Shifting mud and grime from your patio, driveway, or car is a time-consuming, backbreaking job that can be made much quicker and easier by using a pressure washer.
A pressure washer is basically a motorized hosepipe. A pump creates a high-pressure jet of water that is used to dislodge dirt in a fraction of the time it would take if you were using a yard brush and hosepipe.
In this guide, we look at how to choose the most suitable pressure washer for your needs. Also, we’ve reviewed a selection of the best pressure washers on the market to help you find the machine that suits your requirements perfectly.
Table of Contents
- Our Magnificent Seven favorite pressure washers:
- Stanley SLP2050 2050 psi 2-in-1 Electric Pressure Washer Mobile Cart Or Detach Portable Use With Detergent Tank
- Greenworks 1700 PSI 13 Amp 1.2 GPM Pressure Washer with Hose Reel GPW1702
- Sun Joe SPX3000 Pressure Joe 2030 PSI 1.76 GPM 14.5-Amp Electric Pressure Washer
- Simpson Cleaning MSH3125-S 3200 PSI at 2.5 GPM Gas Pressure Washer Powered by HONDA with OEM Technologies Axial Cam Pump
- Karcher K5 Premium Electric Power Pressure Washer, 2000 PSI, 1.4 GPM
- Snow Joe Sun Joe SPX3001 2030 PSI 1.76 GPM 14.5 AMP Electric Pressure Washer with Hose Reel
- What type of pressure washer do you need?
- Gas versus electrical pressure washers
- What accessories will you need?
- Is flow rate important?
- Weight, storage, and portability
- What kind of soap should you use in a pressure washer?
- Can you use lake or tank water in your pressure washer?
- How to winterize your pressure washer
- DIY or contractor pressure washing?
- In summary
Our Magnificent Seven favorite pressure washers:
WEN PW31 3100 PSI Gas Pressure Washer, 208 cc
WEN has an excellent reputation for making top-quality, reliable pressure washers. And in the unlikely event that you experience any problems with this machine, they offer a two-year warranty.
This is a powerful gas-fueled machine that’s great for shifting stubborn dirt from wooden decking and house sidings, brick and stone patios, tarmac and concrete driveways. You can also use the pressure washer to clean cars, boats, and RVs, by merely changing the soap nozzles on the hose to adjust to the size and material of the area to be cleaned.
The 208cc engine has enough power to provide a strong, reliable water flow with more than enough pressure to clear the most ingrained muck. Moving around while you’re working is easy thanks to the unit’s 12-inch, no-flat, all-terrain wheels and 30-foot hose.
What we like
- – Powerful engine
- – Five quick-change nozzles
- – Plenty of on-board storage for accessories
- – 30-foot hose length
- – Quick-connect spray gun
- – Onboard soap tank
- – Two year warranty
What we don’t like
- – Lack of national service centers to return the product to in the event of problems
- – If your water source is tanked, you may struggle to get decent pressure.
- – This is a well-designed, top-quality machine, so it does fall into the upper budget range.
- You can check out the WEN pressure washer in action by taking a look at this demo video.
Stanley SLP2050 2050 psi 2-in-1 Electric Pressure Washer Mobile Cart Or Detach Portable Use With Detergent Tank
Stanley is world-renowned for their superior quality manufactured products, and this prestige-grade electrical pressure washer is undoubtedly a formidable piece of kit.
You can use the Stanley to clean almost anything from decks and sidings, patios and driveways, and pool surfaces, to more delicate items such as cars, garden furniture, and pet cages. Merely change the attachment and nozzle to suit the area and surface you want to clean. This machine has the power to tackle the most ingrained dirt, without inflicting damage on stucco or delicate stone surfaces.
The unit comes with its own cart for easy portability. If you prefer, you can remove the washer from the cart and use it as a stand-alone or wall-mounted unit. There’s an impressive range of accessories included with this pressure washer, including five pressure washer nozzles, an integral detergent tank, and a brass garden hose adapter.
