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Do you need an outside tap for a pressure washer?

Pressure washers require plenty of water to operate and water from the source has to be pressurized enough so that it can flow into the pressure washer unit and get sprayed out of the nozzle. In order to feed enough water to the pressure washer the hose of the pressure washer is usually connected to an outside tap. But not everyone has an outside tap where they live or the outside tap might not be working properly.

Do you need an outside tap for a pressure washer?

It is possible to use a pressure washer without connecting it to an outside tap if the water source has enough pressure to feed water to the pressure washer pump. Or if you have a pressure washer that has its own supply, or can pump up the water from an external source. For a normal pressure washer, you can not simply place the pressure washer hose inside a water source and turning the pressure washer on.

Most pressure washers have built-in features that allow you to pressure wash using water from a bucket. While in some cases you might have to adapt the pressure washer to be used without an outdoor tap. There is also the bucket cordless SunJoe SPX6001C (check the details and price here) that has its own water bucket on top. But it is definitely possible to use a pressure washer without an outdoor tap and in this article, we will tell you why and how so keep reading.

Pressure washing without an outdoor tap

When a pressure washer is running it draws a significant amount of water. Some heavy-duty pressure washers use as much as 8 to 10 gallons of water per minute when they are running.  So the three main things you have to be careful about when using a pressure washer with a water source other than an outdoor tap are:

  1. Enough water: The source of water should have enough water to feed the pressure washer pump.
  2. Enough pressure: There should be enough suction or pressure to move water from the source to the pump of the pressure washer.
  3. Clean water: The water you are using should be clean and the water source shouldn’t have any particles or debris in it that can damage the pressure washer.

If you can somehow fulfill these three requirements of the pressure washer you shouldn’t have any problems with running a pressure washer. Since an outdoor tap has water coming directly from the tank, it has enough gravity pressure to supply a decent amount of water to the pressure washer. Simply put, a pressure washer needs water flowing into its pump in order to pressurize it and shoot it out of the nozzle.

The pump of most pressure washer can’t actively suck water from a water source such as a bucket because the pumps used in pressure washers are not ‘transfer’ pumps. This means you can risk burning the pump of your pressure washer if you simply leave the end of the pressure washer hose in a water reservoir and run the pressure washer. Not to mention the water you are feeding into the pressure washer has to be clean because you can ruin your pressure washer if something gets into the pump.

For Electric Karcher pressure washers you can buy a special water suction hose with a filter. Check the price here. There is also a generic water suction hose with a filter. Check the price here.

How to pressure wash without an outside tap?

While the ideal way to use a pressure washer is by connecting it to an outdoor tap there are some methods that allow you to temporarily and even permanently use your pressure washer without requiring an outdoor tap. You can use your pressure washer without an outside tap through the following ways:

Using an indoor tap

The most obvious alternative to an outside tap is to use an indoor tap to feed water into the pressure washer. But most pressure washer hoses aren’t long enough to reach an indoor tap so you will have to get a little creative to be able to use an indoor tap for running a power washer. Since most kitchen faucets are closer to windows it makes a kitchen faucet an ideal indoor water source because you can easily run a garden hose through the kitchen window and connect one end to the kitchen faucet and the other end to the hose of the pressure washer.

But one thing you will need to make sure before connecting the pressure washer hose to the indoor tap is that there is sufficient flow of water being supplied from the tap. When the distance between the indoor tap and the pressure washer is too long, you will not be able to get enough water pressure through the garden hose and the pressure washer will not receive enough water to work properly.

So before using a garden hose to connect the pressure washer with an indoor tap, run the tap with the garden hose connected to it to make sure that sufficient water is flowing through it and the water isn’t losing pressure. You can find some suitable thicker garden hoses here.

Note: How to connect a pressure washer to a kitchen tap

Most indoor taps are not designed to connect a garden hose directly to them, therefore, you will have to buy and attach an adapter accessory to the indoor tap that allows you to connect a garden hose to the tap directly. If you have a dedicated washing machine tap in your house and the pressure washer hose is long enough, you will be able to connect it directly to the indoor washing machine tap since these taps are of the similar size as an outdoor tap and they have the threading that allows you to connect the pressure washer hose directly to them.

You can find indoor tab adapters here.

Using a water barrel

Another great way to provide sufficient water to a pressure washer is to use a water barrel if you don’t have a dedicated outside tap.  A water barrel can collect rainwater as well and you can use the stored rainwater to run a pressure washer. Most decent-sized water barrels can hold up to 300 gallons of water which is enough to run a pressure washer for as long as half an hour. And since water barrels have a tap near the bottom, you can easily connect the pressure washer hose to the water barrel tap and start cleaning without having to connect any extra extension hoses. Water barrels also have threaded taps which will make it even easier for you to connect the pressure washer hose. One thing you have to be careful about when using stored rainwater is the debris that might be inside the water. Therefore it is a good idea to keep a lid on the water barrel when it is not being used to prevent anything from falling into the water barrel.

You can find suitable water barrels here.


You can also fill the water barrel from the indoor tap using a garden hose and then use the pressure washer directly from the water barrel tap.  

Using a bucket

The least effective substitute for an outside tap is a bucket because it holds a very little amount of water. But if you have to use your pressure washer for a very short time it is possible to use a bucket. But there is a catch to using a bucket to feed water into a pressure washer. As we mentioned above pressure washer pumps aren’t meant to suck water that is why some pressure washers have suction hoses that actively suck water into the pressure washer unit. All you have to do is place the suction end of the hose in the bucket and turn on the pressure washer. But even if your pressure washer didn’t come with the suction hose feature you can buy a suction hose accessory from the store and attach it to your pressure washer if you want to use the pressure washer with a bucket.

Although you will be able to use your pressure washer using a bucket, the pressure washer is going to use up the water from the bucket pretty fast and you will have to refill the bucket over and over again.

You can find some bigger water buckets here.

Use a portable pressure washer

If you only do light pressure washing and don’t a very heavy-duty pressure washer you can buy a portable pressure washer with a built-in water tank. A portable pressure washer will free you from the trouble of connecting the pressure washer hose to a source because you can fill the built-in tank with water and start running the pressure washer. The only downside of portable pressure washers is that they are meant to handle light usage and don’t have a lot of power.

One of the more popular models is the bucket cordless SunJoe SPX6001C (check the details and price here) or the Karcher OC3 (check the details and price here).

Another portable model with a larger tank is the Koblenz HLT 370 with a 7.92 gallon tank (check the details and price here)

Bucket cordless SunJoe SPX6001C. Check the details and price here.


If you plan on using the pressure washer frequently the most sensible solution is to install an outside tap. But if you don’t pressure wash often and only use the pressure washer for short periods then you should be fine without an outside tap by using the methods we have explained above.