Best Pressure Washers of 2018

John Carlsen ·
Smart Home & HVAC Editor
Updated
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We spent over 65 hours researching, testing and rating eight of the most popular pressure washer models available. 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. With testing complete, we concluded that the RYOBI RY14122 was the best overall since it was the easiest to use, had excellent cleaning performance and offers a long warranty. 

Best Overall
RYOBI RY14122
The RYOBI RY14122 is easy to use and has an excellent warranty. It matches or beats the cleaning performance of other, more powerful, pressure washers we tested.
View on Home Depot
Best Value
Greenworks GPW1501
The Greenworks GPW1501 may not be as powerful as some other pressure washers we reviewed, but the performance you get for the price makes it an excellent value.
View on Walmart
Most Powerful
Sun Joe SPX3000
The Sun Joe SPX3000 is the most powerful pressure washer we reviewed. It also has a healthy selection of nozzles and is relatively quiet, though we found it more difficult to assemble than other models.
View on Amazon
Product
Price
Overall Rating
Price
Cleaning Performance
Design
Accessories
Price Compared to Average
Car & Driveway Cleaning
Maximum Pressure
Flow Rate
Usability
Sound Levels
Warranty
Weight
Electric Power Source
Included Nozzles
Hose Length
Detergent Tank
$149.00 CJ
9.2 8.5 9.6 9.6 8.9
More Expensive
100%
1,700 PSI
1.2 GPM
97%
88 dB
3 Years
34 lbs
35-Foot Cord
Turbo, 15°, Soap
25 ft.
On Main Unit
$139.88 CJ
9 8.5 9.7 8.8 9.5
More Expensive
100%
1,800 PSI
1.2 GPM
88%
88 dB
2 Years
36.3 lbs
35-Foot Cord
Turbo, 15°, 40°, Soap
25 ft.
On Main Unit
$149.00 Amazon
8.8 8.5 9.3 8.4 9.7
More Expensive
90%
2,030 PSI
1.76 GPM
82%
81 dB
2 Years
31 lbs
35-Foot Cord
0°, 15°, 25°, 40°, Soap
20 ft.
On Main Unit
$128.60 Amazon
8.7 9 9.2 7.9 9.2
Average
90%
1,900 PSI
1.5 GPM
77%
82 dB
1 Year
28 lbs
35-Foot Cord
Turbo, Adjustable, Soap
25 ft.
On Soap Nozzle
$119.99 Amazon
8.4 9 9 7.1 8.6
Average
90%
1,800 PSI
1.3 GPM
66%
84 dB
1 Year
12.8 lbs.
35-Foot Cord
Turbo, Adjustable
15 ft.
On Main Unit
$104.99 Amazon
8.3 9 6.3 9.6 9.1
Average
65%
320 PSI
0.5 GPM
95%
79 dB
3 Years
3.7 lbs.
2.0Ah Li-Ion Battery
5-In-1 (0°, 15°, 25°, 40°, Shower)
20 ft.
$
$77.99 Viglink
8.1 10 7.5 6.8 8.3
Least Expensive
70%
1,500 PSI
1.2 GPM
63%
91 dB
1 Year
19.07 lbs.
35-Foot Cord
25°, 40°, Soap
20 ft.
On Soap Nozzle
$99.99
8.1 9.5 8.3 6.5 8.3
Least Expensive
80%
1,750 PSI
1.3 GPM
69%
91 dB
90 Days
21.7 lbs.
35-Foot Cord
Adjustable, Soap
20 ft.
On Soap Nozzle
Best Overall
The RYOBI RY14122 is a clear example of what it takes to make an excellent pressure washer. First and foremost, it's easier to use that any other model we tested due to the excellent quality of its wand and its portability, despite weighing 34 pounds.
It also earned top marks when we tested it by cleaning vehicles and driveways, a feat that only one other model matched. This is despite having the third-lowest maximum pressure rating, 1,700 PSI, in our comparison. We also liked that it comes with a three-year warranty, which beats the industry average of around two years. It also comes highly recommended in customer reviews on the RYOBI and Home Depot websites. Although this is an excellent pressure washer, it's not without faults. We found that it doesn't come with as many nozzles as other products we tested, which means you’ll need to spend extra if the three included don’t meet your needs. However, it does include a generous 25-foot hose to connect the wand to the main unit. It's not the most expensive electric pressure washer on the market, but the RYOBI RY14122 is one of three models we tested that costs more than the average of $120. Similarly, when we measured this unit's sound levels it came in at 88 decibels, tying it for third loudest and necessitating hearing protection during use.
Pros
  • Easiest to use
  • Excellent cleaning performance
  • Three-year warranty
Cons
  • More expensive than most other brands
  • Includes fewer nozzles than most other brands
  • Can be quite loud
$149.00Home Depot
Read the full review
Best Value
Sheer affordability makes the Greenworks GPW1501 the best value for the price that we tested. It may take longer to clean a driveway or car than most pressure washers, but it still gets the job done. Similarly, there aren't any complicated assembly instructions, you only need to attach the hoses and wand to start cleaning.
Although the Greenworks GPW1501 is the least-expensive pressure washer we tested, costing half as much as the RYOBI RY14122, it surpassed our low expectations. Fittingly, customer reviews on Amazon expressed just as much surprise at the value. While the 25- and 40-degree nozzles included with the unit are good for most uses around the yard, no other nozzles are included and buying others can negate some of the savings. As with most pressure washers under $100, the Greenworks GPW1501 has a below-average warranty of one year, making low-cost repairs less likely after a couple summers. The Greenworks GPW1501 weighs around 19 pounds and is lighter than all but two other pressure washers we tested. However, it isn't built like a cart, with wheels and a long handle, like the majority of electric pressure washers. This makes it a little more difficult to store hoses and cords on the unit or move around a work site. Compared to the other models we tested, this is the loudest, with sound levels measuring around 91 decibels. It's one of the drawbacks of building a pressure washer to be more affordable than the competition.
