Hot Water vs. Cold Water: Which Pressure Washer is Right for You?



Whether you already know you need a new pressure washer or just want to gain more information about new models, you’re in the right place! Shopping for a new pressure washer is equal parts exciting and intimidating, but we’re here to eliminate the latter.

You want the meanest cleaning machine on the market, but first, you have to decide — cold vs. hot pressure washer? It’s more than just water temperature and pressure; you have to actually think about what you’re using your pressure washer for.

Trying to fight off dirt and grime? Or do you have to battle oil and grease? Your answer to these questions and more will dictate whether you need a cold or hot pressure washer. Here are a few things to consider before buying that will help you make the right decision.

Hot-Water Pressure Washers

Have you ever tried to clean oil and grease off a pan in your kitchen with cold water? You probably didn’t have much luck. The same logic can be applied to pressure washers.

Hot-water pressure washers are designed to cut through oil and grease caked on many surfaces. It breaks down the bonds that exist on a molecular level in oil and grease and can rid surfaces of bacteria, algae, and other things more effectively due to the heat they distribute. The combination of heat, agitation, and soap truly set hot-water pressure washers apart.

Hot-water pressure washers, which are often larger than their cold-water counterparts, also utilize pressurized water to clean surfaces and are capable of creating water heated up to as high as 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes hot-water pressure washers more effective when cleaning oil, grease, and more off various surfaces.

The biggest differentiator between cold and hot pressure washers is the cleaning power. Hot water offers extra cleaning power when you need it most. 

These washers are also generally a better option in cold-weather climates where water lines have the potential to freeze. Some hot-water washers can also meet sanitation requirements for food processing, making them a viable option for certain food service applications.

Cold-Water Pressure Washers

Cold-water pressure washers are ideal for cleaning dirt and grime off surfaces. From concrete driveways to metal vehicles, you can clean several surfaces with a cold-water pressure washer in hand.

Whereas hot-water pressure washers derive much of their enhanced cleaning ability from the hot water itself, cold pressure washers rely on the pressurized water produced by the machine to break up any dirt on a surface. You can add detergent to the mix to wash surfaces more effectively.

If you need to clean surfaces coated with dirt and mud, a cold-water wash is perfect for rinsing away that grime. Cold-water pressure washing can spray away soil without the extra expense of hot-water washing.

In addition, cold water is preferred for some surfaces like wood or plastics that may warp under high temperatures. Because of this, cold water is one of the best ways to power wash decks, siding, and even cars and boats.

The only weakness of a cold-water pressure washer is its inability to clean oil and grease as effectively as a hot-water model.

How to Pick Cold vs. Hot Pressure Washers

Now that we have identified the strengths and weaknesses of each system, it’s time to actually decide which pressure washer is better for your needs. Making the wrong decision can ultimately cost your business — both in terms of finances and reduced customer satisfaction.

As yourself these five questions to determine your specific needs:

1. What Industry Am I In?

Though not an end-all, be-all question, one relatively easy way to decide between hot and cold pressure washers is considering your industry. Oil and gas, food services, and waste management industries that often deal with caked-on grease, oil, and grime are likely to benefit from the enhanced cleaning capabilities of hot pressure washers. Meanwhile, those using a pressure washer for transportation, agriculture, and personal use can often use a cold pressure washer to blast away dirt.

2. What Is My Budget?

Another factor to consider is cost. Hot-water pressure washers can cost an average of three times as much as cold-water systems. This comes from direct costs of the machine as well as indirect costs of continuously heating water throughout the operation, necessitating additional mechanical components and higher fuel costs.

3. What Am I Using It For?

Purchasing the wrong pressure washer will either (i) leave you with a machine that is not capable of the job you need, or (ii) force you to waste money by using a machine that is too powerful for the job you need. Because of this, you must ask yourself what you are cleaning.

- Hot Pressure Washers — cleaning engines, automotive parts, or anything with oil or grease.

- Cold Pressure Washers — blasting away sand, caked-on mud, or even stripping paint

Have You Considered Pressure Washer Rental?

You know one way to ensure you don’t make the wrong decision? Testing your machine before you buy it.

Pressure washer rental gives you the ability to do just that. With an investment as important as this, you need to ensure that your equipment can handle the task at hand. Whether you need to decide between cold vs. hot, propane vs. natural gas, or gas-powered vs. electric-powered, rental is the way to go. From here, you can pick the perfect pressure washer for your needs and buy with confidence.

Which Pressure Washer Is Best for You?

If you’re still struggling to select the best pressure washer for your specific needs, our team at NorTex Sales & Service is happy to help. As certified Hotsy® dealers, we can help you navigate the various pressure washer models available for purchase or rental.

We have the best selection of cold and hot-water pressure washers in Dallas, Kilgore, and Odessa. We also offer industry-leading maintenance and repair services to ensure your machines are working properly. Call us today to learn more or browse our available inventory now!

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