Here are the best electric and gas pressure washers to deep clean hard surfaces including cars, wooden decking, and concrete driveways. We cleaned caked-on mud off a pickup truck and an oil stain off a driveway to find the best pressure washer for typical homeowners. Here's what made our list.
Stanley SLP2050 electric pressure washer (opens in new tab)
The Stanley SLP2050 pressure washer is electric, so there's no need to buy gas. It is designed to be versatile for most outdoor tasks. It can be used with the mobile cart or detached for use as a handheld unit. This makes it easier for those light cleaning jobs around the home and easier to store away when you’re done.
- Easily portable
- Takes time to assemble
- Hose is prone to kinks
The universal motor and tri-axial pressure washer pump deliver a powerful 2,050 PSI of adjustable cleaning power. This is enough high pressure to quickly blast grime off vehicles, brickwork, decking, or patio furniture. The Stanley SLP2050 2-In-1 has both an onboard detergent tank that you can use with the soap nozzle at the low-pressure setting, and on-board accessory storage. Because it is an electric pressure washer, the Stanley SLP2050 runs relatively quiet. A minor drawback is the very stiff pressure hose which makes it inflexible and tricky to wind around the holder when you're done. Even after some time of use the hose still tends to be prone to kinks.
Sun Joe SPX3000 2030 max electric pressure washer (opens in new tab)
Variety of nozzles
The Sun Joe SPX3000 pressure washer is an electric model designed to tackle backyards, driveways, and cars. It has dual detergent tanks—each of them allowing you to use the detergent most suited to the job you’re tackling. This pressure washer comes with a clean-out tool and five spray tips that make it easier to reach those trickier areas.
- Dual detergent tanks
- Five different spray tips
- Bit fiddly to assemble
The Sun Joe pressure washer features a maximum pressure of 2,030 PSI and a 1.76 flow rate making it a pretty powerful cleaning machine. Unlike gas models, you won’t need to top up the Sun Joe SPX3000 pressure washer with fuel, but you will need to make sure you have an electrical socket or extension cable nearby so that you can use this machine. Something else that isn’t as great about the Sun Joe SPX3000 pressure washer is that it takes a while to assemble and for some, the electric cords may get in the way too.
Westinghouse gas powered pressure washer (opens in new tab)
Clean like a pro
Driven by a powerful 212cc engine, the Westinghouse gas-powered pressure washer is designed to tackle heavy-duty tasks in record time. It has an onboard tank that holds a half-gallon of soapy water while the 25-foot hose delivers 2700psi and 2.3 GM of power cleaning pressure.
- Powerful engine
- Sturdy track wheels
- Five nozzles
- Pull-start ignition
You can use the spray gun on its own or attach one of four different nozzles that come with the Westinghouse. This pressure washer has a tough, steel frame and wheels that will never go flat. Because it is a gas-powered pressure washer, this machine is pretty loud. Also, it has a recoil start mechanism that may take a try or two before getting the hang of it.
Karcher K 5 Premium (opens in new tab)
Impressive and consistent power
The Karcher K 5 is designed to tackle the toughest cleaning jobs by using 40 times the water pressure of a garden hose. The auto-shutoff action only runs the pump while you're spraying water, so it's not running unnecessary hours of wear and tear on the unit. Plus its water-cooled induction motor keeps the unit from overheating.
- Consistent power
- Doesn't overheat after hours of use
- Heavier than other electric models
Karcher has been a reputable, leading brand for high-performance cleaning products since the 1950s. So you can expect plenty of power and punch to clean practically anything. It features an onboard detergent tank and two spray wands. The compact yet sturdy design is easy to move around on its large, high-impact wheels. However, if you do need to lift it, the Karcher K5 is a bit heavier than other electric pressure washers we've reviewed.
Simpson PowerShot PS4240 (opens in new tab)
The Simpson PowerShot PS4240 gas pressure washer is an extremely powerful commercial washer designed for heavy-duty cleaning tasks. Driven by its Honda gas engine and AAA industrial pump, this model cleans in a fraction of the time it would take with an electric washer. It includes five nozzles for various spray patterns.
- Powerful Honda engine
- Easy to transport on rough surfaces
- Stiff pressure hose
It is well built with premium features and, although it’s fairly heavy, it’s still easily portable and is especially good at maneuvering over rough surfaces and terrain. The pump has an advanced oil seal and ceramic-coated pistons to protect it from overheating. The unit also includes a useful oil alert system that automatically shuts down the engine when the oil level is insufficient. The Simpson PowerShot may not be suitable for light-duty, domestic cleaning but contractors or professional services would benefit from the ease of use and tremendous power.
