Looking for the Best Pressure Washer? Our 2019 reviews and buying guide are a great place to start!

updated: February 17, 2019
Top-Performing Pressure Washers

If you’re here, you’re probably searching for the best pressure washer for your home cleaning needs. Pressure washers, also known as power washers or pressure cleaners, are not for casual cleaning. These high-powered machines are perfect for removing stubborn grime from outdoor surfaces like cars, driveways, decks, patio furniture, siding, and much more.

You have two main types of pressure washers to choose from: electric and gas. Depending on your individual needs, each has its advantages and disadvantages. In general, an electric pressure washer is all most homeowners will need. If you have a lot of surface area to clean beyond the reach of an electrical outlet, gas is the way to go.

In our handy buying guide, we’ll cover how pressure washers work while comparing some of the top-performing products on the market. We researched several sources to gather current information. Our reviews give a great rundown of the pros and cons of each product listed. Individual ratings are based on price, performance, dependability, ease of use, and other factors that real customers reported after using the products.

How to determine power ratings (PSI, GPM and CU)

When looking for pressure washers, you’ll see a few acronyms flying around like PSI, GPM and CU. By looking at product specs, you may think that PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) is the most important factor, but in reality, you’ll want to know the CU score (Cleaning Units). You won’t find this on all product specs. But it’s a better measurement of how efficient the washer can be in terms of water usage and speed.

PSI is the pushing force. It’s what removes the grime from the cleaning surface. The GPM is the flow rate of water. More flow means more water used per job. To determine the CU, multiply the PSI by the GPM (Gallons Per Minute).

For example, a pressure washer with 1500 PSI and 1.6 GPM would have a 2400 CU score. Compare that with a garden hose at 60 PSI and 8 GPM that would have a 480 CU score. The pressure washer would use 5 times less water for 5 times the cleaning power.

Gas vs. Electric Pressure Washers

For most homeowners, an electric pressure washer will work just fine. They’re great for lighter-duty jobs around the home like cleaning vinyl siding. You will need a access to a power outlet and a hose and that’s about it. Gas washers require more maintenance.

PROS

    Other PROS of Electric pressure washers vs. Gas:

  • Quieter
  • Cheaper (average $150$250)
  • Easy storage
  • Can use indoors
  • Lighter
Electric Icon
CONS

    CONS of Electric pressure washers:

  • Cord limits reach
  • Less power
Electric Icon

Gas pressure washers are better for heavier-duty jobs like cleaning concrete and farm equipment. They will cost more in terms of fuel and maintenance and need to be properly winterized before storage.

PROS

    PROS of Gas pressure washers:

  • More power
  • Can be used anywhere outdoors, no power outlet needed
Gas Icon
CONS

    CONS of Gas pressure washers:

  • More expensive (average $300 – $500)
  • Heavier
  • Louder
  • Cannot be used indoors
Gas Icon

What’s the deal with nozzles and degrees?

All pressure washers will come with either an adjustable all-in-one nozzle or a few replaceable nozzles, usually color coded. It doesn’t matter what CU score your washer has – if you’re using the right nozzle, it’ll get the job done. Choosing the wrong one can either do a crappy job of cleaning or cause serious damage such as peeling paint off your car, splintering a wood deck, or punching through brick mortar.

Each nozzle has a different degree, which controls the size and shape of the water jet, much like a garden hose sprayer. There are five common nozzles:

Power Washers Nozzles
  1. 0-degree (usually red) – shoots a narrow, pinpoint jet with a high amount of pressure. You will rarely if ever need this nozzle. In fact, Consumer Reports recommends you toss it. It can pose a huge risk of injury or property damage.
  2. 15 – degree (usually yellow) – shoots a 15-degree wide sheet of water that spreads the force over a larger area, but still with a lot of pressure.
  3. 25 – degree (usually green) – shoots a 25-degree wide sheet of water. This is the most commonly used tip.
  4. 40-degree (usually white) – a much gentler spray that can be used for more delicate jobs such as window cleaning (if not held too close to the glass).
  5. Soap nozzle – low pressure – you must use this one when applying soap in most pressure washers.

