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What is Commercial High-Pressure Cleaning?

November 25th, 2021 | 8 min. read

What is Commercial High-Pressure Cleaning?

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Did you know that research says we form an impression of something or someone within 7 seconds?

I think we’d both agree that that’s not a lot of time for someone to make their mind up about something.

Think of all the people who see your workplace premises every day. I’m not just talking about the people who visit inside the building, but those who see it from the outside. 

What impression are they forming within those 7 seconds? Is it good or bad?

When it comes to your workplace premises, first impressions matter. The state of the outside of your site surrounds, such as pathways and carparks, is a direct reflection of you and your company. 

Not only do you and your staff not want to walk into work on dirty and poorly maintained footpaths, but your clients probably don’t want to either.

Go and take a look at your building’s outdoor areas. Most likely, they could use some care when it comes to removing all the dirt build up.

That’s where high-pressure cleaning comes in. But wait.  What areas should my cleaner be high-pressure cleaning and what’s the process even look like?

At In-Tec, we conduct high-pressure cleans for a number of different clients every year, which is why we’ve decided to pass on our knowledge on this topic to you, so you’ll know exactly what’s involved. 

In this article we’re going to go through two main things: 

  •   Define high-pressure cleaning
  •   Explain the whole outdoor high-pressure cleaning step-by-step process and its benefits

Before we begin, we’d like to thank Shaun from Hudor Cleaning Services for his insight into exterior cleaning. When it comes to the exterior cleaning of buildings, In-Tec partners up with the team at Hudor to get the job done.

What is high-pressure cleaning?

High-pressure cleaning is a high-pressure job.

After all, it is a difficult piece of equipment to handle at times.

And although we’ve all seen someone use a high-pressure gun or gerni and probably know the gist of what it is and what it does, we’ll still touch base on this here.

High-pressure cleaning is a highly effective method of removing tough substances from a range of surfaces such as concrete, bricks, tiles, and others. It’s an accurate and efficient means of cleaning and is widely used for exterior cleaning.

How does it work?

Well, most pressure washers use narrow, high-pressure jets of water that actively break down dirt and debris. The washer usually attaches to an outdoor tap, which then pressurises the water through a series of pumps powered by an engine. And as we all know, the water that is pumped out is much more powerful than that of your garden hose. 

What are the steps of outdoor high-pressure cleaning?

We’ve all seen our next-door neighbours pressure cleaning their driveways, or the outside of a supermarket’s concrete floor being pressure cleaned. 

And outdoor pressure cleaning is just that! 
It involves cleaning anything that isn’t inside a building such as footpaths, driveways/pavements, and parking lots. For instance, school pathways and areas where students might sit to eat their lunch need to be pressure cleaned at the end of every term.  

It’s areas like these that have high levels of foot traffic that need high-pressure cleaning performed at least once a year.

So how do we do what we do?

How do we make your outdoor surfaces look as good as new?

In this section of the blog, we’ll take you through the exact process a good commercial cleaner will follow when it comes to outdoor cleaning. 

1. Remove any loose items off the ground

One of the initial steps in almost any and every periodical clean is removing any surface dirt or debris. 

For pressure cleaning, this involves using a blower to get rid of all the dry litter lying around such as leaves, rubbish, etc. 

Without completing this task, it can be quite impossible for a cleaner to do their job properly later on (hint: they’d be pushing debris around which would only get in the way of the job at hand).

2. Set up the high-pressure washer 

Before the actual exciting part of the process begins, the cleaner needs to get a couple of things ready – the main piece of equipment. 

This step is quite technical as we discuss the separate components of the washer so bear with us!

At In-Tec, we use a 1000 litre water tank that is petrol powered (diesel). The washer is typically attached to an outside tap via a garden hose. If there is no visible outdoor tap, the washer is pre-filled with water elsewhere, sometimes off-site if needed. When the machine is turned on, the engine turns the pump which then allows the water to pressurise and exit via the appropriate handheld equipment (we speak about these in the next steps). 

If you’ve ever seen a high-pressure washer, you may have noticed the different coloured nozzle attachments. These nozzles go at the end of the spray gun and range from 0 to 40 degrees – the angle of the spray. The 40 degree nozzle is dubbed the ‘wash nozzle’ and is most cleaners main choice when it comes to cleaning outdoor surfaces

Think of your garden hose at home. If you twist it, you can change the angle the water sprays depending on how powerful you want the water to come out.

