If you’re looking to shift mud and dirt from patios, garden fences and filthy cars, these are the best pressure washers to buy Whether you want to blast the dirt off your car, clear stubborn grease from a BBQ or rid your patio of built-up muck, a pressure washer will make your life a whole lot easier. You can banish those unpleasant memories of hours spent scrubbing on your hands and knees – a few trigger-happy minutes is all it will take to remove troublesome stains and dirt. Here you’ll find our quick guide to buying the best jet washerr, followed by our pick of the finest models that you can currently buy. Today, we review the best pressure washer 2020, best gas pressure washer 2020 and best pressure washer for cars.
best pressure washer for cars
How to choose the best pressure washer for you
What type of pressure washer do I need?
There are two types of pressure washer on the market: electric and petrol-powered. The latter are generally for more heavy-duty cleaning tasks, have much higher maximum pressure readings and cost vastly more money. As such, we’re going to focus solely on electric pressure washers as they cover pretty much all the domestic cleaning tasks you could imagine.
What do you want to use your pressure washer for?
Maximum pressure is not the only way to assess whether a particular model is right for you. If the manufacturer includes it, look for the washer’s “bar-rated pressure” as well. This is the average pressure that each washer can maintain over a long period.
What accessories do you need for different cleaning tasks?
Before you hit the Buy Now button, it pays to stop and check which tools are included: most pressure washers come in a variety of different bundles, all with different tools in the box, and the confusingly similar product names make it easy to buy the wrong one by mistake.
If the hose is too short, perhaps you’ll need an extension wand. Maybe you need an angled wand to clean guttering. If you want to tackle specific cleaning tasks, such as cleaning patios or cars, then you’ll get the best results with brushes and nozzles that are purpose-built for the task at hand.
What other features do you need to consider?
Water flow rate is another specification that you’ll see cropping up. This indicates how much water is passed through the washer per hour. Around 400 litres per hour (l/hr) is an average figure. Clearly, the more water that’s delivered, the quicker you’ll get your cleaning done
Another thing to consider is the hose length. It is possible to use an extension lead, but it’s essential that you use one that offers a suitable amperage (13 amps minimum) and is designed for outdoor use. Water and electricity aren’t the best of bedfellows. There’s also the weight and size of the machine to think about. Some models come with retractable handles for easy storage and all of them on this list have wheels for portability.
How dangerous are pressure washers?
Pressure washers can be extremely dangerous, so always wear protective goggles, proper footwear – a jet of water against bare toes is going to result in a hospital visit – and never ever spray them at yourself or someone nearby. The high-pressure water jets are capable of causing severe injuries to skin and soft tissue; these are anything but big boys’ toys.
Best jet washer
1. Karcher K4 Full Control: Best all-round pressure washer
Price: £170 | Buy now from Halfords
Whether you’re looking to clean a car, a patio, some garden furniture or the inside of a wheelie bin, its 130 bar pressure, Full Control trigger gun and LCD display have you covered. It will give you direct feedback on whether the pressure setting you’ve chosen is right for what you’re cleaning and it can be regulated by twisting the Vario Power lance to the required position.
Your cleaning may be limited by the 6m hose, but the Karcher’s adjustable handle means that maneuvrability is a non-issue. Make sure to buy the model with the right tools for the task at hand as the K4 is available in a wide range of bundles – choose carefully and this is a fantastic pressure washer.
Key Specs – Size: 39.7 x 37 x 59cm (LWH); Weight: 11.4kg; Max pressure: 130 bar; Water flow rate: 420l/hr; Hose length: 6m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: 30m² per hour; Motor power: 1,800W
2. Mac Allister 1,800W: Best value pressure washer
Price: £128 | Buy now from B&Q
It might not have the build quality and looks to match of some of its more expensive rivals, but the Mac Allister 1,800W pressure washer does its job with such enthusiasm you’d be hard-pressed to ignore it. Weighing in at 10kg, it has a maximum flow rate of 440l/hr, at a pressure of 130 bars – in other words, enough grunt to compete with the £175 Karcher K4 Full Control.
That’s not bad, particularly for a product that’s almost £50 less than the K4. But the Mac Allister is also easy to assemble, and it comes with a sizeable array of additional attachments, including a patio cleaner, and a two-year warranty. It’s ideal for anyone looking to do medium-sized cleaning tasks on a budget.
Key specs – Size: 86 x 38 x 38cm (HWL); Weight: 10kg; Max pressure: 130 bar; Water flow rate: 440l/hr; Hose length: 6m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 1,800W
Buy now from B&Q
3. Makita HW111: Best for washing small items
Price: £132 | Buy now from Amazon
This is a simple piece of kit from Makita that’s best used for smaller cleaning jobs. With a maximum of 110 bars of pressure and a 370l/hr flow rate, it can’t compete with the likes of the Bosch and the Karcher models in this list, but what it lacks in power it makes up for in simplicity and ease-of-use.
