If you hate grime, you need a pressure washer.
There’s nothing more shocking than watching your deck or porch emerge after a long winter of salt, dirt, and snow-booted traffic, only to discover those once-bright surfaces have faded to the color of an overcast sky. Ditto for vinyl siding, which can show grime and even mold after seasons of exposure. Reality is, these things build up over time, and that’s why you need a pressure washer.
Investing in a pressure washer is a decision that will come in handy time and again, and it’s the fastest way to freshen up neglected areas long exposed to the elements, revealing their sparkling surfaces underneath.
First, the basics. Pressure washers use a gas- or electric-powered motor to then power a pump, which pushes water out at high pressure to blast away gunk and grime. Whether dirt, mold, or some combination of both, it quickly penetrates the underlying surfaces of driveways, patios, siding, and many more outdoor objects. You can always rent one, but owning one pays for itself, as they’re relatively maintenance-free and, by and large, small enough to sock away in the corner of the garage until needed.
A word of advice: If you plan on using soaps, choose a pressure washer with a built-in tank. They’re generally easier to operate, as you won’t have the weight of the soap on the spraying wand (and, by extension, your arms). Also, wheels are a must for heavier models, allowing an ease of movement for big projects. Adjustable nozzles (or even interchangeable nozzles) are super-handy, as they allow you to tailor the output for the job—a narrower stream is more powerful, allowing it to go farther (think: two-story homes), while a wider spray is great for delicate surfaces like washing the car without risk of damage.
A gas-powered pressure washer is best for big areas, since it has the muscle to push more water wider, making short work of even the largest jobs. Finally, for tight spaces, including your sadly neglected deck, you may prefer the maneuverability of an electric option, as it has enough power but is infinitely easier to move up stairs and carry from spot to spot.
Whether you’re just starting out and looking for an entryway into this multi-use device or a longtime adherent searching for an upgrade, we’ve broken down what to look for and listed our favorite pressure washers in every price range and for every use.
Naturally, the queen of everything home-related has her own pressure washer. It's lightweight, it's portable and is perfect for light- to medium-duty jobs around the house, car, deck, dock, boat, or patio.
Pros: If you’re looking for an electric pressure washer that’s easy to tote around and can handle easy jobs, this one is for you. It has a twist nozzle to adjust angle of spray from 0 to 45 degrees.
Cons: Leave the bigger jobs to the bigger washers.
This pressure washer has a motor capable of handling heavy-duty cleaning jobs, and comes with four spray tips to take on light, medium, and heavy-duty cleaning tasks.
Pros: It’s a cold water pressure washer, so it’s great for cars, TVs, boats, as well as decks and patios. You get a 35-foot cord for maximum maneuverability, and a TSS (Total Stop System) that automatically shuts off the pump when trigger is not engaged, thus saving you energy.
Cons: The spray is not strong enough for some, so it’s better-suited for lighter jobs.
For the infrequent user, the occasional car-washer, or the new homeowner looking to outfit his or her garage for the first time, the Stanley SLP 1500 is the perfect unit. While neither the most powerful on this list nor the most rugged, it gets most jobs done while taking up minimal space.
Pros: A 1,500 pounds-per-square-inch (PSI) pressure washer gets most household jobs done, from washing the car to cleaning off siding and blasting dirt from decks. Powered by a 35-foot electrical cord and with a 20-foot hose, an extension cord will rarely be necessary. The high-pressure foam system was also especially nice for working up a solid layer of suds for deep cleaning.
Cons: Since it only includes a 15-degree nozzle, you’ll likely want to upgrade the wand, as other customers have, for greater flexibility. These add-ons are generally inexpensive, however. Of course, its power won’t get the toughest jobs done.
While general usage is great, for those looking to purchase their first pressure washer for a specific cleaning purpose should start with the Greenworks unit. Clearly a cut above (and for only a few more bucks), this is the first unit designed for deep cleaning. Nevertheless, it still remains surprisingly affordable.