What can you clean with a pressure washer?

Before we dive into the nitty gritty details, we have to mention safety. The high pressure coming from a pressure washer can easily damage delicate, fragile surfaces and your skin! Never, ever point the spray at yourself or anyone else.

So what can you clean with a pressure washer? Lots of things. This is not an exhaustive list, but it’ll give you a good idea of just what a good pressure washer can do for you. We’ll list them in order of pressure needed from light duty to heavy duty.

  • Garbage cans
  • Motorcycles
  • Patio furniture
  • Bicycles
  • Garden Tools
  • Cars, trucks, and vans
  • Lawnmowers
  • Boats
  • Gutters
  • Vinyl siding
  • Fences
  • Swimming pools / hot tubs
  • Brick walls
  • Decks & patios
  • Concrete driveways

Some interior surfaces like ceramic tiles can be cleaned with a pressure washer as well, but ONLY with an electric pressure washer. Never use a gas-powered washer indoors due to the danger of carbon monoxide in the exhaust.

Power Washer Engines

To power the pump, a gas pressure washer uses an engine, like a lawnmower and other outdoor equipment. The bigger the compression chamber, measured in cc (cubic centimeters), the more powerful they are. For instance, a Honda GCV190 engine has a 190cc compression chamber.

Electric pressure washers use motors to power the pump. They generally have 3 types:

  • Universal – cheapest, light & portable. Good for small jobs. Can be pretty loud.
  • Induction (or brushless)– average cost, good performance. Very quiet and durable.
  • Water-cooled – expensive, but reliable. Cooled water increases motor life.

Soaps & detergents

While you can use a pressure washer without any surface cleaner for light jobs, a soap or detergent can speed up the process. Soaps are usually based on natural products such as plant and animal oils and fats. That’s what makes them safe for our baths. Detergents are usually man-made chemicals.

Different pressure washers will have different ways to dispense soap. Some have built-in dispensers. Others have separate ones that attach to the hose. Remember that a downstream detergent injector is easier on the pump because it joins the water after it exits the pump. Be sure to read your owner’s manual to find what cleaning agents work best for your washer.

Depending on the job, look for cleaners with these ingredients (not an exhaustive list):

  • Vinegar – windows, door handles
  • Citric acid – concrete driveways, wood decks
  • Oxalic acid – rust removal
  • Bleach – sanitizing and disinfecting
  • Sodium hypochlorite – stain removal, disinfectant
  • Sodium hydroxide (caustic) – removes grease, oil, etc
  • Ammonia – cleans glass and stainless steel

Hot or cold water?

Most pressure washers on the market use only cold water straight from your garden hose. However, there are a few hot water pressure washers available, but they are NOT cheap. A good one will set you back at least $1800. Hot water does clean more efficiently than cold, but unless you’re a pro getting paid to use it, we generally don’t recommend a hot water power washer.

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Electric Power Washer

Electric pressure washers (also called electric power washers) are appropriate for the vast majority of homeowners. While not as powerful as their gas-powered cousins, electric pressure washers are strong enough to remove most normal grime. They’re great for small jobs or infrequent larger jobs. They can easily clean your driveway, deck, gutters, patio furniture, vehicles and lawn equipment.

When shopping for an electric pressure washer, consider the power you’ll need. The more PSI/GPM, the more you’ll have to pay. Electric pressure washers have a general range of 1200 – 1700 PSI. Compare that to gas at 2,000 – 2,800 PSI, and you can see why gas has more oomph. However, an electric model is easier to carry and operate and is less likely to cause damage to surfaces.

PROS

    PROS of Electric pressure washers:

  • Quieter than gas, especially those with brushless induction motors
  • Cheaper than gas (average $150$250)
  • Easy storage, no winterizing needed
  • Can use indoors – no exhaust fumes
  • Lighter and more portable
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CONS

    CONS of Electric pressure washers:

  • Must be near a power outlet
  • Less power than gas
  • Wands (usually plastic) are less sturdy than metal
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While some people use extension cords to extend their cleaning reach, most manufacturers don’t recommend it. Since you’re pairing electricity and water, there’s always a risk of electrocution if the machine isn’t used properly. An extension cord can shorten the life of your pressure washer and may even void the warranty in some models. ALWAYS consult your owner’s manual before using an extension cord.

