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Pressure washers have many uses around your home, from cleaning decking and siding to washing cars, removing mold, cleaning lawn equipment, and more. The secret is in their tremendous power: while the average garden hose emits water at pressures under 40 psi, pressure washers, thanks to their gas or electric motors, shoot out water at an average of 1,000 psi to 4,000 psi, depending on the model.
These versatile tools come in both electric and gas versions—gas-powered models are typically more powerful—and a range of sizes. To simplify the buying process, we researched the most popular pressure washers available today, and then whittled the choices down to the best for the categories most important to the average homeowner.
What to Look for in a Pressure Washer
One of the most important factors to consider when buying a pressure washer is how much force it creates. After all, more pressure equates to more cleaning power.
This pressure is measured in psi, or pounds per square inch. Generally speaking, lower psi means less pressure. However, that doesn’t mean you should simply buy the highest psi machine you can find—depending on how you intend to use your pressure washer, a lower psi may be perfect for your needs.
Consumer pressure washers often start at around 1,300 to 1,800 psi. This type of light-duty machine is great for small residential jobs like washing cars, cleaning shutters, washing down lawn furniture, and spot-cleaning mold or mildew. The next step up is around 2,000 to 3,000 psi, and these machines are often considered heavy-duty, as they can be used to clean house siding, driveways, decks, and other tough stains.
Finally, machines with 3,000+ psi are considered professional-grade and are used for industrial cleaning, paint stripping, graffiti removal, and more. These high-end pressure washers are the most expensive, and in general, most homeowners don’t need this much power.
Gallons Per Minute
The other key factor that goes hand-in-hand with psi is gpm, or gallons per minute. As you might have guessed, this measures the volume of water that goes through the pressure water. Models with a higher gpm will clean faster and more effectively since they’re using more water.
Gpm is directly correlated to psi—the higher the pressure, the more water the machine will use per minute. Light-duty machines may only use 1.5 gpm, while professional-grade models can reach up to 4 gpm. When shopping for a pressure washer, you’ll want to look at psi first, but keep an eye on gpm, as well. Depending on what you’re using for a water source, you might not be able to support a high-gpm machine.
You’ll also want to look at how different pressure washers are powered. There are both gas and electric models available, and each of these styles has its own pros and cons.
Electric-powered pressure washers are typically less expensive, lighter, and easier to maintain. Additionally, they run quieter and don’t create any harmful air pollution. However, electric models are generally less powerful than gas ones, and you have to use them near an electrical outlet. This type of pressure washer is often best for small jobs around the house, such as cleaning cars, patio furniture, and grills.
The other option is a gas-powered pressure washer. These machines are much more powerful, and because you’re not confined by a cord, they’re more portable and versatile. The downside is that gas machines require regular maintenance, and they’re louder and worse for the environment.
Here, the best pressure washers for your home.
Best Overall: Simpson Cleaning MSH3125 MegaShot Gas Pressure Washer Powered by Honda
Power Source: Gas | Pressure: 3,200 psi | GPM: 2.5 | Included Nozzles: Five
High pressure capacity
Some oil leaks
Some complaints about pump
One of the best pressure washers on the market is the Simpson Cleaning MegaShot Gas Pressure Washer. This powerful machine houses a Honda GC190 engine for reliable power, and it delivers a whopping 3,200 psi using 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) making it ideal for use on your house, driveway, patio furniture, car, painted surfaces, and more.
This pressure washer has a heavy-duty welded steel construction frame and 10-inch pneumatic tires for increased stability, and it weighs in at 55 pounds. The MegaShot is equipped with a 25-foot kink-resistant hose, a reliable OEM axial pump, and an ergonomic spray gun, and it includes five stainless steel quick-connect nozzles for a variety of applications. This reliable, sturdy, and powerful gas-powered pressure washer is easy to set up and start.
“The Simpson delivers a super-strong stream of water that makes it easy to clean even the dirtiest and grimiest items. It cleaned everything we threw at it, from a weather-worn deck and a dirt-crusted driveway to a grimy old grill and a mud-encrusted ATV.”—Kelly Hodgkins, Product Tester
Best Electric: Sun Joe 2030 MAX PSI 1.76 GPM 14.5 Amp Electric Pressure Washer
Power Source: Electric | Pressure: 2,030 psi | GPM: 1.76 | Included Nozzles: Five
Dual detergent tanks
No storage for hose
Short extension wand
Electric power washers are easier to maintain—no oil changes necessary—but the downside is you have to be in close proximity to an electrical outlet. One of the most highly rated electric models today is the Sun Joe Electric Pressure Washer, which delivers 2,030 psi at 1.76 gpm. This affordable unit is equipped with dual detergent tanks, and it comes with five quick-connect spray tips to help you tackle all sorts of cleaning tasks.
