How to Start a Pressure Washing Business & Make $150K/Month

  • Brandon Boushy by Brandon Boushy
  • 4 weeks ago
  • Blog
  • 0
Joshua Brown standing in front of his truck bed power washing setup with the words "How to start a pressure washing business and make $2M" hovering overhead

Do you want to go where you’ve never gone?

You’ll have to change what you’ve always done.

We’ll show you how to start a pressure washing business. Becoming a pressure washer changed Joshua Brown’s life, and it can do the same for you.

Josh started Brown’s Pressure Washing with just $5K and grew it to $1M in revenue annually in just four years. You’ll be amazed how he progressed from a life of poverty to becoming a preacher, then realizing:

I’m tired of creating someone else’s kingdom.

What Is Pressure Washing?

Pressure washing is using high-pressure water to remove grease, dirt, and other grime from surfaces like roofs, walls, patios, and driveways to help make a property look more pristine.

Case Study: Brown’s Pressure Washing

Brown’s Pressure Washing owner standing in front of a large colonial-style home holding pressure washing equipment

Joshua Googled “top 5 businesses to start with $5,000,” and that’s how he started Brown’s Pressure Washing. We’ll show you how to start a pressure washing business that grows from $5K invested to $225K, $445K, $780K, and then nearly $1M in revenue in its first four years.

Today, Brown’s Pressure Washing makes $2M in annual revenue.

It wasn’t without struggle. Josh made a ton of mistakes. He’d run out of gas and chemicals and didn’t know what an O-ring was. Find out how Josh grew Brown’s Pressure Washing below.

YouTube player

Learn About the Pressure Washing Industry

If you want to know how to start a pressure washing business, you’ll have to understand the industry. We’ll answer some common questions about pressure washing businesses that people commonly ask.

How much does it cost to start a pressure washing business?

You can start a successful pressure washing business for between $220 and $48K depending on whether you have a vehicle and pressure washing equipment. Most people can start a pressure washing company for less than $5K, but Joshua explained:

Your equipment will determine how much you can make. … Start with the best equipment you can afford and build from there.

Before starting your own pressure washing business, you’ll need to cover the following costs:

  • Limited liability company formation: $50 to $900
  • Pressure washing business license: $0 to $1,000
  • Pressure washer: $100-$3K
  • Nozzles and hoses: $20-$100
  • Water tank: $100-$900
  • Vehicle: $0 to $35K, depending on whether you own one already
  • Auto insurance: $1,762 annually (according to Insureon)
  • Smartphone and plan: $0 to $1,800
  • Business software: $0 to $500
  • Marketing: $0 to $5K

All told, these costs range from $220 to $48K.

Joshua invested $5K to start his business. He bought a boat trailer for $300, a pressure washer for $3,500, and related equipment and expenses that accounted for the remainder of his relatively low startup costs.

How much does a pressure washer business make?

These businesses have an average annual revenue of $45,073 with an average profit margin of 8.44%. Some of the most successful pressure washing businesses make way more, though. Brown’s Pressure Washing makes $150K per month.

You can download the IBIS World pressure washing report for $925 to get detailed breakdowns of the industry revenue, businesses, profit margins, and expense reports.

Is a pressure washing business profitable?

Yes. A pressure washing business will normally have a net income ratio of between 5.6% and 8.4% of revenue, but Joshua told us his profit margins are typically between 20% and 30%.

A pressure washing business owner should expect revenue to be spent on the following expenses:

  1. Wages: 21 to 31% of revenue
  2. Purchases: 31-50% on equipment, vehicles, and other purchases
  3. Marketing: Expect to spend at least 1.5% to 3%, but many successful power washers spend 8-12%.
  4. Rent: Pressure washing rent expenses average 1 to 2% of revenue, but many people run their services from home offices. A home office can make the rent expense more of an on-paper cost than a monetary expense.
  5. Utilities: Normally, utilities are nominal—between one-third of a percent and 2.1% of revenue.
  6. Depreciation: Between 1% and 2% of revenue
  7. Other Costs: Between 17.8% and 22.8% of revenue
  8. Profit: The net income ratio is between 5.6% and 8.4%, but you can increase it dramatically by automating services.

What equipment do I need to start a pressure washing business?