If using an extension cord, you MUST plug it into a GFCI receptacle, and the cord must have a grounding pin intact AND be heavy gauge (12 +) so it won’t trip your circuit breaker. But, if you need a few more feet to work with, it’s much safer to use a hose or wand extension.

Our 2019 reviews list some of the best models currently on the market. We’ll focus on some of the most important criteria so you can find the one that fits your project needs and budget:

  • Price
  • PSI / GPM / CU (cleaning power)
  • Warranty
  • Weight
  • Extra nozzles (on board storage is a big plus)
  • Plastic or stainless wand
  • Wheels – larger and pneumatic wheels provide the best stability and maneuverability
  • Plastic or brass couplings for hose attachment
  • Cord and hose length – minimum 20-foot hose and 30-foot cord
  • Hose and cord storage
More
Electric Pressure Washers – Our Top Picks for 2019
Model Highlights
Sun Joe SPX3000
Sun Joe SPX3000
Our rating: 9,8
Price: Low

This model has 2030 PSI and 1.76 GPM (CU score: 3573). It’s quiet, lightweight at 31 pounds, comes with 5 nozzle tips (with on-board storage), and a 34 inch stainless steel extension wand. The 20 foot hose and 35 foot cord are a decent length.

Storage holders for the hose and cord are only so-so. The biggest customer complaint was with the plastic coupling for the garden hose. It tends to leak.
Sun Joe SPX3000 Review >

Greenworks 1950 PSI
Greenworks 1950 PSI
Our rating: 9,7
Price: Average

This model produces 1950 PSI at 1.2 GPM (CU score: 2340). It’s quiet, with large, durable wheels, 25 foot hose (with hose reel)and 35 foot cord. It comes with 4 nozzles with onboard storage.

It’s fairly heavy at 50 pounds and only has a 1-year warranty. The wand is plastic with no extension. The biggest customer complaint was that it only had enough pressure for light duty jobs like windows, mild patio cleaning and car washing.
Read more about Greenworks 1950 >

AR Blue Clean AR390SS
AR Blue Clean AR390SS
Our rating: 9,4
Price: Average

This model produces 2,000 PSI at 1.4 GPM (CU score: 2800) and weighs 35.5 pounds. It comes with 4 nozzles, a 35 foot power cord and nice, long 30 foot hose (with hose reel).

The wheels aren’t that big, and the unit is topheavy, especially with the hose on the reel, so tip-over can be an issue. Customers complained that the hose is stiff and difficult to reel in.

Gas Powerwasher

For ultimate cleaning power, a gas pressure washer (also called a gas power washer) is unmatched. These big boys are tough enough to tackle heavy duty jobs that electric power washers often can’t touch, such as removing chewing gum and tree sap from walkways, paint stripping, and stubborn stain removal from large areas such as patios, driveways, and siding.

Contractors and professional handymen definitely prefer these guys over electric models, since they don’t require a power outlet and typically range from 2,000 to 4,000 PSI.

Gas pressure washers are not just for the professionals, however. Over the years, the performance gap has closed between the cheaper gas washers and high-priced electric washers. If you already operate gas lawn mowers, weed eaters, and other such equipment, you’ll be ready to handle the maintenance needs of a gas pressure washer.

PROS

    PROS of gas pressure washers:

  • No power cord to limit reach, no power outlet needed
  • Great for cleaning large areas quickly
  • Best for removing very tough stains
  • Versatile for a wide variety of applications
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CONS

    CONS of gas pressure washers:

  • Heavier
  • Louder
  • More expensive (~$300$500 for residential models)
  • Can’t use indoors due to exhaust
  • Requires winterizing – must drain all water and add antifreeze
Thumbs-down

Gas pressure washers use engines to power the water pump. There are two main types of engine/pump systems – direct-drive and belt-drive. Direct-drive is more affordable and compact. However, they are prone to overheating after extended use (4 or more hrs/day). They also vibrate more and are louder.

