Can I Use an Air Compressor as a Pressure Washer? Guide

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Our homes and garages are continuously becoming clustered with various tools and pieces of equipment to allow us to maintain our households and work on projects. Now, wouldn’t it be nice if you could have multiple tools wrapped up as one?

If you already have an air compressor lying around, you may wish that you can utilize its high pressures and use it as a pressure washer to save your purchasing a pressure washer.

Can I Use an Air Compressor as a Pressure Washer?

I’m unable to strictly say yes to this question because it’s more of a “sort of” answer. Yes, it is possible to use an air compressor as a pressure washer but the results will not be the same.

Garden hoses are typically capable of producing around 40-70 PSI. While the majority of pressure washers start at around 1200-1300 PSI and can reach upwards of 2000 PSI. It doesn’t matter what attachments or modifications you make to your air compressor, you will be extremely lucky to reach 200 PSI.

With the help of an attachment like this Guardair pneumatic spray gun below, you can turn your air compressor into a pressure washer of some sort!

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An air compressor being used as a pressure washer is best when you need a little more power than your typical garden hose but not as much as a pressure washer. The air compressor may be able to offer you double the PSI of your standard garden hose.

PSI (pounds per square inch) is important because it is the measurement that says how strong the pressure is, that is exerted onto a surface. Therefore, the greater your PSI, the more likely you are to clean the surface with ease.

This will also enable you to focus the stream more accurately to specific areas by moving it closer to the surface or by using a variety of nozzles to make the stream more narrow.

I would recommend getting gas or electric pressure washer if you are having a really tough time cleaning something. Using an air compressor is only going to limit your work.

It’s best to not go forth and buy multiple attachments for your air compressor to turn it into a pressure washer until you consider what you’re actually planning to do with it and what you will even be able to achieve with it.

The results will not be as you expect. I assure you that you will not have anywhere near the capabilities of a pressure washer and instead, the air compressor should be thought of as more of a maintenance pressure washer. It will be able to remove little amounts of dirt, mostly when the dirt is fresh, but it will not be able to completely clean dirty surfaces.

An air compressor as a pressure washer is suitable for just keeping on top cleaning while a pressure washer itself is suited to fully restoring something.

How to Use an Air Compressor as a Pressure Washer

The process for using an air compressor as a pressure washer is simple, you will just need to have the following items available to you:

  • air compressor
  • pneumatic spray gun
  • outdoor faucet
  • garden hose

With these 4 items, you can follow the step-by-step guide below!

How to Use an Air Compressor as a Pressure Washer Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Setup Air Compressor

    First of all, you need to set up the air compressor by turning it on and letting it build air pressure. Make sure you regulate the air pressure to your desired amount. The spray gun and the air compressor will have maximum operating pressures so please check these and do not exceed either.

  2. Attach Pneumatic Spray Gun to Water Supply

    You can take your pneumatic spray gun and attach the garden hose to it, before attaching the other end of the hose to your outdoor faucet (if it’s not connected already).

  3. Attach Pneumatic Spray Gun to Compressor

    You can now attach the air hose from your air compressor to your pneumatic spray gun, ensuring that you have a sufficient air pressure set.

  4. Operate

    When everything is connected, you can turn on (open) the faucet to allow the water to flow to your spray gun and then pull the gun’s trigger to operate it! Water will spray out of the gun if everything goes to plan. You can regulate the water pressure if necessary by adjusting the regulator gauge and the spray gun’s trigger.

Can I Use a Garden Hose as a Pressure Washer?

Garden hoses, on the other hand, are not capable of being used as pressure washers. I know you’ve probably used the trick where you cover a piece of the opening on a garden hose with your thumb to create a pressurized jet of water. Or maybe you have one of those nozzles that have several settings, and one of them packs a relative punch.

Some products like this Windaze pressure power washer spray nozzle claim to be able to turn your garden hose into a pressure washer.

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Though it does produce a powerful jet stream, a lot of the reviews claim that the product isn’t any better than the jet-setting found on adjustable garden hose nozzles. Even with a product like this, you’re never going to be able to exceed 100 PSI, and so pressure washers will remain the optimum choice.

You must now understand that if you are going to turn your garden hose or your air compressor into a pressure washer, you are not to expect similar results. Sure, they’re not useless. I’m sure you can find a way to utilize the additional pressure on either and be able to complete maintenance pressure washing.

But when it comes to gritty cleaning or restoring, you will undoubtedly need a pressure washer.