It has a 5.5m hose and doesn’t come with quite the same amount of accessories as the more premium pressure washers, but for a no-frills pressure washer that’s well-designed and easy to use, this is a solid option.
Key Specs – Size: 43 x 30.5 x 64.5cm (LWH); Weight: 13kg; Max pressure: 110 bar; Water flow rate: 370l/hr; Hose length: 5.5m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 1,700W
4. Nilfisk C135 bar High Pressure Washer: Best for build quality
Price: £206 | Buy now from Amazon
If you’re happy to spend north of 200 quid on a pressure washer, then the Nilfisk C135 could be the ideal model for you. The 135 bar max and 440l/hr will see you clean everything from cars to fences quicker and more efficiently than you’d ever imagined, although the clean may not be quite as comprehensive as the Karcher. Nilfisk includes a free two-year warranty for extra peace of mind.
Key Specs – Size: 88.5 x 30.5 x 29.5 cm (LWH); Weight: 17.1kg; Max pressure: 135 bar; Water flow rate: 380-440l/hr; Hose length: 6m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 1,700W
Nilfisk C 135 bar High Pressure Washer with Induction Motor ● 380 L/H water flow ● Blue
5. Bosch AQT 40-13: Best for washing large items
Price: £156 | Buy now from Amazon
Much like the Karcher, the Bosch is a 130-bar pressure washer, but this AQT model is ideally suited for cleaning larger items. Despite its lightweight body, it’s a feisty cleaner and can blast dirt away easily. There’s also a fold-down telescopic handle for easy storage and it comes with four nozzle accessories including a fixed fan jet for cleaning large areas.
This is by no means a perfect pressure washer – trying to re-coil the hose after washing is a real pain – but for cleaning quality, it’s hard to beat.
Key Specs – Size: 44 x 41 x 36 cm; Weight: 6.8kg; Max pressure: 130 bar; Water flow rate: 400l/hr; Hose length: 6m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 1,900W
6. Silverline 943676 2,100W: Most powerful budget pressure washer
Price: £117 | Buy now from Amazon
It may be the cheapest model on our list but this device packs a powerful punch with its 2,100W motor and 432l/hr flow rate. The 5m hose has a built-in reel (something you don’t always see on cheaper units) and it comes with a reassuring three-year warranty so you can put it through its paces on your decking or patio.
It doesn’t come with the kind of attachments and extras that you see with more expensive versions – you just get the standard lance and a spray gun rather than a range of nozzles – but if you don’t want to spend much more than £100, this is a good choice.
Key Specs – Size: 36 x 33 x 89cm (LWH); Weight: 19.4kg; Max pressure: 165 bar; Water flow rate: 432l/hr; Hose length: 5m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 2,100W
What You Need to Know Before Buying a Pressure Washer
Pressure washers have come a long way. Over the last ten years the quality has increased as prices have become more affordable. The cleaning ability of a pressure washer is great, removing dirt, grime, and algae quickly, efficiently and effectively. A pressure washer can greatly increase your ability to maintain and clean your property and equipment giving it greater value. If your time is valuable, a pressure washer could be a good investment, but if you get the wrong machine, you will be frustrated and you could waste a lot of time and money.
The goal of this buying guide is to help you understand what a pressure washer does and what you need to look for when deciding to purchase one. If you’re ready to start shopping, check out the pressure washers at kmstools.com. Or keep reading to learn more about the following:
- How a Pressure Washer Works
- Pressure Washer Pumps
- Direct Drive or Belt Drive
- Gas or Electric
- Pressure Washer Accessories
- Choosing the Right Pressure Washer
How a Pressure Washer Works
A pressure washer is actually a fairly simple piece of equipment. A motor or engine turns a pump, pushing water through an orifice (tip). The water accelerates as it goes through the small hole, much like a river flows faster in a narrow gorge, and that fast-moving water is very useful for blasting dirt and grime. The math is quite simple. Each time the pump turns over, a specific volume of water is pushed through the tip. The more water you push through the tip, the more pressure is developed, and therefore more power is required. The higher the pressure, the faster the water moves, and the harder it hits the dirt, removing it from the surface you want to clean.
What to Consider
The two most important considerations when buying a pressure washer are size, which determines how long it takes to do the job or how many jobs you can do in a day; and life expectancy, which determines how many hours of work you can do per dollar spent during the life of the machine.