What to consider when buying a pressure washer
Pressure washer safety:
Before buying a pressure washer, you should be aware that it can cause serious injuries if used improperly. For this reason, you shouldn't use the machine until you read the manual and are using proper safety equipment. Anderson says that Mi-T-M asks users to "follow all safety instructions on decals located on the washer and always wear safety goggles and closed-toe shoes to protect yourself from the possibility of direct spray." Regardless of safety equipment, keep the spray away from people and animals.
With electric pressure washers, check that your power cord has a working ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) by hitting the "test" button before every use. While a GFCI can help prevent electrocution, you should keep water away from electrical cords and outlets as much as possible. Lastly, always turn the machine off and pull the trigger a few times to release any remaining pressure when you're not actively using it, switching nozzles, or performing maintenance.
Pressure and flow rate of pressure washers:
When buying a pressure washer, pay attention to the pressure rating, measured in pounds per square inch (PSI,) and the water flow rate, measured in gallons per minute (GPM.) In fact, you can get a quick idea of the cleaning power by multiplying PSI and GPM together to get what pressure washer manufacturers call cleaning units (CU.) While higher pressure and flow rate lead to more cleaning power, Anderson says "in most cases, a 2,000 PSI pressure washer will be sufficient for most homeowner cleaning tasks."
Likewise, our testing revealed that pressure washers with ratings as low as 1,500 PSI are good for most homeowners, though they can take longer to match the results of more powerful units. As such, you can expect to use most electric pressure washers for cleaning cars, wood decks, plastic patio furniture, and concrete.
Pressure washer nozzles
Nozzles are rated in degrees with lower numbers, meaning more concentrated streams for jobs that require more power. However, no nozzle is perfect for every task, so while a 15-degree nozzle is great for cleaning mildew and stains off of concrete, it's less suitable than a 40- or 65-degree nozzle for applying soap to and washing a car.
Top Ten Reviews cautions against using red zero-degree nozzles and similarly performing turbo nozzles because they are too powerful for inexperienced residential users. However, Anderson says that when these nozzles are used properly, they can be very useful for removing tough stains from concrete and metal.
Electric vs gas-powered pressure washers – what's the difference?
Electric pressure washers are known for being quiet and easy to maintain. Just plug them in and they’re good to go.
Gas pressure washers are more powerful to tackle heavy-duty jobs, but they’re also noisy. This is because gas engines often have pressure above 2,000 PSI. Gas-powered units are also more useful for areas without access to an electrical outlet. However, gas models are larger, heavier, usually cost more, and require more maintenance than ones that run on electricity.
Aside from a pressure washer's other features, accessories such as additional nozzles, attachments, and hoses are still an important factor to consider. Before buying a pressure washer, you may want to see if the manufacturer sells attachments such as water brooms, brushes, and extensions for your machine. Likewise, third-party accessories and hoses need to be able to handle the PSI rating of your machine.
How we tested pressure washers
We based our cleaning performance tests on two common tasks, cleaning vehicles and driveways. Our testers assigned scores based on how effectively and quickly the area was cleaned.
One of our testers drove his pickup through mud to dirty the wheel wells to test vehicle cleaning. The testers then used each pressure washer to clean the dried mud off half a wheel well. Our testing revealed that every pressure washer in our comparison is powerful enough to wash a car and clean dirt off similar surfaces.
The second part of our cleaning performance test targeted a stubborn oil spot on the driveway at the testing location. We chose to clean the oil spot because our research indicated oil as one of the hardest things to pressure-wash off a driveway. In this round of testing, most were able to clean the oil spot effectively, though some took longer than others.
Pressure wand and hose: The most impressive pressure washers had built-in wand storage, comfortable handles, and made it easy to swap nozzles and store hoses.
Portability: Although a pressure washer's weight affects portability, we noticed that portable pressure washers need high-quality wheels.
Battery-powered units, which we chose as the most portable unit in our comparison, can provide extra portability far from the nearest power outlet.
Assembly: Generally speaking, units come mostly assembled, snap together without tools, and can be used within minutes of opening the box. One pressure washer even came fully assembled in the box: Although some units, such as the Sun Joe SPX3000, require a bit more work to assemble, the process usually takes 30 minutes or less.
Power cord: Every pressure washer we tested with a power cord comes with a 35-foot power cord, which can be tedious to store if the machine doesn't have hooks to secure it. We paid attention to this and scored accordingly.
Noise level: We ran each machine and placed a decibel meter one foot away to measure how loud it was. Regardless of the machine, these results suggest you should use hearing protection every time you run a pressure washer.
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