What Do You Need To Start A Pressure Washing Business



Interested in starting a pressure washing side business or maybe doing this full time? Through vigorous research, we have created this guide to answer most if not all of your questions about this topic. What does it take to start a power washing company? Looking for answers on equipment, licensing, insurance, registration, clientele, etc.? We got you covered!

Starting a pressure washing business can be very profitable but it requires an investment to start both in time and money and physical labor.

Still interested? Let’s get started with the first step, the planning stage.
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Business Plan

Before investing a hefty amount of money into this type of business, research the industry. You’ll need to determine what the barrier to entry is, establish your target market, understand the demographics and psychographics within the industry, who your competitors are, etc. Also, assess your expenditures and potential revenue flow. how much money you are willing to put into your start-up, how much time you are willing to commit (part-time or full-time), and your break-even point (when your business will start to make a profit).

Pressure Washing Expenditures (Fixed & Variable Costs)

  • Equipment (Pressure Washer or Trailer Rig)
  • Accessories (Surface Cleaner, Undercarriage Cleaner, Nozzles, Brushes, Hose, Hose Reel, Trigger Gun, Lance, Foam Cannon or Tank Foamer, Swivel, Recycle System, Tank, etc.)
  • Safety Gear (Gloves, Googles, Boots, etc.)
  • Chemicals (Detergent)
  • Insurance
  • Business Permit
  • Licenses (Contractor License)
  • Marketing (Paid Ads, Website, Flyers, Business Cards, Brochures, Pamphlets, etc.)
  • Transportation (Gas, Vehicle, etc.)

Fixed Costs

  • Insurance
  • Permits
  • Marketing
  • Compensation

Variable Costs

  • Equipment Repairs/Maintenance
  • Replacement Parts
  • Safety Equipment
  • Detergent
  • Fuel

After assessing all your costs, you’ll want to determine what you're going to charge your customers. You want to find a price that will cover your expenses while staying competitive with your competition's pricing and not bankrupt your customers if you want repeat customers or gain referrals.

Another thing to think about when creating your business plan is how are you going to organize your business. Are you going to have a Sole Proprietorship, General Partnership, LLC, C-Corporation or S-Corp?

You will also want to have a business name in mind. This will be important later on.

Something to consider when creating your business plan is that it can be seasonal. You may only be able to work from March to November. To give you an idea, someone doing this as a side hustle could earn around $54,000 / year. So, if you commit to it full-time for 9-months you could earn six figures and not worry about the 3-month off-season depending on your personal expenses and lifestyle.


Now you know what it will take to start up your business. The next step, before you start taking on clients, ensure you have sufficient experience operating your equipment. Research and watch videos on techniques and best practices. Know how to troubleshoot your equipment. You want to look as professional as possible and have your customers perceive you as a pro.

It won’t look good if a job that should take an hour ends up taking two or three times longer due to inexperience. 

Reputation is crucial because it can lead to more customers through word-of-mouth (we’ll go into more detail a little later on).

Learn to Pressure Wash

Before you spend money on a machine, you want to know which machine is right for you. You'll need to learn two things. First, is how to use a pressure washer. Second is how does a pressure washer work. Sounds like the same thing, but slightly different. Think of it as, “how to use it,” is the external part of the machine. The tangible parts of the machine. And think of “how it works,” as the intangible parts of the machine. What is PSI, GPM, direct drive verse belt drive, electric verse gas, nozzle orifice and types, etc.

After building a good foundation of knowledge around the equipment you are going to be using its time to rent a pressure washer or borrow one from a friend if you can. Practice cleaning different surfaces; driveway, fence, house siding, automobiles, heavy equipment, deck, furniture, boat, etc.

Be comfortable cleaning with a pressure washer. Doing this will also help you decide if pressure washing is for you or if you're going to absolutely hate and dread doing this kind of work.

YouTube will become your best friend when learning the best practices of how to pressure wash.

Here are some helpful videos on how to use a pressure washer:

Pressure Washing Other Items

5 Surprising Items to Clean with a Pressure Washer

So, what’s next on the list to start a pressure washing business? Minimize any liabilities.

Paperwork: License, Permits, Insurance, Registration

If you commit to starting a pressure washing business, you need to obtain the proper licenses, permits, insurance, and registration. This way you stay out of jail if you damage property, injure someone, and stay on the right side of the law.


