Starting a pressure washing business may be a great seasonal side hustle opportunity.
These types of blue collar businesses tend to have low startup costs and you may already have the skills and equipment you need to get started.
How Does a Pressure Washing Business Work?
The pressure washing business model is simple: you get paid to clean people’s homes, decks, driveways, and walkways with a pressure washing machine.
Professional pressure washers normally charge a flat rate for the job based on the amount of time they expect it to take. And the effective hourly rates can be pretty lucrative. If you charge $200 to wash a house, and spend 3 hours on the project, that’s around $66 an hour.
Who Hires Pressure Washing Businesses?
Most pressure washing business customers are residential or commercial property owners.
For residential customers, you’ll be cleaning siding, driveways, porches, and decks. A homeowner might ask you to pressure wash their roof to remove moss or debris, but don’t do it! A siding and driveway pressure washer can destroy a roof or take years off its life.
Commercial customers make ask you to clean the exterior of their building, including any signage, and possibly the parking and walkways to the front door.
In both cases, pressure washing makes the property more visually appealing and can prevent slipping injuries from overgrowing moss.
Side Note: You may have seen people pressure washing their cars. This is usually done with a car-specific washer used in a mobile detailing business.
Interview with a Pressure Washing Business Owner
I called up Scott Anderson of SpoonRiverPressureWashing.com and he walked me through how he started his pressure-washing business.
Advantages To Starting a Pressure Washing Business
There are some definite advantages to starting a pressure washing business, including getting to work outside. Here are some others to consider.
1. Low Startup Costs
Scott was able to buy his first supplies to start the business with only $300. Using sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or even a garage sale, you could find the equipment you need to get started.
As Scott took on more jobs, he was able to upgrade his equipment, plus buy more specialized tools to help his business, but he was able to do that from the profit he was making.
2. It’s an In-Demand Service with Low Competition
While everyone likes the results they get from pressure washing, not everyone has the time or capacity to get the job done.
Scott narrowed in his marketing on older people with more disposable income. He found that demographic was more than willing to pay to have the pressure washing done for them.
Plus, in his town, he was the only service provider so there wasn’t much competition.
3. Word-of-Mouth Turns One Job Into More
With Scott targeting people in his community, it means his happy customers are likely to tell their friends and neighbors about his service.
Pressure washing is a great example of a business where one customer can lead to several more. Other homeowners on the street are likely to see you working and there’s a peer pressure element of “well, my neighbor is getting his house cleaned, so I better do it too!”
Scott verified this exact experience. While he was out on a job, a neighbor approached and asked for his service as well.
4. High Profit Margins
The upfront cost of purchasing the equipment is really your only expense. Once you’re able to make enough to cover the cost of your equipment, you don’t have many other recurring expenses, other than labor if you eventually decide to hire out the work.
You’ll be using the homeowners’ water supply, so your biggest on-the-job cost is your time.
Drawbacks to Starting a Pressure Washing Business
While starting a pressure washing business has some really great benefits, let’s look at the drawbacks to see if this is still a business that interests you.
1. It’s Manual Labor
Pressure washing is a manual job. You’ll be climbing ladders and moving around to make sure you hit all the spots.
There is also the running of the equipment and moving that around as well. Scott shared how he had a special tool to use on driveways, which again is very physical work.
When you’re blasting water around someone’s property, there’s naturally going to be the potential for things to go wrong.
You’ll want to get an insurance policy in place before you do your first paid job. (More on that below.)
Scott told me how he noticed a broken window after he had done a job. He wasn’t sure if the broken window was already broken before he started or if it was a result of their job. There could be the potential for things like this to happen, and in Scott’s case, he decided to pay for the window just to be safe.
There is a seasonality aspect to the pressure washing business. If you live in a place that gets cooler temperatures during the winter months, you will find that this is not an all-year-round business.
Most people are doing home improvement projects and cleanup in the spring and summer, so those will be prime times that people will be looking for help.
