Can I Use Dawn in My Pressure Washer?

Pressure washing is a great way to clean grime, mildew, and stains off your home’s exterior. As important as pressure washing can be, the right detergent is equally critical to the work at hand. This is true for efficacy in cleaning and health and safety. At JD Power Washing, we often get questions regarding whether popular household detergents like Dawn dish soap can be used in pressure washing. This we answer and explain how viable Dawn is in a pressure washer, particularly when cleaning vinyl siding and other sidings.

Understanding Pressure Washer Detergents

Properties of Ideal Pressure Washer Detergents

An ideal pressure washer detergent would be one that breaks down dirt and grease, and rinses easily, to not destroy the components of the pressure washer and the surface being washed. It should also be environmentally friendly and safe for home plants and animals.

Why Choose Specific Pressure Washer Detergents?

Manufacturers recommend specific detergents for their pressure washers because they are formulated to work best within the mechanical limitations of the machine. Use of non-approved detergents can result in problems such as clogging, inadequate cleaning, and worst of all, damage to the pressure washer.

The Case for and Against Using Dawn Dish Soap

Benefits of Using Dawn

Dawn dish soap is renowned for its grease-cutting properties, making it a popular choice for cleaning tasks that involve oily or greasy residues. Its gentle formula is also safer for the environment compared to harsher chemical cleaners.

Potential Drawbacks

However, using Dawn or any regular dish soap in a pressure washer can present several issues:

  • Foaming: Dish soaps lather a lot, and that may cause unnecessary pressure on the pressure washer, possibly making it work inefficiently or even damaging the pump if not controlled.
  • Residue: Dish soaps are known to leave a thin film over the surface they are applied to. This film might attract dirt and, therefore, may need to be regularly cleaned.
  • Environmental Impact: Although Dawn is relatively gentle, the runoff from your home can still impact the plants and animals in the surrounding environment if it is not handled correctly.

Safe Use of Dawn in Pressure Washers

Dilution is Key

If you choose to use Dawn in your pressure washer, proper dilution is crucial. A general recommendation is to mix no more than a few ounces of Dawn with a gallon of water to prevent excessive foaming and reduce the risk of pump damage.

Application Tips
  • Apply from the Bottom Up: When cleaning siding, start at the bottom and work your way up. This method helps prevent streaks and ensures that the detergent doesn’t dry out prematurely.
  • Let it Sit, But Not Dry: Allow the soap mixture to sit on the surface for several minutes to break down the dirt and grime. However, ensure it does not dry completely, as this can leave residues.
  • Rinse Thoroughly: Make sure to rinse the surface thoroughly with clean water from the pressure washer to remove all traces of soap. This prevents the formation of streaks and residue build-up.

Alternatives to Using Dish Soap

Commercial Pressure Washer Detergents

Consider using detergents specifically formulated for pressure washers. These products are designed to maximize cleaning power without the risks of damaging your equipment or the surfaces you are cleaning.

Eco-Friendly Homemade Solutions

For an environmentally friendly alternative, consider a simple solution of vinegar and water. This mixture can effectively clean mild dirt without the risks associated with soap-based products and is entirely safe for nearby plant life.


While Dawn dish soap can be used in a pressure washer for tasks like siding power washing, it requires careful handling to avoid equipment issues and environmental impact. At JD Power Washing, we recommend using detergents specifically designed for pressure washers to ensure the best results and longevity of your equipment.

For more information on the best practices for siding power washing and choosing the right detergents, visit JD Power Washing. Our expertise ensures that your home’s exterior is not only clean but also maintained with the highest care and professionalism.


Yes, you can use Dawn in a pressure washer, but it should be appropriately diluted to prevent too much foaming. A few ounces per gallon of water is all it takes.

This ranges from the risks of excess foaming causing physical damage to the pressure washer pump to any potential residues building up over the surfaces, attracting more dirt in the fullness of time.

Dawn is generally safe on most types of siding, although it is highly diluted. Always check on a small area first to verify that it will not cause any damage or discoloration to the siding.

Starting from the bottom, apply the Dawn solution, well diluted. Allow it a few minutes to rest to break down dirt but, at the same time, do not let the solution dry on the surface. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Yes, detergents that are designed for use with pressure washers are the best. They are made with the needed strength yet in a way that there will not be a risk of damaging the equipment or the surface being cleaned.

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