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Nilfisk P 180 review: No job is too big for this mighty pressure washer

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Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
469
inc VAT

Big, practical and powerful, this is the ultimate heavy-duty pressure washer

Pros 
Incredibly powerful
Practical, sturdy design
Built-in detergent tank
Cons 
Big and heavy
Needs to be used with care
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Let’s be clear about something from the outset. If you’re just looking for a household pressure washer, the Nilfisk P 180 is going to be overkill. You should no more buy it to clean your car than buy a Humvee to take the kids to school. Using one of these to clean your deck or patio would be like spending £3,000 on a gaming laptop just to run Lost Ark and Fortnite. Sure, it’s going to do the job, but you don’t need this kind of firepower.

Yet there are some people for whom the P 180 will be just the beast they need. Got two muddy 4x4s or some vans to clean? This is your guy. Need to blast algae from an outdoor swimming pool or clean your boat when it’s out of water? Ditto. Do you need to clean static caravans, large areas of decking, a lot of outdoor furniture or an extensive patio or terrace? The Nilfisk P 180 has you covered.

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Nilfisk P 180 review: What do you get for the money?

It’s not cheap and it’s certainly not light or compact, but the P 180 gives you plenty for your money. If you priced pressure washers by their weight, it would be one of the best-value options out there. That’s because while it’s a little larger than your average pressure washer, standing at just under 1m high, it’s significantly heavier, weighing in at nearly 27kg. It’s lucky that it comes with a built-in trolley and a robust handle, as you’ll need the wheels to get it around. Much of that weight comes down to the impressively robust build quality.

There are no cheap-feeling plastics or wobbly attachments here, while the induction pump that powers the washer is made from aluminium. The P 180 also beats most pressure washers by having a built-in reel for its 10m high-pressure hose and shipping with two nozzles for its sturdy two-part lance. One – dubbed Gentle – is an adjustable nozzle that goes from a broad fan of water to an intense jet. The other – labelled Rough – is a rotary effort with an even more fearsome blast.

The P 180 doesn’t come with a detergent attachment, but then it doesn’t need one. A pull-out tank at the rear of the unit takes detergents, surface cleaners and snow foams, and will distribute them until it runs dry. Meanwhile, a huge range of accessories covers you for everything from specialist nozzles to brush heads, making it a very adaptable tool.

READ NEXT: The best pressure washer to buy

Nilfisk P 180 review: How easy is it to use?

It took us around 10 minutes to assemble once we’d manhandled it out of its box, but once you have everything connected and the reel crank and lance holster in place, actually using the P 180 is straightforward. You adjust the power level on the machine rather than on the lance, but the big rotary dials make it easy to turn the P 180 on or off, or turn the power up or down. You can then adjust the water pattern, and so the pressure, by rotating the metallic portion of the nozzle left or right. Beyond that, it’s just point and shoot.

The 5m cable and 10m hose give you a bit more flexibility about how and where you position the unit while you’re cleaning, and the only thing you need to think about is making sure that you’re using the right nozzle and power level for the job in hand. There are no smart features or presets to help, but you should reserve the Rough nozzle for when you really need it and keep the power relatively low when you’re just cleaning the car or more delicate stonework. With the P 180, it’s better to start soft and then ramp up than go in hard and risk doing some damage.

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Nilfisk P 180 review: How well does it clean?

That’s because, at full whack, this is probably the most powerful pressure washer that we’ve ever reviewed. It’s rated at 180 bar and can push through 610 litres per hour, eclipsing even the Karcher K5 Premium Smart Control Home (145 bar/500 litres per hour) and the Bosch AdvancedAquatak 140 (140 bar/450 litres per hour). With the power turned up and the rough nozzle attached, there was nothing it couldn’t get through, from drips of weathershield paint on concrete slabs to lumps of Tarmac. In fact, you need to take care on patios and driveways, lest it rip up stuff that you’d rather stay put, or clear out the mortar in your block work.

Of course, you can ramp it back if you need to, and at half power or less with the gentle nozzle on the P 180 did a fantastic job of cleaning a muddy car that had just returned from a forest car park, and some concrete steps that need more easy-going cleaning. We can’t imagine that there’s much that the P 180 won’t tackle, and it has the power and range to tackle a lot of anything at once. As we said, it’s built for heavy-duty cleaning, and for cleaning vehicles and areas that, with an ordinary pressure washer, could be too much like hard work.

Nilfisk P 180 review: What could be improved?

Not much. The nozzles need a bit of pressure to fit into position and the hose reel is stiff when you’re just starting out, making it tricky to get the hose through the helpful guide. Yet both should ease with time and, really, that stiffness just shows how well made and reinforced the hose is. The most serious downsides with the P 180 are that it’s big, heavy and noisy – wear some ear defenders if you don’t want the 72dB racket to damage your hearing. Still, that’s the price you pay for this kind of performance.

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Nilfisk P 180 review: Should I buy it?

Many users don’t need something this beefy, and a smaller, cheaper pressure washer such as the Karcher K4 Power Control, Nilfisk’s own C135 or even the Bosch EasyAquatak 110 would cover their car cleaning and outside jobs. But if you’ve got a lot of surface area to clean or you need more cleaning power, then the P 180 is pretty much unbeatable.

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