Starting A Pressure Washing Business: The Financials

January 27, 2022

Laura Renae

There is great satisfaction to be found in watching dirt and grime slide down the side of a house revealing sparkling siding and spiffy shutters. That satisfaction is something you could revel in everyday if you start a pressure washing business. 

Pressure washing isn’t for everyone. It requires physical labor, and little bit of an investment to start. But once you get going, pressure washing can prove to be an incredibly lucrative business.

Today, I want to share with you how you can go about starting your own power washing business with the potential to make $45,000 per year in profits–just by working as a part-time side hustle.

We have created a power washing income and expense excel spreadsheet that is perfect for an owner-operated power washing business.  I have created a demo video that will walk you through what to put in each section of the spreadsheet in order to have realistic, industry standard projections that you can include in your power washing business plan or SBA loan application.  Typically SBA lenders will ask for projections when you apply for a loan, so our hope is to make that process really easy for you.

Now that you have seen what the expense spreadsheet looks like, and how it works, I wanted to tell you more about the financial aspects of starting your pressure washing business. Let’s dive into what startup costs might look like, generating sales, and making a profit of $45,000 or more.

How Much Does It Cost to Start A Power Washing Business?

It costs between $500 and $15,000 to start a pressure washing business.

Your power washing business could cost anywhere from $500 to $15,000 to start, all depending on the scope of your business and what pressure washing services you intend to provide.  This low startup cost makes the pressure washing business a great business to operate as a side hustle for some additional income.

Today we are talking about starting a residential pressure washing business. So the cost won’t be quite as high as $15,000, but it will still require some investment.

The following is a list of things you’ll need to purchase in order to start your pressure washing business:

  • A pressure washer–(Medium-duty new hot water electric for our purposes) $3,500
  • You’ll need to do some research and decide what type of pressure washer you want to purchase.  This article from Pressure Washr lists out some of the best pressure washers in different price ranges and different levels of power and use.
  • Cleaning supplies–detergent, nozzles, etc.
  • Detergent–$16.23/gal Home Depot (3-4 gals to start = Approx. $70)
  • Nozzles–KarcherUniversal 6-in-1 Nozzle for Gas and Electric Pressure Washers– $29.50 Home Depot (3 or 4 to start–Approx. $118)
  • A hose ($50-$100)--we recommend doing research on what type of hose you should buy starting with this guide from Pressure Washers Direct.
  • Business license ($50-$100) depending on locale
  • Insurance (general liability $50-$100)
  • Utility trailer ($1500–this is assuming that you have a vehicle that can pull the trailer) 
  • Environmental permit (this is required by some states due to the expelling of water into the sewers) ($100)
  • “Go get ‘em” attitude–$0.00

Our research suggests you might be looking at a cost of $5,500-$6,000 to start your pressure washing business.

Using our expense spreadsheet, you’ll be able to input the costs of the equipment and supplies that you’re considering to get a more concrete idea of what your business might financially require to start.

What are the Operating Expenses of a Power Washing Business?

In general, the operating expenses for running a pressure washing business aren’t particularly significant. As with any business, you’ll have to consider your monthly fixed expenses and your variable expenses alike. 

Pressure Washing Business Fixed Expenses

We estimate that your fixed expenses will include these primary categories:

  • General Liability Insurance 
  • Workman’s compensation (even if it’s a solo operation, you want to be covered if anything happens to you on the job)
  • Equipment insurance (especially if you bought that new $4,000 pressure washer. You’ll appreciate the coverage if anything happens to your equipment)
  • Permit renewals (yearly)
  • Marketing (this will depend on your marketing strategy)

According to Pressure Washr in their complete contractors guide, they estimate that on average in the US, insurance to cover your pressure washing business comes out to about $1,711 annually. Monthly, that comes out to an average fixed cost of $143 for insurance.

Pressure Washing Variable Business Expenses

Along with the fixed expenses, as previously mentioned, you have to consider your variable expenses.

For a pressure washing business, your variable expenses might look similar to the following:

  • Fuel to get from client to client ($3.30/gal)
  • Replenishing detergent
  • Let’s assume you use an entire gallon of detergent on any given house. In a week you might use 5 gallons at approx. $17/gal, and that would come out to roughly $85/week, and  $340/month on detergent
  • And to be safe, let’s factor in an additional $200/month for unexpected costs, maintenance of equipment, etc.