We like the smart design feature of a Total Stop System (TSS), which shuts down the pressure washer when the trigger is not engaged. This feature prolongs the life of the pump. The unit is also certified for safety by CSA.
This pressure washer will probably suit you if you have a large property with lots of different areas that require regular cleaning. If you just want a machine for cleaning a small patio and your vehicles, this might have more power and accessories than you need.
What we like
- – The unit’s easy and convenient portability provided by the cart
- – The professional grade brass connections that will last and won’t leak
- – The versatility of the machine – you can clean virtually anything with this
- – Uses much less water than a garden hose – great savings if your water is metered
- – Two-year, no quibble warranty
- – With this quality product from a top manufacturer, you get a lot for your money.
What we don’t like
- – Not as powerful as expected
- – Only the low-pressure head dispenses soap, so you have to change heads to rinse.
You can see this Stanley 2-in-1 pressure washer in action by taking a look at this purchaser’s review video.
Greenworks 1700 PSI 13 Amp 1.2 GPM Pressure Washer with Hose Reel GPW1702
Greenworks is perhaps lesser known than the likes of Stanley and WEN, but their expanding range of garden machinery is rapidly gaining a reputation for excellent quality and reliability.
This small pressure washer is perfect if you want something to use on light projects such as cleaning cars, windows, and decking. There are several quick-connect nozzles included, as well as a spray gun, nozzle, and on-board wand storage. If you want to increase the machine’s versatility, additional accessories are available for purchase separately.
Unlike other units, this pressure washer can be used horizontally or vertically to keep it stable while you’re working. The 20-foot hose and 35-foot power cord allows plenty of scope and reach for standard household cleaning tasks, and the reel makes storage easy and prevents the hose from tangling and kinking when not in use.
One major plus of this unit that we like is its quiet operation. It’s much quieter than many gas-powered units, making it ideal for use in residential complexes and built-up neighborhoods.
What we like
- – The unit’s stability: It doesn’t fall over like some smaller, lightweight pressure washers do.
- – Value for money: If you want a smaller, basic pressure washer for infrequent use on light projects, this one is ideal.
What we don’t like
- – No warranty is provided with the unit.
- – The hose has a habit of cross-threading, making it extremely difficult to remove.
You can see the Greenworks pressure washer in action by watching this manufacturer’s demo video.
Sun Joe SPX3000 Pressure Joe 2030 PSI 1.76 GPM 14.5-Amp Electric Pressure Washer
Sun Joe and its sister company, Snow Joe, specialize in producing high-quality outdoor household tools. Their pressure washer falls into the lower price bracket and makes a good all-round tool with the scope to tackle cleaning projects from driveways, decks, and patios, to vehicles, garden furniture and more.
This unit has a decent amount of power provided by its 1800 watt electric-powered motor, generating up to 2030 PSI of water pressure, which is more than enough to tackle most domestic household cleaning tasks.
A handy feature is the dual detergent tank system, which allows you to store and carry two different types of detergent. Just use the detergent selection dial to choose which type you want and then set to work. This feature saves you having to stop work and manually change from car cleaning detergent to something more suitable for your driveway, saving you time and effort.
You also get a handy 34-inch extension spray with this unit, which is ideal for accessing areas that are just out of reach of the standard spray lance length. The unit is pretty easy to move around on its two rear wheels.
The unit comes with a choice of five different nozzles ranging from pencil point to fan spray effect. There’s also a 35-foot power cord and 20-foot high-pressure hose, ensuring that you have enough scope and reach for most domestic work. A Total Stop System shuts off the pump automatically when the trigger is not in use to save power and extend the life of the pump.
What we like
- -The versatility of the unit and the inclusion of the additional extension spray
- -Value for money: This good-quality unit provides a comprehensive package at a very reasonable price.
- -Two-year warranty
What we don’t like
- -The hose connector supplied only fits the unit. This means that you can’t buy a replacement, without having to go directly to the manufacturer
You can watch an overview of this pressure washer, here.