Here are some basic ratings:
Horse Power (HP)
This is how much power the engine or motor produces. This rating is important because it directly relates to how much pressure and volume the pump can produce.
Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI)
The pressure generated by a pressure washer is measured in pounds per square inch or PSI. Pressure contributes to the cleaning force.
Gallons Per Minute (GPM)
The water volume produced by a pressure washer is measured in gallons per minute or GPM. Volume also contributes to the cleaning force.
Cleaning Power Units (CPU)
Cleaning Power Units quantifies a pressure washer’s cleaning ability. To determine CPU, multiply GPM x PSI. The greater the CPU, the greater the ability the machine has for cleaning deeply and effectively.
Often consumers are so focused on the PSI rating of the machine, they do not consider the CPU. For example, a pressure washer may have a rating of 2,800 PSI and 2 GPM, giving it a CPU of 5,600. Another pressure washer is rated for 2,400 PSI and 4 GPM. That’s a CPU rating of 9,600. In this example the lower PSI machine has more than 40% greater cleaning power than the higher PSI machine. The result is that the 2,400 PSI machine will be able to clean an area 40% faster than the 2,800 PSI machine.
Now consider this: A garden hose typically provides 6 GPM at 10 PSI giving it 60 CPU. With a standard spray nozzle attached to the garden hose you can get around 5 GPM at about 40 PSI generating 200 CPU. We all have seen the difference of how much more effective a simple spray nozzle is at cleaning dirt off surfaces. Trying to clean your driveway with your garden hose spray nozzle generating 200 CPU is fairly ineffective. However, if we take a mid-range pressure washer rated at 2.0 GPM and 2,500 PSI (5,000 CPU), the CPU rating represents a staggering 25 times increase over a typical garden hose spray nozzle.
A commercial pressure washer rated at 4 GPM and 4,000 PSI is an incredible 16,000 CPU. It is not difficult to see the difference in efficiency. However, this is all true within a range. If you have extremely high pressure and low volume, you can cut steel or concrete (water jet cutter), and if you have extremely high volume and low pressure, you have a river. Neither of these would be very good for cleaning your house or driveway.
Pressure Washer Pumps
This is the part of the pressure washer that receives water from your hose, and pumps it through a tip at high pressure. There are several common types of pumps that you will see in commercial and home-owner type machines. All pressure washer pumps have pistons and valves similar to a gas engine or an air compressor. On some pumps the pistons are driven by a plate on an angle (wobble plate), and in other cases the pistons are driven by a crankshaft. Crankshaft driven pumps are generally built better and will last longer.
Pressure washer pumps are equipped with bypass valves, so that when you let go of the trigger, or when the tip gets plugged, the water will bypass and go back to the inlet side of the pump. If left in this mode for longer than the manufacturer recommends, the water will get hot and cause damage to the pump. On a gas-powered pressure washer, the pump includes a thermal relief valve that dumps hot water into the bypass loop. Most bypass valves are adjustable so you can dial down the pressure when cleaning sensitive materials
Low-cost pressure washers have pumps with very low life expectancies—some as low as 60 – 100 hours. When buying a pressure washer, make sure you find out the life expectancy of the pump. If the information is unavailable, stay clear because it is very likely that the manufacturer does not want you to know how low it is.
Another very important factor to consider is parts availability. KMS Tools was a warranty/service centre for some low end brands, however lack of parts availability and unreliability of these machines were such a problem that we decided to no longer provide this service.
Before buying your machine, ask where you can get parts if you need them. KMS is often referred to by other retailers as a source for parts and repairs for numerous brands that are pretty much disposable. If you are buying a new machine for $200.00 or less, expect it to be a disposable machine that might last you only one season, and be prepared to spend a lot of time to get the job done.
Direct Drive or Belt Drive
The drive describes how the motor is connected to the pump. Direct-drive systems are most common. The pump is bolted directly to the motor or engine with a shaft coupler. Compared to a belt-drive system, direct drive requires fewer parts and space, resulting in a more compact design. Direct drive is also considerably more economical than an equivalently rated belt-drive machine.
Belt-drive systems are typically seen on industrial platforms. The pump on a belt-drive unit turns at a much slower speed. The belt absorbs vibration that would wear out a unit faster. Since the pump turns at a lower speed all the pistons and valves in the pump are larger. All this adds up to a cooler running machine that will last considerably longer than an equivalent direct drive version. However, there is slightly more maintenance and considerably more dollars involved (10 – 30% more). If you are using your pressure washer on the job, then you want to consider buying a belt-drive machine. However, an equivalent direct-drive machine will have the same performance for a lot less money.
