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Can I Use A Pressure Washer Indoors?

Pressure washers are useful tools for cleaning a variety of surfaces, from siding and concrete to furniture and vehicles. However, when it comes to using one indoors, a different set of considerations and precautions must be taken. While it's not impossible to use a pressure washer indoors, it is pretty dumb. But, that being said, you can do it. There will be significant challenges and risks that must be carefully managed to ensure safety and prevent damage to the user and the surrounding area when tackling such a difficult task.

Note: this article is not about pressure washing in a garage, although this advice will be useful for those projects. Garage pressure washing is generally safe and will present many fewer risks than indoor pressure washing.

The Risks:

Using a pressure washer indoors presents several potential risks, primarily related to water containment, ventilation, and surface damage. The high-pressure water generated by a pressure washer can easily get into surfaces and cause water damage to walls, floors, and ceilings. On top of this, the water runoff can create slippery conditions, increasing the risk of accidents and falls.

Gas pressure washers will release exhaust fumes, which can pose health hazards if not adequately ventilated. Carbon monoxide is a common component in exhaust from a gas pressure washer and is something that is extremely poisonous to humans and animals. In addition to the exhaust, pressure washers are extremely loud. Confined spaces will make that noise even louder to the user and this can be very overwhelming and damging, even with hearing protection. Always pressure wash (inside or outside) with hearing protection on.

Risk Mitigation:

If you have to use a pressure washer indoors, you’re going to have to take appropriate precautions to minimize the risks. Here are some things to consider:

Equipment: Opt for electric pressure washers instead of gas-powered to reduce the risk of indoor air pollution from exhaust fumes and the excess noise from the engine.

Contain Water: Create a barrier or containment system to prevent water and debris from spreading throughout the indoor space. Use tarps, plastic sheeting, or specialized containment mats to protect surfaces and minimize cleanup efforts. Please note that even the best containment can and will fail. Water is very good at getting through barriers- just do a quick Google search on the levees of New Orleans. Different scale- same idea.

Ventilation: If you are using a gas pressure washer or harsh chemicals indoors, open windows and doors, turn on fans, and use exhaust vents to provide proper ventilation and allow fresh air to circulate while operating the pressure washer indoors. 

Protect Surfaces: Cover surfaces such as electrical outlets, light fixtures, and sensitive belongings to prevent water damage. Use waterproof tape or plastic covers to seal off these areas and minimize the risk of electrical hazards. Again- this may not be enough for complete prevention, although an electrical short is pretty easy to resolve as they will almost always trip the breaker, minimizing damage.

Technique: If possible, adjust the pressure settings on the pressure washer to a lower setting and choose wide spray patterns to reduce the risk of surface damage and water penetration. Avoid directing the spray nozzle directly at delicate surfaces or objects.

Wear Protective Gear: Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment, including safety goggles, gloves, and non-slip footwear, to protect yourself from potential hazards such as flying debris, chemicals, and slippery surfaces.

"In my opinion, pressure washing indoors should be avoided and alternatives should be explored. It's no different than using a weed whacker to trim a potted plant; it is overkill and shouldn't be necessary" - Connor Hefti, pressure washing expert

In nearly every case, using alternative cleaning methods indoors instead of a pressure washer may be more practical and safer. Traditional cleaning tools such as mops, sponges, and scrub brushes can effectively clean most indoor surfaces without the risks associated with pressure washing. Additionally, steam cleaners offer a safer alternative for removing tough stains and grime from various surfaces without needing high-pressure water. 

While pressure washers can technically be used indoors, they pose significant risks that must be carefully managed to ensure safety and prevent damage. By understanding these risks and taking appropriate precautions, such as containment, ventilation, and surface protection, you can minimize, but not eliminate, the potential hazards associated with indoor pressure washing. In many cases, it's best to explore alternative cleaning methods that are better suited for indoor use to avoid unnecessary risks and complications.

As a general rule, keep the pressure washer outside.

For more on pressure washing or to get a free pressure washing quote on your home, reach out to EcoWash today.


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