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washing car

How To Use A Portable Pressure Washer For Trucks and Camper Vans

In this article you will learn:


  • How to wash your truck or camper van with a portable pressure washer

  • Pressure washing tips to keep your paint safe

  • How a pressure washer can save you time while washing your truck or camper van

If you wash your truck or camper van at home, you know what a time-consuming job it can be. You’ll likely welcome any shortcut you can find to speed up the job. We have two words for you: pressure washer. 

With a high pressure spray gun, a power washer delivers more cleaning power than a garden hose while saving time and water in the process. Blasting away dirt, mud and grime, they’ll help you clean your truck or camper van faster. 

With just a few handy tips, you’ll learn how to use a powered pressure washer on your vehicle’s paint safely and easily. Try one in your cleaning routine and you’ll never want to go back to an old-fashioned garden hose again.  

Let’s get started! 

What you need to know

Pressure washers are available with two basic types of compressors: gas and electric motors. Gas-powered pressure washers create a stream of water up to 3,500 psi. These are great for large, heavy duty jobs, like power washing large patio areas or plant machinery, but the water pressure from a petrol-powered washer is too powerful for your paint job. Electric pressure washers, on the other hand, deliver a stream of water at 1,200 to 2,500 psi. That’s strong enough to break up tough dirt but not too powerful for your vehicle’s paint job. So that’s tip #1: always make sure to use an electric pressure washer, never a gas-powered one, to wash your truck or camper van. 

The next safety tip is all about tips—spray tips! On clear coated paint, always use a spray tip that creates a fan-shaped pattern of about 45 degrees. By spreading the stream of water, you’ll spread the pressure evenly across a broader area of your vehicle. With a pressure washer, you should use jet spray tips only on the wheels and tyres, never on the rest of your vehicle. 

What you’ll need for the job

Water, even at high pressures, is not enough to get your truck or camper van completely clean.  

For starters, you’ll need a quality car wash shampoo. We recommend our Hybrid Solutions Pro Pure Wash for the primary cleaning solution, but you may want to consider our M.A.X. Power Wash for ultra-strong, degreasing power. And, for stubborn, stuck-on stains like bird droppings, insect remains and tree sap, a specially formulated cleaner like our Insect Remover will make the job easier and safer for your paint than car wash shampoo alone. For the wheels and tyres, we recommend our Hybrid Solutions Hyper Foam Wheel Cleaner & Tyre Prep

In addition to cleaning solutions, you’ll need a few tools, such as a bucket, a chenille wash mop, a microfiber wash mitt, microfiber drying towels, our Wheel Woolie brushes and a stiff-bristled tyre brush. Also, a garden sprayer will come in handy for prewashing large trucks and camper vans. 

And last, but not least, when your done with the wash, you may want to protect that clean finish. Our Hybrid Solutions Pro Flex Wax will add a beautifully shiny gloss and months of protection against soils and harsh environmental elements like damaging UV rays. 

Start with the wheels

As with all car washes, the first step in washing your truck or camper van should always be the dirtiest part of the job, and that means your wheels and tyres. 

Using the jet stream, 10-degree tip on your pressure washer, spray the wheel wells, wheels, brake components and tyres. The high water pressure will break up much of the mud and caked-on soils. Be careful not to spray any painted surface of your vehicle with this high-pressure tip. 

After you’ve sprayed all four wheels and tyres with the pressure washer, clean each wheel and tyre one at a time. Spray them with a specially formulated wheel and tyre cleaner such as our Hyper Foam Wheel Cleaner & Tyre Prep. Allow the cleaner to soak on the surfaces for about a minute. Use a wheel brush, like our Wheel Woolie brush, to agitate the cleaner and break up soils and stains. Scrub the entire wheel, reaching back into the barrel of the wheel to reach the brake components as well. Scrub the tyre with stiff-bristled brush. 

Rinse the wheel, holding the tip of your pressure washer 15 – 20 cm away from the surface. Starting at the top, rinse the wheel in a clockwise motion. Then follow the same motion to rinse the sidewalls of the tyre. 

After rinsing, towel dry the wheel and tyre. Rinse all soil out of the wheel brush and tyre brush and move to the next wheel. Once you’ve cleaned and dried all four, it’s time to wash the rest of our truck or camper van. 

Washing the body of your truck or camper van

To rinse the glass and painted surfaces of your vehicle, switch from the 10-degree tip you used on the wheels to the broader, 45-degree tip for the rest of your vehicle. Starting at the roof, rinse the entire vehicle holding the spray tip at least 15 cm from the paint and 30 cm from trim. Work your way around and down the car, finishing the rinse at the lower rocker panels. 

If you’re using a garden sprayer, fill the container with a solution of car wash shampoo and water. Apply the car wash solution evenly to one section (approximately 60 cm x 60 cm) of your vehicle at a time. Start at the top; however, if you don’t plan to wash high areas like the roof of a camper van, don’t apply any car wash shampoo to those areas. If left unrinsed, shampoo residue can dry and stain the finish. 

The chenille wash mop will help you scrub large surface areas faster and more easily. Use it to clean most of your vehicle and use the microfiber wash mitt to get into smaller, tighter spaces. After you scrub the first section, use the pressure washer with the 45-degree spray tip to rinse away the dirt and soap. Dry the area with a folded, microfiber drying towel and move to the next 60 cm x 60 cm section. 

Repeat these steps for each section, working around and down the entire vehicle, finishing at the lower panels. Treat tough stains, like bug remains and tree sap with a specialty cleaner like our Insect Remover. Spray onto the stained area and allow the cleaner to dwell for a minute or so. Once the stain is broken up, wipe away the residue with a clean microfiber cloth.

washing car

Protect your work

Once your truck or camper van is sparking clean, it’s the perfect time to protect the finish against future soiling and damage from the elements. With an easy-to-use, spray-on, wipe-off wax like Hybrid Solutions Pro Flex Wax, getting months of protection takes only 20 to 30 minutes. Best of all, that half-hour investment now will save you more time down the road, as your future washes will be much easier. 

Once your vehicle is freshly washed and waxed, your work is done! That wasn’t so hard now, was it? 

hs pro flex wax

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