Pressure Washer - Planning Accordingly

Joined May 13, 2012
Good evening,

A few months ago I took over a restaurant that has existed for almost ten years. Long story short, the kitchen has not been taken care of very well and although the surfaces are clean, once one looks 'under the hood' it is easy to see the damage of years of maltreatment. We don't have the budget yet to replace anything but something needs to be done. For the atmosphere, I am trying to instill, and for the kinds of staff I am looking to bring on, we need to have a very clean kitchen. At that point it becomes a question of maintenance, not overhauling everything.

My plan is to use a pressure washer and I am looking for help from anyone who has experience with this to ensure that the small details that can lead to things going wrong are accounted for before I start spraying everything.

A few things to note about the kitchen:
  • The floor drains work, but the floor is not designed to lead water into the drain. The drain is almost the highest point of the kitchen.
  • The main line is an open kitchen and water will flood into the dining room if there is a lot.

My plan is to bring staff in on a Sunday (the restaurant is closed) so that we can worry a little less about these issues.

What I am thinking so far:
  • I need to clean the primary equipment and am thinking that I will need to take apart a lot of it to avoid damaging the delicate components. For example, the deep-fryer has parts behind the door that can be damaged easily, correct? Or am I exaggerating the power of a pressure washer or the delicacy of the equipment?
  • The floor seems simple, as do the walls.
  • The dish area seems difficult to me as all of the lines to the chemicals and the operating parts under the machine itself seem delicate. I suspect I will have to take apart that as much as possible as well.
  • We have brick walls in much of the kitchen downstairs, will brick handle the pressure well, or will it break apart?
  • In terms of the water, I am thinking of buying or renting a shop-vac to deal with it. Does this make sense? In my mind, I have one guy with a large squeegee directing the water into the drain and another operating the vacuum to help with the water. What am I missing?
  • Will this be effective on pans as well? I suspect so, although maybe crucial layers of steel will be taken off?
Any advice will be helpful. Feel free to ignore the points I have raised as well and just give general advice or your methodology based on experience. This may turn into multiple posts as I attempt to turn an old, run-down kitchen into something beautiful on a small budget.

Thanks for any help in advance!
Joined May 25, 2015
You can pressure wash the floor with a grease cutting floor cleaner. Squeegee and wet vac should work OK for cleanup. As for everything else on your list stay away from them with the pressure washer! If you need your hood and exhaust fan cleaned there are companies who specialize in that.
Joined Aug 15, 2003
I think you'll be fine. I would avoid places like the inside of the fryer (maybe you'll just have to use some old fashioned elbow grease for that). Put covers or tape or something over outlets. I would do as much as possible outside if you could. Tables, shelves, fridge shelves, etc.

I wouldn't think that a pressure washer would do any damage to metal or anything...isn't it designed just for that purpose? All your backsplashes, surfaces, etc should all hold up to a pressure washer.

You may need or want to spray with degreaser before you use it, especially in the most soiled areas. Make sure people have eye/breath protection for that stuff. Gloves, etc.
Joined Feb 17, 2010
Get some Superclean from an auto parts store..Great degreaser for about $10 gal. I used it for years on my food truck. Be very careful on any painted surfaces, grout, etc. a pressure washer will destroy things if the user is not experienced. Maybe you have in the budget to purchase one? It's a great tool to have around for routine maintenance.
You can get a nice Honda powered one at Costco for about $300
Joined Jun 25, 2017
I had a similar situation... for the really dirty stuff like sides of the fryers and back of ranges, I rented a steam powered pressure washer that shot out pressurized steam. I also recommend putting down some eco digester drain cleaner in your floor drains before and after this project. It eats the grease up.

Also if your budget allows, consider having someone come in and disconnect all your equipment and replace any old gas lines with new quick connects. Makes cleaning equipment easier in the future.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Pressure washers have a nasty habit of kicking up spray and debris all over the place. It's one thing to take, say shelving units or portable equipment outside and blast them-which works pretty well, but to spray walls or floors is just asking for a lot of extra clean up. Directing a jet spray on painted surfaces will usually loosen and flake off paint and it will shred wood. Really powerful pressure washers can also remove grout from tiled surfaces and chip off or etch cement surfaces.

What has worked best for me is to apply degreaser via a spray bottle on walls or floors, allow to soak in, then attack with a scrub brush mounted on a broomstick. As others have said, wear proper protection with this stuff.

