Cleaning a bathtub or shower with a pressure washer can be an effective way to remove built-up grime, soap scum, and mildew. However, care must be taken when using a high-powered pressure washer on delicate surfaces like tile and fiberglass. With proper precautions, you can safely revitalize your bathtub and shower surround using a pressure washer.
What You’ll Need
- Pressure washer (electric or gas)
- Nozzle attachment (25° or 40° works best)
- Cleaning solution (mild detergent or tub/tile cleaner)
- Eye protection
- Rubber gloves
- Old rags or sponges
Inspect the Tub and Surround
Before cleaning, inspect the tub and walls for any cracks or loose tiles that could be further damaged by the pressure washer. Avoid aiming the stream directly at the shower door seams or any chipped areas. Note any particularly stubborn stains to focus on during cleaning.
Remove Loose Debris
Use a rag or sponge to wipe away any loose hair, soap scum, or standing water before pressure washing. Removing debris first prevents it from splattering during cleaning.
Start With Low Pressure
Begin cleaning with a wider nozzle angle and lower pressure, around 800-1200 PSI. Slowly increase the pressure if needed for stubborn areas. High pressure can damage grout and tile.
Apply Cleaning Solution
Spray a liberal amount of mild detergent, tile cleaner, or tub cleaner on surfaces before power washing. Let it soak for 5-10 minutes. The cleaning solution helps lift dirt and grime.
Use Broad, Sweeping Motions
Aim the nozzle at a 45° angle about 6 inches away from the surface. Use broad, sweeping motions across the length of the tub. Avoid focusing on one spot for too long.
Rinse detergent residue thoroughly after cleaning to prevent soap scum buildup. Do multiple final passes with just water to rinse. Check corners and seams closely.
Clean from Top to Bottom
Start washing from the top down. This prevents dirt and grime from dripping onto already cleaned areas. Pay special attention to cleaning where the tub meets the wall.
Dry and Wipe Down
After pressure washing, wipe down all surfaces with a clean rag to absorb excess moisture. Allow the tub to fully dry before using again.
Pressure Washing a Fiberglass Tub/Shower
Fiberglass tubs and showers are more delicate than ceramic tile. Follow these precautions when pressure washing:
- Use nozzle angles above 25° to disperse pressure
- Keep PSI below 1000 to avoid surface damage
- Avoid aiming directly at chips, cracks, or scratches
- Spot clean stained areas; don’t scrub aggressively
- Rinse thoroughly with clean water after washing
- Wipe down with a soft cloth; no abrasive scouring
Pressure Washing a Tile Shower
Tile is very durable and can withstand higher pressure washing. Follow these tips:
- Use a 15° or 25° degree tip for concentrated cleaning
- Adjust pressure between 1200-2000 PSI as needed
- Target tough mildew stains and soap scum buildup
- Use overlapping circular motions when washing
- Take care around grout lines and natural stone tiles
- Rinse thoroughly; inspect grout lines for remaining debris
When to Avoid Pressure Washing
There are some situations when you’ll want to avoid power washing a tub or shower:
- On antique or vintage tubs; could damage finish
- With extensive cracking or loose tiles; water seepage risk
- On soft natural stone like marble; can etch surface
- If silicon caulk seal is compromised; causes leaks
- When cleaning products alone can do the job effectively
In these cases, clean by hand with non-abrasive scrubbing. Test cleaners on inconspicuous areas first.
Pressure washing requires safe practices to avoid injury:
- Wear eye protection and gloves during use
- Keep children and pets away from the area
- Never point nozzle at a person or animal
- Use short extension cords; don’t overload circuits
- Never use a pressure washer without proper training
- Check hoses/seals for leaks; replace if damaged
- Allow equipment to cool before changing nozzles
- Unplug and release pressure after finishing
Maintaining a Clean Tub and Shower
To make cleaning easier in between deep pressure washes:
- Squeegee water after each use to prevent buildup
- Use shower spray cleaners regularly to fight mildew
- Wipe down walls with bathroom cleaner weekly
- Re-caulk areas as needed to prevent mold growth
- Scrub tiles with baking soda paste to polish grout
- Install shower head filters to minimize mineral spots
With proper care, your bathtub and shower can stay looking fresh and clean for years to come. Using a power washer periodically saves hours of scrubbing and keeps surfaces residue-free. With these pressure washing tips, you can safely blast away grime.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use a pressure washer on a fiberglass shower or tub?
Yes, you can use a pressure washer on fiberglass tubs and showers, but use lower pressure (800-1000 PSI) and a wider nozzle spray to prevent surface damage. Avoid aiming directly at chips or cracks.
What PSI should I use to clean tile?
For tile walls and floors, adjust the pressure washer PSI between 1200-2000 depending on the level of cleaning needed. Use higher pressure on grout lines and soap scum. Use lower pressure on natural stone tiles.
How do I know if the pressure is too high?
If you notice damage to surfaces like chipped tile, etched fiberglass, or missing grout, the pressure is too high. Start at lower pressures and slowly increase as needed while checking for damage.
Can I pressure wash shower doors?
Shower doors can usually be pressure washed, but avoid aiming the stream directly at the seams where silicone or glue holds the glass panes together. This can loosen the seal.
Should I use hot or cold water in a pressure washer?
Most experts recommend using only cold water in a pressure washer when cleaning a tub or shower. Hot water can interact with cleaning chemicals in a harmful way. The pressure does most of the cleaning work anyway.
How often should I pressure wash my shower?
Most showers and tubs only need a thorough pressure wash once or twice a year. For routine cleaning in between, use daily shower sprays and occasional scrubbing to keep surfaces clean.
Revitalizing a dirty bathtub or shower is easy and convenient with the powerful cleaning capability of a pressure washer. By following proper procedures and safety precautions, you can blast away soap scum, eliminate mildew stains, and restore surfaces to a like-new condition. Take time to carefully inspect for any existing damage beforehand. Start with lower pressures and adjust as needed while moving the nozzle slowly across the area. With regular maintenance cleaning between deep power washes, you can enjoy a fresh, clean bathing space.