Washing the car, cleaning your patio or blasting mud from your bike? The best pressure washers make the job quick and easy
There’s something deeply satisfying about watching dirt being blasted away by a pressure washer. These handy tools transform the mains water supply from a simple outside tap into a powerful cleaning jet, and the best pressure washers can make light work of all the intensive cleaning tasks around your home and garden.
They’re ideal for cleaning everything from patios and patio furniture right through to degreasing your long-suffering barbecue. They make light work of cleaning cars, and few things are faster at rinsing down a muddy mountain bike. All you need to do is pick a model with a suitable power rating and the right nozzle attachments for the jobs at hand, and you can save yourself hours of scrubbing by hand.
In this article, we’ll answer all your key buying questions in our bite-sized buying guide and you’ll find our mini reviews of all the best pressure washers on the market a little further down the page. If you just want a quick, reliable buy, then check out our top picks in the At-a-glance list below.
Best pressure washer: At a glance
|Best all-round pressure washer||Karcher K4 Power Control (~£210)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best cheap pressure washer||Halfords PW20 (~£75)||Check price at Halfords|
|Best mid-range pressure washer||Nilfisk Core 140 (~£226)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best high-end smart pressure washer||Karcher K5 Premium Smart (~£438)||Check price at Amazon|
How to choose the best pressure washer for you
What type of pressure washer do I need?
Like many types of pumps, you can choose from electric pressure washers or petrol-powered alternatives. The latter are generally better suited to professionals who need the higher pressure readings, or don’t want to be hampered by having to find a nearby plug socket. They’re more expensive, too, and their capabilities are way in excess of what most domestic users are likely to need. As such, here we focus on the electric versions, which are still exceptionally capable.
What do you want to use your pressure washer for?
The best pressure washer for your needs will largely be determined by the maximum pressure rating:
- Entry-level cleaners are those with a maximum of 100 bar of pressure. These models are good for cleaning small items such as bicycles and garden furniture.
- Pressure washers with a maximum of 120 bar are those at the mid-level and are best used for cleaning fencing, patios and dirty cars, for example.
- If you want to embark on some really heavy-duty cleaning, go for a pressure washer with more than 120 bar. If you’re tackling severely stained paving or mud-coated 4x4s, this is your best bet.
When it comes to power, more isn’t necessarily better when it comes to pressure washers; the last thing you’ll want to do is bore holes in timber or blast off car paintwork. Many of the more powerful pressure washers offer the ability to dial down the maximum pressure for more delicate work, however.
Maximum pressure isn’t 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” , which is the average pressure that each washer can maintain over a long period. Bar is an internationally recognised unit of pressure. One bar is equal to 14.5psi (pounds per square inch).
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 arrive in a variety of bundles, all with different tools in the box – rather confusingly, similar product names also make it easy to pick up the wrong model by mistake.
If the hose is short, perhaps you’ll need an extension wand. Maybe you need an angled wand to clean gutters. If you want to tackle specific cleaning tasks, such as patios or cars, then you’ll get the best results with brushes and nozzles that are purpose-built for the task at hand. If you want to clean your car using snow foam, you’ll need a snow foam bottle that attaches to the lance.
A few models may even come with special multi-purpose nozzles, designed to deliver different spray patterns for different jobs, which save you from having to carry the whole kit around. While you can usually buy a specific accessory later, getting the right bundle at the start will save you some money in the long-term.
It’s worth noting whether spare parts or accessories are available for your pressure washer of choice. You might find it hard to track down a new hose, for example, from a relatively unknown brand, while something from a household name might only be a click away.
What other features do you need to consider?
Water flow rate is a specification you’ll often see cropping up. This indicates how much water is passed through the washer per hour. Around 400 litres per hour (l/hr) is a typical figure. Clearly, the more water that’s delivered, the quicker you’ll get your cleaning done, but it also means your pressure washer will cost more to run. Not only will the pressure washer generally use more energy, but water doesn’t come free (at least from the tap) and most of us don’t want to waste it.
Other things to consider include the length of both the mains cable and hose. A shorter hose can make it more difficult to get the jet where it’s needed, or reaching around the back of the car to get it clean. Of course, the longer the hose, the more likely it is to get in the way or become tangled, so it’s worth having a spool or reel to keep it under control when it isn’t fully extended. Also consider the flexibility of the hose; something that’s overly rigid can be unwieldy to use. Metal fittings on the hose are better than (cheaper) plastic ones, too.
If your pressure washer’s cable is too short, you can use an extension lead, but it’s essential to opt for one that offers a suitable amperage (13 amps minimum) and is designed for outdoor use. Water and electricity aren’t the best of bedfellows.