Best if luck!
Joined Oct 31, 2012
I used a pressure washer in my restaurant for some heavy cleaning. I agree with the advice already given.
Not all pressure washers create the same pressure and the more expensive ones have settings and different changeable tips so you can adjust the pressure and how it is applied. They can be extremely powerful. Don't spray humans or get your hands in front of the active spray. It is not a toy and can seriously injure someone.
Before using the washer in the kitchen, test the pressure on some items outside like a painted piece of wood, the sidewalk, something metal, etc. so you know how effective it will be on different surfaces. The stronger ones will absolutely ruin some things so you need to know before you damage anything.
The washer will absolutely spray debris everywhere. It is best used on walls and floors or any large flat surface if inside. I used a less powerful one inside by creating large stand alone panels of wood or cardboard to keep the overspray contained. They really make a mess.
For the heavy grease buildup on equipment, I used wall paper scrapers and had multiple blades handy. A lot of strong degreaser first, metal scrub pads, then the scraper. Dental picks are very handy for tight, small areas like around factory name plates, gauges and switches. Lots and lots of buckets of water and cloths.
Kitty litter and oil absorbers from the auto parts store are also useful for any floor area that tends to collect grease.
Don't use the pressure washer the inside of the fryer where the electronics are or on any of the other equipment. It will absolutely do irreparable damage.
A pressure steamer is great for some things but will also damage some surfaces. I got one for about $700 from a local janitorial supply. A bit of testing is needed here too. Also very handy item to have for general use. I used mine to remove my home kitchen linoleum floor as well.
A lint/ dust brush is good for the evaporator coils on the refrigeration equipment. They sell specialized cleaner for those so the fins don't get damaged but degreaser works pretty well if you are gentle with the lint brush.
Much of the project can be tested in small jobs beforehand so before you devote an entire day to it, you can plan the various steps of the project to be more organized.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
I will second the fact that pressure washers aren't toys and they can do some serious damage. I was working with a guy as we were cleaning an outdoor picnic shelter, he had on sandals, was using the pressure sprayer, not paying attention and accidentally swiped it across his food. He seriously cut his food wide open with the pressure sprayer. People tend to think that because it's water, it isn't that dangerous, but they can be, especially the professional quality ones. Make sure that your cooks understand the dangers of these things.
Joined May 25, 2015
To be fair, I haven't seen your kitchens and the impression I get from your question is that you don't have much experience with pressure washers. Just to add to what chefwriter chefwriter said, most kitchens aren't designed for "washdown" meaning that flooding the surfaces with water and detergent is not something you want to do unless you want to do a lot of damage. Most kitchens have electrical receptacles, switches, conduits and other items that you absolutely can't get wet. And don't expect masking take to withstand the blast of a 2000 PSI spray of water. I don't know what all your walls are made of, how they are finished and what condition they are in. I would be concerned about water seeping in and causing mold, mildew and other damage. I'm also a bit concerned about your thinking that you are going to do this, even taking equipment apart, in one day and be back up the next day as you "attempt to turn an old, run-down kitchen into something beautiful on a small budget." I would be careful that you don't shoot yourself in the foot, make a mess and trigger a health department inspection before you can re-open.
Joined Oct 31, 2012
Halb brings up a good point about not doing it one day. After reading that I re-read the original post. If the kitchen is as you say, very old and dirty, it may be that some of the equipment is being held together by some of that grease and gunk. You may uncover problems you can't solve in an afternoon. Likewise with the floor and walls. Cleaning and uncovering some surfaces may mean the need to repaint or re-grout. Grease is a great destroyer of grout.
So first I would clear out the clutter. Extra pots and pans, utensils, dishes, anything that sits around without being used on a daily basis. Any large, heavy equipment taking up space, like a broken floor mixer, old stove, etc? Work on getting rid of those. Get the kitchen stuff down to only what you use every day, once a week at most.
Then begin by cleaning some equipment as well as you can one at a time. See if you can move it away from the wall. Is it on wheels? Is anything blocking it's movement? Can you clean the walls and floor behind it just by moving it?
Are there any special tools like a floor jack or dollies that might be needed to move the equipment?
Rather than wait until that Sunday, poke around and see what problems you may have. Clean as much as possible, a little every day. Write down any issues you find.
If you work at it a little every day now, the big day with all hands on deck will be much more effective.
Top Bottom