House washing with the X-Jet
can keep you off ladders while delivering acceptable quality to your customers. The concept is to do all of the work with good chemical cleaners rather than with physical scrubbing or pressure.
X-Jet is named that because it is an “external” injection system, introducing the cleaner to the water after all of the hoses and fittings. Using an X-Jet prolongs the life of all of your wear items such as hoses and quick-connects.
Always soap from the bottom up and rinse from the top down. You can apply a strong cleaner to the surface of the house and let it sit for about ten minutes before rinsing it off.
You can accomplish the job with many different ingredients, but degreasers and sodium hypochlorite are the primary ingredients that most professionals rely on. Our experience led us to preference for a butyl-based degreaser for its terrific results on the hydrocarbons that make the atmospheric dirt stick to the house surface.
When power washing with an X-Jet
, you automatically dilute the cleaner at some ratio. If you have to dilute a product before you run it through your X-Jet, the math can get pretty confusing. Let's start with the basics of x-jets, and advance to Combination Ratios.
The X-Jet is simply a chemical delivery system disguised as a pressure-wash tool. While keeping you off of ladders for housewashing, it will deliver any chemical to places up to 40 feet up in the air without requiring that chemical to go through the pump, hoses, fittings, etc. The term we have coined for this is “external injection”. Instead of replacing brass QC fittings in as little as three months or replacing hoses as frequently as once each year (which happens when you downstream strong cleaners) these wear items can last for years when all they ever touch is water. In the end, owners of X-Jets stay off ladders more often, save lots of money on replacement parts, and save time and labor dollars.
We even demonstrated the X-Jet for our Work Comp carrier and got our premium reduced because it indicated that we would not normally use a ladder for a housewash job.
There are two inherent difficulties to overcome when you begin using this tool, however. One of these problems is the math of double dilutions. The other is mobility while working on large areas (like washing houses).
The double dilution math problem happens when you must first dilute a concentrated cleaner before putting it through the X-Jet (which dilutes the product a second time). Some of us have a hard time with ratios and proportions and proper dilutions, and double-dilutions are doubly hard to think through.
When you use an X-Jet (and you are using detergent concentrates for their cleaning power and low cost) this can all be just too much math. Many contractors just experiment until they find a mix that works, but there is a better, more exact way to look at these complex dilutions.
Let’s say you want to use PowerHouse®
(which is so concentrated that the label advises not to use it on painted surfaces at a dilution less than 15:1). That means 15 parts water to one part detergent. With an X-Jet and this powerful cleaner, you have several options to get the desired results.
We will figure on using our 4 GPM power washer. (X-Jet proportions change according to the GPM of the equipment.) Let’s also not worry too much about being exact. If we are aiming for 15 : 1 and can easily get to 16 : 1, then we just ought to accept 16 : 1 as “close enough”.
Under the 4 GPM column in the X-Jet directions, we see the following:
No proportioner: 1.6 : 1
2.5 : 1
5 : 1
10 : 1
16 : 1
…and so on.
What options do we have? Well, we could dilute the product 10 : 1 and then run it through the X-Jet with no proportioner and get 16 : 1. Or we could just drop the X-Jet hose directly into the jug of cleaner and use the red proportioner, which delivers 16 : 1. Those two are the easy ones.
If the only proportioner I could find that day was the grey one, the math would get a little harder. In order to end up with 16 : 1 as my dilution, I would have to dilute the cleaner to some level. The math is not hard, just unfamiliar. In that case, I know that I want to deliver 15 gallons of mix for every gallon of concentrated cleaner that I use. If I use the grey proportioner (2.5 : 1) then I divide the 15 gallons that I want to end up with by the 2.5 ratio of my proportioner. That tells me that I must start out with 6 gallons of diluted cleaner – made from one gallon of my concentrated PowerHouse®. Adding 5 gallons of water to one gallon of PowerHouse will give me 6 gallons of cleaner, which the X-Jet will further dilute to 15 gallons of cleaner with the 2.5 : 1 grey proportioner.
How many gallons of cleaner should you plan for any job? A universal number for using quality concentrated cleaners is that, in their final dilution, they will cover about 150 square feet per gallon. If the surface to be cleaned is about 3000 square feet, then you will need about 20 gallons of cleaner (3000 / 150). So, if the house we are washing has about 2400 square feet of surface area (a good typical size), we will need (2400 / 150 =) about 16 gallons of cleaner.