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 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.
How we test pressure washers
We test each pressure washer by first assembling them, then putting them to good, hard work. We clean a car thoroughly, looking at the washer’s ability to remove dirt and debris from the body surfaces and wheels, while still controlling the pressure to avoid causing any damage. We then clean a range of tarmac, concrete, plastic and timber surfaces to see how it handles walls, driveways, paths, patios and decking. During this process, we pay close attention to how easy it is to control the pressure and the jet, and any additional features designed to make pressure-washing easier. We also test out any supplied accessories, including foam spray bottles, additional nozzles, driveway brushes and car kits. Finally, we check how easy it is to drain, dismantle and store the pressure washer after use.
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The best pressure washers you can buy in 2023
1. Kärcher K4 Power Control: Best all-round pressure washer
Price when reviewed: £210 | Check price at Amazon
Replacing the K4 Full Control in Kärcher’s lineup, the K4 Power Control is a superb pressure washer, with everything you need to clear the grime from all around your home. Its secret weapon is its Power Control Gun and matching Power Control Vario lance. You can switch between three different pressure settings and adjust the spray pattern with a twist of the nozzle, going from a high-powered jet to a softer, flatter spray. Whether you’re washing mud off the car or trying to blast mould and algae from your patio, you get what you need without having to lug around a bunch of different tools.
Of course, since this is a Kärcher pressure washer, there are extra tools available if you want them. We also tested the K4 with the Power Control car and home kit, which comes with the standard Power Control Vario and Dirt Blaster lances, plus a rotating car brush and a foam jet nozzle. What’s more, it throws in the T5 Surface cleaner for sweeping all the grime from your decking, patio or driveway. It’s worth the £180 extra if you need some extra cleaning power for your car or outdoor spaces, although the basic kit will easily handle all but the toughest washing jobs.
Key specs – Size: 30.6 x 58.8 x 40.2cm (WHL); Weight: 11.5kg; Max pressure: 130 bar; Water flow rate: max 420l/hr; Hose length: 8m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: 30m² per hour; Motor power: 1,800W
2. Bosch EasyAquatak 110: Best tiny pressure washer
Price when reviewed: £59 | Check price at B&Q
While it’s one of the cheapest models in Bosch’s EasyAquatak range, the EasyAquatak 110 has many positives. It’s a compact unit that looks a little like a mini suitcase, with the high-pressure pipe emerging from the back and the hosepipe connector at the front. It’s incredibly simple to set up and operate, with just a single rotary on/off switch at the front and a trigger and a lock on the handle; it’s pretty much point and shoot from there on in. It comes with three nozzles – an adjustable fan/jet nozzle, a high-power rotary nozzle and a detergent nozzle for cleaning foams and detergents.
Despite its diminutive size and max pressure, it’s a surprisingly powerful washer. We had no problems removing caked-on grime from the bodywork and wheels of our car, nor clearing stains, moss and lichen from concrete slabs. In fact, the blast from the rotary nozzle proved impressively fierce. Cheap, relatively quiet and easy to stow away, this may be all the pressure washer you need.
Key specs – Size: 37.5 x 40 x 20cm (WHL); Weight: 3.8kg; Max pressure: 110 bar; Water flow rate: 330l/hr; Hose length: 3m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 1,300W
3. Kärcher K2 Compact: Best mini pressure washer
Price when reviewed: £75 | Check price at AmazonKärcher’s smallest, cheapest pressure washer definitely earns its compact title. Less than 40cm high and 22cm wide, it weighs just over 4kg unfilled and with accessories attached. While it hasn’t got wheels, you can hold the body in one hand and move it as you work. As you might expect, it doesn’t deliver the power to blast heavy-duty stains from concrete, but it will happily scourge your patio or decking of ground-in grime and algae, and it’s great for cleaning up garden furniture, muddy bikes or even cars. What’s more, it’s still compatible with Kärcher’s range of pressure washer accessories.
There’s no detergent foam sprayer included, but it does have a little tube that sits inside a bottle of detergent that sucks the stuff up – which is great as long as you can avoid knocking over the bottle while you’re cleaning. It’s also worth mentioning that, for its size, it makes an awful lot of noise. If you have modest needs and a matching budget then this is a great pressure washer to buy.