In total, your variable costs could be anywhere from $600-$800/month. And combined, your operating expenses would be about $943/month.

How Much Can You Generate In Sales Power Washing?

A part time pressure washing business can make $54,000 per year in revenue.

It has been mentioned before that power washing can be a profitable business. Profits, of course, only come if you generate enough sales.

Home Advisor lists the average rate as $192-$400 for pressure washing the exterior of a house. Let’s say you charge approximately $300 per house (and this may vary depending on size of house and average rate in your area). If you are able to power wash a minimum of 5 houses in a week at $300 each, you’re making $1,500 in sales in just one week. That totals about $6,000/month. 

Something to keep in mind though is that pressure washing is potentially only a seasonal gig. So, you may only be able to provide pressure washing services for 9 months out of the year. Even so, if you’re able to average $6,000 per month, for 9 months, you have the potential to see an annual revenue of $54,000.

The amount that you can generate in sales will vary depending on how many clients you can procure and whether you work full-time or part-time. It is also noteworthy to say that this estimate is for a solo-operation. If you were to have several employees under your hire, your business would be able to generate a greater revenue.

How Much Profit Can You Make Power Washing?

We already discussed how much revenue you can generate in sales, even just doing five jobs in a week. But what about the profits?

For your first year, you’ll have to consider the costs of the required certifications, and start-up supplies. And because of those start-up costs, your first year will look different than the second. 

From our estimates, if you’re making $6,000/month in revenue, and spending just under $1,000 in operational expenses, you could potentially be seeing $5,000 in profits each month. That comes out to $45,000 of profit for a 9-month active pressure washing season.

If you consider your starting costs in the first year, you’ll have to subtract about $6,000 from your calculated profits. That leaves you with about $39,000 in profits. 

We know that your business might not start out with five clients in a week, and you might finish your year with ten or more clients in a week. Our income and expense excel spreadsheet will allow you to input all of your own numbers to help you keep track and understand your earning potential for your pressure washing business.

Power Washing FAQ's

We have covered some of the basic information you might need if you want to start a pressure washing business. But there are some other common questions that you might have:

Is it better to buy a hot water pressure washer or cold water pressure washer?

In general, it depends on what you’re pressure washing. If you are going to be cleaning engines, or surfaces with grease, oil, and grime, then you’ll definitely want a hot water pressure washer to do the trick. Cold water pressure washers are effective on dirt, caked mud, and even paint. The difference is that cold water moves the dirt, and hot water cuts through it. According to Hotsy, “the rule of thumb is simple: whatever cold water cleans, hot water will clean better and faster.” You can find their article outlining when to go with hot versus cold water here.

What should I look for when buying a pressure washer?

You’ll find quickly that there are many factors to consider when buying a pressure washer. You’ll need to consider first what you intend to wash. Some tasks will require more powerful units than others. Once you decide what you’ll be washing (in our case, houses, driveways, sidewalks, fences, etc.), whether commercial or residential, you’ll have a better idea of what type of pressure washer to buy. Then you need to check for water output (GPM–gallons per minute), water pressure (PSI–pounds per square inch), and power rating. Pressure Washr has created a helpful guide that details the different aspects to consider when buying a pressure washer.

Is there special training I need to have before starting my pressure washing business?

Officially, the answer is no. You don’t need any particular certifications or degrees to tell you that you can start pressure washing. What is recommended though is to practice practice practice on your own property to make sure you

A. Like pressure washing

B. Know how to pressure wash, even if you taught yourself

C. don’t make any mistakes that could be potentially damaging to a client’s house.

Though, that is what you have that liability insurance for. If you do want some form of training, there are a ton of resources online where you can learn the basics of pressure washing.

For example, Pressure Washr has a guide to pressure washing that you can find here.

As you can see, starting a power washing business has the potential to be profitable even as a side hustle.  We know that some business owners will want to do pressure washing full time, maybe you will have multiple employees, maybe you will serve commercial clients as well as residential clients. We wanted to focus on pressure washing as a side business, but our cleaning financial projection template can be filled out with assumptions for a small side hustle or a pressure washing empire.

Let us know what questions you have as you get started and good luck!

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels

About the Author

Laura Renae is a content writer and copywriter with a love for research and a passion for sharing what she learns. By day she works in the finance industry, and by night she’s a proud cat-mom of 4. With a background in theatre, Laura is driven by making connections with readers and speaking to the humanity within.

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