How to turn air compressor into pressure washer: Can I Use My Air Compressor as a Pressure Washer?

Can An Air Compressor Become A Pressure Washer?

Our garages and storage areas can get pretty cluttered with all of the stuff we end up needing to maintain our households. From basic gardening tools, mowers, holiday decorations, bicycles, some do not even have space in their garage for their car.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have multiple tools wrapped up in one? If you have an air compressor already, you might notice that it seems like the pressure from the air compressor could help with pressure washing. Maybe there’s something you can do to combine your existing air compressor and the pressure washer you want.

Can an air compressor become a pressure washer?

We do not have a straightforward answer, instead, the answer is more like, “sort of.” It is possible for your air compressor to become a pressure washer with an attachment like this spray gun, which connects your garden hose and air compressor. But the results will not be the same.

Water Jet Cleaning Gun

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at Amazon

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Your garden hose typically will produce 40-70 PSI. Most pressure washers will start at 1300 PSI, and can only go up from there. No matter the attachments or modifications you make on your air compressor, you’ll only get to about 100-200 PSI if you’re lucky.

That is still double the size of your standard hose and is really handy if you have a job that needs a little more power than your hose but does not need the power from a pressure washer. PSI is the pound per square inch that is exerted onto the surface, so it’s the measurement that says how strong the pressure is. The greater the PSI, the more it’ll likely spray off.

You can also focus the stream to specific areas but moving it closer to the surface or by using different nozzles to make the stream more narrow. However, your option is really limited in you are going the air compressor/garden hose route.

Get an electric or gas pressure washer if you have a really tough job beyond just day to day cleaning.

Can you use a garden hose as a pressure washer?

When using a standard garden hose for clean up jobs, you’ve definitely used the trick where you cover a piece of the opening with your thumb to create a jet of water. Or maybe you have a nozzle with several settings and one of them packs some heat with it.

But is it possible to get a specific attachment to pressurize your garden hose? You may have already heard about the Turbo Jet Power Wash, which claims to turn your garden hose into a pressure washer. It does produce a more powerful jet stream.

The consensus among reviewers is that it does not much better than the jet-setting on an adjustable hose nozzle. Your garden hose will likely never exceed 70-100 PSI, so pressure washers are still the better option.

Turbo Jet Power Washer

at Amazon

Prices accurate at the time of writing

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If you are going to turn your air compressor/garden hose into a pressure washer, understand that the results will not be the same. But that doesn’t mean that it is useless. In between thorough pressure washings, your air compressor could help with maintenance pressure washing. This could also be true with a more delicate job.

For instance, say the powered toy car that the kids like to ride around in. You want something to chip off chunks of dirt, but you do not want to harm the neat stickers. An Air compressor as a pressure washer could help for such a job.

BONUS: Why Is Your Pressure Washer Smoking?

Alternatives to Pressure Washers

If you are trying to save garage space and have them bulky equipment, you could consider a combination unit that is both a pressure washer and an air compressor. Combination units are generally electrically powered. 

Electric washers won’t give you the same pressure as a gas pressure washer. Although they do exist, they are also a little difficult to come by. The only unit we found on Amazon is currently unavailable as of Summer 2018.

But do not fret, if you do not have a pressure washer or do not have space for one. There are other cleaning methods that you can use to take care of excessive build-up.

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Cleaning by Hand

This one is not our favorite, but good ol’ fashioned elbow grease is sometimes adequate. While we may not want to do it, it can help to get down and dirty with a scrub brush and soap.  

But it is at least quieter than using a pressure washer or a garden hose trick, so you could wash your driveway at 2 am without waking the neighbors. The dirt and grime that pressure washers can push away with ease can still be cleaned by hand.

For instance, oil on the driveway can be a pain to clean so we like to think that pressure washing is the easiest. You can sprinkle sawdust or kitty litter on the stain and let it sit for half a day. Then, sweep it up and discard it then spray your driveway with your garden hose.

You can use dishwashing soap and hot water to clean up additional stains and dirt. To tackle that oil stain, even more, dip a deck brush into a hot water and soap mix and scrub away.

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Heat is proven to be a huge factor when it comes to cleaning. Even when you are washing by hand, it is almost always advisable to use hot water for the toughest stains.

When a material that is stuck to a surface, using a heat gun and a scraping tool can help remove that material. Of course, this may be extremely tedious and your arms might hurt from it, but it is an option if you’re without a pressure washing.

Soft Washing

Soft washing is actually the preferred method over pressure washing depending on the job. For instance, many roofers discourage using a pressure wash on a roof since it could lead to irreversible damage. You can read more about pressure washers and roofs here.  

Soft washing relies on low water pressure, but a higher volume of water. Often times, you get a much more overall clean with soft washing. It is able to get into small sections that a pressure washer stream is not able to reach.

The soap is able to spread out more to reach the little nook and crannies that can’t be scrubbed. Since you do not need a lot of pressure, you can usually soft wash using a standard garden hose. Many people also claim that soft washing is the better method overall.

This is because plants will not be harmed by harsh pressure. You can also be a little more flexible with different soaps that you can use. Pressure washers need specific soaps in order to not be overly foamy. With soft washing, you can use almost any soap depending on the job and surface you are cleaning.

