Remediation of heavy-metal-contaminated sediment is often hampered by the availability of heavy metals to the added chemical agents because the heavy metals are often shielded by the sediment matrix. Effective heavy-metal extraction technique becomes an important factor in enhancing the treatment efficiency. A novel extraction/washing technique utilizing chelating agent and elevated pressure in consecutive cycles of compression and decompression has been developed for heavy-metal-contaminated sediment washing in the presence of chelating agent. In this study, the optimal operational conditions of pressure-assisted cyclic washing of Cu-contaminated sediments (initial Cu concentration = 23.177 mg/kg) were determined in a laboratory-scale system. The control factors included applied pressure level, washing time, applied chelant [ethylenediamine-tertraacetic (EDTA)] concentration (0.01–0.5 M), pressure times, and application of consecutive batches washing. Results from the bench-scale study showed that up to 70 % of Cu can be removed from the sediments when 10 atm of pressure was applied for washing. The efficiency dropped to 55 % when the pressure dropped to 6 atm. Under the same operational conditions, the optimal cyclic washing time was 60 min. Results from the particle size analyses indicate that the mean particle size dropped from 100 to 50 μm after the pressure-assisted cyclic washing. Thus, cyclic pressure caused the fracture of sediment aggregates resulting in the exposure of Cu to chelating agents. With the assistance of pressure cyclic system, the total washing time and the amount of added chemical agent used can be significantly reduced.