High-pressure washers have made life easier for millions of people who want to beautify their property. With a pressure washer, you can thoroughly blast away grime from hard to wash areas like driveways, decks, even the exterior of a house can be prettified with this powerful technology. The following is a brief history of the invention of the power washer.

Oil on the Floor

In 1926, Frank W. Ofeldt II created the first steam pressure washer in the United States. He invented it while he was working at a Pennsylvania-based company which produced gas-fired water heaters and boilers. While hanging out in his garage designing his portable whiskey, Ofeldt noticed that when his design’s steam outlet was directed downward, wet steam would hit his dirty garage floor and clean the grease off. Because of this, he decided to start his journey to make a cleaning device.

The Steam Jenny

His journey began with his search for a pump casting, which is a process where pump parts are designed and cast by different metals or metal alloys. Ofeldt eventually found Homestead Valve Company. Frederick E. Schuchman Sr. saw the potential of Ofeldt’s apparatus, and he took an interest in collaborating on the project. They soon started developing the product, naming it “Hypressure Vapor Spray Generator.” An advertising man by the name of Eltinge eventually caught wind of this invention and requested a meeting with Ofeldt and Schuchman. When Schuchman and Ofeldt told the marketer what the device did, he suggested the name “High-Pressure Jenny”. While Eltinge wasn’t hired as a permanent advertising partner, he was paid for his proposed name. To this day, pressure washers are still called “steam Jenny’s.”

Pump Technology

As the decades past, and pump innovations continued to take place, so did the design for pressure washers. Perhaps the most important advances in pressure washing came during the 1960s, when “Cat Pumps” established uniflow design piston pumps, which were far superior to previous pumps. Cat Pumps typically lasted 10 times longer than previous pumps and could reach pressures up to 1000 psi. In 1975, because of increased demand for higher pressures, Cat Pumps came out with the sleeved piston pump that had capabilities up to 3000 psi. This is still an industry standard for pressure washers to this day.

Ceramic pumps for pressure washing have continued to advance with not only higher pressures but better safety features as well.


Pressure washing has evolved from its humble beginnings in Frank Ofeldt’s garage to a worldwide, multi-billion dollar industry. Today, hundreds of thousands of people have careers thanks to the invention of the pressure washer.  If your driveway, porch, or house is in need of pressurized washing, call or visit the professionals at Hydra Pressure Washing today!