Pros: Gallons-per-minute, or GPM, is an important metric for any washer, as it gives clear information on how much water it’s blasting into the surface for a deep clean. Greenworks pumps out a respectable 1.2 GPM at 1,500 PSI, allowing it to pummel dirt out of well-trodden wooden decks and faded stone. We also liked its top-carry design, which allows you to grab the 17-pound unit it and drag it to the next spot. (But with a 20-foot hose, you don’t have to do this all that often.)
Cons: Those without a faucet or spigot readily available will be disappointed to learn that there’s no plan B for this—without a tank, you’re hamstrung by access to a water source. Also, while 20 feet will be all the hose needed by some, others may want to upgrade to longer lengths for convenience.
This detergent tank-equipped pressure washer is great for cleaning quickly.
Pros: Briggs & Stratton says that the included turbo nozzle can help you clean up to 40 percent faster, and the 20-foot hose means you’ll spend less time wheeling the washer around and more time blasting away dirt and grime.
Cons: Some reviewers complained that the unit gets hot and loses pressure after extended use, so it’s probably not the best tool for massive jobs.
You’ve got so many jobs for your washer. The Sun Joe SPX3000, with its multiple attachments, dual cleaning solution reservoirs, and big power are just what you’re looking for.
Pros: Five “Quick-Connect” spray tips allow for precise application for every job, while the 2,030 PSI and 1.76 GPM metrics are powerful enough to take down a lawnmower. We really liked the dual detergent tanks, which allowed us to have two .9-liter cleaning solutions accessible via a flick of a switch. (Transition between spraying the deck and washing the car was a breeze.) The wheeled base was incredibly easy to move around the workspace.
Cons: By far the biggest on this list thus far, the nearly three-foot-tall body tips the scales at 31 pounds. It’s not the daintiest, and it may be too big for some spaces while including more power than necessary.
The Karcher K5 Premium keeps its cool, using the same water you’re running through it to ensure it doesn’t overheat. While this seems like a minor feature, for those who are approaching big jobs (think: driveways, large decks), this should be a consideration prior to purchase.
Pros: Like a marathon runner, the K5 Premium carefully monitors its vitals, ensuring it can outlast the longest jobs without breaking down. The water-cooled engine nevertheless still pumps out a respectable 2,000 PSI at 1.4 GPM. We also appreciated the two included wands—one for more delicate cleaning and the other, the “Dirtblaster,” for more rugged jobs. An integrated hose reel was a nice touch, ensuring tangle-free storage.
Cons: Like the previous unit, the K5 Premium is a beast at 32 pounds and nearly three feet tall. The space-conscious should be looking higher up the list or considering renting a more powerful unit for occasional tasks.
The Howitzer of pressure washers, while most will not need the capabilities of the excell EPW2123100, some will prefer it, knowing that this sheer brute of a machine has the power to blast barnacles off a battleship.
Pros: The EPW2123100’s stats are so overpowered when compared to others on this list that they hardly seem real: 3,100 PSI at 2.8 GPM, it doubles their power. Credit its .95-gallon gas engine, which turbocharges its power and is the choice of contractors around the U.S. We loved the brass-headed wand and easy-access, color-coded nozzle holder.
Cons: This wheeled machine, at 76 pounds, is heavy, certainly. Either a strong back or a friend is required to pick it up. But even with this tick, it’s still remarkably small: Less than two feet cubed, it cuts a more lithe silhouette than others midway down this list.
The big daddy, the most powerful on this list, and made in the U.S., there’s a lot to love about the SIMPSON Cleaning MSH3125 MegaShot. And customers do: Almost 1,600 on Amazon love it, and so do we.
Pros: With 3,200 PSI at 2.5 GPM, this will handle the most difficult jobs, from deep cleaning to peeling old paint off a fence. Credit its gas engine. But beyond just being all brawn, it’s surprisingly easy to move thanks to a solid metal from and 10-inch wheels. Five color-coded nozzles are within hand’s reach, and its 25-foot, abrasion-resistant hose is better than some upgrades. This is a beautiful, powerful machine.
Cons: While it weighs in at 55 pounds, it’s not the heaviest on this list. The only ding is its price, which is the most expensive here. Still, this is the most powerful unit for home use (read: not pulled via a vehicle).
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