The Sun Joe Pressure Washer features a 20-foot-long, high-pressure hose, a 34-inch extension wand, and a 35-foot power cord, and it even comes with a garden hose adapter. You can store two different types of detergent in the dual chambers, switching between them with the selection dial. This versatile power washer can be used for a variety of easy and tough tasks—our testers have put it to work on siding, decking, cars, and more.
"We used it to clean our porch furniture, some white picket fencing, siding, and a grill we left outside all winter. The grill was caked with grime and grease, and the Sun Joe cut through it with ease. Because it isn’t overly powerful, the Sun Joe removed the superficial dirt from our porch furniture and siding without damaging it." — Kelly Hodgkins, Product Tester
Best for Cars: Karcher K5 Premium Electric Power Pressure Washer
Power Source: Electric | Pressure: 2,000 psi | GPM: 1.4 | Included Nozzles: Two
Onboard detergent tank
Two spray wands
Long motor life
Not exceptionally high-powered
Want to wash your car without scrubbing it by hand? A pressure washer like the Karcher K5 will get the job done in no time. This electric power washer delivers up to 2,000 psi at 1.4 gpm, and it has an onboard detergent tank for easy soap application. The Karcher K5 has up to 40 times as much pressure as a garden hose, and it includes two wands—the Vario for everyday cleaning and the DirtBlaster for tough jobs.
The Karcher K5 has a water-cooled induction motor—a system that can help the motor live five times longer—and it comes with a 25-foot high-pressure hose and a 35-foot power cord. This 32-pound pressure washer is a great choice for washing cars, trucks, and SUVs, but it can also be used on tougher jobs like cleaning driveways.
Best Budget: Greenworks 1500 PSI 13 Amp 1.2 GPM Pressure Washer
Power Source: Electric | Pressure: 1,500 psi | GPM: 1.2 | Included Nozzles: Two
Only includes two spray tips
Small detergent bottle
Will you just need to tackle small jobs with your pressure washer? In that case, a more affordable model like the Greenworks Pressure Washer will serve you just fine. This budget-friendly model dials back the power to 1,500 psi and 1.2 gpm, making it ideal for smaller projects, such as cleaning patio furniture and washing your car.
This lightweight electric pressure washer weighs just 17 pounds and includes a 35-foot power cord and a 20-foot high-pressure hose. It can be used vertically or horizontally for greater stability, and it comes with 25 and 40-degree quick-connect tips for different spraying levels. It's a great value, but it's still powerful enough to clean siding, driveways, and more.
Best Gas: Simpson PowerShot PS60843 4400 PSI Cold Water Pressure Washer
Power Source: Gas | Pressure: 4,400 psi | GPM: 4.0 | Included Nozzles: Five
Five spray tips
No built-in detergent tank
Can be tiring to use
Gas pressure washers are typically more powerful than electric models due to their engines, and if you’re looking for a top-rated gas model that packs a mean punch, the Simpson PowerShot Pro Gas Pressure Washer may be the best power washer for you. This heavy-duty pressure washer delivers 4,400 psi to tackle even the toughest jobs at 4 gpm.
This unit gets its power from a 420 cc engine, and it’s made from solid steel for durability. The washer’s kink- and abrasion-resistant hose is 50 feet long, and the 13-inch tires make it easy to steer across various terrains, like pavement or grass. The PowerShot Pressure Washer comes with five quick-connect nozzle tips that can be used for all sorts of applications, from wood restoration to graffiti removal and everything in between.
Best Heavy-Duty: Champion Power Equipment 4200-PSI 4-GPM Cold Water Gas Pressure Washer 100790
Power Source: Gas | Pressure: 4,200 psi | GPM: 4.0 | Included Nozzles: Five
For washing concrete and other surfaces that require serious power, you need a model like the Champion Power Equipment Commercial Duty Gas Pressure Washer. While not everyone needs such a high level of performance, for those who do, it’s hard to beat this professional-level machine. With water blasting out at 4,200 psi and 4 gpm, thanks to the premium Champion 389 CC engine, mud, engine grease, paint, mold, and other tough substances don’t stand a chance.
The pressure washer boasts a 50-foot steel-braided hose that’s durable, non-marring, and three times more abrasion-resistant than rubber hoses. It has a AAA industrial triplex plunger pump that drives higher pressure to the nozzle for improved cleaning performance, and it’s easy to direct the ergonomic spray gun and switch out the five quick-connect nozzle tips. Plus, it has a built-in detergent tank for messes that call for more than water alone.
The solid steel frame will hold up to years of rigorous use; this pressure washer was designed for professional contractors and cleaners who face every manner of grunge and want it gone as quickly as possible. Despite its heavy-duty construction and power, it’s reasonably compact and easy to transport, however.
