Your 9-Step Guide to Starting a Pressure Washing Business From Scratch
Starting a pressure washing business is a smart idea that can help you set your own schedule, do satisfying work, and make good money doing it.
It’s important to start your business on the right foot and set yourself up for long-term success. Follow these nine steps and you’ll be a pressure washing pro in no time flat.
1. Learn how to pressure wash
Pressure washing might seem easy enough, but you’ll be working with high water pressure that can do serious (and expensive) damage. That’s why you need to learn how to do the job right.
Rent a pressure washer or borrow a power washer from a neighbor. Then use it to remove dirt and grime from different types of durable surfaces, like driveways and vinyl siding.
Start in your own backyard, just in case you make a mistake. Find the best and fastest way of cleaning a particular surface without damaging it—or any items nearby, like plants or windows.
When you’re feeling more confident, ask a friend or family member for a little extra practice on their property. You can also watch power washing tutorials or work for another pressure washing business to refine your technique.
Learning how to pressure wash will also tell you if you enjoy the job. If you don’t, it’s better to know right away—not after you’ve already bought pressure washing equipment.
Explore our pressure washing business resources
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2. Write a business plan
Creating a business plan helps you figure out how your business will operate. Some banks and lenders want to see business plans before they’ll provide any funding.
Your pressure washing business plan should include:
- Cover page with your business name and the date
- Table of contents listing the different sections of the business plan
- Executive summary as a recap of the full document
- Business overview describing your pressure wash business and explaining what services you’ll provide to which customers
- Services list showing which pressure washing services you’ll provide to customers
- Pricing strategy with rates for each of your services
- Market analysis showing what area you’ll serve and what customer demographics are there
- Competitive analysis of other local pressure washing businesses
- Marketing plan for reaching ideal customers and winning new work
- Employee planning with any roles you’ll need and a hiring timeline
- Financial projections and cash flow strategy for your first year of business, including income, expenses, and salary
Even if you don’t need a pressure washing business plan for a loan, it’s still a good idea to make one. It’ll help with long-term business planning and help you grow over the next several months and years.
You can find a more complete guide to writing a business plan from the Small Business Administration.
How much does it cost to start a pressure washing business?
Plan to spend around $1,975–4,900+ (USD) to start your pressure washing business. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Business license and registration ($75–400)
- Business insurance ($700–1,200+)
- Pressure washing software ($400)
- Branded uniform, waterproof boots, and safety gear ($50–150+)
- Pressure washing equipment ($600–2,600+)
- DIY website and business cards ($150)
If you need to buy a truck to transport yourself and your equipment to job sites, expect to spend an additional $10,000–30,000+. Factor in fuel, registration, and vehicle insurance, too.
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3. Identify your ideal customers
When you’re just getting started, you might think it’s good business practice to accept any job, anywhere. But that’s how you end up with difficult customers who cause problems and cut into your profits.
Figure out who your perfect potential customer is and who would be the right fit for your power wash business. Put together an ideal customer profile that describes factors like:
- Market (residential, commercial, or industrial)
- Demographic (age, income, family status)
- Geographic location (neighborhood, town/city)
- What your customers are looking for (speed, price, quality)
What do I need to start a pressure washing business?
- Pressure washer
- Pressure washer pump
- Surface cleaner
- Water hoses
- Telescoping wand
- Downstream injector
- Hose reel
- Water tank (for stronger equipment with greater water needs)
- Cleaning chemicals
- Heavy-duty extension cord (for electric pressure washers)
If you’re starting a power washing business with a smaller rig, get a truck or a van for getting to job sites. You may also want a trailer if you have several large items to transport.
Pro Tip: Add your logo, phone number, and website to the side of your truck. That way it’s doing double duty as a marketing channel for your pressure washing service.
What kind of pressure washer should I buy?
There are several different factors that determine the type of pressure washer you should buy:
- Power Source: Pressure washers can be powered by gas or electricity. If you buy a gas-powered machine, include fuel costs in your pressure washing pricing. If you buy electric, you’ll need to either bring a generator or ask your clients to supply energy.
- Pressure: You can buy a light, medium, heavy-duty, or commercial pressure washer. These offer different amounts of pressure for different types of jobs. The higher the pressure, the more grime the machine can handle.
- Temperature: If you know you’ll be dealing with heavy-duty messes or commercial jobs, you might want to look at a power washer. It uses a combination of pressure and hot water to lift dirt away, while a standard pressure washer uses unheated water.
- Price: You might have room in your equipment budget for a brand-new, high-end machine—but it’s also okay if you don’t. You can always rent or lease a machine, or get a used one until you can afford something better.
Whatever you decide to buy, make sure it’ll help you work faster, fit more jobs into your day, and make more money.
5. Decide which services to offer
There are different services you can offer as a pressure or power washing company. It all depends on whether you’ve decided to serve residential, commercial, or industrial customers.
Residential pressure washing services could include these types of exterior cleaning:
- Sidewalk and driveway cleaning
- Roof and gutter cleaning
- Window cleaning
- Siding, fence, and concrete cleaning
- Decks and patios
- Outdoor furniture and garbage bins
- Vehicle cleaning
Your industrial or commercial pressure washing service could include any of the above, as well as:
- Grease trap cleaning
- Graffiti removal
- Heavy machinery cleaning
- Commercial vehicle washing
- Post-construction cleaning
- Road and street sign cleaning
Limit the services you offer and focus on the ones you’re best at. This will help narrow down your equipment list, reduce upfront costs, and boost your reputation faster.
