When winter rolls around, it’s important to properly store your pressure washer to protect it from the cold weather and prevent damage. By following a few simple steps, you can ensure your pressure washer lasts for many years to come.
Drain All Water from Pressure Washer
The first and most important step is to drain all water from your pressure washer. Water left inside the pump or hoses can freeze, expand, and cause cracks or leaks. Here’s how to drain it thoroughly:
- Disconnect all hoses from the pressure washer.
- Locate the water drain plug, usually near the bottom of the unit.
- Remove the drain plug to let all water drain out.
- Turn on the pressure washer for 30 seconds to expel any remaining water in the pump/hoses.
- Turn off and disconnect the water supply.
Be sure to catch the draining water in a bucket or pan to avoid a mess. It may take a few minutes for all water to fully drain out.
Add Fuel Stabilizer
If your pressure washer has a gasoline-powered engine, it’s important to add fuel stabilizer to the gas tank before storage. Fuel stabilizer prevents gasoline from deteriorating and forming deposits inside the engine during months of inactivity. Here’s how to use it:
- Locate and read the fuel stabilizer packaging to determine the proper mixing ratio.
- Add the correct amount of stabilizer to the pressure washer gas tank.
- Run the pressure washer for 5 minutes so the treated gas fully cycles through the fuel system.
Be sure to run the engine dry before shutting it off. Adding stabilizer helps maintain engine performance and makes starting up your pressure washer easier after storage.
It’s recommended to change the oil in your pressure washer before off-season storage. Over time, oil breaks down and loses its lubricating properties. Old oil left in over the winter can cause premature wear, corrosion, and deposits. Here are oil change tips:
- Run the pressure washer for 5 minutes to warm up the oil so it drains smoothly.
- Locate the oil drain plug, drain oil into a drip pan.
- Replace oil filter if your model has one.
- Refill with new oil that meets your pressure washer’s specifications.
- Check oil level on dipstick and top off if needed.
Changing the oil removes contaminants and provides fresh lubrication for winter storage.
Protect and Store Hoses
Pressure washer hoses can become cracked and damaged when exposed to cold, dry air all winter. Here are some tips to store them properly:
- Coil hoses gently to prevent kinks.
- Hang coiled hoses to avoid sagging and flat spots.
- Store hoses indoors in a heated area if possible.
- Wrap the ends of hoses in plastic bags to retain moisture.
You can also use a hose reel for easy, compact storage. Proper hose care prevents cracks and leaks come springtime.
Clean Detergent Tanks
Detergent tanks on pressure washers should be cleaned out before winterizing. Leaving diluted soap or chemicals inside can cause buildup and clog components. Here’s how to clean them:
- Drain any remaining detergent from the soap tank.
- Rinse tank thoroughly with clean water.
- Use a soft brush to scrub the tank if needed.
- Remove soap nozzle/injector and clean any clogged holes.
- Let all parts dry completely before re-assembling.
A clean detergent system prevents blockages that could affect pressure washer performance.
Use Pump Saver
Pump saver products provide antifreeze protection for your pressure washer pump during winter storage. Here are some tips for using them:
- Read product directions to determine the proper concentration to mix.
- Drain all water from the pump as described in Step 1.
- Pour pump saver mixture into the pump inlet.
- Turn on pressure washer briefly to circulate mixture through pump.
- Store unit upright to avoid spillage from pump inlet.
The antifreeze prevents internal pump damage from water freezing and expandsions. Remove pump saver in spring before using pressure washer.
Use Fuel Stabilizer
Gasoline powered pressure washers should be treated with fuel stabilizer before winter storage to prevent issues like:
- Deterioration and gumming of fuel
- Difficult starting in spring
- Clogged carburetors
- Damage from ethanol in modern gas
Here are some fuel stabilizer tips:
- Read stabilizer packaging for proper mixing ratio.
- Add stabilizer to gas tank and run for 5 minutes.
- Top off tank to prevent condensation over winter.
- Consider fully draining gas tank for storage over 6 months.
- Always store away from sparks or flames indoors.
Proper fuel stabilization keeps gasoline fresh over months of inactivity.
Pressure washers with electric start engines should have batteries removed or disconnected before winter storage. This prevents gradual discharge over months of inactivity. Follow these steps:
- Locate battery and identify negative (-) and positive (+) terminals.
- Unplug negative (-) cable first, then positive (+) cable.
- Clean corrosion from battery posts and cable clamps.
- Store battery indoors or on a trickle charger if left connected.
- Reconnect positive cable first, then negative when removing from storage.
Disconnecting the battery retains full charge for easy starting in spring. Never store batteries on concrete floors.
Seal Air Intake and Exhaust
Sealing off points where mice or pests could enter the pressure washer prevents damage over winter. Here are some tips:
- Cover exhaust outlet with mesh screen secured by duct tape.
- Place foam earplug in exhaust outlet before screening.
- Cover air intake opening with taped plastic, cardboard, or shop rag.
- Inspect openings and remove seals before operating in spring.
