Cold vs. Hot Water Pressure Washers

Pressure washers are ideal for both residential and commercial settings and can be used for all kinds of tough cleaning tasks. Whether you're washing down your driveway or cleaning your construction site, one of these machines can make the job go much more quickly.

Pressure washers use either hot or cold water to clean surfaces. So how do you know when to choose a hot or cold water pressure washer? In this article, we'll discuss how each one works and which applications they are best suited for.


Cold water pressure washers are ideal for breaking up dirt and stains on a variety of surfaces, including concrete and metal. They are also preferred for wood and plastic, which can warp under high temperatures.

Whether you need to clean a deck or a piece of heavy equipment, any application that requires washing away mud, dirt and other debris can benefit from a cold water pressure washer. You may also be able to add detergent to speed up the cleaning process.

Cold water pressure washers are typically more compact in size than hot water pressure washers, and they also require less maintenance.


For cleaning greasy or oily surfaces, you'll need a hot water pressure washer. Hot water is able to break down the molecular bonds in oil and grease for highly effective removal. They can heat water up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and can be used to sanitize surfaces. They are also ideal for cold weather environments where frozen water lines can occur, and you can even use them to defrost surfaces.

Hot water pressure washers are typically larger and require more maintenance than cold water models. And because they must be continuously heated during operation, they need additional mechanical components and more fuel, which results in higher costs.


If you need to clean or sanitize greasy or oily surfaces, a hot water pressure washer is the best choice. Cold water pressure washers are not capable of removing these challenging materials to the extent that hot water models can, so a hot water pressure washer is worth the investment if you find yourself faced with this task on a regular basis.

When you just need to remove dirt and grime, cold water pressure washers can get the job done. They are ideal for use on driveways and walls, and they are easy to transport. With a lower price tag and minimal maintenance, they are an excellent choice for residential use and small or infrequent jobs.

When to Choose a Hot or Cold Water Pressure Washer

Aside from the basic pros and cons of each equipment type, there are other considerations you should keep in mind when selecting a pressure washer. You'll generate the best results when using a power washer that's best suited to your project's needs. 

To ensure that you choose the ideal washer for your applications, think about some of the specifics of your work to determine the most logical solution.


Hot and cold pressure washers are widely used across numerous industries, but their use does tend to be divided according to their ideal fields. That's why you should keep your industry in mind when choosing between the two.

If you work in oil and gaswaste management, food processing or another market that handles challenging substances like grease, grime and oil, you'd likely benefit from a hot water pressure washer that can break down solid matter and kill harmful bacteria. Companies that are a part of the agriculture, construction and transportation industries tend to use cold water pressure washers that can remove caked-on mud and dirt.


Another vital factor to consider when choosing a pressure washer is how much your company can afford to spend. Generally, hot water pressure washers cost significantly more than cold water variations in terms of being more expensive upfront as well as having higher operational costs because they must generate heat during use. Hot water washers also have higher fuel costs, require frequent preventive maintenance and warrant the purchase of additional mechanical components to support them. 

If your organization has a more limited equipment budget and doesn't frequently deal with difficult substances, a cold water pressure washer may be the better choice for you.

Frequency of Use

You should also think about how often you'll be using your pressure washer on the job. If you're undertaking frequent cleaning operations, you should consider investing in a hot water pressure washer. Though this equipment type tends to be more expensive than its cold water counterpart, it can provide greater speed and efficiency and may be worth the extra money if you'll be using it regularly. 

If you anticipate you'll be using your pressure washer less often, you'll likely be better off purchasing a cold water version. Alternatively, you can handle infrequent or one-off jobs with a rental pressure washer of either type to take advantage of its capabilities without having to pay the upfront expense or the costs of maintenance.

Required Pressure

All applications require different amounts of water pressure to deliver the deepest clean. Because cold water pressure washers use high-power water jets to eliminate tough dirt, they tend to have a higher pound-force per square inch (psi) and emit more gallons per minute (GPM), giving them higher pressure capabilities. So, if your projects require a more forceful spray, a cold water washer may be better suited for you.


Perhaps the most crucial factor in choosing a power washer is what you're planning to use it for. As a general rule of thumb, hot pressure washers are ideal for cleaning automotive parts, engines and any components covered with grease or oil. Cold pressure washers are commonly used for general cleaning projects, such as siding, garage floors, driveways, pavement and other surfaces requiring the removal of mud, dirt, sand and paint.


The Cat® Rental Store has hot water pressure washers and cold water pressure washers available for rent. We supply powerful, reliable models that are ideal for use on temporary projects. We offer competitive rates with flexible terms so we can find an option that works for your project requirements and your budget.

To get a rental quote or to find out more information about a specific pressure washer, you can call us at 1-800-RENT-CAT and we will be happy to assist you.

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