Efficient at cleaning outdoor areas such as patios, driveways, garages, garden furniture, or your car, a pressure washer can be a valuable addition to your household cleaning kit. That’s because the high-pressure water stream that comes from even a basic pressure washer can eliminate dirt and grime much faster than a standard garden hose ever could. Since the price point of a pressure washer — from a few hundred to a few thousand — is nothing to laugh at, here’s how to find the best pressure washer for your needs and budget — as chosen by the experts.
Best Electric Pressure Washer
- Cleaning power: 2,300 PSI
- Max flow: 1.2 GPM
Electric machines are easier to maintain and use, therefore recommended for homeowners. While the gas engine tends to be more powerful, the performance of the electric motor is sufficient for most household tasks.
This is a medium-duty high-performance brushless electric pressure washer with an induction motor that tends to be quieter and last longer than universal motors.
It includes a bonus turbo nozzle that delivers 50% faster cleaning. It has extra-large wheels, a built-in detergent tank, a long hose, and sturdy well-designed parts. This makes it easy to use and maneuver.
Weighing 49 pounds, it is heavier than most electric models but the long hose and large wheels make it easier to transport. Its weight makes the machine hard to tip over, which can be seen as an advantage.
The Ryobi machine comes with a 3-year warranty to repair and replace its parts. Since this is not standard for electric models, it makes this pressure washer our top pick.
Best Gas Pressure Washer
- Cleaning power: 4,400 PSI
- Max flow: 4 GPM
Gas pressure washers are generally more powerful than electric ones and our best gas machine pick is no different. With a 4,400 PSI and 4 GPM, this belongs to the group of the most powerful pressure washers.
It is heavy-duty, powerful, durable, and built of high-quality steel materials. It is powerful enough for professional use. However, keep in mind that, depending on your cleaning tasks, its water flow rate might be too powerful for light-duty residential jobs such as cleaning lawn furniture or a car.
This powerful machine comes with a 50-foot-long hose and a 31-inch spray wand. Other additional accessories include 5 different nozzles. These features make the pressure washer suitable for a wide range of cleaning jobs and hard-to-reach places.
The manufacture provides a 5-year pump warranty, 3-year engine warranty, and 3-month warranty for the accessories.
Best Budget Pressure Washer
- Cleaning power: 1,450 PSI
- Max flow: 1.7 GPM
When it comes to pressure washers, the most powerful model doesn’t have to also be the most suitable one for you. This Sun Joe’s pressure washer presents a great easy-to-maintain option that is sufficient for most household deep cleaning tasks. And it won’t break the bank either.
This is also the most reviewed pressure washer on the market. With more than 29,000 reviews on Amazon and a 4.5-star rating, this pressure washer is bound to deliver.
With the powerful 1,450 PSI, an exceptional 1.7 GPM, and quality steel hose fittings, it provides great value for its affordable price point.
It is not short of convenient features either. It comes with a 34-inch wand and a 20-foot high-pressure hose. It includes two removable detergent tanks so you can add chemicals to your cleaning stream at ease.
A Total Stop System saves energy and prolongs the longevity of the pump and 5 different interchangeable nozzles allow you to change the spray pattern according to the job at hand.
Best Compact Pressure Washer
- Cleaning power: 1,600 PSI
- Max flow: 1.2 GPM
If the portability is high on your list of priorities when shopping for a pressure washer, we recommend this Ryobi electric model.
The performance of 1,600 PSI and 1.2 GPM flow rate make it a sufficient surface cleaner and can be a valuable residential pressure washer.
It comes with a low price point, less than $100, making it more affordable than most pressure washers out there. Weighing a little over 16 pounds, you can transport it easily to where you need it.
This pressure washer comes with 3 nozzles. A soap nozzle, a 15-degree nozzle, and a turbo nozzle for faster cleaning making it versatile and suitable for a wide range of cleaning tasks.
Easiest Pressure Washer to Use
- Cleaning power: 2,100 PSI
- Max flow: 1.4 GPM
Don’t let the look and size of the pressure washer fool you. Although it looks light and small, it packs a great deal of power.
It is thoughtfully designed and both the spray wand and garden hose hook up by means of pop fittings. While it doesn’t have additional nozzles, it includes adjustable wands, allowing you to adjust the spray by rotating the tip of the wand.
Additionally, you can also adjust the power by a digital control at the base of the gun. These features make the pressure washer exceptionally easy to use.
While it can easily tip over when operated on the lawn, it wheels around on pavement with no problem, making the outdoor surfaces more accessible.
Most Durable Pressure Washer
- Cleaning power: 4,000 PSI
- Max flow: 3.5 GPM
If you’re looking for a pressure washer in order to complete heavy-duty tasks, a machine that will withstand consistent use and last you a long time, this Dewalt gas-powered pressure washer could be the best pick for you.
Unlike the lightweight compact electric machines, this gas-powered model is designed for professional use and built to tackle difficult terrain and demanding jobs.