Sealing the unit protects internal components from nesting animals and winter debris during downtime.
Store Indoors If Possible
The ideal winter storage spot for your pressure washer is indoors in a heated area. This provides protection from several elements:
- Prevents cold weather damage to components
- Avoids rust/corrosion from precipitation
- Keeps pump lubricated in warm indoor air
- Allows access to unit for service in winter
- Keeps tools secure against theft
If indoor storage isn’t possible, look for a sheltered area like a shed, garage or under an overhang. Cover the washer with a tarp for extra protection.
Apply Protectants to Metal Surfaces
Treating metal parts of your pressure washer helps prevent rust and corrosion over the winter. Here are some tips:
- Wipe down external metal with cloth dampened in machine oil.
- Spray coil and manifold areas with light lubricant or WD-40.
- Apply protectant thoroughly especially on unpainted metal.
- Consider covering treated areas with plastic sheeting.
- Re-apply protectants periodically if storing outdoors.
A little preventative care reduces the chance of rust ruining external metal components over the off-season months.
Change Pump Oil
Pressure washer pumps with oil reservoirs should have oil changed prior to winter storage. Here’s why it’s beneficial:
- Removes contaminants from old oil
- Replenishes fresh lubrication
- Prevents internal corrosion
- Extends pump life
- Allows inspection of oil for metal debris
Refer to your owner’s manual for proper oil type and changing procedure. Proper oil keeps your pump primed and protected.
Inspect and Replace Worn Parts
The beginning of winter downtime is the perfect opportunity to inspect your pressure washer and replace any worn or damaged parts. Some key areas to check:
- Nozzle – Replace if badly worn. Check orifice size.
- Pump – Inspect for leaks or abnormal noises.
- Hoses – Replace any cracked, brittle, or leaking hoses.
- Trigger gun – Ensure no leaks when triggered.
- Flow control valves – Make sure they open/close smoothly.
- Fuel filters – Replace per manufacturer instructions.
Addressing worn parts prevents bigger failures that could ruin your start of season.
Check Tire Pressure
It’s easy to overlook, but checking the tire pressure on your pressure washer wheels before storage is important:
- Avoids flat spots from winter weight settling.
- Prevents cracking sidewalls from dryness.
- Makes unit easier to maneuver in spring.
- Ensures tires are inflated to proper PSI.
- Check both tires and inflate with air compressor as needed.
Proper inflation avoids damage and makes your pressure washer roll smoothly next season.
Clean Outer Surfaces
Before winter storage, it’s wise to clean all external surfaces of your pressure washer. Follow these tips:
- Spray off dirt, grime, and excess oil with a garden hose.
- Use soapy water and a wash mitt to clean frame and sheet metal.
- Rinse and dry with a soft towel.
- Remove stuck debris around pumps, fittings, and guards.
- Touch up chipped paint to prevent further corrosion.
A clean machine allows you to closely inspect for leaks, damage, and worn parts before the off-season.
Test Safety Features
Pressure washers utilize safety systems you should test before winter downtime. Examples include:
- Trigger lock – Locks trigger to prevent accidental spraying.
- Emergency shut off – Instantly stops the unit in an emergency.
- Thermal relief – Cycles water to prevent pump overheating.
- Flow sensor – Shut off with no water flowing.
- Leak detection – Shuts off with leaks in high pressure hose.
Verify proper operation to ensure safety systems work when you fire it up next year.
Use Pump Storage Oil
Specialized storage oils protect pressure washer pumps over winter. Benefits include:
- Preventing internal corrosion from condensation
- Lubricating plungers and seals
- Separating water from oil
- Protecting against rust and deposits
- Reducing spring start-up wear
Drain water and add proper ratio of storage oil based on pump oil capacity. Inspect oil in spring before use.
Disconnect and Drain Garden Hose
The hose connecting your pressure washer to the water supply can burst over winter if left attached. Prevent this by:
- Turn off and disconnect hose from spigot/hydrant.
- Disconnect from pressure washer inlet.
- Hang hose on reel or wall to drain excess water.
- Cover both hose ends with plastic bags secured with bands.
- Store hose somewhere protected from weather and rodents.
A drained, disconnected hose avoids freeze damage and flows freely when you reconnect in spring.
Lubricate Parts and Seals
Applying lubricant to movable parts and seals before winter storage provides several benefits:
- Prevents seals and o-rings from drying out.
- Displaces moisture to inhibit corrosion.
- Reduces friction when restarting machine.
- Quiets squeaks and squeals from wear.
- Loosens sticky valves and controls.
Consult your owner’s manual for specific lubrication points. Proper lubrication prevents binding andwear.
Preparing your pressure washer properly for winter storage ensures it’s ready for peak performance next season. By draining water, stabilizing fuel, servicing components, and protecting the unit, you can prevent moisture damage, corrosion, and costly repairs down the road. Schedule an afternoon to complete winterization before freezing temperatures arrive so you can relax knowing your pressure washer is safe and protected.