Simpson Cleaning MSH3125-S 3200 PSI at 2.5 GPM Gas Pressure Washer Powered by HONDA with OEM Technologies Axial Cam Pump
The Simpson gas-powered pressure washer is a high-end machine that’s consequently more expensive than most of the others in our Magnificent Seven. That said, you do get a lot of bang for your buck with this powerful piece of kit.
The unit’s Honda engine allows you to blast grime away from decks, patios, and driveways quickly and with minimal effort. You can also use the washer for lighter tasks such as cleaning cars and garden equipment. The spray gun is ergonomically designed for comfort, and the unit has a safety lockout feature – an important point, as this is a seriously powerful machine.
Despite its welded steel construction, the unit is surprisingly lightweight and is easy to maneuver over any terrain on its heavy-duty, 10-inch pneumatic wheels. Included are five different spray nozzles and a spray gun.
The hose is cleverly designed to be kink and abrasion resistant, so it won’t succumb to wear and tear as some other makes do. Top quality fixtures mean that the hose won’t leak, even under the most heavy duty use.
The machine is covered by a very comprehensive warranty that covers the engine, the pump, and the frame individually for up to five years.
What we like
- – The robust structure of the machine: The Simpson is built to withstand a lot of heavy work.
- – The comprehensive warranty: This machine represents a substantial investment, so it’s nice to have the reassurance of recompense in the event of failure
What we don’t like
- – Although the machine works well to start with, it’s prone to oil leaks within a relatively short time. Disappointing for an expensive purchase.
You can see the machine being reviewed on YouTube.
Karcher K5 Premium Electric Power Pressure Washer, 2000 PSI, 1.4 GPM
Karcher is well-known for producing great quality cleaning machines. Their range of electrical pressure washers includes the K5 electric power pressure washer, which sits towards the top of the budget range we’ve covered in this guide.
The machine gives you up to 40 times more water pressure than you’ll get from your garden hose. That pressure makes it it plenty powerful enough for cleaning patios, driveways and the like, as well as cleaning your vehicles and outside windows.
The on-board hose reel allows you to store the hose quickly and keep it from getting damaged. The hose itself is made from the non-kink material. There’s an on-board detergent tank, which saves you the hassle of having to carry your soaps separately.
As you’d expect from Karcher, they’ve built this pressure washer to last. The water-cooled induction motor will prolong the life of the unit by up to five times and also provides greatly reduced noise output. The unit has robust, high-impact wheels for ease of portability and the tall handle means that you won’t get a backache when moving the unit around.
What we like
- – Two-year warranty
- – Solidly built and easy to use
- – Works quickly and effectively
- – Can easily switch between powerful/gentle sprays
What we don’t like
- This is a heavy machine, and the wheels are quite small in comparison to others, making it a little cumbersome to move around.
This machine is great for carrying out basic cleaning tasks. However, it’s very basic for the price and doesn’t come with many accessories.
You can check out a demo of the Karcher at this link.
Snow Joe Sun Joe SPX3001 2030 PSI 1.76 GPM 14.5 AMP Electric Pressure Washer with Hose Reel
The Snow Joe electrical pressure washer comes in at the lower end of the price range for basic power washers and does offer great value for money.
The machine comes with five quick-connect spray tips, enabling you to tackle most domestic cleaning tasks with ease. The 1800 watt motor provides plenty of oomph for blasting away dirt from driveways, decking, pools, and sidings. You can also safely use this unit to clean delicate items such as vehicles, grills, and lawnmowers.
There’s an on-board reel, allowing you to quickly and easily stow away the 20-foot hose when you’re not using the machine. A Total Stop System automatically shuts down the pump when you disengage the trigger. This saves energy and prolongs the life of the pump.
What we like
- – Two-year warranty
- – Good value for money if you just want a basic pressure washer
What we don’t like
- – The connectors are all specific to this manufacturer. This means that you must buy any replacements through them, rather than being able to use standard, cheaper ones.
- – It’s a little short on power, so you may struggle to shift ingrained dirt from concrete and stone.
What type of pressure washer do you need?