A belt-drive system takes up more space, resulting in a heavier, more expensive washer. The belt, however, extends the life of the engine by absorbing vibration and reducing RPM. It can run at a lower temperature and won’t overheat with extended use (8 hrs/day).

Most gas power washers operate with cold water. However, you can find hot water gas power washers that heat water to 140 F. The high temp is really effective in breaking up tough dirt. However, these tend to be really expensive (over $1500).

Our 2019 reviews list some of the best models currently on the market. We’ll focus on some of the most important criteria so you can find the one that fits your project needs and budget:

  • Price
  • PSI / GPM / CU (cleaning power)
  • Warranty
  • Weight & carriage frame
  • Extra nozzles (on board storage is a big plus)
  • Plastic or stainless wand
  • Wheels – larger and pneumatic wheels provide the best stability and maneuverability
  • Plastic or brass couplings for hose attachment
  • Cord and hose length – minimum 20-foot hose and 30-foot cord
  • Hose and cord storage
More
Gas Pressure Washers – Our Top Picks for 2019
Model Highlights
Champion 3200 PSI
Champion 3200 PSI
Our rating: 9,4
Price: Average

This model has 3200 PSI and 2.4 GPM (CU score: 7680). It’s about as loud as a lawnmower, has a 224 cc engine, 12” never-go-flat wheels, comes with 2 detergent tanks, 5 nozzles and a 25-foot hose (w/ onboard storage). 2-year limited warranty and free tech support.

The on/off switch and heat warnings are hard to see on the machine. Most complaints were quality control related.
Read more about Champion 3200 PSI >

WEN PW31
WEN PW31
Our rating: 9
Price: Low

This model has a 208 cc, 4-stroke OHV engine that produces 3100 PSI at 2.5 GPM (CU score: 7750). It comes with 5 nozzles, 12-inch solid never-go-flat wheels, and a 30-foot hose with on-board storage. WEN offers a 2-year warranty and excellent customer service.

For most customers, it had plenty of power to clean various exterior surfaces. The biggest complaints were about leaks and the engine vibrating too much.
Read more about WEN PW31 >

SIMPSON Cleaning PS3228-S
SIMPSON Cleaning PS3228-S
Our rating: 8,6
Price: High

This model is powerful enough for commercial use, but can easily be adjusted to clean even delicate surfaces such as lawn furniture. CU score: 8250

Customers have had success cleaning concrete, brick, gutters, cars, decks, vinyl siding, 2nd story surfaces, patio furniture, sheds, and bluestone.

Best Pressure Washer Soap, Detergent and Chemicals
Pressure washers can clean with only water, but soap, detergent and other cleaning agents can speed up the process. Cleaning agents adhere to grime and oils, loosening them so the water can more easily wash it away. Our buying guide will help you learn the difference between various soaps, detergents and cleaning agents specific to pressure washers.

Best Pressure Washer Brands of 2019

  • Generac
    Generac Power Systems is an American manufacturer of backup power generation products for residential, light commercial and industrial markets.
  • Ryobi
    Ryobi Limited is a Japanese manufacturer of components for the automobile, electronics, and telecommunications industries.
  • Simpson
    Simpson was a manufacturer of household appliances based in Adelaide, Australia. It now exists as a brand within the Electrolux Australia group.
  • Troy Bilt
    Troy Bilt is an American manufacturer of outdoor power equipment for the mass market.
  • Honda
    Honda is a Japanese public multinational conglomerate corporation primarily known as a manufacturer of power equipment.
  • Sun Joe
    Sun Joe specialize in designing and developing high-quality, innovative, and affordable outdoor tools to keep your home looking beautiful throughout the year.
  • Greenworks
    Greenworks Tools is the leader in battery-powered outdoor power tools for DIY-consumers and landscaping professionals.
  • Karcher
    Karcher is a German family-owned company that operates worldwide and is known for its high-pressure cleaners, floor care equipment and parts cleaning systems.