Gas Engine or Electric Motor
On a pressure washer, the engine or motor powers the pump. The more powerful the engine or motor (rated in HP), the greater the PSI and GPM the pump produces. Gas engines are typically designed to last between 300 and 3,000 hours. The motors on electric pressure washers usually last longer than the pumps.
Electric motors are very low maintenance and fairly quiet. There is also no exhaust so they can be operated indoors or in poorly ventilated areas. A typical electric pressure washer that is 115 Volt and 15 Amps will be fairly light duty because it is built for the low-price market. The motor is not strong enough to generate much pressure or volume. While electric pressure washers are compact and usually portable, most jobs take longer with a light-duty electric pressure washer.
HP is rated differently on electric motors compared to gas engines. A typical low-price electric pressure washer is rated around 1 to 1-1/2 HP and would be equivalent to a 3 HP gas pressure washer. (Electric motor HP has to be doubled to equal gas engine HP.)
Heavy-duty electric pressure washers are available for applications where power is available and portability isn’t a factor, and exhaust from a gas engine would be a problem.
Gas pressure washers are larger and heavier and mounted on a cart with wheels. Some are better balanced and easier to maneuver. Gas engines can produce more power and are a lot more mobile as they do not need to be plugged in to an electric power source. Since gas engines can be more powerful, the pump can generate considerably more PSI and GPM so that they can clean faster and deeper than any 115 Volt rated electric pressure washer could. However they do take a little more maintenance and cost more to operate. They must be used in well-ventilated areas because of the emission of carbon-monoxide fumes.
Pressure Washer Accessories
Without accessories, your pressure washer is fairly useless. It would be like having a drill without any drill bits.
Pressure Washer Hoses
You probably want a 50 ft length hose. If you go shorter, you will have to keep moving your machine. Make sure you get a quality hose with the proper PSI rating to match your machine. A poor quality hose will break down faster, is more susceptible to leaks and kinks, and will usually be less flexible and harder to work with.
Pressure Washer Wands and Tips
The wand includes a handle with a trigger valve, and different lengths and angles of wands are available for different applications. You can change the spray pattern by changing the tip at the end of the wand. Most pressure washers come with a selection of tips—from a very narrow spray to generate higher force at the tip for deeper cleaning to a wider spray that has less force but covers more area. Most tip sets also include a low pressure tip for applying cleaning solutions.
In addition to tips, other, very useful attachments are available:
A dirt blaster or rotary nozzle attaches to the end of your wand. It has a very narrow spray that spins in a circular motion very rapidly. Dirt blasters are effective because they can quickly clean hard surfaces very well and, when used properly, avoids the tiger striping effect on your driveway that happens with conventional spray tips.
For cleaning out-of-reach areas, look for an extension wand that’s adjustable up to 24 feet in some cases. Extension and telescoping wands are beneficial if you need to reach up high. They can save you from trying to pressure wash while standing on a ladder.
A gutter cleaner is a simple hooked extension that affixes to the end of your wand. It lets you get into your gutters to clean them out.
A Whirl-A-Way is an accessory that looks a little like a lawn mower and has two rotating nozzles inside. They are available in sizes from 12” to 24” and excel at cleaning large flat areas.
Hot Water Pressure Washers
Hot water pressure washers are commercial machines with built-in water heaters. The cleaning effect of the machines is considerably better than a cold water machine with comparable PSI and GPM because hot water simply cleans more effectively than cold water. Hot water pressure washers break down and remove dirt and grime faster than cold water pressure washers, and often eliminate the need for expensive chemicals. Do not feed hot water into a normal cold water pressure washer pump. The heat will damage seals and o-rings.
Detergents can greatly increase the speed of cleaning and help remove tough stains. Most pressure washers come equipped with a venturi tube that will draw in the detergent from a bottle or pail and add it to the water stream. The detergent should be first applied with a low pressure spray, given some time to do its work to break down the dirt, and then washed off with a normal high pressure spray.
Choosing the Right Pressure Washer
When it comes right down to it, you need to buy a pressure washer that fits your application. There are many different types of pressure washers—from very low-end machines to extremely powerful industrial machines. Before you buy a machine you need to sit down and ask yourself these questions:
- “How will I use a pressure washer?”
- “How often will I use a pressure washer?”
If you are a home owner, you will probably use a pressure washer less than 50 hours per year. In this case getting a machine rated for 500 hours will last you up to 10 years if properly maintained. However, if you are using it on the job, you will want something rated for 2,000 hours or more. If time is important to you, buy as big a pressure washer as you can justify. A 13 HP gas pressure washer will clean your driveway about 10 times faster than a small electric unit. It will also last longer because it doesn’t have to run nearly as long to do the job. Finally, plan in advance what attachments you will want in the future and make sure that the pressure washer you buy has enough power to support them.