Hot vs Cold Water Pressure Washers: Which One Do You Need?

If you are trying to decide what is better, a hot water or cold water pressure washer, the obvious answer is it depends on what you are cleaning. In this article, we’ll look at the individual uses for a pressure washer and evaluate whether hot or cold water is best for each application.

Comparison: Hot vs Cold Water Pressure Washers

When you’re cleaning farm equipment, tillers, fences, barns, or walkways, a pressure washer can really help speed up the process.

But what’s the difference between hot vs cold water pressure washers?

Hot and cold water are used for cleaning everything from clothes to buildings and hardscapes. Varying temperatures are better for specific applications. Boiling water is known to destroy bacteria, while cold water is gentler on lawns and gardens.

Hot Water Pressure Washers

Hot water costs more to heat up, so there is a higher cost of running these models. When you use hot water, you’ll be able to wash away some substances that cold water cannot, such as oil and grease.

The hot water provides additional cleaning power, although the heat may be too much for thinner woods or plastic.

Temperature levels can reach 200°F, which is ideal for:

  • Oil
  • Grease
  • Bacteria
  • Algae

If you run a farm in a colder region, it’s recommended that you use a hot pressure washer that will keep the water lines ice-free and running smoothly.

Cold Water Pressure Washers

green tractor working in the fields

When you need to clean off dirt and grime, either from feeding buckets or a tractor, a cold water washer will work best. These models are best suited for mixing in detergent and can confidently be used on:

  • Plastic
  • Wood
  • Decks
  • Siding

One of the main benefits of cold water is that it doesn’t pose a risk to plastics, which can warp under the heat of a hot water pressure washer.

In terms of cost, you’ll spend up to three times more to run a hot washer. Higher fuel costs and additional mechanical components are used in hot washers that are not in their cold counterparts.

Before choosing hot over cold (or vice versa), consider all of the surfaces that you need to clean.

cleaning the roof of a carport with a pressure washer

Pressure Washer FAQs

A few of the most common questions people ask that can make it easier to compare which pressure washer is the right choice for your home or farm include:

What’s the Best Pressure Washer for Grease?

Hot water is needed for breaking down grease. When hot water hits the grease, it will break it down at the molecular level, making it easier to clean. Cold water will cause the grease or oil to become or remain thick, making removing the substance much more difficult.

The hotter water and high-pressure levels work best on grease.

What Power Washer is Best for Disinfecting?

mother and baby sheep in the field

If you need to clean and disinfect equipment used to feed farm animals, a hot water pressure washer is a better choice. Pressure washers with a wet steam option are even more efficient.

Disinfection can be accomplished with cold water if you add a detergent, but the heat of a hot washer is a much better solution to kill bacteria. Since temperatures can reach 250 degrees, the water will be able to disinfect surfaces.

Some models, those reaching 200 or more degrees, are so powerful at disinfecting that they can be used in commercial kitchens.

Are Hot or Cold Water Pressure Washers Better Around Plants?

Plants and crops can become damaged from high heat, so it’s best to use cold water in this case. Of course, you’ll want to lower the pressure as much as possible to keep the pressure from damaging the plants.

It would be best if you did not directly pressure wash any plants or crops.

Is a Hot Pressure Washer Best for Mold and Mildew?

fence with mold growing

A lot of people assume that it’s the pressure that will cut away at mold and mildew.

Cold pressure washing will actually leave streaks that can be permanent, and they also tend to cut into surfaces.

Hot water models work best in this case, too.

You’ll need the right detergent to kill mold and mildew, so be sure to pay special attention to the mixture you choose. Keep water levels hot and lower the pressure on the unit when cleaning away mold and mildew.

Lower pressure will conserve more water, too.

Is Cold Pressure Washing Best for Fencing?

white picket fence in a field

Fencing may not be as crucial as cleaning farm equipment, but if you want to make your outdoor areas look good, pressure washing your fencing is a good choice. 

Hot water can cause the grain to raise and can also cause your wood to look aged. In comparison, cold water will allow you to remove algae and grime built up on the fencing. So for wood fences, cold water is generally best. 

If you’re washing older woods that are more delicate, start with a lower pressure level and slowly increase to ensure no damage occurs to the fencing. It’s better for the washing to take longer than to damage the surface of the fencing.

Which is Best? Hot or Cold Water

Hot vs cold water pressure washers. Find out which pressure washer is best for each job

Hot washers can quickly clean out pens and can be used for buildings, grease, and bacteria, while cold water can be used for your exterior fencing, flooring, and even farm equipment.

For farmers, you’ll find that the debate of hot vs cold water pressure washers ends up with a person purchasing both models. Each one has a specific purpose.