How to Use a Pressure Washer Safely and Efficiently

Nothing beats a pressure washer for cleaning years’ worth of stuck on grime from surfaces all around your home. From mildew to tree sap and even old chewing gum, a pressure washer is your best friend to remove these stubborn sticky messes.

Pressure washers rely on water pressure to produce the cleaning power needed for such jobs. They do this by pumping water through a very narrow hose and wand, which increases pressure the narrower it gets. On the wand is a hand-squeezed trigger that activates the flow.

Some pressure washer wands have an adjustable nozzle. Others have separate detachable nozzles. Both types allow for more control over the angle and pressure used for different tasks.

Professional Power Washing

Due to the high pressure, it’s vitally important to follow strict safety measures to prevent surface damage as well as injury to yourself and others. Follow these general guidelines for safe operation of your pressure washer:

  • Read the manual. It will tell you exactly how to operate your particular model, along with important info about replacement parts and troubleshooting.
  • Never touch the spray. Don’t point it at kids or pets either. It can easily lacerate skin and even remove fingers if the pressure is high enough.
  • Wear protective gear. No shorts and flip flops. Think safety goggles, work gloves, enclosed shoes, ear protection (especially with gas power washers), and pants.
  • Prep your surroundings. Cover exterior lights, vents, and close your windows. Get all tripping hazards out of the way, including pets and kids.
  • No ladders! Pressure washers can produce a serious kickback force, which can lead to a nasty fall. Opt for extension wands to reach high areas instead.

It’s not difficult to use a pressure washer, but there are some rules that should be followed for a safe, effective cleaning job each and every time. These are general steps. The process can vary depending on your machine.

  1. Sweep or brush all loose dirt and debris from the surface you’re cleaning.
  2. Connect garden hose to the water inlet.
  3. Turn the faucet on fully.
  4. Sweeze wand trigger to release air pressure.
  5. Check hose connections for leaks.
  6. For a gas power washer, pull the starter cord to start the engine. For electric, plug into a grounded, GFCI outlet.
  7. Let water run through the machine for about a minute to prime the system. But never let it idle for longer than 3-5 minutes so you won’t overheat the engine.
  8. With trigger off, attach a low pressure nozzle, or set adjustable nozzle to low. Always start with low pressure and work your way up.
  9. Hold the wand with both hands. Plant feet firmly on the ground.
  10. Start with low pressure, about 18 inches from cleaning surface. Move in a side-to side motion at a 45 degree angle to the surface.
  11. Keep moving. Don’t stay in one spot or you risk damage to the surface. Move the spray in overlapping lines to avoid streaks.
  12. If you need more pressure, try moving the spray closer to the surface, but no more than 6 inches away. Or lock the trigger on the wand and attach a higher pressure tip.

Pressure Washing Tips & Tricks

Vinyl Siding Power Washing
Does your home’s vinyl siding need some TLC? Learn how to pressure wash a house with this simple guide.
Afraid to power wash your house? With the right pressure washer, cleaning your home’s siding and other exterior surfaces will keep it looking great to retain its resale value. Learn how with our helpful guide.
Wood Deck Power Washing
How to clean your dirty deck with a pressure washer in a few easy steps
Dirty deck? Here's how to clean it safely with a gas or electric pressure washer. Our easy step-by-step guide will show you how to wash any deck without damaging the wood.
Pressure Washing Tips, Tricks, Techniques
How to use a Pressure Washer with safety in mind, whether it’s gas or electric powered
Is your vinyl siding and wood deck covered with mildew? Years’ worth of grime on your concrete floors? Caked mud and bugs on your car? Read our helpful guide to learn how to use a power washer for those heavy-duty tasks.
Pressure Washing - Early Morning
Stay Safe and Make Your Exterior Surfaces Sparkle with a Pressure Washer
Before you operate a power washer, you need to understand how to use it safely. Use our beginner's guide to correctly operate a power washer the first time and every time.
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