A few weeks ago, I rented a power washer. Or a pressure washer.
I’d wanted to rent one for years, hoping it would be a magical experience. Any time I scrubbed or sprayed something outside that couldn’t be easily rinsed away, I thought thoughts like: If I had a power washer, this would be easy and I bet I’d be done by now.
We had family coming over, and our patio was in bad shape after ignoring it for a long time, so I decided to go for it.
By the way, this isn’t a sponsored post. It’s just my personal experience spending my own money to rent a tool that I hoped would solve all my problems. Since I know many of you share my issues with assuming something will solve problems but then not acting on that thing because we’re not sure how it all actually works, I am sharing my experience.
Random Things About My Pressure Washer Rental Experience that I’d Want to Know
I rented the electric pressure washer at Home Depot. A 4 hour rental was $27 and a 24 hour rental was $38. I decided to go with the full day. They took a $50 deposit, and when I returned it on time (with, like, 24 minutes to spare) they credited the difference to my card.
Unfortunately, the Home Depot closest to me didn’t have the electric one (the cheapest, therefore the one I wanted) so I had to drive 30 minutes. Even more unfortunately, you can’t return the pressure washer to a Home Depot other than the one where you rented it, so I had to make the drive again the following day.
That sucker was heavy. Crazy heavy. And it was the smallest one. The renter guy looked skeptical that the electric pressure washer would do what I needed it to do, but I didn’t want the bigger (more expensive) one. I can’t even imagine how heavy the bigger one would be. Rolling it out to my Suburban was no big deal, but lifting it into the back?? By myself?? I’m pretty strong, but truly questioned how in the world I was going to get it in there. Somehow, I did. But then I had my teenage son get it out, had my husband put it back in, and made the employee at the rental counter get it out of my Suburban when I returned it.
My son never technically admitted it was heavy (he would never admit such a thing), but was very impressed that I’d put it in by myself. If you have teenage boys, you know this means it was heavy.
How My Experience With the Pressure Washer Went
Since I rented the pressure washer in the afternoon, I came home and set it up to practice a little before I had to be somewhere that evening. My plan was to figure out how it worked so I could get going right away on my project the next morning. Ideally, I’d have 24 commitment free hours, but I wasn’t in an ideal situation.
I hooked up the water hose and the hose that goes from the machine to the sprayer-handle-thingy, plugged in the machine and started spraying.
And felt rather disappointed.
While the spray moved dirt, it wasn’t performing anything like I expected. Maybe the counter-guy had been right and I needed a more powerful sprayer.
And then I thought, “Hmmmmm. I wonder if there’s a switch on the machine that makes it spray more powerfully.”
So I looked, and found a switch.
It was called the “on” switch. I can confirm that it definitely works better when you turn on the machine.
If you don’t turn the pressure washer on, it’s just a super-fancy and heavy waterhose.
My patio is slightly sloped down as you go from my backdoor into the backyard. In the evening, while “practicing,” I started by my back door. I wasn’t being methodical, and was mostly testing to see how things worked, doing a spot here or there. I ended up slipping and sliding and decided to start at the bottom of the slope (the farthest spot from the backdoor) the next day. That worked well except that I sprayed dirt off of the spot where I was working onto the space where I had just worked. It wasn’t a big deal since this only required rinsing instead of re-washing, but it did add some work. I still think I like starting at the bottom of the slope best.
Was Power/Pressure Washing the Wonder-Method I’d Dreamed it Would Be?
Power-washing is awesome, but not totally magical. At least not the power washer I had. It did a great job at blasting away ground-in dirt, but didn’t remove stains. Paint? Yes. Stains? No. I don’t know if a more powerful washer would have worked better or if adding a cleaning solution would have worked.
I was still pleased with the results of my efforts, though. The pressure washer washed my patio, turning dingy concrete back to its original (ish?) color.
It’s definitely a tool instead of a magic wand. No sweeping gestures with sparkling results, just methodical work making small lines of progress at a time.
The sprayer has a trigger, which totally triggered my carpal tunnel issues. Honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I feared, but it did completely wear out my arms to do the whole patio.
Using a pressure washer is fun, but it’s definitely not a toy. Something that sprays water on a hot day feels like it should be a toy, so it’s important to note that this could be very dangerous for kids. Read all the instructions and warnings on whatever unit you rent, as I really believe it could remove skin (like it removes paint . . . ). I got a little too close to my own toe once and it was very painful.
Scruffy did not like the noisy, scary pressure washer one tiny bit. After hiding in the bushes on the other side of the yard during my evening-before practice time, she opted to hang out inside while I cleaned the next day.
I’d love to hear about your experience with a pressure washer! What are some things you’ve cleaned with one and some tricks you’ve learned to make it work?