Let’s also assume that the recipe we are going to use is the following:
1 Part PowerHouse
+ 2 Parts 12.5% Bleach
+ 7 Parts water
= 10 Parts of cleaner
Applied with no proportioner in our X-Jet, meaning that we dilute this to 1.6 : 1, the 10 Parts of cleaner mix we start with becomes 16 Parts of cleaner applied to the surface. This is the right amount for the 2400 square foot house we used as our example.
This recipe results in the PowerHouse ending up diluted to 15 : 1 (15 Parts water and bleach to 1 Part PowerHouse). It also ends up with the bleach at a 1.8% concentration (14 Parts water and PowerHouse to 2 Parts 12.5% bleach) which is plenty strong enough for most situations.
Obviously if you have a power washer that only puts out 3 GPM, your ratios change (and so should your recipe). You will still need the same number of gallons (16) to clean the surface. The X-Jet (without any proportioner) on a 3 GPM power washer will dilute the cleaner by a ratio of 1.2 : 1 (as opposed to 1.6 : 1). That means that we need 13 gallons of cleaner to do the same job. (16 / 1.2 = 13).
In that situation, creating a recipe is simple. The recipe above results in 10 gallons of cleaner with the ingredients in the right ratio. We need to end up with 13 gallons of cleaner, so we have to use 1.3 times as much of each ingredient to get the proper result. Here is the easy conversion:
1.3 gallons of PowerHouse®
+ 2.6 gallons of 12.5% bleach
+ 9.1 gallons of water
= 13 gallons of cleaner
If this is still a little confusing we have developed a cheat sheet
located on the PowerHouse page.
Once you have nailed down your house washing formula, you are ready to start work. Here is where “mobility” becomes an issue. Most contractors start out with an X-Jet and no accessories, because they are unfamiliar with the product and the potential. We see people concentrating on getting the lowest price on the internet for the tool, but not talking to someone experienced at how to use the tool to its fullest capacity. The dealers who have never walked in wet boots just don’t understand how important those accessories are.
The top item on the list is the spill-proof Closed Pail System
. This is a 5-gallon pail that is completely closed and cannot be spilled (even if it is tipped over). You simply detach the mushroom filter from your X-Jet siphon hose and attach that siphon hose directly to the tube coming out of the spill-proof jug. The tube runs down to the bottom of the 5-gallon container, so you always pull cleaner from the bottom of the pail. The container, when full, weighs about 40 pounds, which is easy enough to carry from one side of the building to the next. It will carry enough soap so that you will probably only refill it once to complete the average house wash (particularly if you are using one of the proportioners). If you accidentally pull the hose and tip the jug over, your cleaner will stay in the jug and your X-Jet will continue to siphon out cleaner at the proper ratio.
The manufacturer used to make a backpack container, but there were always inherent problems using a backpack. I know, through a very personal experience, that backpacks develop leaks over time. You don’t want something that will clean a house dripping down into your personal areas. The new closed-system pail is about half the price of the old backpack system, and much safer to use.
If you have questions about how to use an X-Jet or where to buy one, please call us or look online at the SBSMD store.
By the way, consider adding extras like 4 ounces of SoSoft
Rinse Aid. This allows the windows to rinse almost spot-free - a great “up-sell”. We charged customers when we added the rinse aid to the final rinse of the house, but I know several contractors who just throw it in as a part of their service. This is something that costs as little as 40 cents per house, so you can economically include it in your mix without charging extra.
Finally, consider cleaning the outside of the gutters as an extra-charge service. Gutter Zap
and your X-Jet make an unbeatable team for that job. Expect to be able to remove about 90% of those pesky black streaks without ever getting on a ladder!
In all, washing a house with an X-Jet is economical from a labor/time perspective – with most jobs only taking an hour to do (or up to two hours for very large homes). The cleaner mix is inexpensive as well. The cost of a single gallon of PowerHouse is between $7 - $9 dollars. The cost of two gallons of 12.5% bleach should be in the range of $3 - $5 dollars and the cost of adding Wet Wax and SoSoft adds one more dollar. For as little as $11 - $15 dollars per house spent on your cleaner, you can charge $200 to $300 for the service you give. Here is a classic case where $15 worth of materials and a $125 tool will save you hours on every job you do. At $100 per hour (your target earnings) the economics of using this method are exciting!
