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How To Start A Pressure Washing Business That Makes Money From Day 1

By Last update May 13, 2024
A man who started a pressure washing business on a job

Cleaning up after Mother Nature has been a profitable business model for THOUSANDS of years. It’s one of those things that guarantees business year after year. Starting a pressure washing (also known as power washing) business is a great way to capitalize on this and make some serious money.

People and businesses are regularly looking for someone to clean off the accumulated dirt and debris on their driveways, decks, and buildings. Regular cleaning keeps the surfaces safe from slipping and prevents them from being damaged over time.

With a little experience and the right equipment, it isn’t unusual to make $50-$100 an hour running your own power-washing side hustle or company.

What You Actually Do As A Pressure Washer

Man pressure washing a street

A pressure washing service provider is like a professional cleaner for outdoor areas. They use a powerful machine that shoots out water at high pressure to clean surfaces. Before they start, they check the area to see what needs cleaning and if there are any problems.

Then, they carefully adjust the pressure and angle of the water to remove dirt, grime, and mold without damaging the surface. It’s like giving a deep clean to things like driveways, sidewalks, decks, and walls. They might also clean vehicles like cars and trucks.

These cleaners are skilled at handling the equipment safely and making sure everything looks great when they’re done. Sometimes, they’ll even apply special coatings or sealants to protect the surface and keep it looking clean for longer.

Overall, their job is to make outdoor areas look fresh and tidy while also helping to maintain safety and prevent damage.

Your primary tasks will be:

  • Driving your equipment from job to job
  • Preparing the area you are going to clean to remove anything the pressure washer won’t clean
  • Using the pressure washing to remove caked on grime on various surfaces
  • Possibly providing additional services like coatings and sealants

Here is a great video that shows what you will be doing

Earning Potential

Proving pressure washing services can be very profitable once you learn the basics of the business and how to find your customers. Depending on factors like location, demand, and services offered, you could earn anywhere from $50 to $200 per hour.

That’s just doing all the work yourself. There are many businesses that do this where the owner makes well into the six figures if not more without doing any of the work themselves!

That’s a good goal to have but plan on doing all the work yourself to start.

What you need to start

Man pressure washing a wall

There is a relatively small list of equipment you need to start pressure washing.

Equipment needed:

  • Pressure Washer: $1600 for a new or used 4 GPM pressure washer with a direct drive pump. You can also rent a pressure washer to start if you can’t afford to buy one right away.
  • Surface Cleaner: Essential for concrete cleaning.
  • Hoses: Purchase a 100 ft garden hose and a 100 ft pressure hose.
  • Reels: Ensure you have reels for easy hose management.
  • Gas Cans: Invest in two 5-gallon gas cans for fuel.
  • Protective Gear: Rubber boots for feet, eye/ear protection.
  • Special Equipment for House Washing: Includes a J-rod and downstream injector.
  • Transport: A vehicle to haul all of your equipment around

This is all you need to get started. If you want to start immediately you can follow my advice below on how to get our first customer. As you grow, you can also begin to invest into marketing like this:

Marketing expenses

  • Graphic Design: Allocate $50 for logo and marketing materials, or opt for free self-design.
  • Website Hosting: Utilize existing hosting for a free website or allocate $0 if not needed initially.
  • Physical Marketing Materials: Allocate $300 for yard signs, recommended to use UZmarketing for signs and purchase H stakes on Amazon.
  • Online Marketing Materials: Optional, budget $100 for Facebook and Google ads.
  • Jobber: Optional software expense, approximately $30-$40/month, or consider using Zoho CRM initially.

As you build up your business you can also invest into more expensive tools to expand your services or make your life easier.

Pressure washing customers

Your customers are primarily going to meet the following criteria:

  • Homeowners
  • Middle to high incomes
  • Middle age or older

These are people who don’t want to hassle with cleaning have the extra money to pay you to do it for them.

These individuals often seek out these services to maintain their property, especially during warmer parts of the year when surfaces accumulate a lot of dirt and debris.

How To Find Your First Pressure Washing Customers

Man power washing steps

Finding your first clients is a lot easier than you think but that doesn’t mean it won’t be hard work. The simples way to find your first clients is to load up your vehicle with your equipment and drive over to one of the more affluent parts of your town that have large driveways and homes.

Target an area that tends to have people 40+ that live there and start going door to door offering your services. For many people, this won’t be a lot of fun but it is easily the most effective way to get your first customers.

Offer your services and mention that you are comfortable completing all the cleaning before you are paid. This means that there isn’t any risk to the homeowner that you will run off with their money!

Expanding beyond your first customer

After you complete you first job, make sure that you ask for referrals or suggestions for other people in the area that might want similar services. This is a proven way to find great leads for additional jobs.

If you start getting a reputation as someone who performs great work at a fair price people will start reaching out to you directly. That’s a lot easier than having to go door-to-door for every sale!

This will get you started as cheaply as possible and allow you to start generating money that you can start reinvesting into the business to grow.

If you want to spend a little money to grow

Start by placing your yard signs at busy intersections where traffic stops, like at red lights or stop signs. This gives people a chance to see your sign or call you right away. Focus on getting your first customers and learn how to talk to them and set up jobs. When scheduling jobs, don’t give an exact time. Instead, give them a time range, like between 8 AM to 12 PM or 12 PM to 4 PM (or whatever your business hours are).

You might not be exactly on time, so it’s better to give a range a few hours apart to allow for any delays. On the day of the job, send the client a text message as a courtesy to let them know you’ll be doing the cleaning that day.

Establishing pricing for your pressure washing services

When setting rates several factors come into play including the the size of the surfaces you’ll clean, the types of surfaces, and how easy it is to access them.

Typical pricing for pressure washing a home would be the square footage of the house multiplied by $0.15. To find out what market rates are in your area don’t be afraid to call around to your competitors and have them give you quotes on a house or driveway.

You don’t want to price your services above your competition and you don’t want to be so low that you don’t make any money. Start on the lower end of what your competitors charge.

Once you begin getting jobs, it’s important to set a minimum price. This is the lowest amount you’ll charge to go to a customer’s house. It’s for small jobs that don’t take much time.

For instance, if someone needs a small concrete patio cleaned, they’ll pay your minimum. When I started, my minimum was $130. Now, I’ve raised it to $150, and because I’m busier, it’s $200.

You need to be sure that your pricing not only compensates you for your time but also covers transportation expenses, routine vehicle upkeep, and business insurance. After accounting for these, you should also include a profit margin to sustain and grow the business.

Remember, these rates serve as a guide, and one should always strive for fairness in pricing to maintain good customer relationships.

Adam Sanders has worked as a reentry advisor, program leader, and teacher at San Quentin State prison in San Quentin California for several years. He co-founded San Quentin's financial literacy program and is passionate about helping former offenders successfully re-enter society and find personal and financial success. Adam also has nearly a decade of experience working in Marketing and Finance for large software companies and an MBA from Northwestern University.