Key specs – Size: 22 x 39 x 18cm (WHL); Weight: 3.7kg; Max pressure: 110 bar; Water flow rate: 360l/hr; Hose length: 4m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power:1,400W
4. Ryobi 130 Electric Pressure Washer: Best for cleaning cars
Price when reviewed: £159 | Check price at B&Q
While there are other pressure washers – or optional packages – designed for cleaning cars, few offer the all-round ability of the Ryobi 130. That’s because rather than requiring a separate detergent bottle to be attached to the lance, or car shampoo to be sucked from a standalone bottle, the Ryobi has a built-in 0.9l detergent tank in the main body. Once filled, to activate it you simply twist the end of the vario lance, which reduces the pressure and allows you to coat your car quickly, easily and evenly.
Its suitability for the task doesn’t end there. The vario lance adjusts from a focused spot spray for removing alloy wheel grime to a fan for a gentle final spray, and everything in between. A brush attachment and non-adjustable lance are also supplied, along with a filter. The tough yet flexible 5m, steel-braided hose resists tangling well, and comes with tough metal quick-release fittings at both ends.
Delivering 130 bar, it’s plenty powerful enough for cleaning patios, driveways and decking, too. The only criticism is the hose release catch on the main unit is a little fiddly; but otherwise, it’s a superb choice.
Key specs – Size: 27 x 92 x 25cm (WHL); Weight: 8.3kg; Max pressure: 130 bar; Water flow rate: 420l/hr; Hose length: 5m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 1,600W
5. Halfords PW20 pressure washer: Best value pressure washer
Price when reviewed: £75 | Check price at Halfords With such a tiny price tag, it’s easy to dismiss the Halfords PW20 as being too cheap to be a credible alternative to £100-plus machines. But within minutes of plugging it in, it’s clear that this is a quality product. As well as an adjustable fan nozzle for the lance, it comes with a snow foam bottle – not always a given, even with far more expensive pressure washers. Indeed, its 1,600-watt motor is more powerful than several other pricier alternatives on this list.
The PW20 is easy to operate: the 5m hose has metal fittings that are easy to attach, and there’s a single on/off control on the front. The lance adjusts from a spot to a fan by twisting the nozzle. It’s a little louder than some of the other units here, but it isn’t unbearable – and was more than up to the job of blasting brake dust from alloy wheels and cleaning a film of algae and lichen from a patio. It took a little more effort than some here, because its 115 bar pressure rating is at the lower end of the washers on this list, but it still got the job done. We found the adjustable nozzle a little tricky to remove, but unless you’re a snow foam aficionado, you can probably leave it attached.
Key specs – Size: 27 x 69 x 25cm (WHL); Weight: 6.3kg; Max pressure: 115 bar; Water flow rate: 300l/hr; Hose length: 5m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 1,600W
6. Nilfisk Core 130 Bike & Auto: Best for deep cleaning
Price when reviewed: £192 | Check price at AmazonIf you’re looking for a pressure washer to purge the mud and grime from your bike or car, you won’t do better than the Core 130 Bike & Auto kit. For one thing, the Core 130 is another well-built, high-performance pressure washer from the Danish firm, with a choice of three power settings and two nozzles. As with the P180 and Core 140, one gives you more of a tough spray, while the other delivers the full-on rotary jet, perfect for blasting the black stuff off your alloy wheels or removing algae or dried paint from your driveway.
This kit comes with everything you need for a proper clean, including a wide-angled nozzle for the bonnet, windscreen and paintwork, a soft car brush attachment, an under-chassis nozzle and a foam sprayer – all of which would normally set you back another £40 to £50. There are a few niggles, such as the slightly awkward housing for the high-pressure hose at the front, or the fact that there’s quite a lot of assembly involved before you get it going, but when your car gets cleaned this quickly and this well, it’s hard to grumble.
Key specs – Size: 29 x 72 x 30cm (WHL); Weight: 6.6kg; Max pressure: 130 bar; Water flow rate: 462l/hr; Hose length: 6m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: 35m2/hour; Motor power: 1,500W
7. Worx Hydroshot WG630E: Best cordless, take-anywhere pressure washer
Price when reviewed: From £120 | Check price at Amazon
Sure, it might seem weedy from the specs, but the Worx Hydroshot WG630E can go places where you’d never take another pressure washer. That’s because it’s cordless, running from one of Worx’s 20v 4A lithium-ion batteries, and because it doesn’t need a conventional mains water supply – just drop the end of the bundled hose into a watering can or bucket and it will run until it drains it dry. It has a normal power mode and a battery-saving eco mode, and a choice of five jet patterns courtesy of the rotating nozzle.
There isn’t enough power here to blast off ground-in, dried-on dirt, but it’s fantastic for rinsing down a muddy bike, your car or removing surface grime and bird droppings. The battery takes around 45 minutes to charge and runs for around 30 to 40 minutes, and the only hassle is having to refill your can or bucket, with the WG630E getting through 10 litres in around 3 minutes of solid squirting. Even then, a quick car clean took only two cans to complete. This isn’t the last word in cleaning power, but it’s unbeatable for sheer convenience.
Key specs – Size: 24 x 93 x 13cm (WHL); Weight: 2.4kg; Max pressure: 24 bar; Water flow rate: 200l/hr; Hose length: 6m; Cable length: N/A; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 20V brushless motor
8. Nilfisk Core 140: Best mid-range pressure washer
Price when reviewed: £226 | Check price at Amazon
As the step-up model from the Core 130, the Core 140 can tackle pretty much anything you throw at it, from a muddy quad-bike to larger cars and campervans, and algae and moss-stained decking, too. In fact, you need to be a little more careful about its power settings when you’re using the rough, rotary jet attachment, since it can chew through soft timbers or old tarmac. Whether you buy it solo or pay a little extra for the click and clean car kit, you’re getting a great pressure washer, with the latter option adding foam sprayer, wide-angle car nozzle, car brush and under-chassis nozzle attachments.
Like the Core 130, the Core 140 takes a fair bit of time and effort to assemble, but it has a couple of extras that make it easier to use and store, including a longer high-pressure hose pipe and a reel at the front to keep it tidy, along with an even more robust frame, sprayer lance and handle. With a bit more welly than the budget models, but a lower price tag than the premium washers, this might be the perfect mid-range option.
Key specs – Size: 37 x 88 x 31cm (WHL); Weight: 9.2kg; Max pressure: 140 bar; Water flow rate: 474l/hr; Hose length: 8m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: 40m2/hour; Motor power: 1,800W
9. Kärcher K5 Premium Smart Control Home: The ultimate smart pressure washer
Price when reviewed: £438 | Check price at Amazon
The K5 Premium Smart Control is a little bigger and more powerful than the K4, and comes with the bonus of a built-in, wind-up hose reel to keep its longer 10m high-pressure pipe under control. Yet the real advantage is its Smart Control system, comprising a new trigger gun with a built-in LCD panel and Bluetooth connectivity that hooks into a smartphone app. On its own, the trigger gun allows you to turn the pressure up and down, with six levels and a boost setting to deal with the most persistent grime. Meanwhile, Kärcher’s 3-in-1 multi jet lance can switch spray patterns, so that you can change from a wider spray to a focused, rotating jet within seconds.
Connect the app, and you can tell the K5 what you’re trying to clean. It will then set the required pressure and tell you how to adjust the lance for every stage, so that, as you clean the car or power-wash the driveway, you’re using the right spray pattern and setting for every step. Buy the Home version and Kärcher also bundles in the T5 Surface cleaner for a thorough clean of any hard surfaces in your garden. You pay a lot for the smart features, and we’re not sure that using the app to control the lance is really all that convenient. Still, if you want the ultimate in high-tech pressure washers, nothing else comes close.
Key specs – Size: 30.6 x 58.8 x 41.4cm (WHL); Weight: 13.9kg; Max pressure: 145 bar; Water flow rate: max 500l/hr; Hose length: 10m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 2,100W
10. Nilfisk Premium 180: Best heavy-duty pressure washer
Price when reviewed: £515 | Check price at ToolstationFor most home applications, the Nilfisk Premium 180 is going to be overkill; but if you need to clean something big – a swimming pool, terrace, boat, or caravan, for example – this is the washer for the job. It’s a massive unit, standing nearly 1m tall, and weighing 26.8kg, which makes you glad of the built-in trolley. Much of that comes down to the robust build and all-aluminium pump. The 10m high-pressure pipe that connects the lance winds onto an internal reel at the top, and there are even points for winding up the 5m mains cable. The Premium 180 is built for serious use.
That’s also reflected in the performance. Even with the Gentle nozzle, which adjusts from a wide fan to a fearsome jet, it can blast through the toughest dirt and grime in seconds. On some surfaces, it might even be too tough, so it’s good that you can ramp back the pressure with a quick turn of the dial. Switch to the Rough nozzle with its rotary jet and there’s very little this won’t get through; it effortlessly cleaned paint marks and stains from concrete that lesser pressure washers couldn’t shift. This is a practical, pro-level tool that’s built to work hard.
Key specs – Size: 38 x 95.5 x 39cm (WHL); Weight: 29.5kg; Max pressure: 180 bar; Water flow rate: 610l/hr; Hose length: 10m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 2.9kW