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Home & garden.

Updated: 4 May 2022

Best pressure washers: Which? Best Buys and expert buying advice

Cheap or premium? Wheeled or static? Patio cleaner or car brush? This expert guide will help you pick out the best pressure washer for you.
Verity Mann
Person using a pressure washer

Buying a new pressure washer can be confusing. There are usually several models in each manufacturer's range, with different types of motors and impenetrable model numbers which mean that useful accessories are either included in the price, or have to be bought as an extra.

To help you find the best pressure washer for your needs, we've rounded up the top-scoring models in four different categories, and because they've all gone through rigorous Which? lab testing, you can rest assured that no matter which of these pressure washers you go for, they will tackle your tough outdoor tasks.

Also check out our pressure washer reviews from brands, including Karcher and Nilfisk, to ensure you don't end up taking home a dud.

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Best pressure washer for cars

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  • The pressure washer has a good length of hose for cleaning around your car and does a good job. It can give you powerful or gentle cleaning sprays to take good care of delicate windows or bodywork and gives you two options for applying detergent.

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Best pressure washer for cleaning in the garden

  • 84%
    • best buy

    This pressure washer is great for cleaning all your garden surfaces. It has the power to blast dirt off your decking, but you can also adjust the pressure for a gentler clean on softwood.

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Best pressure washer for hard-surface cleaning

  • 78%
    • best buy

    This Best Buy is very fast, has good cleaning power and is easy to use. It is a great choice for people who want to invest in a powerful, good-quality product because they have a large area or tough muck to clean. The Power Grip function works really well to reduce the pressure so that this machine can clean delicate surfaces gently.

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Best value pressure washer

  • There are some issues with this pressure washer - it's noisy and uses a lot of water. However, it's light, easy to manouevre and most importantly, does a great job on all your different surfaces. It's worth considering if you're on a budget.

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Tables updated May 2022.

Video: how to buy the best pressure washer

What is a pressure washer? 

Pressure washers (also known as jet washers and power washers) deliver a powerful concentrated jet of water to remove dirt more efficiently than a brush, and using less water than you would with a garden hose. 

A pressure washer is essentially a motorised hosepipe. It uses a pump to create a high-pressure flow of water that dislodges dirt more quickly and effectively than you can with a scrubbing brush or hose alone. 

What type of pressure washer should I buy?

To choose the best pressure washer for you it is worth taking time to think about what you'll be cleaning, how dirty it will be and how often you'll use it. 

Our expert advice will help you find one that has the right power and features for your cleaning jobs.

Light duty

Best for: Cleaning small areas of lightly soiled paving, bicycles, small cars and garden furniture.

These tend to be own-brand, cheaper models that have low-powered motors (1,200W to 1,600W), low water pressure (less than 90-bar) and low flow rates. They are split into small hand-carried units and petite trolley-style models with low handles and small wheels.

Hoses lengths vary from three metres, which is too short to wash a car; to five metres, which is an adequate length for car cleaning. Some of the cheaper pressure washers come with fixed nozzles that don't allow you to vary the water pressure.

The shorter hose and low power can make cleaning slow and difficult, and the motors tend to be noisy. The parts also tend to be flimsy and prone to frost damage. 

Medium duty

Best for: Cleaning domestic garden paved areas and decking, cars and 4x4s.

Medium duty pressure washers tend to be a mix of high-end own-brand models and cheaper premium-brand models. As such, you'll find a confusing array of high-powered-but-basic models by garden machinery brands such as Stihl or Nilfisk, mid-powered Karcher, Bosch or Vax models with some choice of accessories, and high-powered and highly accessorised machines from Qualcast and Mac Allister. 

They tend to have good cleaning ability and are quick and easy to use. 

Expect a medium-powered motor (1,600W to 2,000W), mid-range water pressure (100 to 130-bar) and medium flow rates. Most units are a bit heavy, have larger wheels and on-board storage for accessories so make sure you can lift it to clean and have somewhere to keep it stored. 

Hoses tend to be five or six metres, and some may even have hose reels.

These machines can be noisy and others may lack the power to clean encrusted dirt and weeds. 

Heavy duty 

Best for: Cleaning extensive areas of paving, grimy 4-wheel drive vehicles, commercial vehicles and caravans

The priciest washers on the market, heavy duty models tend to be made by well-known machinery brands such as Karcher, Bosch, Nilfisk and Stihl. These are semi-professional models with high-powered motors (1,800W to 2,500W), high water pressure (130 to 150-bar) and high flow rates which mean they tend to clean quickly and brilliantly. 

Motor noise is typically less intrusive with these machines but they can be a little overpowered for many domestic cleaning jobs. Make sure you know how to use them properly to avoid damaging your surfaces. 

The machines tend to be very large and heavy, to cope with the high-powered motors and pumps that they contain, and use more-durable aluminium pumps and induction motors than the cheaper models. Large wheels, telescopic handles, multiple lances and robust cleaning accessories are common.

Should I buy a petrol or electric pressure washer?

Cleaning a patio with a pressure washer

Electric pressure washers are more suited to domestic cleaning, while petrol pressure washers are designed for professional, large-scale jobs.  

Although you have to be near a power outlet to use an electric washer, they are typically lighter, better for the environment, less noisy and will be powerful enough for the usual home and garden cleaning jobs. 

Petrol models will allow you to go anywhere because they don't need to be near a power socket. But will normally be too powerful for general jobs such as cleaning your car or patio. 

