Can You Pressure Wash Windows Without Damaging Them?


Ever looked at your windows and thought, “Hmm, these could use a good scrub,” but then wondered if blasting them with a pressure washer is overkill? Well, you’re not alone. You’re navigating the same dilemma as many others. Which leads us to  the million-dollar question: Can you pressure wash windows without turning your day bright with sunlight into a disaster scene of cracked glass and water damage? Let’s take a look, and maybe share a laugh or two, as we explore how to do this right.


Can You Pressure Wash Windows?

Pressure washing, a perfect tool for grimy patios and siding, seems like it should work wonders on windows too, right? Not quite. The thing with pressure washing windows is—it’s a bit like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Sure, it can work, but it’s overkill and might just smash the nut (or in this case, your windows) to bits.

If it’s low pressure you can but again the window is not gonna get cleaned because city water isn’t just H2O; it’s a combination of minerals like calcium and iron, which love to leave their mark. Ever noticed those hard water stains after a sprinkle? That’s them waving at you. And while low pressure might not break your windows, it doesn’t really get them clean either. High pressure, on the other hand, might just break your window, and nobody wants that. So, to answer your question, can you pressure wash windows? No, you can’t.


Understanding Pressure Washing Windows

Pressure washing uses high-velocity water jets to blast away dirt and grime. It sounds great for stubborn driveway stains but poses a risk when applied to the delicate ecosystem of a window. Instead, soft washing is the gentle cousin of pressure washing, utilizing lower pressure and specialized solutions to clean effectively without the collateral damage.


The Soft Wash Approach

If you want to pressure wash windows, which I don’t recommend at all. Try soft washing instead, which still doesn’t clean the windows. It still leaves the window in a big mess with soap, residue. Then you would clean it the proper way because if you soft wash the windows the soap is going to dry on the windows and it’s going to get very murky and will look dirtier than it is. However, it would be easier to clean the window after that because it has windows that have soap on it.

For soft washing the PSI to use is less than a hundred or less than 200.


– Key Takeaways –

  • Pressure washing windows is risky – it can break glass and damage seals. Opt for soft washing (with very low pressure) or traditional hand-cleaning methods.
  • Simple tools are best: Dish soap, a squeegee, and soft scrubbers (or quadruple-zero steel wool for stubborn spots) are all you need.
  • Clean window frames first to prevent re-dirtying the glass.
  • Consider hiring a professional window cleaner for safety (especially on upper floors), if lead paint is a concern, or to save time.


Risks Associated with Pressure Washing Windows

The risk is you can break the entire glass, at 1000 PSI you can break the seals around the glass. This is particularly troubling for double-pane windows, where breaking the seal can lead to moisture between the panes. Once this happens, the window is beyond simple cleaning measures; it needs to be replaced entirely. The cost of such a replacement can be staggering, with figures ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 for a single window unit.

Does The Spray Pattern Cause Damage Too?

Well if you’re doing it in a fan it’s not going to do as much damage but if you’re using it in a pencil needle spray pattern it can definitely break a lot of things. The more concentrated it is the more pressure it will be and the more damage it will cause.


Window Washing Tools

Forget about the pressure washer; let’s talk about the real MVPs of window cleaning:

  • Squeegees
  • Dawn dish soap
  • Quadruple zero steel wool

These tools might not sound as high-tech, but they’re your best friends for removing paint marks, stains, and general grunge from your windows, leaving them streak-free and sparkling.


Window Cleaning Solutions

When it comes to cleaning windows, we just use Dawn Dish soap, any kind of surfactant. If you’re soft washing the window, you can still use the house washing mix with a little bit of Dawn Dish soap or detergent. This is going to kill off the grime. But know that the soap itself is going to dry on the window. It’s going to leave a white residue mark that’s murky. What you have to do is take a squeegee or a water fend system and clean the window that way. So that way you can clean off all of that residue and leave the window streak free. Because soft washing a window will leave streaks on it. It will leave watermarks on it.