Items Discussed In This Post
Turbo Jet Power Wash Air Compressor Electric Pressure Washer
Gas Pressure Washer Pressure Washer Nozzles Water Jet Cleaning Gun

Using an Air Compressor as a Pressure Washer — How To

Published By Aidan WeeksCategorized as Air Tools, How To Guides No Comments on Using an Air Compressor as a Pressure Washer – How To

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Have you ever wondered whether you could utilize the pressurized air within your air compressor system and somehow turn it into a pressure washer-like device? I assure you, you’re not alone in wondering about this!

Our garages and workshops get pretty cluttered up with all kinds of stuff, wouldn’t it be nice to find a way to combine your existing air compressor with your desire to have a pressure washer? I will provide you with all the relevant information on doing so, and point you in the direction of some readily available products from Amazon.

Table of Contents

  • Can an Air Compressor Become a Pressure Washer?
    • Pressure Difference between Air Compressor with Garden Hose and Pressure Washer
  • Can You Use a Garden Hose as a Pressure Washer?
  • When Can I Use an Air Compressor Instead of a Pressure Washer?
  • Readily Available Products on Amazon
  • FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can an Air Compressor Become a Pressure Washer?

The answer to this question is more on the lines of “kind of”. Though you can’t literally turn your air compressor into a pressure washer, you can attach a jet cleaning gun that connects your air compressor and typical garden spray gun together.

The results will of course not be the same, mainly due to the pressure difference.

Pressure Difference between Air Compressor with Garden Hose and Pressure Washer

Typical garden hoses produce around 40-70 PSI in comparison to pressure washers which typically start at around 1300 PSI – what a jump right?! So no matter how many attachments or modifications you make you will only really be able to get around 100-200 PSI at your absolute best if you’re lucky!

This can be ideal of course for jobs that don’t need a pressure washer but instead need a little more power than typical garden hoses.

If your job requires a great amount of pressure then you should look to purchase a pressure washer instead of relying on your air compressor.

Can You Use a Garden Hose as a Pressure Washer?

To put it into simple terms, no. It’s impossible to have a garden hose operating at the pressures required or deemed as standard for pressure washers. However, you may be able to get a specific attachment that will claim to turn your garden hose into a pressure washer by producing a more powerful jet stream by making it narrower.

I’m sure you’ve tried the trick where you cover a piece of the opening on the garden hose with your thumb to create a jet of water, this works in a similar fashion. Though, these attachments may not necessarily be any greater than the “jet” setting already implemented in your garden hose.

It’s very unlikely that your garden hose will be able to exceed 100 PSI so if you require greater pressures than that, I will again recommend buying a pressure washer as your better option.

When Can I Use an Air Compressor Instead of a Pressure Washer?

Before going forth and buying the attachments to make your air compressor into a pressure washer, you must consider what you’re actually going to be able to achieve with it.

The results will not be as expected, you will not have the same capabilities as a pressure washer. Your air compressor can be used as a maintenance pressure washer, it won’t be able to completely wash filthy jobs but it will be able to remove some amount of dirt, especially when fresh.

If you plan to fully restore something then a pressure washer is thereby advised, but if you’re just keeping on top of something to stop it from getting in a bad state, an air compressor as a pressure washer could be fit for the job.

Readily Available Products on Amazon

Now let’s take a look at some products that can help you turn your air compressor into a pressure washer ready for your suitable applications.

The first is the Guardair 79WG Syphon Water Jet Cleaning Gun which allows you to connect your air compressor fittings to a garden hose. The air compressor attaches to the handle of this device and then the garden hose attaches to the hose adapter.

A different option, if you’re specifically out for this, is the 40cm Car Water Cleaning Gun attachment for your air compressor allowing you to spray pressure and clean your car with the highest efficiency.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How do you spray water with an air compressor?

First of all, you will want to turn on the air compressor and allow it to build up pressure. Then you can connect one end of the garden hose to a water tap on the outside of your garage/workshop. Connect the other end of the garden hose to the water line connection on the pressure washer attachment and then plug the air hose from your air compressor into the airline connector on the attachment and you’re good to go!

Can you pressure wash with an air compressor?

Yes, you won’t be able to achieve anywhere near as much pressure as a pressure washer but you will be able to conduct maintenance pressure washing. To do so, you will need a pressure washer attachment connected to the air hose of your air compressor and to a garden hose. This will allow you to increase the pressure when spraying water from your garden hose without buying a separate power washer.

If you have any questions regarding using an air compressor as a pressure washer, please leave a comment below, with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!

Published By Aidan Weeks

Categorized as Air Tools, How To Guides

By Aidan Weeks

A passionate Mechanical Engineer with endless enthusiasm for fluid power — building off the back of over 18 years of high quality contribution and discussion stimulated by Bill Wade here at About Air Compressors.
With both practical and theoretical experience in pneumatics and hydraulics, I’m putting my knowledge to work — and working my grey-matter through my research, assistance and publishing work here at About Air Compressors.
Feel free to reach out any time!
P.S. A HUGE shout out to Doug who really offers such great value to all visitors to About Air Compressors — once again, feeling like I’m standing on the shoulders of GIANTS by getting to work alongside such a great community

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