Joshua Brown posing in front of his truck bed pressure washing setup

At a minimum, you need the following pressure washer equipment:

  • Pressure washer
  • Pump
  • Water hoses
  • Nozzles
  • Surface cleaner
  • Ladder
  • Telescoping wand
  • Downstream injector
  • Chemicals
  • Detergent tank

Additional equipment needed for pressure washing business operations may include:

  • Water source (a water tank is best, but you can use a garden hose)
  • Trailer
  • Angled tips
  • Generator
  • Hydrostatic line testers
  • Dual lance

Nozzles impact how a pressure washer operates. They are calibrated in degrees, and lower numbers create more powerful streams.

For example, a 65-degree nozzle works well for dousing concrete with detergent, while a lower angle might be better for commercial pressure washing services that need to get gum off the sidewalk in front of local businesses.

A surface cleaner is a tool that attaches to your pressure washer to clean large, flat surfaces like patios, driveways, and sidewalks.

Do I need a license to start a pressure washing business?

Man in a suit pointing to a clipboard with business license paperwork in the foreground and a screenshot of UpFlip’s How To Open A Business Bank Account article in the background

You may need a license when starting a pressure washing business depending on your location. Some states require a license, while others do not.

License requirements for pressure washing businesses include:

  • Business license: You might need a state small business license and a sales tax license if you sell taxable services and products.
  • Occupational license: Some states and local governments require a pressure washer license.
  • Handyman’s license: You may need a handyman license to offer pressure washer and roof cleaning services.

Check with your local municipality to find out what bonds, contractor licenses, insurance, permits, and registrations are needed in your location for licensing.

Pro Tip: Be aware that opening an unlicensed company of any kind can result in fines or even criminal charges.

Learn How to Use a Pressure Washer

Before you start a pressure washing business, you should learn how to use all the necessary equipment. Home and business owners expect quality results.

If you know how to efficiently and effectively pressure wash several surface types, including stone, cement, wood, and shingles, you’ll make your pressure washing company stand out.

Some of the best pressure washing business resources are below:

  1. Hands-on Practice: Learn and get paid by another pressure washing business to develop skills.
  2. Environmental Protection Agency: Contact the EPA to learn about pressure washing regulations.
  3. United Association of Mobile Contract Cleaners: The UAMCC provides certifications, publications, online learning, and hands-on learning.
  4. YouTube Videos: The video-sharing platform offers numerous pressure washing tutorials.

Watch the FREE Masterclass

What you’ll in get FREE in the next 39 minutes:

  • Little-known secrets to successfully finance your business
  • The basics you’ll need to quickly start earning
  • The most profitable services to offer for unlimited clients
  • Proven ways to maximize your marketing budget.

…and so much more. See for yourself—watch the pressure washing masterclass here!

How to Start a Pressure Washing Business

  1. Establish a business structure
  2. Buy your pressure washing setup
  3. Set your rates
  4. Set up your banking
  5. Establish marketing channels

Step 1. Establish a Business Structure

Starting a business requires forming a business structure for your pressure washing company. You’ll want to choose a business structure like a limited liability company (LLC), corporation, or sole proprietorship.

A sole proprietorship uses a “doing business as” (DBA) name and your social security number to operate under a different business name. This low-cost business structure leaves you personally liable for everything that occurs in your business, so legal experts don’t recommend it.

Meanwhile, an LLC or corporation will protect from personal liability.

UpFlip’s How to Come Up With a Business Name article on a laptop

To register your business, perform a name search on the Secretary of State’s website for the business name you want to use. Next, file the appropriate paperwork and pay the registration fee, which may be $200 to $700, to create the business entity.

Step 2. Buy Your Pressure Washing Setup

You’ll need the right equipment to start a successful pressure washing business. Josh says when you’re just starting, you’ll need a:

  • Pressure washing trailer
  • Pressure washer
  • Bumper tank
  • Chemical tank
  • Water tank
  • Wand

He says that though the equipment can cost around $15K, it can earn you $200K per year.

You could spend less on pressure washing equipment, but the money you save might slow your business growth. Washing with lower pressure means you can’t take as many customers. A lower-quality pressure washer might also break down more frequently.

You should also consider an equipment rig that can go in the back of a truck. Josh told us:

A pressure washing skid costs $22K but saves even more time, is safer than a trailer, and will make you look like the most professional pressure washer in town.

You’ll probably want equipment insurance to protect against loss due to theft, damage, or malfunction.

Pro Tip: Read our trailer setup guide to learn more about Brown’s Pressure Washing trailers.