Pro Tip: Different types of clients have different pressure washing needs. Make sure your equipment is right for each job—you don’t want to shatter a window or tear away shingles on a customer’s house with an industrial washer.
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Get your pricing in place before you start looking for work. Depending on the scope, surface area, and geographic location, the average pressure washing price for a job is:
- House washing: $89–633
- Driveway pressure washing: $66–348
- Window washing: $56–567
- Deck washing: $48–827
- Fence washing: $41–352
- Research competitor pricing to see what other local pressure washers are charging for their services. Figure out why they charge what they do.
- Estimate labor costs by multiplying your hourly wage by the number of hours you think it’ll take to complete the job.
- Calculate monthly overhead expenses, then divide by the number of hours you work every month to get your hourly overhead.
- Estimate material costs like cleaning chemicals, fuel, or other supplies you’ll bring to the job. Add a markup for the time and effort it took to buy those materials.
- Account for profit margin, which is the amount of income your business gets to keep after all job expenses. Aim for 10–20% of the overall project value.
- Factor in taxes, including income and sales tax, and multiply your subtotal by that percentage.
Add it all up and you’ll see how much to charge for a pressure wash. Based on that, you can charge customers the hourly rate, or adapt that amount to provide fixed fee or square footage pricing.
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7. Register your pressure washing business
Before you can start running your pressure washing or power washer business, you need to register and license it. Here’s how:
- Choose a pressure washing business name that describes who you are and what services you provide. The name should be memorable and unique in your area. Next, use that name to create a logo with an online tool like Looka.
- Pick a business structure—in the U.S., that’s usually a sole proprietor, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC), or limited liability partnership (LLP). There are more entity options in other countries. You can also choose to incorporate your business.
- Register your business through a registry or use an online tool like Ownr. If you’re in the U.S., you’ll pay a fee, trademark your name, and register your domain name. (Here’s how to register in Canada, the UK, or Australia.) Requirements vary depending on where you live, so get more information from the business registration division in your area.
- Get a business permit or license so you can legally work in your area. Talk to your local Chamber of Commerce to see what type of license you need and apply for it. It’s important that you understand licensing requirements in your area—working without a license can earn a hefty fine or even lead to your business closing.
- Open a business bank account for tracking expenses and payments. This will keep your personal funds separate from business funds. Speak with the business services team at your bank to get started.
- Apply for an EIN if you plan to hire soon or work with a partner. An employer identification number will be a big help when you’re filing taxes with the Internal Revenue Service.
- Get small business insurance to protect your business in case of any accidents or issues. Purchase a business owner’s policy that includes general liability, commercial property, and business income insurance. You can also get policies to cover you in case of other unexpected problems.
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Marketing your pressure washing company will help you bring in new clients, finish jobs, and get paid. Try these ideas for reaching potential customers and turning them into pressure washing leads:
- Word of mouth is the most effective marketing channel for pressure washing businesses. Encourage customers to talk about your services by setting up a referral program and asking for online reviews.
- Create social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to help your pressure washing business get noticed in your community. Choose the platforms where your ideal customers spend time online, then post content regularly and engage with your followers.
- Build a website where potential customers can learn about your pressure washing services, see before-and-after photos of finished jobs, and book services online.
- List your business on online directories where potential customers look for pressure washers, like Google Business, Yelp for Business, and Bing Places.
- Network with other entrepreneurs and reach new potential customers by joining your local business association, taking part in pressure washing associations and groups, supporting community events, and promoting your business whenever you can.
- Print pressure washing flyers and hand them out door-to-door in the neighborhoods where you’d like to work. You can also leave behind yard signs after you complete each job, if your customers allow it.
- Buy business cards, branded uniforms, and a vehicle wrap. This reinforces your business branding while you’re on the job and makes your business look polished and professional. You can also brand your quotes, invoices, emails, and other materials.
Pressure washing marketing costs will depend on which platforms you choose. For example, you can create a website and business cards for $150, or spend $2,000 on a billboard.
The best way to use your budget is to reach potential customers in the places where they spend time. Later, you can create a digital marketing strategy using tactics like Google ads and Facebook ads.
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9. Grow your pressure washing business
You need to stay one step ahead to build a successful pressure washing business. Think about how you’ll keep your clients satisfied, earn a solid reputation, and grow your company over time.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Hire your first employee to help you with day-to-day work, allowing you to focus more on growing the business.
- Enter new markets to reach new clients, or offer new services to earn more from your current clients.
- Squeeze more jobs into each day with more efficient routing and keep an eye on your team’s progress with GPS tracking.
- Offer a client hub where your customers can approve estimates, book appointments, and pay invoices.
- After finishing a job, send a customer service follow-up email along with an opportunity to schedule the next appointment.
- Automate client emails to help you stay in touch during quoting, invoicing, and payment, without any extra effort.
That’s enough planning. Now that you know how to start a power washing business, it’s time to get to work! You’re ready to start and grow a successful business—no pressure.
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Originally published February 2019. Last updated on September 2, 2022.