It features 13-inch premium tires, a tough steel frame, and a flexible 50-foot steel-braided hose that resists abrasion. The adjustable unloader can fine-tune the pressure to suit certain specific jobs.
Best Pressure Washer Engine
- Cleaning power: 3,200 psi
- Max flow: 2.5 GPM
As the name of this pressure washer suggests, you can expect a hefty dose of power from this machine. This is a great pick if you’re looking for a reliable high-powered washer that is suitable for small business owners.
This washer features one of the best engines in the business, a big Honda engine that includes vast cooling fins, a large pump, and anodized hose fittings.
While this is not a machine fit for commercial use, this pressure washer as close as you get at this price level.
Its powerful engine can effortlessly blast through dirt, grime, concrete, mildew, or paint.
Best Detergent Tank
- Cleaning power: 3,000 PSI
- Max flow: 2.4 GPM
While the design of this pressure washer might look a little old school, it still impresses with great cleaning power.
Its build and performance resemble the commercial models, and its features include a big engine, horizontal-shaft pump, brass hose fittings, and an advanced thermal relief value that keeps the temperature of the pump down.
If you require detergent for your cleaning, this washer features a removable 1/2 gallon detergent tank. The folding handle makes the machine more compact and reduces your need for storage space in your garage or shed.
Best Pressure Washer for Cars:
- Cleaning power: 2,000 PSI
- Max flow: 1.4 GPM
Looking for a pressure washer that will act as an alternative to a standard garden hose when washing your car? This Karcher electric pressure washer is 40 times as powerful as a garden hose and is equipped with two spray wands, one for standard cleaning and the second one for deeper stains. Another feature that makes this pressure washer especially suited for washing cars is the onboard detergent tank that makes the soap application easy. The 25-foot high-pressure hose and a 35-foot powered cord will be able to handle most standard cleaning jobs and the water-cooled induction motor makes the engine last a lot longer than some other models.
How to Choose the Best Pressure Washer?
To understand how the experts made their choices, here’s a run-down on the features to look for and the factors to consider when buying a pressure washer.
Performance Factors: PSI, GPM and CU
The power output of pressure washers can be determined by three main technical specifications. These are PSI, GPM, and CU.
- PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) is the force of water pressure when it is pushed through the nozzle.
Pressure washers with a higher PSI will clean tough and deep stains more effectively than the washers with a lower PSI.
Electric pressure washers have a typical PSI of 1,600-2,300 and their gas counterparts have a typical PSI of 2,700 to 4,400.
- GPM (Gallons per Minute) is the amount of water generated by the pressure washer. This number indicates how fast will the washer clean the surfaces. The higher the GPM, the faster the pressure washer gets rid of the dirt.
- CU (Cleaning Units) can be calculated by multiplying PSI and GPM.
Based on these performance features there are three distinct categories of pressure washers in the market:
- Light-duty: 1,300-1,900 PSI
- Medium-duty: 2,000-2,800 PSI
- Heavy-duty: above 2,800 PSI
What is the Best PSI and GPM for a Pressure Washer?
A higher GPM means that the pressure washer will complete the job faster. And a higher PSI indicates the force with which the water stream hits the dirty surface.
Professionals care about the GPM and PSI of their pressure washers because they demonstrate that they’ll be able to complete the jobs more quickly, therefore make more money in a day.
The ideal GPM and PSI vary depending on the type of job you’re using the machine for, but for homeowners, 1,400-2,500 PSI will be sufficient for most household tasks. A GPM of around 1.5 to 2.5 is considered good enough for a homeowner.
When deciding between models and categories, always go for a higher GPMs rather than higher PSIs. While a lot of emphasis is placed on PSI, it’s the GPM that will really dictate how much washing power you get from your machine — so your money should go to the machine with the highest GPM in your budget and category.
What to Use Pressure Washers For?
Pressure washers are good at cleaning tough stains and dirt from outdoor areas. They can be used for removing grease, grime, mould, and even paint from concrete, asphalt, garden siding, lawn furniture, and other outdoor areas.
Most pressure washers come with different nozzles and accessories that can be adjusted to the task at hand. Different nozzles spray water at varying angles, adjusting the power of the stream.
Accessories such as a water broom or a mechanical sweeper can be efficient at cleaning floor surfaces. A gutter cleaner or a pressure washer extension wand can help to effectively clean hard-to-reach places.
While these machines are excellent at cleaning dirt and grime, be aware that they are also very powerful and shouldn’t be used indoors. If you’re not cautious, the power washer can break windows, ruin your garden furniture or cause other damage.
You should be careful when trying to wash your car with the pressure washer since it can be 40 times as powerful as a standard hose. Make sure you buy the type of pressure washer that will be suitable for your required cleaning jobs.
What to Look for When Buying a Pressure Washer?
Performance is not the only thing that matters when buying a pressure washer for home use. Depending on your individual needs, there are other factors that will help you find the best pressure washer for you.