Step 3. Set Prices for Pressure Washing Services

Brown’s employee cleaning the bricks around a residential home

Now that we’ve covered your initial startup costs, it’s time to move on to pricing.

Brown’s focus is on pressure washing homes and businesses. His best pressure washing contract is with Top Golf, at $60K annually.

Josh explained that his crew can clean four homes daily with a pressure washing trailer or skid and charge $300 for each job. His primary pressure washing services are:

  • House wash
  • Roof wash
  • Concrete cleaning and sealing
  • Gutter cleaning
  • Window cleaning
  • Commercial building cleaning

They use a unique technique called a softwash. Softwash systems differ from regular pressure washing services because they use less pressure, which makes them less likely to damage a customer’s property.

How to Charge for Pressure Washing

All price data in this section comes from HomeGuide.

There are essentially three ways to determine the price of a pressure washing job. You can charge by:

  1. Space: $0.35 to $0.77 per square foot
  2. Time: $50 to $160 per hour
  3. Service: $100 to $500 flat rate
Charging by Space

Charging by square footage is transparent and projects objectivity to your potential customers. Here is a breakdown of average prices for different pressure washing services:

  • Driveway: $0.50 per square foot
  • Patio or Deck: $0.55 per square foot
  • Fencing: $0.45 per square foot
  • Roofing: $0.70 per square foot
  • Siding: $0.50 per square foot
Charging by Time

To charge by time, multiply the time you think a job will take by your hourly rate. Don’t forget to include the time to estimate, book, and travel to the job in your calculation.

Charging by Service

Many businesses offer set prices for certain kinds of services. This can make budgeting easier for both the business and the client.

For example, your business could charge a set fee of $100 to pressure wash a deck, $150 to pressure wash a driveway, and $250 to pressure wash the exterior of a house. You will need to decide which services to provide and how much to charge for each.

To decide on a final price, you will also need to consider the cost of providing your services. Since the most commonly requested pressure washing service is the driveway, we will use this as an example.

Breaking Down the Cost to Pressure Wash a Driveway

Assuming you’re a one-person operation, the primary costs associated with this work will be fuel and time. The average driveway will take one to two hours to pressure wash.

The fuel cost (for both your vehicle and pressure washer) will depend on the size of the driveway and the distance you need to drive from your business location. That said, you can calculate your costs by assuming you will use approximately two gallons per hour on the job (including travel time).

The cost of your time is much trickier to calculate. You want to make enough to offset your business expenses and compensate for wear and tear on your equipment.

For those reasons, this number will largely depend on the cost of your existing business expenses. If you’re just starting with essential equipment, you can estimate that the cost to you will be around $20 to $30 per hour, plus the cost of fuel.

So if you’re pressure washing a small driveway (one hour of labor) with a one-hour drive, it will cost your business about $65 (assuming fuel is $2.50 per gallon). If you have employees, you must add their hourly cost to this figure.

From there, consider your competition, determine how much you want to profit, and set your price. Want more in-depth information?

UpFlip’s Pressure Washing Jobs Ultimate Pricing Guide on a laptop

Learn more about estimating pressure washing jobs in our ultimate pricing guide.

Step 4. Open a Business Bank Account

A business bank account is critical for business operations. For protection under an LLC, you must keep your personal and business accounts separate. Plus, business bank accounts make paying your taxes easier because you don’t have to sort through every expense.

Business bank accounts will even make it easier to get approved for things like business credit cards and business loans.

Find out how to open a business bank account.

Step 5. Establish Marketing Channels

Josh explained how to market a pressure washing business. He discussed the following types of pressure washing advertising options:

  • Website
  • Business cards
  • Door hangers
  • Google Advertising
  • Professional-looking videos
  • Television ads
  • Hiring a professional marketer

Website

First, Josh invested in a comprehensive and well-designed website for the pressure washing company. Check out the website here. Then go check out our cleaning business website examples for insights into what customers look for when reviewing cleaning solutions’ websites.

Business Cards

UpFlip’s Best Places to Get Cheap Business Cards article on a laptop

Business cards are inexpensive marketing tools that can help you connect with partners and customers. Check out our blog about inexpensive business cards, make your own, and leave them everywhere you go.

Door Hangers

Door hangers or flyers are also good business expenses. A pressure washer company can leave them at neighbors’ houses or send them in the mail after you pressure wash a property.

