If you’ve ever watched one of those viral videos of someone steam cleaning a tile floor, you know just how satisfying it is to watch something go from filthy to flawless in mere seconds. And there’s nothing quite like a pressure washer to give you that same sense of satisfaction in your own space.
“A pressure washer is a really excellent piece of equipment,” says Dan DiClerico, home expert for Home Advisor. “It’s one of the most valuable power tools for homeowners.” Why? The machine safely strips unsightly dirt and debris from a number of surfaces — mildewed decks, fences, outdoor furniture, and siding; oil-stained driveways; and even muddy cars and boats — in just a few minutes, leaving behind an impressive like-new finish.
To ensure you get your hands on the best pressure washer for your project, the experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute test pressure washers of all kinds on a wide range of surfaces, from patio tiles to windows and cars to see assess ease of use, safety and efficacy. We considered top-tested brands, expert guidance, and thousands of online reviews to make the following picks.
What you need to know about pressure washers
You can’t just pluck any pressure washer off the shelf: These machines (particularly gas pressure washers) are incredibly strong. It’s what makes them so effective, but it also means there’s a higher risk of injury and surface damage if you don’t know what you’re doing. “You really need to respect the power of these machines,” says DiClerico. Here’s what to keep in mind:
Electric vs. gas: When shopping, this is “the first and most important decision to make,” says DiClerico. All pressure washers work the same way — a motor powers water through a concentrated nozzle, he explains. Where things differ is how that motor is powered: By electricity or by gasoline.
- An electric machine is generally suitable for the vast majority of homeowners and can tackle projects like car washing, cleaning lawn furniture, and spot treating surfaces, says DiClerico. They are more affordable (think $300 and below), lighter, quieter, and easier to store and maintain.
- Gas machines, on the other hand, are most commonly used by professionals, because they are a lot more powerful, says DiClerico. They’ll blast nearly any dirt and debris — use them for things like decks and sidewalks — but they’re much more expensive (think $300 and above), plus they’re bigger, heavier, noisier, and harder to maintain.
PSI: PSI, or pounds per square inch, indicates the water pressure delivered by the machine, says Adrienne Hunt, associate merchant for Home Depot. Pressure washers with a high PSI will clean deep stains more effectively than machines with a lower PSI.
- Electric pressure washers typically range from 1,600 PSI to 2,300 PSI
- Gas pressure washers range from 2,700 PSI to 4,400 PSI.
GPM: Though PSI is important, you can’t rely on it alone. “PSI and GPM, or gallons per minute, in tandem are super important,” says Rachel Rothman, chief technologist and director of engineering at the Good Housekeeping Institute. “One without the other won’t result in the right combo.” GPM measures the volume of water delivered by the pressure washer — an indicator of how quickly your machine will clean. Higher GPM pressure washers will clean faster than those with lower GPM, says Hunt.
Safety: When using pressure washers, particularly more powerful gas models, you can readily cause bodily harm and surface damage, like splintering, if you’re not careful, says Rothman. Wear closed-toe shoes and safety goggles at all times when operating your pressure washer. And if your machine comes with interchangeable nozzles, use the least powerful one first — you can always progress to a stronger nozzle if you need to — and position yourself about four feet from whatever you’re cleaning. When in doubt, spot test an inconspicuous area first.
Best Electric Pressure Washer
2,300 PSI Electric Pressure Washer
Our top pick wins praise from nearly anyone who gets their hands on it. The Home Depot best-seller has a truly impressive PSI (2,300!) for an electric machine, making it a great choice for residential users who want to be able to tackle a wide range of projects. The machine also comes with a bonus turbo nozzle that claims to deliver up to 5% more cleaning power for tougher jobs, like oil-stained driveways or severely mildewed fencing.
Best Gas Pressure Washer
Though the most expensive on the list by about $100, the price is justified by the power. The model, which has five quick-connect spray tips, a PSI of 3,200, and a GPM of 2.5, is more closely aligned with a professional-grade piece of equipment. It’s more than the average homeowner will need, but it’s a great pick for any DIYer who favors performance and strength above all.
Best Value Pressure Washer
GPW1501 Electric Pressure Washer
A budget-friendly, easy-to-lug (it weighs just 17 pounds!) pick for homeowners with an array of small jobs on their to-do list. With a PSI of 1,500, you’ll have enough power to tackle easier or more delicate projects like cleaning your car, lawn furniture, or kids’ outdoor toys, but don’t expect to blast tough stains like oil from heavily soiled surfaces in an instant.
Most Popular Pressure Washer on Amazon
SPX3000 2030 Max
$149.00 (25% off)
If you’re looking for an affordable unit that can get the job done, the Sun Joe electric pressure washer is a great value pick. The highly rated (13,000 Amazon reviews and counting!), delivers 2,030 PSI, plus has dual detergent tanks to house separate cleaning solvents. Five quick-connect spray tips allow for versatility to complete an array of cleaning tasks, from decking and siding to cars and boats.
Best Lightweight Pressure Washer
1,600 PSI 1.2 GPM Electric Pressure Washer
Consider this machine a smaller, more accessible version of our top pick. The compact, lightweight weighs just over 16 pounds, yet offers enough power for most household tasks. Plus, it comes with three nozzles, including a turbo option for 50% faster cleaning. It’s a great option for anyone who thinks portability may be a consideration, since it’s easy enough to tote to a boat dock or a campsite.
Most Compact Pressure Washer
WPX2700 Gas Powered Pressure Washer
$216.67 (22% off)
In general, gas-powered pressure washers are far from lightweight and compact, but this unit will appeal to anyone who wants the power of a gas machine and covets the portability of an electric machine. Though it does still weigh a whopping 63 pounds, it has a sleeker, more vertical design that other models that make maneuvering and storage a bit easier.
Best Pressure Washer for Home Use
Karcher Full Control Pressure Washer
Though testers found this model to be a little bulky, it has stellar cleaning power. It comes with two spray lances — one with variable pressure for customization and a patio head brush that makes quick work of cleaning large patio and deck areas. Despite the size, the machine has a host of convenient features that make storage easier, including a retractable handle.
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