Still, that makes it a great way for college students to earn extra money, or for other people with flexible schedules.
4. Most Jobs Are One-Off
How often do people realistically get their houses or driveways pressure washed? Once a year? Once every few years?
In this business, most jobs are going to be one-off gigs. And yes, while one job can lead to others in the neighborhood, generating recurring revenue is a bit more difficult.
You’ll constantly be on the hunt for new clients.
To Get Started, First Learn the Skills
If you’ve never pressure washed before, take some time to practice. The last thing you need is to land a paying customer and then rip a hole in their siding.
Start by renting a pressure washer and watching some Youtube videos to get you up to speed and then give it a try. Start on your own house or ask friends and family if you can do their house for free to practice.
If you’re anything like me, I think you’ll find it oddly satisfying! (There are entire groups dedicated to sharing pressure washing videos!)
You want to make sure you have a good grasp of how the equipment works and the best way to get the job done before you start to find paying customers, so you can avoid expensive mistakes.
Practice Makes Perfect
Remember, no one is a pro when they first start out. Every All-Star was once a rookie.
For example, Scott’s first job took him six hours to complete. The same job today would only take couple of hours. Getting some experience under your belt will make you more efficient when you start charging money.
You also want to make sure you know how the equipment reacts with different parts of the building so you aren’t spraying too hard and causing damage.
Once you are feeling confident, it’s time to find customers.
What Do People Pay For Pressure Washing Service
According to Home Advisor, the average price of a pressure washing job is $288.
The rate you quote will depend on what’s getting washed, whether it’s a house, deck, driveway, or all of the above. Your location and strength of competitors will impact the price as well.
Pressure Washing Business Startup and Equipment Costs
Let’s look at the tools you will need to get started with a pressure washing business. Even if you bought everything new (aside from a vehicle), you could get this business started for less than $1000.
It probably goes without saying that the most important piece of equipment you’ll need is the pressure washer itself. If you don’t already have one in the garage, you might be able to find a used one to keep costs low.
(Scott was able to get a his first machine used for around $100. While it didn’t last long, he was still able to pay for his initial costs with his first pressure washing job.)
Try searching online or at garage sales to see if you can find a decent pressure washer to help you get started.
Once you start getting jobs, you can use your profits to upgrade.
To buy new, you’re looking at $250-400.
A ladder will be necessary to reach higher places that need to be washed. You may already own this, or you may need to find one.
You can check local marketplaces like on Facebook or Craigslist to find some cheaper options when you are getting started.
My recommendation would be a 28-foot aluminum ladder. It’s still lightweight enough to maneuver, but tall enough to reach the highest spots on most 2-story houses.
Hoses, Nozzles, and Accessories
You’ll want a couple of different sized hoses and nozzles that so you can adapt to your job.
For example, Scott mentioned a circular driveway cleaner that makes it much faster to wash large surfaces.
Similarly, an extension wand can help you reach the second story of houses without climbing a ladder.
Sometimes water just isn’t enough. You may want to invest in some cleaning liquids to help get the job done.
These typically range from $15-30 a gallon.
A Truck or SUV
A gas-powered pressure washer probably isn’t going to fit in the trunk or back seat of your sedan, so that means you’ll need a larger vehicle like a truck or SUV to transport your gear to the job site.
Licensing and Insurance
Once you’ve decided to start your pressure washing business, you will need to check and see what your state and local laws are for running a business.
You may need to register a legal business entity or apply for a license from your city to operate your business.
Check out the Secretary of State website for your state and your local government website to find out about rules for your city.
For a pressure washing service, general liability insurance is a must. Even if you’re super careful, things can go wrong.
To protect your business and profits, insurance for those unforeseeable occurrences can be a business saver. Check out a service like CoverWallet to get a quote.
How To Price Pressure Washing Services
There are a couple of ways you can go about pricing jobs.
The first is just to quote the project by price per square foot. This can be a bit time-intensive as you would have to figure out how much square footage you’re cleaning to provide a quote.
