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hot water vs cold water pressure washer


Power washing may seem simple, but it can get complicated when dealing with industrial messes. You need to know which equipment is best for any given situation, and you want to know which pressure washer is best for your specific needs.

There are two main pressure washers: hot and cold water pressure washers. You might think the difference between the two is as simple as cold and hot water, but these machines vary widely in their application, cleaning ability, and cost.


cold water pressure washer

What is a cold water pressure washer?

When you think of pressure washers, you most likely think of cold water pressure washers. These pieces of equipment are typically rented to homeowners for small jobs and can be found at most home improvement stores.

Cold water pressure washers use pressurized water to remove grime, dirt and other debris from surfaces. The water's pressure does all the work, so no hot water is needed.

Pressure is measured in pounds per square inch. The more the PSI, the more pressure the pressure washer puts. Chilled water systems typically have a PSI between 1500 and 3000.

What is a cold water pressure washer good for?

For pressure washers, cold water is best for smaller messes. These machines do a great job of cleaning dirt and grime from sidewalks and fences and can be used to wash most surfaces around the average home. Cold water pressure washers are also best for temperature-sensitive surfaces.

A temperature-sensitive surface is any material that is subject to high temperatures. Two of the main varieties include any surface made of wood or plastic. For these types of materials, it is best to use a cold-pressure washer.


hot water pressure washer

What is a hot water pressure washer?

Hot water pressure washers are heavy-duty versions of traditional cold water pressure washers. These industrial-strength pressure washers can handle any mess a cold-water pressure washer can. However, they also have some advantages and work in situations that cold water cannot solve.

A hot water pressure washer works well if the surface is not temperature sensitive. From metal, which includes many vehicles and building materials, to hardened surfaces like concrete, a hot water pressure washer can also clean many surfaces, if not better than a cold water washer.

How do hot water pressure washers work?

Hot water pressure washers pass water through a heating element or coil, which heats the water to a high temperature, giving the water more cleaning power. Then mix the hot water with the detergent and spray the mixture onto the surface to be cleaned. Hot water and detergent work together to tear down stains and remove grime.

Which industries are hot water pressure washers best suited for?

Hot water pressure washing is the most effective way to deal with the grease that coats the surfaces of various vital mechanical parts.When hot water and high pressure come into contact with oil, they tear it apart on a molecular level. The heat quickly wipes away any spills, making cleanup quick and easy.

Some industries, in particular, can benefit from using hot water pressure washers.  Let’s look at some industries that typically benefit from purchasing a hot water pressure washer.

Food services

Oil is an essential ingredient in preparing various dishes in commercial food service. Whether it’s filling a deep fryer or sizzling in a pan, the oil can often be released from its intended container. Once on the floor, this creates an accident waiting to happen, as a fast-moving cook could slip and injure himself.

A hot water pressure washer quickly degreases any kitchen surface. Not only that, but the heat does a great job of killing any bacteria that might spoil your stored food.


Properly lubricated machinery is the cornerstone of a well-run job site, and grease is a natural byproduct of efficient equipment maintenance.

Cold water won’t do much to degrease these surfaces, and you’ll push around to remove any grease you’re trying to wash off. Hot water is the only correct choice for site cleaning.


For anyone who works in an auto workshop, grease is just part of the day-to-day operations. Cars need oil, and grease ensures all vehicle components are well-lubricated and run efficiently. This means that most of the mess you’ll tackle will require serious cleaning power.

Chemical spills pose a fall hazard and emit toxic fumes that can injure employees. A hot water pressure washer is the ultimate solution for these and many other messes.


hot water vs cold water pressure washer

If you’re blowing away sand, caked-on dirt, or even stripping paint, a cold-water pressure washer will do just fine. Combined with detergents, cold water pressure washers are very effective in many applications.

However, cold water pressure washers are often not suitable for industrial work. Oil and grease are an ever-present problem in most heavy machinery industries. Cold water won’t work on oil or grease because the high pressure isn’t enough to break up stubborn spills. You’ll need hot water if you’re cleaning your engine, car parts, or anything with oil or grease. 

The rule of thumb is simple: whatever cold water cleans, hot water cleans better and faster.

Hot Water vs. Cold Water Pressure Washers FAQs

Do hot water pressure washers cost more?

Yes, due to the complications of heating hot water under pressure. Hot water pressure washers also require more preventative maintenance, such as burner assemblies, coils, and redundant overpressure protection, all of which require annual adjustments.

Nonetheless, hot water pressure washers quickly pay for themselves in labor cost savings by providing a faster and more efficient pressure washing method because the water flows through the machine at an adequate rate, and less detergent is needed, saving you more money.

How to heat water in a pressure washer?

Water enters the pressure washer from a faucet or tank through a garden hose. It first passes through a high-pressure pump that accelerates the water as it passes through a heating coil consisting of up to 200 feet of half-inch 80-gauge steel pipe. Spiral or circular winding configurations allow maximum water exposure to the flame (fueled by diesel or natural gas/propane) as it roars through the center of the coil. As the water is flushed from the coil and through the wand and nozzle, it reaches temperatures up to 200°F.

What happens if I use hot water in a cold water pressure washer?

Using hot water in a cold water pressure washer may damage the water pump and other parts.

Is hot water better than steam?

It depends on the job. Hot water is excellent for tearing down grease on a molecular level, but steam is excellent for sanitizing the surfaces. Some hot water pressure washers can attain the high temperatures needed for steam cleaning, while others cannot.


BISON has been recognized as the best of the best when it comes to industrial pressure washers. Whether gas or electric, our hot water pressure washers quickly and efficiently remove grease and get you back in business.

We also offer cold water pressure washers if this is the ideal equipment. We even have a large pressure washer trailer for mobile jobs!

We hope this guide helped clear the air, and now you know which type of pressure washer is right for your business. If not, we’re here to help you make the right decision - give us a call and give us some information about what you need from this machine, and we’ll be able to make the appropriate recommendations for you.

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