Pros
  • Easy to assemble
  • Costs half as much as our best pick
  • Sufficient cleaning performance for most uses
Cons
  • One-year warranty
  • Can be difficult to use and store
  • Loud compared to other models
$77.99Walmart
Read the full review
Most Powerful
The Sun Joe SPX3000 is powerful and easy to use, and it comes with some great accessories. It's more expensive than average, costing around $150, but is certainly worth considering if power appeals to you. This model has a maximum pressure of 2,030 PSI and flow rate of 1.76 GPM, making it more powerful than the other pressure washers we tested.
Despite the SPX3000's extra power, it didn't clean as quickly as the RYOBI RY14122 and Craftsman CM1800 in our tests, though it still did an excellent job. This machine is quieter than all but one of the products we tested, measuring 81 decibels. Five color-coded nozzles come in the box with the Sun Joe SPX3000: 0-degree, 15-degree, 25-degree and 40-degree nozzles and a soap nozzle. This is the best nozzle selection among the pressure washers we tested. It’s easy to swap nozzles quickly based on your cleaning project, and the others store on the machine for quick access. However, the soap nozzle was less effective than some others we tested. In general, we found the SPX3000 easy to use, but it was more tedious and took longer to assemble than other pressure washers we tested, almost 30 minutes. The two-year warranty on the Sun Joe SPX3000 doesn't quite match the three-year coverage from RYOBI and WORX.
Pros
  • Most powerful model we tested
  • Includes more nozzles than other brands
  • Quieter than most other brands
Cons
  • Tedious to assemble
  • Two-year warranty
  • Soap nozzle wasn't that great
$149.00Amazon
Read the full review
Most Portable
The WORX Hydroshot WG629 is the only battery-powered pressure washer we tested and the only one available at time of writing. Because it is compact and lacks a massive 35-foot power cord, you can take it anywhere, though you might want to buy an extra battery pack for long trips or extended jobs.
No other pressure washer is lighter or more portable than the Hydroshot, which weighs 3.7 pounds. Assembling the Hydroshot requires a few more steps than some of the fully-assembled machines we reviewed, but its manual shows every step in easy-to-understand diagrams. It comes with a five-in-one nozzle that lets you select the setting best suited for your project, including the only low-pressure shower setting for watering plants among the units we tested. The three-year warranty and the fact that you can use the battery in other WORX tools are also excellent reasons to buy the Hydroshot. While we found the WORX Hydroshot WG629 quite capable when washing a car, it struggled to remove the set-in oil stain from our driveway, so it's not very good for heavy-duty cleaning. Amazon reviews are also mixed on how good the unit is. Compared to other brands, WORX doesn't make many accessories for the Hydroshot, but you can get most of them in a bundle with the unit itself for about $30 more. There's no built-in detergent tank and the soap nozzle costs extra. The manual shows a simple workaround using a five-gallon bucket, but we didn't find that as effective as the dedicated soap nozzles we used on other machines.
Pros
  • Battery-powered for maximum portability
  • Three-year warranty
  • Easy to assemble
Cons
  • Not enough pressure for some tasks
  • No built-in detergent tank
  • Fewer accessory options than other brands
-
Read the full review
Exceptional Cleaning Performance
The Craftsman CM1800 had the best cleaning performance in our tests, tying with our top pick, the RYOBI RY14122. It's also the only machine we tested that comes fully assembled, making it easy to jump into your first cleaning project.
We had no trouble blasting mud and oil off our test surfaces with the CM1800 and we like that it comes with four nozzles for a variety of project types. The unit has two reels, one for the pressure hose and another for the power cord, which makes it easy to store when not in use. The long handle and large wheels help you move the CM1800 around a project site with fewer problems, even though it’s the heaviest pressure washer we tested. The Craftsman CM1800's two-year warranty and loudness ultimately kept it from earning our top score, but its exceptional cleaning performance alone makes it an excellent runner-up.
Pros
  • Excellent cleaning performance
Cons
  • Can be quite loud
-
Read the full review