Another way to price is by the project. This means you would quote a project based on the size of what you are cleaning and how long you think it will take you.
Scott described punching in his prospective customer’s address into Google Maps Street View to get a rough estimate of the size of the house. He said he charges $200-400 for the house depending on its size, and extra for any decks or driveways.
You could also come up with flat-rate pricing. You could determine beforehand what your price is for houses, driveways, decks, etc., and just stick with that. And you can put some upper size limits to protect yourself, just so no one calls you with a 12,000 square foot mansion and you end up hating life.
The best place to start is figuring out roughly how long the job is likely to take through practice, knowing the hourly rate that would be a win for you, and going from there.
Marketing A Pressure Washing Service
There are many ways you can market your new business. Scott shared some of his more successful ways during the interview.
When Scott first started his business, he started a Facebook page for his business and asked people to share it. Just from that, he got a few inquiries and jobs.
Later, he was also able to run low-cost Facebook ads to drive business as well. I think a pressure washing video ad popping up in someone’s feed would get their attention, or a before and after picture as well.
The service lends itself well to gifting for Mother’s Day or other events if you want to sell gift cards or other pre-order packages.
Scott asked customers if he could put yard signs in their yards after the jobs were complete. This led to neighbors seeing his work and reaching out.
Scott’s signs say “We Wash Homes” in big bold font and feature his phone number.
He shared how he ended up with several signs on one street because of how busy he was!
Website and Google My Business
Another option you can take is to set up a simple website. There are many options out there to build a simple website with your company’s information, even if you have no idea what you are doing.
For a local business, Google My Business is the best free marketing resource you’ll find. (You can even use this service to put together a website.)
Create a Google My Business listing, add pictures, hours of operation, your phone number, and more details about your company. The goal here is when someone searches “pressure washing near me” or “pressure washing service [my city]”, your listing shows up.
When you have a happy customer, you can politely request they review your business on Google as well, which can help with exposure and social proof.
Managing A Pressure Washing Business
While you may enjoy pressure washing enough to start a business, there will also be some business administration tasks you will need to do to keep your business going.
Payments, invoicing, contracts, and scheduling appointments are all crucial to making sure your business stays in business.
Scott mention he used a tool called Joist to help with these tasks for his business. Jobber is another app that will help you the invoicing and payments.
To collect payments, you may want to grab a free Square credit card reader.
Alternatives To Starting A Pressure Washing Business
Pressure washing is a relatively simple, low startup cost, local business idea. But there are tons of other side hustle ideas or business models that may appeal to you as well.
Here are some options that are still fall in the “local service” arena.
Brothers Josh and Austin Belk turned their passion for cars into a $6000 a month mobile detailing business, while still going to school full-time.
One cool thing Josh told me was that for most of their customers, it was their first time getting a car detailed. To me, that signaled a service with increasing demand.
House cleaning is an interesting option, and one where it’s particularly common to come in and play “middle man.” By that I mean contracting with professional cleaners and helping them fill up their schedules under your new brand.
If you can effectively market for new customers, like Anthony and Jhanilka Hartzog did, you can have a relatively hands-off service business. When we spoke, they were doing $20-25k a month in bookings, with other people handling the actual cleaning.
Pet Waste Removal
And finally, pooper scooping not be the most glamorous job in the world, but someone’s got to do it! The advantage of this model (along with house cleaning above) is that it lends itself well to recurring weekly customers.
I connected with Erica Krupin, who’d built her pet waste removal business from a side hustle to over $1000 a week. Once a customer gets used to your service, it just becomes a part of their budget as long as they have that dog.
While he was a full-time college student, Johnny Robinson built his window cleaning business to almost $700k a year in revenue.
He and his partner started with just $150 worth of equipment, and landed a mix of commercial and residential customers.
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Do you enjoy pressure washing as much as I do? Would you consider turning it into a business?
Let me know in the comments below!
Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com