How to Treat a Pressure Washer Injury: Tips, Techniques, and Safety Precautions

Accidents happen, no matter how careful you are. If you’re a regular pressure washer user, then it’s likely that one day you’ll find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having sustained an injury related to your use of high-powered equipment.

Thankfully, there are some tips and techniques that can help treat a pressure washer injury correctly. Anything from using cold water compresses to following safety precautions – so that you can avoid further harm and get back out there doing what you love sooner!

Read on below for our guide on how to treat your pressure washer related injuries with ease.

What Happens if You Get Hit by a Pressure Washer?

Getting hit by a pressure washer can result in a variety of potential injuries. These injuries range from mild, such as skin abrasions and bruises, to severe, including deep tissue damage and infections.

A pressure washer is not just a high-powered hose. It’s a tool that can forcefully eject water at over 2,000 pounds per square inch (PSI). To give you an idea, that’s over 30 times the pressure of a standard garden hose.

Let’s dive a little deeper:

1. Skin Abrasions and Bruising

At a basic level, the sheer force of the water can cause skin abrasions and bruising. Think of it like a highly concentrated, pinpointed punch that the skin isn’t prepared to absorb. Even at a low PSI, the intense pressure of the water can break the skin and cause bruising.

2. Deep Tissue Damage

More concerning, though, is the potential for deep tissue damage. The water from a pressure washer can effectively “inject” itself into the body, causing an injury similar to a gunshot wound. This is often termed as a “high-pressure injection injury”.

3. Infections

Even if a pressure washer injury seems minor on the surface, it can still lead to severe infections. The water jet can introduce bacteria deep into the wound. It results in infections that can be hard to treat. In some cases, these infections can lead to serious complications like cellulitis, abscess formation, and even septicemia, a life-threatening blood infection.

4. Eye Injuries

If the pressurized water hits the eye, it can lead to severe eye injuries, possibly causing permanent vision loss. It’s imperative to wear safety goggles when operating a pressure washer to protect your eyes from such risks.

Ideal PSI for Pressure washers for Various Uses:

TaskSuggested PSI Range
Light Cleaning (Patio Furniture)500 – 1500 PSI
Car washing1200 – 1900 PSI
Deck and fence cleaning1500 – 2000 PSI
House siding and exterior walls2000 – 3000 PSI
Driveway and concrete cleaning2500 – 3000 PSI
Paint stripping2500 – 4000 PSI
Heavy-duty industrial tasks3000 – 5000 PSI

How to Treat a Pressure Washer Injury:

Stop the Bleeding:

If you sustain a cut or any other type of injury while using a pressure washer, it’s crucial to take immediate action to stop bleeding.

  • Apply pressure to the area with a clean cloth or gauze pad. Use a sterile dressing if available. 
  • If the bleeding is severe, call 911 or go to the emergency room right away. Do not attempt to remove embedded objects, such as debris, from the wound.

Clean the Wound:

Once bleeding has stopped, clean the wound with warm water and soap.

  • Gently rinse the area under running water for several minutes.
  • Avoid rubbing the wound, as this may cause further damage or irritation. 
  • After cleaning the wound, apply an antiseptic ointment or cream to help prevent infection.
  • Cover the wound with a sterile bandage to keep it clean and dry.

Treat Burns:

If you sustain a burn while using a pressure washer, the first step is to cool the area as quickly as possible. 

  • Run cool water over the burn for at least 10 to 15 minutes. 
  • Do not use ice or apply any type of oily or greasy substance to the area, as this may worsen the burn. 
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment or cream to the burn, and cover it with a clean, dry bandage.

For severe or extensive burns, seek medical attention immediately.

Eye injuries:

If a pressure washer injury involves the eye, take immediate action to protect your vision.

  • Flush the affected eye with clean, cool water for at least 15 minutes. 
  • If the eye pain persists, seek medical attention right away. 
  • Avoid applying pressure or rubbing the eye, as this may cause further damage.

Risks Involved in Using Power Washers:

Preventing pressure washer injuries is always better than treating them. 

Before using a pressure washer, read the owner’s manual carefully, and follow all safety instructions.

Injury from High Pressure

One of the most common risks associated with using power washers is the potential for injury from high pressure water jets. 

Power washers can generate up to 4,000 pounds per square inch (PSI) of water pressure, which can easily cause lacerations or abrasions if directed at a person’s skin.

Additionally, the force of the water jet can cause objects to be thrown at high speeds, potentially causing serious injuries.

Electrical Shock

Another risk associated with power washers is electrical shock.

Power washers use electricity to operate. So, if they are not properly grounded or maintained, they can become a source of electric shock for anyone who comes in contact with them.

Chemical Exposure

Power washers often use chemicals to help remove dirt and grime from surfaces more effectively. However, these chemicals can be hazardous if inhaled or ingested and can even cause skin irritation if they come into contact with exposed skin. 

