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Pressure washers are great cleaning tools that can make short work of many household chores. However, cleaning cedar wood fences is not one of them. Pressure washing cedar can actually lead to more problems than you might think. Keep reading to learn why you shouldn’t pressure wash a fence.
Alex Capozzolo

Alex Capozzolo

Co-Founder of .

Pressure Washers are Too Powerful

#1. Pressure washers at too high a pressure can damage the wood grain and cause wood fibers to splinter. This can result in an uneven finish on the fence surface, and make it more susceptible to water damage over time.

#2. Pressure washers are also very powerful and can dislodge any nails or screws that are securing the fence together, leading to loose boards or sections of your cedar fence.

#3. Using a pressure washer on a cedar fence can also strip away any protective sealants or wood treatments that have been applied to the surface, leaving it vulnerable to rot and decay.

#4. Lastly, pressure washers can be dangerous if used incorrectly. They have the potential to cause serious injury if they are misused or mishandled. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, and consider wearing protective clothing such as goggles, gloves, and long sleeves.

Causing Surface Damage

Many people rely too heavily on their pressure washer to clean their cedar fences and patios. Don’t get me wrong, pressure washers are great and often an essential aspect for fence and patio cleaning, but they aren’t an end-all-be-all solution. Too much of it can actually damage the surface of the cedar. And without the use of cleaning solutions, pressure washers aren’t actually going to get rid of bacteria and give your fence a good clean. It is important to remember to apply sealant from time to time to protect the integrity of your cedar fence, as well as [using] a cleaning solution for cleaning purposes instead of just a pressure washer.

Jeremy Yamaguchi

Jeremy Yamaguchi

CEO of .
Collen Clark

Collen Clark

Lawyer and Founder of .

Damaging to the Wood, Your Health, and the Environment

While pressure washers are useful for cleaning a variety of surfaces, they can be detrimental when used on a cedar fence. Here are some of the potential risks associated with using a pressure washer to clean a cedar fence:

    1. Damage to the wood: Pressure washers can damage the surface of cedar wood by stripping off the natural oils. This can lead to discoloration, warping, and cracking of the wood.

    2. Water penetration: Pressure washing can drive water deep into the cedar wood, which can cause the wood to swell and distort. Over time, this can lead to rot and decay.

    3. Health risks: Using a pressure washer can create aerosolized particles that can be harmful to your health if inhaled. These particles can include mold, mildew, and other allergens that can cause respiratory problems.

    4. Environmental impact: Pressure washing can also have a negative impact on the environment. The high-pressure water can dislodge dirt and debris, which can end up in stormwater drains and waterways, polluting the surrounding environment.

To prevent these negative consequences, avoid using a pressure washer on cedar fences. Instead, use a moderate cleaning solution and a soft-bristled brush to scrub away dirt and grime.

4 Reasons not to Pressure Wash a Cedar Fence

Although a pressure washer can be an excellent tool for cleaning various surfaces, using one to wash a cedar fence can be risky. Some potential hazards to consider include:

Wood damage: Cedar is a relatively soft wood, and the high pressure from a pressure washer can cause damage to the surface of the wood. This can lead to splintering, cracking, and other forms of damage that can weaken the fence over time.

Fading of the color: Cedar is prized for its natural color and beauty, but using a pressure washer can cause the color to fade over time. This is because the high-pressure water can remove the natural oils in the wood, which can lead to a dull, gray appearance.

Water damage: Cedar is a porous wood, and the high-pressure water from a pressure washer can force water deep into the wood, where it can cause damage over time. This can lead to rot, mold, and other issues that can weaken the fence.

Injury: Finally, using a pressure washer can be dangerous if not done properly. The high-pressure water can cause injury if it comes into contact with the skin or eyes, and the force of the water can cause the operator to lose their balance and fall.

If you must use a pressure washer, make sure to carefully follow the manufacturer’s directions and use the lowest pressure setting possible to avoid damage. Consider cleaning your cedar fence using a soft-bristled brush and a light cleaning solution instead, as this is a safer and gentler choice.

Isaac Robertson

Isaac Robertson

CEO and Co-Founder of .
Jacky Chou

Jacky Chou

Principal and Director of .

Strip Natural Oils and Fibers

Using a pressure washer to clean your lovely cedar fence can actually be quite harmful. You see, the high pressure of the water can strip away the natural oils and fibers in the wood, leaving it vulnerable to decay and damage over time.

And, if that’s not enough, the pressure can also leave marks and gouges on the surface of the fence, which can take away from its beautiful appearance.

Last but not least, using a pressure washer can also cause the cedar fence to become waterlogged and warp over time.

If you care deeply for your cedar fence and want it to look its best, it’s important to use a gentler method of cleaning. Instead, try using a soft-bristled brush and some water with soap or a specialized cleaning solution. This will help to protect the natural fibers in the wood and keep it looking lovely for years to come.

Remember, taking care of your garden and outdoor space is all about using gentle, caring methods that respect the natural beauty of the world around us. So, take your time, use a gentle touch, and your cedar fence will be the envy of the neighborhood in no time!

Harmful Effects of Pressure Washing Cedar Fences

Using a pressure washer to clean a cedar fence can have several harmful effects, both on the fence itself and the surrounding environment:

1. Damage to the fence
Cedar is a relatively soft wood, and using a pressure washer on a high-pressure setting or holding the nozzle too close to the surface can damage the wood fibers. This can lead to a rough, uneven appearance and may also strip away the protective layer of the wood, making it more susceptible to weathering, rot, and insect infestations.

2. Removal of protective coating
If the cedar fence has a stain or sealant, a pressure washer may strip away this protective layer, leaving the wood exposed to moisture and other elements, which can reduce its longevity.

3. Water waste
Pressure washing uses a significant amount of water, which may not be the most environmentally friendly choice, especially in areas facing water scarcity or drought conditions.

4. Environmental pollution
The runoff from pressure washing a cedar fence can contain dirt, debris, chemicals from cleaning solutions, and possibly toxic substances from old paint or stains. This contaminated water can enter storm drains, polluting local waterways and harming aquatic life.

To minimize these harmful effects, consider using a lower-pressure setting or a wide spray nozzle when pressure washing a cedar fence. You may also want to use environmentally friendly cleaning solutions or explore alternative cleaning methods, such as using a soft-bristle brush with a mild cleaner, to protect both the fence and the environment.

John Ward

John Ward

Account Executive at .

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors' statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.