Steps to Washing Your Windows Safely

Window Washing Austin

Safety Precautions:

  • Wear protective gear: Goggles to shield your eyes from debris, gloves to protect your hands, and closed-toe shoes for better footing.
  • Protect your surroundings: Cover nearby plants with a tarp to avoid damage from forceful spray or soap runoff.
  • Secure or remove screens: Before pressure washing, either secure screens tightly so they don’t blow out, or remove them for a separate, thorough cleaning (and easier access to the window glass). We have written an article about How to Wash Window Screens, I suggest you read it for the complete guide. 

Window washing is a delicate process that blends traditional techniques with modern technology to achieve that perfect, streak-free look. Here’s a deeper dive into each step, ensuring you’re well-equipped to tackle window cleaning safely and effectively:

  1. Cleaning the Window Frames
    Before you even touch the glass, start with the frames. This isn’t just about aesthetics; cleaning the frames first prevents dirt from the frames from muddying up the clean glass later, especially during rain. Use a soft brush or cloth to remove all the dirt, dust, and debris from the window frames and sills. This preparatory step sets the stage for a comprehensive clean, ensuring that the cleanliness of the glass isn’t compromised by its surroundings.
  2.  Applying Soap with a Mop
    Next, prepare your window washing solution. A gentle soap, like Dawn dish soap diluted with water, works wonders. Use a mop or a soft cloth to apply this solution generously over the window glass. This is where the cleaning really begins, as the soap starts to break down the dirt and grime on the surface.
  3. Agitating the Soap with Quadruple Zero Steel Wool
    For stubborn spots, grime, and dirt that won’t budge with just soap and water, use quadruple zero steel wool. This ultra-fine steel wool is gentle enough not to scratch the glass but effective enough to agitate and lift away tough grime when used in conjunction with the soapy solution. It’s crucial to be gentle during this step to avoid any damage to the glass.
  4. Scrubbing and Rinsing
    After agitating the soap on the glass, it’s time to scrub it down with a soft scrubber to ensure you’ve loosened all the dirt. Following the scrub, the choice between a squeegee and a deionized water system comes into play. For the exterior windows, rinsing with a deionized water system equipped with a bristle brush attachment ensures that all soap and dirt are washed away without leaving any residue or streaks, thanks to the purified water used in the system.

Post-Wash Checklist

Once your windows are sparkling, a final few steps ensure the best results and protect your surroundings:

  • Did you rinse well? Leftover soap residue can cause streaks or leave a film. Give the windows and surrounding area a final rinse with deionized water.
  • Screens back in? If you removed your window screens, reinstall them after they have dried completely.
  • Plants watered? Water any plants near the washed area to help dilute any soap runoff from the windows or siding.

The Art of Squeegeeing

For interior windows or those who prefer a more hands-on approach, using a squeegee is the traditional way to get streak-free shine. Squeegeeing requires a bit more skill to avoid leaving streaks. The technique involves dragging the squeegee across the window in a smooth, consistent motion, wiping the blade after each pass to remove excess water and soap. Practice makes perfect here, and mastering the squeegee technique can leave your windows sparkling.

Deionized Water System vs. Squeegee: Understanding the Difference

The deionized water system is ideal for exterior windows, offering a streak-free finish without the labor-intensive squeegee method. Its advantage lies in the purified water, which evaporates without leaving marks. However, for interior windows or where the use of such a system is impractical, the traditional squeegee method takes precedence. While it requires more skill to avoid streaks, it provides a more feasible solution for interior window cleaning.

Related article: What Is Deionized Water Window Cleaning?

Traditional vs. Modern Cleaning Techniques

Both traditional (squeegee) and modern (deionized water system) cleaning methods have their places in window maintenance. The choice between them often comes down to the specific situation—external vs. internal windows—and the cleaner’s proficiency with the tools at their disposal. The traditional method, despite its requirement for more skill, offers a tactile and controlled cleaning process, while the modern approach with deionized water promises efficiency and ease, especially for external surfaces.