Example 1: For our illustration, we will use PowerHouse®
concentrate for a house wash. This cleaner’s label advises you to dilute the product at least 16:1 before applying to a painted surface. To use PowerHouse straight from the jug (full-strength), you could simply use the XJet with the red proportioner and get an application @ 16:1 (which is fine).
Example 2: If you have lost your red proportioner, you could add 1 gallon of water to 1 gallon of PowerHouse®
and then use your beige proportioner. Because you “cut” the cleaner 1:1 before it went through the X-Jet at 10:1, you would actually end up applying at a final ratio of 20:1 (which is OK).
Example 3: If you didn’t have any proportioner, you could “cut” the product by mixing 9 gallons of water with 1 gallon of PowerHouse®
. By the time it ran through the X-Jet @ 1.6:1, your final application rate is actually 16:1.
The math here can be complex and confusing at first, but look at it this way. If you add up the total number of gallons resulting from the first cut of the product, and then multiply that number times the ratio of the X-Jet proportioner you select, you will find the overall dilution rate. In Example 2, the first cut produces 2 gallons of diluted cleaner. Running those two gallons through a 10:1 ratio gives you the 20:1 final ratio. In example 3, which is a little harder to understand, you have to see that you have 10 gallons of diluted cleaner which you then run through your X-jet at 1.6:1 – which gives you a final ratio of 16:1.
So let’s put all this higher math to some practical use:
For discussion purposes, assume that you will use about 10 gallons of this cleaning mix to completely wash a 3-4 bedroom (2400 sq. ft.) ranch house. You can easily clean 5 or more of these houses with a single jug of PowerHouse.
To make a KILLER STRONG housewash product using PowerHouse®
and 12% bleach, mix 1 gallon of PowerHouse®
with 5 gallons of water and 4 gallons of 12% bleach. That gives you 10 gallons of cleaner, with the PowerHouse diluted to 10:1 and the bleach is cut down to 4.8%. Running that through the X-Jet with no proportioner (1.6:1) gives you a final dilution on the PowerHouse of 16:1 and cuts the bleach to 3%. This is the strongest solution of bleach you should ever use to wash the dirtiest, moldiest house.
To make a NORMAL housewash product that still foams and cleans well, make a mixture of 1 gallon of PowerHouse®
, 7 gallons of water, and 2 gallons of 12% bleach. Once you put this mix through the X-Jet with no proportioner, you end up with the PowerHouse®
at 16:1, which is great. The bleach will end up at 1.5%, which is ideal too.
Consider adding extras like 4 ounces of Wet Wax and/or 4 ounces of SoSoft Rinse Aid to make your mix special for your customers.
Economics: The cost of 1 gallon of PowerHouse®
is under $7. The cost of 2 gallons of 12% bleach is somewhere around $3. The combined cost of the entire batch of cleaner then totals about $10. Doesn’t get much more reasonable than this!
With the job worth $150 - $250, the cost of materials is as little as 4%.
If the PowerHouse®
mix cuts your job time by 20 minutes, which has been our experience, then it saves you $33 (at the average target of $100 per hour).
Alternative House Wash recipe using Citrus Cleaner
Citrus Cleaner is an alkaline cleaner that comes in a 55-gallon Mix-It-Yourself Kit, which means that you get the main ingredients but you do not get a 55-gallon drum. This is designed for minimum freight costs to the customer.
In a 5-gallon container, put in 1 gallon of Citrus Cleaner you created from the Kit. Add 2 gallons of 12% bleach. Fill the rest of the way with water. This mix makes enough to wash a 3-4 bedroom, 2400 sq. ft. ranch house.
Apply to the house at 4:1.
Since both the bleach and the Citrus Cleaner
are alkaline, the mix created above can be judged as equal to 3 gallons of 12% alkaline chemical in a 5 gallon mix. That means that the percentage of alkalinity can be judged as 6%. Putting this through a 4:1 dilution means that you will end up with an overall percentage of alkaline content in the 1.2% range, which is perfect for average cleaning.
You can tweak this mix by adding more Citrus Cleaner and/or bleach and less water or by changing your X-Jet to a different ratio proportioner.
Buy your X-Jet
, from our store today and start saving time and making more money!