Google Advertising

Josh explained his experience with digital advertising in the pressure washing industry. And it didn’t start off great. He failed on platforms like Nextdoor, Facebook, and Google.

But eventually, he found a strategy for Google Advertising that leads to a good return on investment.

Invest your money during the warm times, then ramp down your ads during the summer. … We spend $6 per pressure wash customer on Google and make about $80 per dollar spent.

He still uses Google to market his pressure washing company but avoids most other digital advertisements. He advises dedicating about 75% of your advertising budget to Google and the rest to the other options.

Professional-Looking Videos

Pressure washer being filmed while cleaning residential siding

Another trick to jumpstarting a pressure washing company is to create videos. Find beautiful homes that need pressure washing services, clean them, and share videos of the process.

Make sure your video is well-lit, properly framed, and edited smoothly. It will make you look more professional than other local businesses in the pressure washing industry.

This leads to another way Josh makes his pressure washing business successful…

Television Ads

Develop a relationship with a news network like Brown’s Pressure Washing did when they were a new business.

Once we hit a million [in revenue per year], I started advertising in the news, Monday Night Football, and college sports. Without this relationship [with Fox 17 in Nashville], things would not be the same.

As a small business owner, this may sound like an expensive strategy compared to online advertising. Still, it gets your business in front of more potential customers in your target market. You can expect to pay $5 to $10 per 1,000 viewers for a 30-second ad.

Hiring a Professional Marketer

Don’t be afraid to hire someone who understands effective marketing strategies. Power washing services can save a lot of money by outsourcing their advertising.

I was spending $9K to $10K in Google Ads, which got cut to $3K monthly when I hired a professional marketer.

Pro Tip: Talk to other successful pressure washing companies to find out who they hire for their marketing services.

Pressure Washing FAQs

How much is it to pressure wash a house?

The average cost to pressure wash a home is $400, but the range is between $200 and $1,250 depending on factors including house size, location, cost of labor, and cleanliness of the property.

Pressure washing businesses commonly use linear feet and the number of stories to determine the cost of pressure washing. They may use estimates of $0.15 to $0.75 per square foot, or hourly rates of $60 to $100 per hour.

How do pressure washing companies get clients?

Josh’s pressure washing business venture has a remarkable 73% closing rate. He attributes a good share of his success in booking jobs to his sales manager, Brady Ridings. Josh said:

An investor contacted me. I told him, ‘I don’t need an investor, I need a salesperson.’ That’s how I met Brady, who sold $1M his first year. His biggest challenge was fixing my mistakes.

Brady shared that to win jobs, he makes sure to use the three Cs: constant clear communication.

Josh also shared one of his secrets for getting return customers. It’s simple: Rinse the plants after cleaning a roof.

What is the difference between pressure washing and power washing?

Some say that pressure washing and power washing are interchangeable terms, which is a sign that they’re laymen writing about the pressure washing business!

You can differentiate pressure washing and power washing by the temperature of the water. A pressure washer uses high-pressured room-temperature water, while a power washer uses pressurized steam to clean surfaces.

You want to use a pressure washer for products that you are concerned would be damaged or warped by steam, including paint, patios, decks, concrete, brick, and masonry. Meanwhile, pressure washing is better for removing grease, gum, salt, mold, and mildew.

Can you scale a pressure washing business?

Yes, you can scale a successful pressure washing business by adding more employees and locations or starting a pressure washing franchise business.

As your pressure washing business grows in size, you can increase the profit margins by creating your own customer relationship management software, selling franchises, offering pressure washing courses, and selling pressure washing business equipment.

What sort of things need to be pressure washed?

People commonly pressure wash brick, decks, driveways, fences, pools, porches, roofs, siding, sidewalks, solar panels, and other building materials.

A soft washing business uses similar pressure washing business equipment to wash cars and other vehicles at a lower pressure than a pressure washing business.

It’s Your Turn to Start a Successful Pressure Washing Business

A successful pressure washing company requires a lot of planning, hard work, and maybe a little bit of luck. Pressure washers will need to establish the business structure and get all the necessary equipment.

Then you’ll need to set prices for your residential and commercial pressure cleaning services. Next, you’ll need to open a business bank account to keep your personal and business expenses separate.

Finally, you’ll need to market your business and provide excellent customer service.

So what do you think? Is the pressure washing market right for you?

Join The Discussion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Compare listings

Compare