Pressure washers come in many forms, from small units with short hoses to large trolley-style machines with a whole array of cleaning attachments and accessories. Before making a purchase, it’s important to consider exactly what you want the pressure washer to do and how often you plan to use it.
After all, there’s no point in spending a fortune on a huge pressure washer with every accessory you can think of if you only intend to use it once a year to clean your patio.
Pressure washers are broadly placed into three categories, according to their pressure rating and flow rate.
Entry-level pressure washers have a maximum of 100 bar of pressure and low flow rates. These units are suitable for cleaning small, lightly-soiled items such as garden furniture, windows, and small cars.
These models tend to be the cheapest with the lowest powered motors, typically 1,200 watts to 1,600 watts. Most are hand-carried units or petite trolley-style models with very small wheels and low handles.
Entry level units usually have short hoses up to 15 foot, which could be restrictive. Also, the motors can be noisy and lack the power to shift ingrained grime. There’s often limited on-board storage for cables, hoses, etc., and parts tend to be cheap and easily broken.
Mid-level pressure washers have between 100 and 200 bar of pressure. These models are effective for cleaning patios, pools, cars, and boats.
Mid-level machines usually have a motor between 1,600 watts and 2,000 watts, which will give you plenty of power for tackling most jobs, but they can be very noisy. Most models have large wheels for portability, but they tend to be heavier than entry-level units.
Many mid-level units have some on-board storage and hose reels. Hoses are generally up to 15 foot, and a useful range of accessories is included.
If you want to clean seriously ingrained dirt from stone, concrete, etc., or you have a very grimy 4 x 4 to clean, a machine with over 120 bar of pressure should do the job.
These are semi-professional machines with motors giving 1,800 watts to 2,500 watts of power and high flow rates.
They come with lots of accessories, are very portable, plenty of on-board storage, and have brilliant cleaning ability. However, they are usually very heavy, expensive, and you probably won’t need one as powerful as this for general domestic cleaning work.
Gas versus electrical pressure washers
Power washers can be electric or gas powered. There are pros and cons to both options:
Electric pressure washers
Electric pressure washers can be pretty powerful, providing up to 2000 PSI. Despite this, they are very quiet, which could be important to you if you have nearby neighbors.
These units are lightweight and very portable. They’re also low-maintenance. There are no major parts that may require replacement, and you won’t need to buy oil or gas.
- Your range is limited by the length of the power cord, and for safety reasons, most manufacturers recommend that you don’t use an extension cable.
Gas-powered pressure washers
One big plus to gas pressure washers is that you can go anywhere, without being restricted by a power cord. However, they are heavy, so you need to make sure that yours has a good set of wheels for portability.
Gas pressure washers are generally more powerful than electric ones, offering up to 4,000 PSI in some cases.
- Gas pressure washers are often more expensive than electric ones. You will need to pay for maintenance, including regular expenditure on oil and gas for a gas pressure washing machine.
- However, with the price comes durability. These machines are usually built to last. With regular maintenance, you probably won’t need to replace your machine for many years.
This video shows you a comparison between gas and electric power washers.
What accessories will you need?
Pressure washers come with different bundles of accessories included. With this in mind, think about what tasks you will want to carry out with your machine when choosing your machine. For example, if you intend to clean guttering, you’ll need an angled wand. If you want to use the machine to clean cars, you’ll need specific nozzles and soap dispensers. Patio and driveway cleaning may also require a special purpose-built attachment, and so on.
Most basic machines are supplied with just one lance with a nozzle at the end. You twist the nozzle to alter the spray from a narrow “pencil” jet to a wider, gentle fan. This type of lance is perfect for light cleaning and for use on cars and windows that would be damaged by a more powerful jet.
Look to see if the pressure washer has detergent tank or bottle. A built-in, removable tank is much more convenient than an attachment bottle for the lance. For cleaning paving and stubborn grime, you’ll need a rotary jet lance, which spins the water jet as it leaves the nozzle.
You might also want to consider getting a patio cleaner attachment. These have a plastic cover that fits over the nozzle to prevent dirty water from spraying everywhere and making more mess. They’re also better for cleaning block paving, as they don’t blast away the sand from between the pavers.