How much do I need to pay for a good pressure washer?

This all depends on how much you can afford and how powerful and durable you want your pressure washer to be. 

  • Light-duty pressure washers: £40-100
  • Medium-duty pressure washers: £100-200
  • Heavy-duty pressure washers: £200-400

There's real polarisation in the pressure-washer market, with loads of cheap models available for less than £100 in DIY and chain-stores. 

These often appear to have all the cleaning features you might want, at a low price. But they do tend to be cheaply made and lack the power to clean the toughest garden grime.

The best-known brands in pressure washers tend to be considerably pricier, but you generally get more robust products, built with better-quality materials. They can be considerably more of a pleasure to use than cheap pressure washers, with more power and a quieter motor.

Best pressure washer features to look for

Cleaning a car with a pressure washer

If you just need a pressure washer for light cleaning, then most no-frills machines come with just one lance, which is a long tube with a nozzle on the end. The nozzle will usually provide variable pressure – when you twist the nozzle, you can adjust the spray from a powerful narrow jet to a more broad gentle fan. 

But for anything more, the following additions could prove invaluable: 

  • Washer hose: starting at three metres for the cheapest models, hoses can be up to 10 metres long.  
  • Trigger: all triggers should have a safety lock to avoid accidentally turning on your pressure washer. 
  • Detergent tank: we found built-in but removable detergent tanks more convenient than bottle attachments in our tests. 
  • Variable fan-jet: also called variable pressure lances, these allow you to vary the force of the jet from a focused point to a broad fan.
  • Angled lance: great for cleaning under cars or furniture. 
  • Rotary jet lance: a powerful jet that spins as it leaves the nozzle. Ideal for heavily soiled paving slabs, but not cars or decking. 
  • Brush attachment: useful for cleaning cars, greenhouses and conservatories. 
  • Patio cleaner attachment: circular plastic hoods with a brush around the bottom edge. Stops you having to stoop and helps ensure dirty water doesn't spray everywhere.
  • Wheels: handy for heavier models. But, if you have lots of uneven ground or steps make sure you can still carry the machine. 
  • Hose storage wheel: avoids the cable getting tangled up. 
  • Attachment holder: to keep your tools to hand while cleaning. 
  • Additional handles: some machines have a variety of handles that will make carrying it around while cleaning much easier. 
  • Telescopic handle: super-useful if you need to clean high level surfaces.
  • Pressure gauge: some more expensive models have a pressure gauge on the lance handle but, as the pump pressure doesn't vary, they're of little practical use.

Visit our pressure washer reviews to find out what features each pressure washer offers.

Should you buy a separate patio cleaner?

Pressure washer patio cleaner

Some pressure washers come with a patio cleaner attachment, but they're often an optional extra costing around £40-50. So are they worth it?

Patio cleaners can be useful for large expanses of patio or driveway. They make cleaning easier and less messy than using a standard jet lance, as the plastic cover over the nozzle helps to stop dirty water spraying everywhere. They are also often quicker to use than the main lance.

They can be particularly useful for cleaning block paving, as they're less prone to blasting away the sand from the joints than more powerful nozzles.

But there can be big differences between the effectiveness of patio cleaners from different brands. We make it clear in all our reviews whether we think that the compatible pressure washer accessory is a useful addition to the model.

Watch our pressure washing your patio video for some cleaning tips.

Nilfisk vs. Karcher

We've compared the two most popular pressure washer brands detailing their score and price range to the typical differences between them. The customer score, fault and loyalty stats are based on an online survey of 8,881 Connect and general public respondents, taken in January 2022. The minimum sample size for a brand to be included is 30.

Total tested
Best BuysDon't BuysRange of test scoresPrice range
Nilfisk189061 - 84%£100 - £430
Karcher122062 - 78%£70 - £400

Key differences

  • Karcher has a higher customer score of 78% (sample size: 2,271) versus Nilfisk's 74% (sample size: 185). This reflects how satisfied respondents are with the brand and how likely they would be to recommend it.
  • Fewer owners of Karcher pressure washers experienced faults within the first seven years of owning it - 8% said they had (sample size: 2,271) versus 16% of Nilfisk owners (sample size: 185).
  • In terms of brand loyalty and how many people bought the same brand of pressure washer again, an impressive 73% of Karcher owners (sample size: 329) said they had versus 10% of Nilfisk owners (sample size: 52).
  • Nilfisk models are typically more lightweight compared to Karcher models. They are constructed with light materials to make them easier to move around.
  • Nilfisk pressure washers tend to be quieter than Karcher models as they're designed with a noise-reduction system.
  • Nilfisk's entry level models tend to have more powerful motors and come with an aluminium pump head rather than a plastic one for durability.
  • All Karcher models come with a hose to draw water from any source, such as a water butt or a bucket. This also makes them more portable.
  • Karcher were the first to introduce smart technology to pressure washers so you can connect them to your smartphone via an app.  

Why Which? pressure washer reviews are better

Which? is independent and doesn't accept advertising or freebies, so you can trust our reviews to give you the full, honest and impartial truth about a product. 

As part of our pressure-washer tests, we wash a one-metre square patch of several different types of surface including concrete, block paving, paving slabs, softwood decking and even a car. Checking how long it takes and rating how clean the surfaces are. Our tests also look at: 

  • How easy the pressure washer is to use. 
  • Which version performs better. 
  • How easy it is to move and store.
  • How well the additional and optional attachments work.

To find out more, head to how we test pressure washers.