Commercial Surface Cleaning

Tim Smith

New Member
I have been contacted by gas station and a chain resturant to clean.

The gas station wants me to clean their parking lot and around their pumps on a contract basis.

The resturant wants me to clean their outdoor patio and around dumpster - lots of black from foot traffic.

I have a cold water 3000psi 4gpm unit. If I do not have hot water unit or surface cleaner - Should I hold off on these types of jobs?

ps The resturaunt manager (big chain) acts like I should do it for nothing, almost like he is doing me a favor to give me the opportunity to do it. Is this common?

If I decide to take these jobs on - I plan to give an estimate for a one-time cleaning and then a different price to clean on a schedule basis. Is this on target?


New Member
Ok so you know you really need hot water to do that job and perhaps the manager knows it too.

Hold off NO, if you don't get it someone else will and you lose, you want that?

Ignore his I want it free attitude, he is trying to do a mind game on you for a low price. Yes the first cleaning is going to take longer and use more chemicals so charge more then the monthly repeat rate.

Now that said what do you plan to do with that water once clean the concrete?

Best you check with the local water/sewer department and also EPA on this one, gas stations are not allowed to run that water into the drains.

Tim Smith

New Member
Thanks Jon did not think of EPA - I need to check on that. I would guess that a water reclaim system is expensive.

Can it be done with cold water?


New Member
Yes you can clean concrete with cold water although I have never done it many have started out that way.

What you need is the right degreaser/soap/chemical to do the job and there are as many out there as names you can make up.

By that I mean private label stuff. I will not recommend one brand over another and I am changing to an enviromentally safe degreaser so it will not damage my pump and reclaim system.

I cannot say how it performs yet but will soon enough and I do hope it works as I have been informed it does.

Most or should I say all chemicals having caustic will damage the pump over time.

As to cost of a reclaim system, you can make a simple one or buy them from say $1,500 up.

I did a lot of research and could not see paying $7,000 up for one that does the same as the one I got.

Bells and whistles look nice but it is what it does internally that is important. Do not take this to mean the expensive ones are not good as mine cost less then that but a heck of a lot more then the lowest priced ones.


Tim Smith

New Member
Thanks Jon - I read your post a lot. I know you do a tremendous amount of flat work and was hoping you would reply.

I am going to hold off on these jobs. I just do not have the proper equipment to do a quality job at this time. I take a lot of pride in my work and my name means a lot to me. I would love to cash in, but will wait till I have the capital to purchase a hotwater machine, surface cleaner and reclaim system. Being new in the business, quality is everything in building a reputation. I will continue to research and hope to learn more from you in the future. I appreciate your time. Thanks.


New Member
I agree with Ron, anybody playing mind games will ditch you for the next guy being a buck cheaper! If it is true in window cleaning, I'm sure it's true in power washing! I say stay away! It will wear you and your helpers out trying to please someone who will never appreciate you!
I would also like to know how HARDER Walter works to please arrogant customers! GUT feel and experience will be your best guide![whip]

Tim Smith

New Member
My reason for passing on the job - is not the managers attitude but lack of equipment to do a Quality job. I can care less about the attitude of the manager.



Try harder means get the equipment or whatever you need to do to get the job done. If all you work for are people that are happy and go lucky, good for you. I do what it takes whether a customers attitude is good or bad. Do the job the best you can, if they don't like it, so be it. Avoid the customer not the job.


New Member
Ok let me try it another way, I am not trying to scare you away from the business of pressure washing, why I said many guys have started out with cold water machines.

What I want you do is know where you stand with the laws of water run off and what you can and cannot allow to go down the drain. I could say what I can do here but every state, every city and county is different.

Want to learn fast, do your own driveway if you have one, if not your parents or inlaws or a neigbors for FREE.

Practice, practice and more practice is how you will master it with hot OR cold water.

Then when you feel confident go to that manager and offer to do it FREE, yes a whole free demo.

If and I am sure you will be sure he likes it he will change his attitude about cost.

Try it, it works.

Did you just ask have I ever gotten accounts from a free demo? YES I sure have.

Just don't do this to a mama and papa store or a one or two location account. Also learn who the district and or regional manager is and contact him about all of his locations.

Now off your butt and go practice till you have it down pat, then venture out into the world of pressure cleaning/washing.


Warren Smathers

New Member

Can you shed a little light on a chem question? When do you use a caustic for flatwork and when would you avoid it? Examples would be HD-80, Zep Big Orange, or DNB-1430. Specifically, I am wanting to know any potential damages to asphalt, etc that could occur using any of these chems. Thanks.

Tim Smith

New Member


I gave the resturant manager an outragous bid and he took it. So I am going to go for it.

Question - I am going to be cleaning walkway in front of resturant - it has black stuff on it from foot traffic - would a mixture of muratic acic and water work? If so, what mixture would you recommend? Remember, I have a cold water unit.


I take input from anybody.


New Member
Have not been on much lately, to busy with work and house guest.

Oh and working in 90+ heat at night too!

I don't use muratic acid, never have so can't say what it would do.

I have been using R-109 but am trying out different things now that won't damage the pump when it runs though the reclaim and back though the pump.

SC 1000 right now, just started so cannot say how good it is going to be, did a truly bad dumpster area last night, black as black can be and ended up not to happy with the results. Keep in mind it was 101 at midnight so hard to keep that concrete damp allowing the chems to do their jobs.

At times I mix a bit of oxalic acid with chems. you could also use it alone but don't let it sit very long, spray down, brush in and pressure wash it off.

That black stuff is two things, grease from cooking and grease/oil from the asphalt. Messy stuff to work clean, 15° and slow going should do it.

Bill B

New Member
Tim, if that black stuff is grease and other organics I would assume something on the alkaline side (caustic based) would work better than acid. Keep us informed.


New Member
Cleaner info

Tim, I sell products, as you know, and while reading your post was reminded of what I ws taught about concrete cleaners. Quite often, concrete cleaners will have either Potassium Hydroxide, or Sodium Hydroxide in them. Both can do a good job used with cold water. The big difference is this, Potassium Hydroxide work best in organic kinds of greases (shuch as you'll encounter at restuarants) and Sodium Hydroxide tends to be better when dealing with pretrolium kinds of oils. Both can do O.K. on either kinds, they just tend to be more effective on the kinds previously mentioned. Just wanted to put this info out there so you can be better informed as to what product you may want for your job. Hope it helps. Good luck!

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