Is flow rate important?
Yes, it is! Most product specifications include the flow rate provided by the machine. The flow rate tells you how much water is passing through the machine every hour. The average is about 400 liters. Obviously, the better the flow, the quicker you’ll get the job done.
Weight, storage, and portability
Another important consideration is the ease of use of the machine. If you have physical limitations, it’s vital that you choose a unit that’s not too heavy and has wheels.
Where are you going to store the unit? Some models have retractable handles for easy storage, and others cane be wall-hung, which could be important if you’re short of space.
What kind of soap should you use in a pressure washer?
For your pressure washer to perform to its optimum, it’s important that you use the right kind of detergent. You can’t just load up your machine with dish soap and expect to achieve fantastic results!
Always use detergents and soaps that are specifically formulated for use in pressure washers. You can damage your machine (and the item you’re cleaning) if you use the wrong kind of detergent.
If you’re using chemical cleaning agents to shift stubborn stains from a surface, always do so under low pressure. High pressure will cause the chemicals to splash off, wasting the expensive solution, and the process won’t work properly.
NEVER put bleach in your pressure washer! Bleach will damage the seals in the machine and lance, eventually causing the unit to fail and invalidating your warranty. For the same reasons, you should never put hot water in your machine.
Can you use lake or tank water in your pressure washer?
In short, no! Water from a lake could contain bits of debris that may block the pump and cause it to fail. Using water from a stationary source will shorten the pump’s life, as they are designed to be draw water from a mains supply.
How to winterize your pressure washer
You must winterize your pressure washer correctly to ensure that it runs properly when you come to use it and to keep the warranty valid.
Winterizing a gas pressure washer
Before putting your gas pressure washer in storage for the winter, you’ll first need to remove any detergent and water from the pump system.
To do this, add fuel stabilizer to the gas tank and allow the engine to run for a few minutes to push the stabilizer around the system.
Next, connect the pressure washer to your garden hose, and put the detergent feed tube into a bucket of clean water. Turn on the pressure washer and pull the trigger under low pressure. Allow it to run for a few minutes to flush all the detergent out of the system.
Turn off the hose and take it out of the pump inlet. Pull the trigger again to remove any remaining water from the system.
Finally, add some anti-freeze to the pump inlet if your local temperatures are likely to drop below freezing.
Winterizing an electric pressure washer
Winterizing an electric pressure washer is just a 10-minute job.
Begin by placing the detergent suction hose into a bucket of clean water. Attach the garden hose and switch on the tap.
Next, turn on the pressure washer and pull the trigger to spray water for a few minutes. This will flush any residual detergent solution from the system.
Disconnect the hose and pull the trigger again to remove any remaining water from the system.
Store the machine somewhere dry and sheltered from frost, ideally in your basement or garage. You may wish to invest in a storage cover for your machine to keep it free from dust and dirt.
DIY or contractor pressure washing?
If you have a small property that just requires the driveway and patio cleaning annually, it may be more cost-effective to pay a contractor to do the work for you. However, if you intend to use a pressure washer regularly for cleaning vehicles, windows, and other items, you may prefer the convenience of owning one.
Cleaning the whole exterior of your property using a pressure washer is a time-consuming, laborious job and not one that you need to do on a regular basis. For this reason, you may be better paying a contractor to do the work for you.
The model of pressure washer that you buy will depend on what you want it for and how often you plan to use it. Your budget will also dictate your purchase.
For a basic model, we like the Greenworks 1700 PSI 13 Amp 1.2 GPM Pressure Washer with Hose Reel GPW1702. This machine is a good entry-level buy that’s ideal for light domestic tasks and is affordable for most people.
If you want something more powerful that you can use for a wider range of jobs, we’d recommend the Simpson Cleaning MSH3125-S 3200 PSI at 2.5 GPM Gas Pressure Washer Powered by HONDA with OEM Technologies Axial Cam Pump. This machine gives good value for money with all the additional power you’ll need, plus great versatility.