It is important to always wear protective gear such as gloves and eye protection when using a power washer to minimize exposure to any harmful chemicals that may be present in the cleaning solution.

Fire Hazard

Power washers also pose a fire hazard due to their ability to generate high temperatures and pressure levels when operating at full capacity. 

If used improperly or around flammable materials such as gasoline or oil, it could lead to an accidental fire that could result in serious injury or death. Therefore, it is important to always read and follow all safety instructions before operating any type of power washer device.

Slip-and-Fall Accidents

Power washing surfaces can create slippery conditions due to the presence of water on the floor after cleaning has been completed. It increases the risk of slip-and-fall accidents occurring.

Noise Pollution

Using a power washer creates noise pollution due its loud motor and pressurized water jets which can reach decibel levels far above what is considered safe for human hearing without protective gear such as earplugs or earmuffs.

Water Damage

The powerful jets produced by power washers have the potential for causing significant damage if they are pointed at delicate materials such as wood, drywall, paint, vinyl siding, etc. More so, the force created by these powerful jets could easily penetrate material like this, leading them susceptible to damage from moisture penetration which could result in costly repairs.

Pressure Washer Precautionary Measures:

Absolutely, safety should always be paramount when using a pressure washer. Here are some precautionary measures to keep in mind:

  1. Read the Manual: Before starting, thoroughly read and understand your pressure washer’s user manual.
  2. Wear Protective Gear: This should include gloves, safety glasses, sturdy footwear, and long pants.
  3. Use the Correct Nozzle: Use the appropriate nozzle for the task to avoid unnecessary high pressure.
  4. Never Point at People or Animals: Never aim the pressure washer at yourself, other people, or animals.
  5. Check the Surroundings: Be aware of your surroundings, including electric wires or water sources.
  6. Keep a Safe Distance: Maintain a safe distance from the surface being cleaned to prevent debris from ricocheting back.
  7. Never Use Indoors: Operate pressure washers in an open, outdoor area for proper ventilation and safety.
  8. Proper Handling of Chemicals: Handle cleaning solutions and other chemicals as directed by the manufacturer.
  9. Don’t Leave Unattended: Never leave the pressure washer unattended while it’s running.
  10. Pressure Release: Always release any pressure before disconnecting hoses or servicing the machine.
  11. Regular Maintenance: Regularly maintain and inspect your pressure washer to ensure it’s in good working condition.
  12. Child Safety: Keep children away when the pressure washer is in use.
  13. Never Use Gasoline Pressure Washers in Enclosed Spaces: Gasoline fumes can be lethal in non-ventilated spaces.
  14. Proper Storage: Store the pressure washer in a safe, dry, and childproof location.
  15. Emergency Preparedness: Be ready to seek immediate medical attention in case of an injury.


Pressure washers are incredibly powerful tools and should be used with extreme caution. It’s also important to remember that even careful use of pressure washers can result in accidents and injuries. Therefore, it is essential to wear the appropriate safety gear and follow all the safety instructions whenever you are using a pressure washer.

By following these tips, techniques and safety precautions, you can prevent serious injuries due to a pressure washer accident.

Don’t shy away from taking as many protective measures as possible! With the right care and caution, you can still enjoy the power of a pressure washer without running into any serious harm or injury.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What should I do immediately after a pressure washer injury?

Immediately after a pressure washer injury, you should stop using the machine and turn it off. Clean the wound with warm water and mild soap if available, then cover it with a clean cloth or bandage. Seek immediate medical attention, even if the injury appears minor. High-pressure water can cause internal damage that isn’t immediately visible.

Should I apply an antibiotic ointment to a pressure washer wound?

While applying an antibiotic ointment can help prevent infection in many minor wounds, it may not be sufficient for a pressure washer injury. These injuries can be deeper and more serious than they appear, and self-treatment may not be adequate. Always seek professional medical care.

What symptoms should prompt me to seek immediate medical help?

If you or someone else has been injured by a pressure washer and experiences severe pain, swelling, redness, fever, pus, or other signs of infection, or if the wound is deep or large, seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms may develop hours or even days after the injury, so keep a close eye on the wound and the injured person’s overall health.

What should I do if a pressure washer sprays into my eyes?

If a pressure washer sprays into your eyes, rinse them thoroughly with clean water immediately and seek emergency medical attention right away. This is a serious injury that can potentially lead to permanent vision loss if not promptly treated.

How can I prevent pressure washer injuries in the future?

To prevent pressure washer injuries, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines. Wear protective equipment, including gloves, safety glasses, and sturdy footwear. Never point the washer at people, animals, or yourself. Maintain your machine regularly, and if you’re not familiar with its operation, consider getting trained by a professional.

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