Can You Use Dish Soap In A Pressure Washer? – DIY Dawn Powerwash

Pressure washers including a gas pressure washer and electric pressure washer are indispensable cleaning solutions and can be used to get rid of stubborn dirt and debris from your deck, house, vehicle, patios, and any other environment in your home or office. 

However, pressure washers will only get out stains without causing damage to your surfaces with the right formula soap. 

Many people ask, can you use dish soap in a pressure washer? – Let’s find out…

When it comes to the best pressure washer solution, there are several options available including methods of making your own pressure washer detergent in the comfort of your home. 

So without further ado, let’s take a look at what to look for in a power washer soap product, what chemicals are used, and how to analyze the ingredients in the label such as sodium hydroxide. 

Can You Use Dish Soap in A Pressure Washer?

So you’ve run out of washer soap, and wondering if you can use a liquid dish soap such as Dawn dish detergent in your pressure washer! Some users say that it’s safe to use dish soap with a pressure washer, but other users beg to differ. 

If you look around your home, you’ll find several different types of soaps such as dish soap for grease cutting of dishes, laundry detergent for your washing machine, dishwasher soap, hand soap, shampoo, and body soap. 

The big question is would you use laundry soap to clean your hair? While using a bit of laundry soap isn’t going to cause instant damage to your hair, it’s not great for long-term use. 

Similarly, you can use dish soap in your pressure washer for patio cleaning, etc., but doing so will cause damage to the machine over a longer period. 

Dish soaps and detergents that aren’t designed to be used with pressure washers can clog the components in the machine. Pressure washer cleaning agents are designed to pass cleanly through the components of the machine, without gumming up its components. 

Sure the power of dish soap is unmatched when it comes to cutting tough grease from a greasy glass baking dish, it doesn’t offer the same cleaning power when used on outdoor surfaces that are made from concrete or wood. 

So while you probably can get the job done with dish soap, it will probably take a lot longer, and needless to say may increase the chances of damage to the machine as well as the surface it’s sprayed on like house siding. 

Apart from causing damage to your house siding, and other surfaces and mechanical components of your washer, using dish soap or any non-manufacturer recommended soap can void your manufacturer warranty. 

Speaking of warranties, the use of dish soap for pressure washing can also remove wax and other protective coatings, which will probably void your car’s paint warranty.

Why You Can’t Use Regular Soaps in Pressure Washer Cleaners?

You should refrain from using regular soaps and household cleaners, regular liquid soap, or even a bleach-free formula or natural soap that isn’t designed for use with a pressure washer because these cleaning agents aren’t formulated to resist the high pressure from pressure washers. 

Plus, regular soaps don’t have the necessary ingredients to remove stubborn stains and dirt from wood or concrete or to disinfect surfaces. 

What Do I Look For In a Pressure Washer Soap?

One of the best-kept secrets of speeding up your pressure washing process is copying your dishwasher. Have you noticed that your dishwasher uses hot water and dishwasher detergent instead of cold water and no soap? 

Even if you don’t have a hot water pressure washer, you can drastically speed up the cleaning process by making the right choice of soap. 

The first important thing to understand is that even though the words soap and detergent are often used interchangeably, there’s a big difference between the two types of cleaning agents. 

Soap is made from natural products such as fats and oil from plants and animals. These natural products are then combined with salts along with glycerine and steam to make soap. 

Contrarily, detergents aren’t made from natural fats and oils, but instead are man-made from chemical formulas. Soaps are used to clean your body, whereas detergents are an efficient cleaning solution for dishes, and eradicating dirt on surfaces including environmental dirt and greasy dirt. 

Detergents can be ordered in a concentrate solution, pre-mixed solution, or a diluted ready-to-go solution, and some are a more specialized cleaning product than others. 

For example, greasy dirt and oil stains will require a specially formulated concentrated product, preferably an eco-friendly product to be effective, whereas algae stains, mold stains, or moderate stain removal will require a different type of non-toxic, biodegradable formula to disinfect. 

Types of Pressure Washer Cleaning Agents

Pressure washer soaps are typically categorized according to the surface there are suitable for including a detergent mixture that’s non-toxic to garden plants and landscape plants. 

All-Purpose Pressure Washer Cleaners

You can buy an all-purpose cleaning detergent solution at your local hardware and department stores, and as the name suggests is the perfect product for almost any type of pressure washer cleaning task you’ve got on your hands. 

The Simple Green Oxy Solve Total Outdoor Pressure Washer Cleaner can pressure wash a wide variety of surfaces like wood, composite, vinyl, fabric, brick, stone, and asphalt. 

It’s an EPA-safer product, meaning it meets U.S. EPA safer standards, and one gallon of solution can make 21 gallons of cleaning solution. 


Degreasers can help remove the cake-on grease and oil stains and are highly effective on tough floors such as automotive shops and restaurants.

The Oil Eater AOD1G35437 Original safely dissolves grease and oils on anything it comes in contact with. Unlike some gallons of solution, the Oil Eater pressure washer cleaning formula is USDA approved for non-food surfaces and is safe to use in septic systems. 

Vehicle Cleaning Agents

Vehicle pressure washer cleaning agents are safe to use on boats, cars, and even specialized vehicles. These effective vehicle cleaners can handle algae and saltwater deposits, as well as dirt, and road films. 