- Manufacturing brand: Buying your pressure washer from a reputable brand such as Honda, Ryobi, Simpson Cleaning, Knazle or Karcher, will ensure a good warranty and customer service, which can prolong the life of your pressure washer.
- Type of fuel: Consider the difference between gas and electric pressure washers.
- Part availability: Make sure you can easily buy the standard parts in case they break.
- Pump: The pump is the most crucial part of the pressure washer and determines its longevity. Investing in a machine with a high-quality pump will pay off in the long run.
- Hose quality: After the pump, look for machines with a quality steel braided hose that is at least 50 feet long. The shorter hose can be inconvenient.
- Wand quality and adjustability
- Build material: Select pressure washers made out of steel rather than plastic materials. Look out for long-lasting tires rather than cheap wheels.
- Attachments: Additional nozzles and other included attachments can make specific cleaning jobs much easier. Surface cleaners will make cleaning driveways more effective.
- Portability: If you want a machine that can be easily transported where the job is, look at more compact models and extra portability enhancements such as a carrying handle.
- Size: While the bigger machines can be more powerful, they can be too bulky for your available storage space.
- Detergent tank: If you require a detergent for your cleaning projects, look for a pressure washer with a detergent tank for enhanced ease of use.
- Value for money: Find a machine that offers a good balance between your required performance, quality, and price.
Gas or Electric?
The type of fuel pressure washers use to drive the pump that boosts the water pressure differentiates the pressure washers into two main categories, gas or electric.
Electric-powered Pressure Washers
For smaller cleaning tasks and lighter performance requirements, electric models are suitable. They tend to be lighter, easier to use, and sufficient for non-specialist cleaning jobs. They also tend to be less durable than gas-powered machines.
Bear in mind that with an electric-powered pressure washer, you need access to the electrical outlet.
Gas-powered Pressure Washers
The gas-powered pressure washers are used for specialist cleaning jobs and powerful enough even for professional cleaning services.
While they tend to be heavier, bulkier, and nosier than their electric counterpart, they are much more efficient and can handle large surfaces, tough stains, dirt, and grime.
They don’t require a power outlet and their parts can be repaired, making the machines longer-lasting.
Battery-powered Pressure Washers
Don’t feel like worrying about power cords or refilling the pressure washer with fuel? Portable battery-powered pressure washers are available and could be sought after by people looking for convenient use.
However, the power washers that use the battery for power aren’t very practical. The motor requires too much power to be efficient simply by using batteries.
When tested, batteries can only last around 10 minutes of pressure washing. And that’s at the lowest PSI and GPM. Therefore, using battery-powered pressure washers isn’t suitable in most circumstances.
If you’re looking for a convenient pressure washer that doesn’t require much hassle, rather than looking for battery-powered cordless pressure washers, opt for electric washers that are compact, lightweight, and easy to use.
Do I Need a Water Source for My Pressure Washer?
You need a water source to use your pressure washer. In most cases, you’ll be able to connect your machine to an outdoor tap that you’d otherwise use for your garden hose. Most houses are equipped with an easily accessible outdoor tap.
If you don’t have one, you can still use your pressure washer and connect it to your washing machine, kitchen, or bathroom sink.
Using an indoor tap will probably require a threaded adapter sized for the tap as well as your hose and you’ll need to run the hose through the window or a door to be able to use it outside.
What Detergent is Suitable for a Pressure Washer?
Since the pressure of the stream coming from the pressure washer is so powerful, most cleaning jobs won’t require a detergent. You can eliminate the dirt just by blasting the water on the surface.
For some stains, especially those involving dried tough grime, you might get better results if you use a detergent. Some pressure washers include a built-in tank for a detergent, but other ones will require you to set a tube into a bottle of detergent in order for the pressure to suck it out.
When tackling the tasks that require a detergent, it’s always best to buy one that is especially suited for pressure washers. These are powerful at cleaning dirt but don’t get too soapy or don’t leave the surfaces slippery.
There are various types of detergents suited for different tasks such as cleaning cars, driveways, wooden decks, or concrete. The general-purpose pressure washer detergents will be able to handle a variety of cleaning jobs.
When using pressure washers that are especially powerful, such as high-performance gas models and commercial pressure washers, be careful and think about safety first.
These machines can easily cause substantial damage to your outdoor furniture, cars, and even break windows. If you’re just getting familiar with operating a pressure washer, always start with a weaker nozzle than you need and test the water stream on an inconspicuous area first.
The Bottom Line
Pressure washers are efficient cleaning tools and can become a valuable addition to your outdoor equipment. With so many kinds of pressure washers on the market, it can be hard to choose the best one.
In this guide, we’ve identified key factors that determine which pressure washer is best suited to your needs and provided our best pick in each category.
Whether you are looking for the best electric pressure washer, gas pressure washer, heavy-duty one, or a machine that will be most compact and easiest to use, you’ll find a pressure washer for you.