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7 Power-Washing Mistakes to Avoid By USA Today

Tip of the week


Power-washing is an effective way to remove years of dirt and grime from surfaces like driveways and walls. Doing it incorrectly, however, can cause major damage. Here are seven power-washing mistakes to avoid, according to

1. Using too much pressure. Too much pressure can damage surfaces, such as making holes in vinyl siding, etching concrete and even splintering wood. Before power-washing, adjust the pressure and make sure you’re not standing too close to the surface.

2. Limiting yourself to just water. “Almost all power-washing jobs require the help of a detergent or chemical cleanser,” says “Begin your power-washing project by spraying the area with an appropriate, environmentally safe detergent that can break up dirt and kill mold. Apply according to the product’s instructions, letting it sit if necessary, then power-wash it off.”

3. No protecting landscaping. Before power-washing, use a garden hose to wet down adjacent plantings. This will help the cleaning you’re using not dry on foliage, which can leave burn marks. Be sure to re-water the plants if they dry off before you finish the project. Covering your plants with a tarp might be a better solution, depending on what chemicals you’re using.

4. Power-washing painted surfaces. Painted surfaces, especially one that are old or have been exposed to sunlight for long periods, are easily damaged by even light power-washing.

5. Washing a house in the wrong order. “If you are washing an entire house,” says, “start with the roof – although, depending on the roofing material, power-washing may be a bad idea. (Particularly with asphalt shingles, avoid high-pressure jets of water.) After you’ve cleaned the roof, work your way down the exterior, then tackle the porch or patio, and finish up with the windows. If you start with the exterior or porch first, the runoff from cleaning the roof will make them filthy again.”

6. Using hot water. Although commercial power-washing contractors use hot water in industrial applications, residential exteriors might not hold up. Power-washing with hot water can warp vinyl siding or damage other elements like cedar shakes or shingles.

7. No familiarizing yourself with the equipment. Before power-washing, get a demonstration of any rental equipment before leaving with it. If you have bought a power washer, read through the instruction manual before using it.


For tomatoes, use a slow-release organic fertilizer

When growing tomatoes in your vegetable garden, you’ll want to ensure they’re getting a sufficient supply of nutrients, which a gentle organic fertilizer can help with. Here’s what Mother Earth News has to say:

While many potting mixes contain compost or organic fertilizers, the soil is not being actively replenished with nutrients. For this reason, it’s worth applying a gentle organic fertilizer to the plants as they grow. One beginner-friendly tip for feeding tomato plants as they grow is to use a slow-release granular fertilizer. These fertilizers are simply placed on top of the soil and watered in over time, generally lasting for a couple months. They don’t require pre-mixing with water or weekly/bi-weekly application like many water-soluble liquid fertilizers. Pick a slow-release, easy-application, organic fertilizer to reduce maintenance as the plants grow.”


Consider cleanability when selecting kitchen window treatments

Window treatments can add color, light control and privacy to your kitchen. Before selecting curtains and shades for your kitchen, however, consider how easy they will be to clean.

“Keeping kitchen window treatments clean is a must,” says Better Homes & Gardens. “Anything near a stove or sink will soak up splatters and odors from foods, cooking oils, dishwater, and more. The material makes all the difference in how easy it is to maintain your kitchen window treatments. For example, you can simply launder and rehang most fabric valances and curtains, and vinyl blinds, solar shades, and shutters can be wiped down with soapy water. But it gets more tedious when it comes to washing real wood blinds, which have to be cleaned with wood cleaner. Elaborate fabric treatments, such as Roman shades or any panel with lining and trim, typically need to be dry-cleaned. Cellular shades should only be vacuumed to keep them dust-free, so install these in areas far away from potential splatters or spills, such as in a breakfast nook.”


Use tennis balls to remove floor scuffs

Removing scuffs from your wooden floor could be easier than you think. All you may need is a tennis ball.

According to, gently rubbing unwanted scuffs on a wooden floor with a tennis ball can remove them. If you’re dealing with large scuffs, apply baking soda to the area, rub with a tennis ball, then wipe away any residue with a damp cloth.