Best Lightweight: Ryobi 1,600 PSI 1.2 GPM Electric Pressure Washer (Model RY141612)
Power Source: Electric | Pressure: 1,600 psi | GPM: 1.2 | Included Nozzles: Three
No built-in detergent tank
Pressure washers can easily weigh 50 pounds or more, so if you’re looking for a product that’s a bit lighter to carry around your yard, you’ll like the Ryobi 1,600 PSI Electric Pressure Washer. This smaller unit from Ryobi weighs just 16 pounds, and it’s compact enough to store in even the most crowded garage or tool shed.
This 1,600-psi electric power washer uses 1.2 gpm, and it has a 35-foot power cord and a 20-foot hose. It includes three different nozzles, including a turbo nozzle for 50-percent faster cleaning. And despite its compact size, it’s surprisingly powerful—great for use on cars, walkways, lawn tools, and more.
Best for Concrete: DEWALT 4400 PSI at 4.0 GPM Gas Pressure Washer Powered by Honda
Power Source: Gas | Pressure: 4,400 psi | GPM: 4.0 | Included Nozzles: Five
For washing concrete and other surfaces that require serious power, you need a model like the DEWALT 4400 PSI Gas Pressure Washer. This tough piece of machinery is designed for professionals, and with the help of its premium Honda GX390 engine, it can blast away dirt, grime, mold, paint, and more with ease.
This DEWALT Pressure Washer delivers 4,400 psi at 4 gpm, and it boasts a 50-foot steel-braided hose that’s durable, non-marring, and three times more abrasion-resistant than rubber hoses. It has a AAA industrial triplex plunger pump that drives higher pressure to the nozzle for improved cleaning performance, and it’s easy to direct the ergonomic spray gun and switch out the five quick-connect nozzle tips.
The best pressure washer on the market is the Simpson Cleaning MegaShot Gas Pressure Washer, which has a maximum psi of 3,200 and can tackle driveways, outdoor furniture, cars, and more. However, if you’re looking for something that’s specifically meant for cars, go with the Karcher K5 Premium Electric Power Pressure Washer (view at Amazon). It has a built-in detergent tank, making it easier for washing vehicles.
Do pressure washers need to connect to a water tap?
You’ll need to connect your pressure washer to a water source. Most often, that source will be an outdoor tap, and you’ll use your garden hose to connect the tap to the pressure washer. Most pressure washers require a garden hose that’s less than 50 feet long and with at least a ¾-inch inside diameter.
If you don’t have access to an outdoor water tap, you still have options. One is to use the water tap for your washing machine. Those taps are threaded the same as an outdoor hose tap, so you’ll be able to hook up the hose without need of an adapter. You can also use a kitchen or bathroom sink, but as these are not threaded for hose attachments, you’ll need a threaded adapter sized for the tap as well as your hose. When using an indoor tap, you’ll need to run your garden hose inside through a window or door, so plan accordingly.
Which spray nozzle should I use?
Most pressure washers come with a variety of nozzles, each color-coded to a particular spray pattern. Here are general guidelines:
- The red nozzle creates a very focused, powerful stream of water. It’s best used for spot-cleaning very tough stains or dried materials off hard surfaces such as concrete or steel.
- The yellow nozzle creates a 15-degree angle of spray, which is a narrow fan suitable for removing dried mud, tough stains, rust, mildew, or paint off sturdy surfaces such as concrete or metal.
- The green nozzle creates a 25-degree angle of spray. This is the general-use nozzle, and is suitable for blasting away mud, leaves, and other grime from decks, walkways, siding, fences, and driveways, as well as for cleaning boats, automobiles, and outdoor furniture.
- The white nozzle creates a 40-degree angle of spray, which is gentle enough for use cleaning delicate items such as flower pots, windows, blinds, and automobiles. It’s also very useful for quickly rinsing objects.
- The black nozzle creates a large, 65-degree fan of water. This nozzle is typically used with detergents.
What detergent do you use for a pressure washer?
For many simple cleaning jobs, you don’t need detergent; the water blasting out of your pressure washer is enough to get the job done. But for many tasks, particularly those involving dried or tough grunge, you’ll get the best results by using a detergent.
Some pressure washers have built-in tanks for detergent, while others require you to set a tube into the bottle of detergent so the pressure washer can suck it directly from the bottle. Either way, your best option by far is using a detergent specifically formulated for pressure washers. These detergents cut through grease and grunge, yet don’t get soapy or foamy, leave a film on whatever you’re cleaning, or make the ground slippery. There are formulas for a variety of purposes: cleaning cars, siding, wooden decks, concrete, and driveways, to name the most common. There are also many general-purpose pressure washer detergents, which are a good choice if you expect to use your pressure washer for a variety of cleaning jobs around your property.
While some people use dishwashing detergent, this isn’t recommended, as there’s a good chance you’ll end up with an overflow of suds, and pouring dishwashing detergent into your pressure washer’s tank could destroy or damage the machine.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Michelle Ullman, the tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home, but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs.