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Best pressure washer 2021: Jet wash your car, patio or driveway clean

Clean the car and drive the grime from your decking, patio or driveway with the best pressure washers for every budget

Whether you want to blast the dirt off your car, clear stubborn grease from a BBQ or rid your patio of built-up muck, the best pressure washers 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 pressure washer, followed by our pick of the finest models that you can currently buy.

Best pressure washer: At a glance

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?

Pressure washers can generally be put into three categories, depending on their maximum pressure rating:

  • Entry-level cleaners are those with a maximum of 100 bars of pressure. These models are good for cleaning small items such as bicycles and garden furniture.
  • Pressure washers with a maximum of 120 bars are those at the mid-level and are best used for cleaning things such as fencing, patios and dirty cars.
  • If you want to embark on some really heavy-duty cleaning, go for a pressure washer with over 120 bars. If you’re tackling severely stained paving or mud-coated 4x4s, this is your best bet.

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. 

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 usually save you a few bob.

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.

Other things to consider include the length of the mains cable and hose. A shorter hose can make it harder to get the jet where it’s most needed or reach 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 tangle up, so it’s worth having a spool or reel to keep it under control when it’s not fully extended.

On the cable front, you can get around a short one by using 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. 

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.

READ NEXT: The best patio cleaners to buy

The best pressure washers to buy

1. Karcher K4 Power Control: The best all-round pressure washer

Price: £200 | Buy now from Argos

Replacing the K4 Full Control in Karcher’s line-up, 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, which means you can switch 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, as a Karcher pressure washer, you can have extra tools if you want them, and 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 £90 extra if you need some extra cleaning power for your car or outdoor spaces, though the basic kit will easily handle all but the toughest washing jobs.   

Key Specs – Size: 40.2 x 30.6 x 58.8cm (LWH); 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

Buy now from Argos

2. Halfords PW20: The best budget pressure washer

Price: £70 | Buy now from Halfords

This Halfords own-brand washer doesn’t have the power of more expensive models, but don’t underestimate it. Despite the low-ish 75 bar working pressure, it can fire a jet capable of stripping grime, algae and dried-on paint from paving and wash everything bar the most stubborn mud from your car. In fact, you can switch between the jet and a wider, fan-shaped spray, which turns out to be perfect for a quick clean of your car, bike or windows.

The low weight and carrying handle makes it easy to lug around the patio or driveway, and the build quality is better than you might expect. Our only real complaint is that the 5m long high-pressure pipe seems determined to do its own thing, even while you’re trying to get it straightened out. You get a good, lengthy wand along with a detergent foam sprayer and the whole package is excellent value. You can also buy a cheaper model – the PW10 – with a 70 bar working pressure, but the extra power and accessories of the PW20 are well worth the £15 extra.

Key specs – Size: 72 x 28 x 22cm (HWL); 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

Buy now from Halfords

3. Karcher K2 Compact: The mighty mini pressure washer

Price: £80 | Buy now from Argos

Kärcher’s smallest, cheapest pressure washer definitely earns its compact title. Less than 40cm high and 22cm wide, it weighs only just over 4kg unfilled 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 hasn’t got 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 and 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. Have modest needs and a matching budget? This is a great pressure washer to buy.

Key specs – Size: 39 x 22 x 18cm (HWL); 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. Makita HW111: The best for washing small items

Price: £129 | 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

5. Nilfisk C135: The best for build quality

Price: £170 | Buy now from Argos

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 29.5cm (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

Buy now from Argos

6. Bosch Universal Aquatak 130: The best pressure washer for big cleaning jobs

Price: £200 | Buy now from Amazon

Like the Kärcher K4, this is a high-power washer with a 130 bar max pressure, and this one will take on anything you fancy. Its 3-in-1 nozzle means you can switch between a wide fan jet, a beefy rotary jet, which moves around for extra coverage, and an even more fearsome pencil jet, capable of blasting through the toughest dried-on crud. It comes with a detergent accessory for coating cars and patios with foam, and the 6m long hose gives you a great working range.

At nearly 8kg, it’s reasonably heavy, but the telescopic handle and chunky wheels make it easy to move around the garden or the driveway. If you’ve got a renovation project on your hands or you’ve left your patio and paving to fester, don’t think twice: this beast of a pressure washer can handle it.

Key Specs – Size: 36.5 x 44 x 36cm; Weight: 7.8kg; Max pressure: 130 bar; Water flow rate: 380l/hr; Hose length: 6m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 1,700W

7. Karcher K5 Premium Smart Control Home: The ultimate smart pressure washer

Price: £400 | Buy now from Argos

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 display 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, Karcher’s 3-in-1 multi jet lance can switch spray patterns, so that you can switch from a wider spray to a focused, rotating jet within seconds without reaching for another nozzle. 

Connect the app, however, and you can tell the K5 what you’re trying to clean, and it will 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 Karcher 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 even comes close.

Key Specs – Size: 41.4 x 30.6 x 58.8cm (LWH); 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

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