DIY vs. Professional Window Cleaning

There’s a certain satisfaction in tackling projects yourself, and window cleaning can be one of them. However, there are times when calling in the professionals offers distinct advantages. Consider hiring a window cleaning expert if:

  • Safety is a Major Concern: Cleaning windows on upper floors, especially with large panes, poses fall risks. Professionals have the equipment (tall ladders, harnesses) and experience to navigate these heights safely.
  • Pre-Existing Damage: If your windows already have cracks, loose seals, or rotting wood, a professional can assess the situation and recommend repair options or adjust their cleaning method to avoid further damage.
  • Environmental Hazards: Older homes might have lead paint around the windows. Professional window cleaners are trained to identify potential hazards and follow safe cleaning and disposal protocols.
  • Special Types of Windows: Stained glass, leaded windows, or windows with delicate decorative elements require specialized cleaning techniques best left to experts.
  • Time is of the Essence: If you need your windows cleaned quickly for a special event or before putting your house on the market, a professional crew can get the job done much faster than a DIY effort.

Remember: Even if you decide to DIY, getting a few professional quotes for comparison can be helpful. It gives you a ballpark for the costs involved and might point out any issues you would have missed. Here’s a good read about Hiring Professional Window Washing Company based on your budget. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Is pressure washing safe for windows?

Generally, no. Pressure washing poses risks to window glass and seals. Opt for soft washing or traditional methods instead.

Can pressure washing damage window seals?

Yes. High pressure can break seals, especially on double-pane windows. A broken seal leads to moisture between the panes, which necessitates complete window replacement.

What types of windows are okay to pressure wash?

It’s best to avoid pressure washing all windows. Use safer methods regardless of window type.

What is the best way to wash outside windows?

Soft washing with a lower PSI (preferably under 200) is an option if appropriate cleaners are used, but rinsing becomes important to avoid residue.

Traditional cleaning with dish soap, appropriate tools (squeegee or scrubbers), and rinsing for a streak-free shine is best. Consider deionized water systems for exterior windows.

What to avoid when cleaning windows?

  • Don’t use high-pressure washing: Risk of breaking glass, damaging seals
  • Don’t leave soap residue: Ensure thorough rinsing for a spotless finish
  • Don’t use harsh abrasives: These can scratch the glass



The journey to clean windows is filled with choices, but when it comes to pressure washing, it’s clear that the risks far outweigh the benefits. By understanding the potential for damage and opting for safer, more effective cleaning methods, you can keep your windows—and your home—in pristine condition.

Before you break out the cleaning equipment, take a moment to consider your approach. Whether you decide to tackle window cleaning yourself or hire professionals, preparation and knowledge are key. And if you’re looking for expert help, companies like ours, Full Color Cleaners specialize in exterior cleaning and understand the care required to leave your windows sparkling without damage. Our expertise, combined with the right tools and techniques, guarantee a level of safety and efficiency that may be difficult to achieve on your own.


About the Author

Benjamin Nguyen, owner of Full Color Cleaners LLC, has garnered significant recognition for his company’s exemplary services in window cleaning and pressure washing, making them one of the Top Rated Exterior Cleaning companies in Austin, TX. Full Color Cleaners commendations are not only from renowned platforms like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Super Pages but also include prestigious recognitions as one of the “10 Best Austin Window Washers” by and “Best Window Washing Services in Austin” by Beyond this, Benjamin’s expertise extends to specialized areas such as soft washing, roof washing, and Christmas Lights Installation, with the latter backed by his membership in CLIPA. His dedication to continuous learning is evident through his annual certifications and affiliations with Pressure Washing School and Expert Safety Services. Notably, Benjamin’s commitment to excellence in exterior cleaning is further solidified by his status as an F9 Authorize Handler, showcasing his proficiency in handling commercial chemicals.

One of the pivotal moments in Benjamin’s career trajectory was his association with the Home Service Business Coaching (HSBC) Program, steered by David James Moerman. Under David’s mentorship, Benjamin honed his business acumen, propelling Full Color Cleaners to its current stature as one of Austin’s top-rated window cleaning and pressure washing enterprises. David Moerman, a successful entrepreneur himself, has publicly endorsed Benjamin’s dedication and vision for his business. For those seeking to connect with Benjamin or learn more about Full Color Cleaners, he maintains an active presence on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Yelp, and Indeed.

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