The same goes for the pressure washer. For instance, the 0 degree nozzle is a jet, and the 40 degree is like a fan. So for tougher cleaning jobs, you would use the 0 degree or 15 degree nozzle as it’s the most powerful. 

I do want to mention that there are also battery-powered washers out there. However, because they don’t have the same power as the petrol washer, they are less efficient and most likely aren’t hot water-based.

As a side note, the machine we use does have the capability of using hot water when needed.

Once the machine is filled with water and ready to go, the cleaner must prepare and complete one more important step before the actual spraying beings.

3. Spray the chemical on the surface

Have you ever noticed all those circle oil stains in carparks? 

They’re pretty hard to miss, especially when they’re usually in every parking spot. 

Well, these spots need to be treated with a chemical in order to get the best result in the pressure washing stage. For example, in car parks, a degreaser chemical is used. The chemical is sprayed onto the surface via a pump sprayer and must sit (dwell time) for 5-10 minutes. This is because oil is quite thick and needs time to penetrate through the stain to loosen it up. 

The same can be said for mould and algae that can be found in damper and darker areas that don’t get much light. These areas are typically sprayed with sodium hypochlorite.

To put it simply, it’s never just water. There’s always a chemical involved.

4. Use the whirly bird machine and then the high-pressure gun

This is where the fun begins.

But wait, you first may be wondering what a whirly bird machine actually is.

Again, we do get a bit technical here when we explain how it works so bear with us!

The whirly bird machine is connected to the high-pressure washer and has two jets at the bottom of the circular scrubber that spray at a slight angle. Because it spins very fast, the cleaner often has little to no control over where the water goes or how far. 

A good commercial cleaner should always use the whirly bird in large main areas as it does the job quickly and effectively.

What about the edges or corners of an area? What equipment is used for this?

This is where the handheld pressure gun comes in!
Their main purpose is to clean all those corners and edges that you wouldn’t be able to get to with the whirly bird as it’s just too big to manoeuvre in those hard-to-reach areas. 

For example, if your cleaner was high-pressure cleaning your workplace car park, they would use the whirly bird for the majority of the area (main part), and then go back through with the pressure gun to spray the rest.

There is one important point to mention before we move on to the next step in the process.

The cleaner should never be going back and forth between using the whirly bird and the gun while they’re pressure cleaning. This process ends up being slow and inefficient because every time you switch the equipment, the pressure washer needs to be turned off, unplugged, and then turned back on. This ends up taking your cleaner double the time to get this step complete. 

5. Wash the excess water and dirt off

The final step – it’s time to wash away all the dirt that has been ingrained in your outdoor areas! 

Because the whirly bird only scrubs and loosens up all the dirt, it’s not actually washing all of the dirt away – yes it’s loosened, but it’s not being removed. If a cleaner was to miss this step, the water and dirt that was just scrubbed would dry back onto the surface which defeats the whole purpose of high-pressure cleaning!

This is why a cleaner must go back with the handheld pressure gun to wash the whole area off.  

And what you end up with is clean, stainless, and brand new-looking outdoor areas.

Remember that carpark that once had oil stains? They’re completely gone.

Or the footpath that looked dark and grey? It’s now back to its initial colour.  

Why you need high-pressure cleaning done

Are you still considering whether you need outdoor high-pressure cleaning done at your site?

Let me ask you this.

Would you rather dirty and stained-looking pathways and carparks that are unappealing?

Or a clean and vibrant look?

I know which option I’d rather have, and you should too! (I’ll give you a hint, it’s the latter!)

Without having your cleaner perform yearly (if not more) pressure cleans, dust and dirt will collect in concrete pores which leaves a dirty residue behind. Even mould will begin growing in the pores! This is why concrete discolours so easily and quickly. 

Pressure cleaning is the only solution to making the outside of your building look brand new again.

Our team of professional cleaners, along with the team at Hudor Cleaning Services, are highly trained in performing high-pressure cleaning. We use quality equipment and products to get the job done properly.

If you still have a few questions after reading this article, please schedule a call with Paul or Caitlin. We’re happy to go through everything with you.

Talk to you soon.


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