use.

Homeowners intending to power wash their own homes should first determine if they’re physically capable of doing so. Power washers can be difficult for some people to control, so it’s imperative that homeowners honestly assess their physical abilities. 

The CDC urges homeowners who determine they can safely handle power washers to take these additional safety steps to make sure the process of cleaning their home exteriors goes smoothly.

• Never point a pressure washer at yourself or others.

• Do not attempt to push or move objects with spray from the washer. Turn the power washer off and move the obstruction if anything is in your way.

• Never use a gasoline-powered washer in an enclosed space, which can increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

• Always test the ground fault circuit interrupter (circuit breaker or outlet) before using a pressure washer.

• Always plug a properly grounded pressure washer into a properly grounded receptacle.

• If an extension cord must be used, keep the pressure washer’s power cord out of and away from any standing water. Use a heavy-duty extension cord with components rated for use in wet locations. Keep both the power cord and extension cord connections as far away as possible from the item being washed and away from any water runoff. While power washing, periodically take note of the location of the extension cord connections to ensure they are not in a puddle.

• Wear rubber-soled shoes that provide some insulation when using the pressure washer.

• Never cut or splice the pressure washer’s power cord or extension cords.

• Never remove the grounding prong from the pressure washer’s power cord plug or the extension cord.

• Pause the project if a circuit breaker is tripped. Always have a qualified electrician check the pressure washer for electrical problems after it has tripped a circuit breaker.

• Never allow children to operate a pressure washer. Keep children at a safe distance when an adult is using a pressure washer.