Adam’s Car Wash Shampoo is a fast-foaming formula that’s formulated to create a slick feel, and lift dirt away from all vehicle surfaces including paint, rubber, and vinyl. 

When Should You Use Pressure Washer Soap?

It’s recommended that you use power washer soap whenever you use your washer. 

Even though you can blast your home, vehicle, or any other type of surface including stainless-steel with just water, it will not get rid of greasy dirt and grime unless you add power washer soap, making these cleaning jobs ineffective, and truly not worth your effort. 

What Chemicals are Used in Pressure Washing Machine Soaps & Detergents?

A pressure washer cleaning agent features one or more labels that include chemical labels, and/or label instructions for use. Some pressure washer detergents are designed to remove dirt and grease, while others have added pressure washer chemicals to kill bacteria and disinfect spaces such as your concrete driveway, wood deck or patio furniture. 

  • Sodium Hypochlorite – great for removing stains and serves as a powerful disinfectant
  • Bleach Solution – this is a mixture of sodium hypochlorite and sodium hydroxide and works well for sanitizing and disinfecting
  • Ammonia – common glass cleaner and stainless steel cleaner 
  • Citric Acid – great for cleaning and removing stains from concrete driveways and wood decks
  • Vinegar – great for cleaning countertops, windows, produce, and some landscaping plants

How Do I Make My Own Pressure Washer Soap?

There are several common household cleaning agents you can use to make your own pressure washer soap including a mixture of vinegar and water. 

DIY Cleaners for Concrete Surfaces 

This pressure washer recipe is easy to make, and best of all is an eco-friendly option. 


  • ½ cup of Borax
  • A gallon of water
  • 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap
  • ½ cup of washing soda

Start by mixing the dry ingredients together, and let this mixture sit overnight. Next, add the wet ingredients to this mixture, and mix well. You can add a quart of bleach to this mixture if you want to clean juice and other organic stains. But remember, adding bleach to this recipe makes it a non-green solution. 

Power Washer Detergent for Wood Decks and Flooring 

This homemade pressure cleaner detergent recipe will help you clean any type of outdoor flooring. 


  • ⅓ cup powdered laundry detergent
  • 1 gallon of water 
  • 1-quart bleach 
  • ⅔ cup all-purpose household cleaner

Just like the concrete surface cleaning method, mix the dry ingredients together first, let the mixture rest overnight, and then add the wet ingredients. If you want to make this mixture stronger, reduce the amount of water used. 

Power Washer Detergent for Vehicles 

This homemade power washer detergent recipe is both green and safe to use for your car wash. All you need is two ingredients-a ¾ cup of phosphate-free laundry detergent and a gallon of hot water. Mix both ingredients slowly to reduce the suds, and rinse thoroughly after use to remove all the soap.

Why Make Your Own Power Washer Detergent?

Well, several reasons like cost, allergies, and transparency. Commercial pressure washer detergents aren’t that expensive, but if you use your power washer a lot, it may be cheaper to make homemade pressure washer detergent with ingredients you most likely already have in your home. 

It’s also convenient to make your own, especially if you’ve run out of store-bought products. If you have issues with allergies to certain chemicals, making pressure washer detergent at home is a great option. 

Some cheap pressure washer detergent manufactures aren’t transparent about the ingredients used in their products. For example, dihydrogen monoxide is a chemical that’s used in weed killers and ice cream but is in fact a technical name for water.  

Can I Use Vinegar in My Pressure Washer?

Vinegar is a household item that can be used for a wide variety of cleaning purposes. It is an effective cleaning agent for removing dirt, mildew, and debris, and can be used in your pressure washer as long as you take a few precautions.

You should refrain from mixing vinegar with other chemicals such as bleach as the reaction can be harmful to your health and can a toll on your pressure washer. 

Even though white vinegar is classified as an acidic liquid, it will not damage your pressure washer. Another advantage of using vinegar in your pressure washer is that it’s not packed with chemicals, making it a green choice. 

What Kind of Vinegar Can You Use in a Pressure Washer? 

There are several different types of vinegar available, but white vinegar is a suitable choice for pressure washer use. White vinegar is made through a process called fermentation, and from an alcohol starter base.

Vinegar, however, is not a good choice for all pressure washer projects but can be used to remove dirt, mold, and debris from your driveway, home, sidewalks, and outdoor furniture. 

You should dilute the vinegar with water before using it with your pressure washer rather than using it at full strength. 

If you’re dealing with mild amounts of dirt, mildew, or stains, use a ratio of 10/1 water to vinegar or a 3/1 ratio of water to white vinegar for tough jobs. Vinegar has a potent smell, but you can add a few drops of essential oils to tone it down. 

Using vinegar alone will not break down tough grease, for which you can mix a couple of drops of Dawn dish soap to effectively cut down the grease. 

Can You Put Bleach in Pressure Washers? 

You should never use bleach in your pressure washer because it will corrode certain components of the pressure washer.

High pressure washing with pressure washer detergent can make the side of your house vehicle look brand new, so although it may be tempting to add bleach to the mix, it can be overkill. 

Adding to this, some items may get damaged when washed with bleach such as the varnish on wood patio furniture.

There you have the can you dish soap in a pressure washer story, so go ahead and make your own!