  • Business License (Register your company with the state)
  • Occupational Business License
  • Bond (May need to pay a bond before you get a license)
  • Contractor’s License
  • Pressure Washing License (Required in select states)

This can vary depending on the state. Contact your city licensing office or county clerk’s office to ensure you file all the required paperwork.


  • Liability Insurance
  • Workers Compensation
  • Equipment Insurance
  • Property Insurance
  • Contractor’s Bond
  • Income Protection
  • Commercial Auto

You may want insurance for all of the following or just a few. It depends on how you are going to operate your business.

For instance, you may decide you don’t want property insurance if you're operating out of your home. If you're renting a facility/space, then you’ll most likely opt for property insurance. Deciding on income protection is the difference between having coverage on the job (workers comp) and coverage outside the workplace (income protection).


  • Wastewater Discharge Permit
  • Contractor Permit
  • Environmental Permit

Requirements vary from state to state, you may only need a single permit or multiple depending on the type of jobs you are going to be doing.

The best way to ensure you have all the proper permits is to visit the government website for your city for failure to comply can result in fines against you and your business.


Now that we got all the legal stuff out of the way, it’s time to dig into the investment aspect of starting up a pressure washing business.


Before purchasing any equipment and supplies, you want to decide on what it is you are going to be cleaning. This will influence your purchasing decision. Are you better off having a gas, electric, or diesel engine? Will a hot water machine be more efficient than a cold water or vice versa? Does it make sense to have a stationary or portable machine, or have a trailer built? What PSI, GPM, and voltage will your machine need to operate at? Will you need a heavy-duty industrial machine, or a light-duty commercial/residential machine?

Those are a few things to consider when you are ready to purchase your equipment. Remember, it stems from what you are going to be cleaning (who is your target market from your business plan?). If you're going to be cleaning homes and decks, you could settle for a light-duty pressure washer and not spend a fortune. If you're going to be cleaning heavy-duty equipment, then you want a heavy-duty machine that can handle the job.


Now that you have thought about what you are going to be cleaning and what machine you are going to have, next is to decide if you are going to need any chemicals.

Can you sufficiently clean the surface without any detergent?
Are there certain things you will be cleaning that will need detergent?
Will some jobs require soap and others not?

After answering those questions, one other thing to consider is what accessories you will need if any. Will you need a foam cannon, a tank foamer, brushes, an inlet chemical injector, a flow meter, dual lance etc.


Accessories are a great way to speed up the cleaning process. 

Let’s say you are going to be cleaning driveways, decks or patios, you may want to consider a surface cleaner or water broom. Not only will it make the job go faster, but you’ll be able to clean the nooks and cranny, and have clean lines. With a nozzle you’re more likely to leave behind uneven lines if you don’t have a steady hand and will take a little longer to complete the job.

If your going to be cleaning heavy equipment where the undercarriage gets caked in dirt and grime, you may want to get an undercarriage cleaner or underbody wand assembly. Other accessories that are beneficial for these types of jobs are foam cannons or foamers.

Repair & Maintenance

Like all equipment, things are bound to break at some point and need to be fixed or need replacing. If you have a local pressure washer shop near you, setting up regular schedule maintenance calls is probably the safest route to take to make sure your equipment stays up and running.

To repair a pressure washer will cost anywhere from $100 and up in parts and labor. Not all problems you encounter with your pressure washer will require a service call. Reading the manual is always a good first step. If you still can’t fix the issue, here are some tips for common pressure washer problems.

For all other issues or if the issues persist, we recommend seeking help from a professional.

Waiting until something goes wrong could be more costly. What happens if your local pressure washer dealer isn’t able to assess your equipment that day or the next day. Now your left having to reschedule clients, that costs you time, money, and possibly repeat business.


Now you have everything you need, a business plan, proper documentation, equipment, and plenty of experience using that equipment, the last thing is building your clientele.

You want to build your online presence. What does that mean? Social media (Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, YouTube, etc.), a website, Google and Bing Business Profile, business professional email, etc.

Door-to-door. To get your first few customers, you may want to knock on some doors in your neighborhood to see if anyone would be interested in your service. Once you get some customers the word will start to get out. This is where reputation comes into play. The more satisfied your customers are with your service, the more likely they are to share with their friends and then you have the snowball effect.

Social media will be important. Posting frequently and sharing your work online will help others to discover your business and lets customers know what quality of work to expect. The power of social media will become your biggest asset in growing your business and establishing a strong reputable name for yourself.

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