Why Trust Us

We spent over 65 hours researching, testing and analyzing pressure washers to find the best models for homeowners in search of something affordable, powerful and reliable. To that end, we limited our testing to electric pressure washers priced below $200 and chose eight models from top-selling brands available online from Amazon, Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart and Harbor Freight.

During our research, we looked at guides from many pressure washer manufacturers in an effort to learn more about best practices of choosing and using pressure washers. One such manufacturer, Mi-T-M*, impressed us so much with its product tips and videos that we asked its marketing manager, Karen Anderson, for additional advice on choosing and using pressure washers.

For our cleaning performance tests, we focused on two scenarios that might require a pressure washer, cleaning vehicles and driveways. We also evaluated each machine's usability and how loud it was to get a more complete picture of its strengths and weaknesses.

*Although Mi-T-M makes both electric- and gas-powered pressure washers, we didn't include them in our testing because the products didn't fit the pricing criteria mentioned above. Based on our positive experiences, advanced users might want to check out Mi-T-M's pressure washers.


How We Tested

Car & Driveway Cleaning

We based our cleaning performance tests on two common tasks, cleaning vehicles and driveways. During both tests, our testers assigned scores based on how effectively and quickly the area was cleaned. In both tests, only the RYOBI RY14122 and the Craftsman CM1800 managed to earn perfect scores.

To test vehicle cleaning, one of our testers drove his pickup through mud to dirty the wheel wells. 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 use for washing a car and cleaning 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, seven of the eight machines were able to clean the oil spot effectively, though some took longer than others. The remaining machine, the WORX Hydroshot WG629, simply wasn't powerful enough to clean the set-in oil spot.


Usability

To evaluate how easy a pressure washer is to use, our testers considered the following:

Pressure Wand & Hose: The most impressive units 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 like those on the RYOBI RY14122, Craftsman CM1800 and Sun Joe SPX3000. Battery-powered units, like the WORX Hydroshot WG629, 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: The Craftsman CM1800. Although some units, such as the Sun Joe SPX3000, require a bit more work to assemble, the process takes 30 minutes or less.

Power Cord: With the exception of the battery-powered WORX Hydroshot WG629, every pressure washer we tested 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.

We ran each machine and placed a decibel meter one foot away to measure how loud it was. The quietest pressure washer we tested was the WORX Hydroshot WG629 at 79 dB. Two units tied for the loudest at 91 dB, the Greenworks GPW1501 and the Harbor Freight Portland 63254. Regardless of the machine, these results suggest you should use hearing protection every time you run a pressure washer.


How Much do Pressure Washers Cost?

We found the average cost of an electric pressure washer to be around $120, well within the budget of someone that only needs it a few times a year. However, you can expect to see prices as low as $75 or as high as $250 for most residential models. Electric pressure washers costing more than $250 are mainly for commercial use and may be a better option if you plan to use the machine on a regular basis or for heavy duty cleaning.

Things to Consider When Buying a Pressure Washer

Safety Matters Most

Before buying a pressure washer, you should be aware that they 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, when switching nozzles or performing maintenance.

Pressure & Flow Rate

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.

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 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, as well as 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

Although we only tested electric pressure washers, gas-powered models from manufacturers such as Generac and Simpson are still useful for frequent medium- to heavy-duty cleaning. 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 than $200 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.

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