Using an Air Compressor as a Pressure Washer YouTube Demonstrations

I have picked out a few YouTube demonstrations that I believe will help you gain a greater understanding of using an air compressor as a pressure washer. The first video is similar to the process described in this article, while the latter videos are DIY demonstrations.

Alternative Methods to Pressure Washers

I know a lot of people want to save garage space where possible, especially having too much bulky equipment, who wants that? Well, what you could consider if this is you, is purchasing a combination unit that is both an air compressor and a pressure washer.

They are very hard to come by nowadays, but you might be in luck when looking for one! These units are electrically powered, and so, will not give you as much pressure as a gas pressure washer but they still have a kick! If none of these options suit you, you always have the option to adopt different cleaning methods to help you take care of excessive build-up. These methods include:

  • Cleaning by hand
  • Soft washing
  • Using heat

Now let’s take a look at these in more detail!

Cleaning by Hand

Why not use the good old-fashioned method of cleaning by hand? You can sometimes get away with elbow grease or you can get down and dirty with a scrub brush and soap!

This method may not be your favorite but it will certainly work. The dirt and grime that pressure washers push away with ease can be cleaned by hand, it will just take a lot more effort. One positive is that cleaning manually by hand is certainly quieter than the noise of a pressure washer or even a garden hose, allowing you to complete your task at whatever time you like without disturbing anyone!

Although you may instantly think to use a pressure washer for most situations, like an oil spill on the driveway because it can be a pain. However, you can sprinkle sawdust or kitty litter on the stain and leave it to sit there and absorb the oil for half a day. Then it’ll be as simple as sweeping it up and putting it in a bin bag.

You can then use your garden hose to clean any leftover debris. Even dishwashing soap and hot water can be used to clean stains and dirt. For the oil stain specifically, you could even dip a decking brush into a hot water and soap mix and then scrub away.

Soft Washing

Soft washing is one of the preferred methods to use instead of pressure washing for many applications. For example, pressure washers are seen to be discouraged by roofers because they are likely to lead to irreversible damage.

Soft washing needs a high volume of water but at a low water pressure. Some people swear to get a far better overall clean with soft washing. Why? You are able to get into smaller and tighter sections that a pressure washer is unable to get into.

The soap is able to spread out more to reach the little nook and crannies that can’t be scrubbed so easily! As soft washing does not require much water pressure or little, you are able to complete soft washing tasks with a standard garden hose. Hence, why many people often claim that soft washing is a far better method than pressure washing, but hey, let’s not enter that debate!

All I will say is, pressure washers require specific soaps in order to not foam too much, while soft washing enables you to use almost any soap. This can allow you to be more flexible and use a certain soap depending on the job and surface you intend to clean.

Using Heat

Heat has proven to be a huge factor when it comes to cleaning almost anything. Even if you’re washing things by hand, heat or hot water is what really helps you achieve your cleaning.

If material is somewhat stuck to a surface, the use of a heat gun and a scraping tool will enable you to easily remove that material. It may not be the easiest of tasks, but it is certainly a possibility if you’re without a pressure washer!

How do you spray water with an air compressor?

To be able to spray water with an air compressor you need a water jet cleaning gun that has both an air supply and water supply so that you can connect your air compressor and garden hose to it. Once you have connected both, you will be able to spray the water by pulling the trigger on the gun.

Can you use a air compressor as a pressure washer?

Yes, but it’s important to understand that you will nowhere near be able to reach the pressures of a pressure washer using an air compressor. Pressure washers start at around 1200 PSI while an air compressor would be very fortunate to offer you even 180 PSI. However, by attaching a spray gun to your air compressor hose, and connecting your garden hose from an outdoor faucet to the spray gun, you will be able to spray water up to twice as pressurized as your normal garden hose.

What PSI is good for pressure washing a house?

The PSI will vary depending on the material of the house you are cleaning. For the exterior walls, you may need a pressure of around 2500 PSI to really ensure you clean all grime. However, other materials like vinyl sidings, decking, or glass should probably not exceed pressures of 1500 PSI otherwise you risk damaging them. And, for even softer materials like softwood, you might want to reduce the pressure to as low as 500 PSI just to be safe.

Is 2000 psi good for a pressure washer?

Yes, 2000 PSI is a near-standard pressure rating for a pressure washer. This should allow you to clean cars, off-road vehicles, home siding, fences, gates, boats, and even grimy garage floors. It may prove difficult to clean really tough stains though, and so, it’s safer getting a higher pressure device to ensure that you’re capable of cleaning everything.


If you have any questions about using air compressors as pressure washers, please leave them below, so that someone can help!

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