We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
From cleaning your home's exterior siding to washing your patio or cleaning the car, a pressure washer can tackle all kinds of outdoor tasks without incredible amounts of elbow grease.
But the wide variety of makes and models can make it difficult to choose the washer best for your cleaning needs.
Many factors impact the quality of a pressure washer, and there are plenty of bells and whistles to consider.
How do you select the machine that’s going to provide the best value for your money?
At BestReviews, we can teach you how to tell your PSI from your cleaning units and pick out a model that you'll love!
We've tested a range of pressure washers in real life settings, talked with existing customers, and consulted landscaping professional Luke, our pressure washer expert. The products we analyzed were bought from the same stores where you shop; we never accept free samples from manufacturers.
The result? A fair and thorough review that will tell you all you need to know about these powerful appliances.
Read on to learn more about pressure washers and how to select one that will meet your needs.
Then, when you're ready to make your purchase, head back up to the top of the page to find our five favorite models.
Luke owned and operated his own lawn and landscaping business for over a decade. Founding the business and growing it prior to an acquisition, Luke led all procurement decisions, from the purchase of blowers and lawn mowers to weed whackers and tillers. Luke uses all of these machines regularly.
First, let's examine the two main types of pressure washer, along with their pros and cons.
As the name implies, electric pressure washers are powered by electricity, using a cord plugged into a power outlet.
Electric pressure washers tend to be more lightweight and easier to carry around than gas versions.
Since electric pressure washers don't need to be filled with fuel, you avoid the mess of refueling and the hassle of storing cans of gas.
The lower pressure of electric models means they're well-suited to more delicate jobs, such as washing cars and outdoor furniture.
Electric pressure washers are generally more affordable than gas pressure washers.
With lower pressure, electric models aren't as good at tackling tougher jobs.
You're limited in where you can take an electric pressure washer, as you need to be in reach of a power outlet.
Don’t forget, an electric pressure washer is limited by the length of the cord. If your work site is too large, a gas pressure washer might be a better option.
Gas pressure washers have a motor powered by gasoline, which means you need to manually refuel them when it runs out.
Gas pressure washers tend to be more powerful.
The highest-power models can be used for tasks that electric pressure washers couldn't easily tackle, such as stripping paint.
You're not constrained by a power cord, so you can take a gas pressure washer practically anywhere.
Gas pressure washers tend to be heavier than their electric counterparts.
You have to refuel them when they run out of gas, which can be messy.
As a rule, gas pressure washers cost more than electrically powered versions.
If you only have light-duty tasks in mind for your pressure washer, we recommend an electric model – gas versions may be overkill.
Pounds per square inch (psi) is a unit used to measure how powerful a pressure washer is. As a rule, the higher the psi, the more powerful the pressure washer is, though other factors are at play (more on that later).
Electric pressure washers tend to have a psi between 1,000 and 2,000 – suitable for washing cars, outdoor grills, plastic play sets, garden furniture, driveways, and patios.
Residential-grade gas pressure washers tend to offer between 2,000 and 3,200 psi, suitable for washing boats, cars (on lower pressure nozzle settings), decks, patios, house siding, and fencing.
Commercial grade gas pressure washers tend to have a psi between 3,200 and 4,500, or sometimes higher. These are suitable for paint stripping, surface preparation, construction site or heavy-duty cleaning, and graffiti removal.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Simpson MSH3125-S MegaShot
If the Simpson MSH3125-S MegaShot has one outstanding feature, it's the 190cc Honda motor. Honda has an extraordinary reputation for the quality of the engines they supply to manufacturers of home and garden equipment. The rest of the machine is of a similarly high standard. The high-pressure hose is kink- and scuff-resistant for longer life. The wand is steel, with a choice of five quick-detach nozzles. Detergent supply is downstream of the pump, meaning a wider choice of fluids is available. (If it's upstream, your choice is restricted because some detergents can damage pump mechanisms.) The gun has the usual safety lock and the pump is, once again, the axial cam type. Numerous attachments are available – a huge advantage if you want to maximize the utility of your machine.
While psi is a good indicator of how powerful a pressure washer is, it's also worth looking at the cleaning units (CU). This rating takes into account the volume of water a unit puts out, as well as the pressure. Suppose you had two pressure washers of equal psi. If one pumps out more water per minute than the other, it will clean more quickly.
A basic consumer model might have a CU rating of 2,000 to 8,000, whereas a more powerful gas-powered model may have a CU rating between 8,000 and 16,000.
Commercial models can have CU ratings up to 30,000 – but that's way too much pressure washer for your average user.
Think about the weight of your chosen pressure washer. Will you easily be able to move it around your house or property?
Electric pressure washers are relatively light, weighing roughly 20 to 45 pounds. Gas pressure washers, on the other hand, are heavier – an average model weighs anywhere between 55 and 90 pounds.
When selecting a pressure washer, don't buy one that you can't easily lift, though bear in mind heavier models usually have wheels.
All pressure washers are capable of adjusting their spray. A smaller, more concentrated spray has higher pressure and is good for extremely tough jobs, while a wider-angled spray has lower pressure and is best for lighter or more delicate jobs.
The method of setting the spray varies. Some pressure washers have an adjustable nozzle that you turn to get different dispersion angles. Other models have interchangeable nozzles that you switch out depending on the desired angle of spray.
Pressure washers either have an adjustable nozzle or a set of nozzles/tips to change the angle of spray. Both options give the same result, so choose whichever seems most convenient to you.
How important is it that your pressure washer is easy to move around?
Lighter electric models usually strap to your back like a rucksack, whereas heavier gas models tend to have wheels so you can drag or push them along.
If you'll use your pressure washer over rough terrain, you might prefer to have a model you can carry, or one with large, air-filled tires that will maneuver better over bumps.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Sun Joe SPX3000
The Sun Joe SPX3000 has an auto-stop system for safety and to increase pump life. It also has 20 feet of high-pressure hose, with a spray wand that can be extended 34 inches. That's useful for extra reach, because you should never spray from a ladder. There are five nozzles, plus the notable benefit of not one but two detergent tanks. We did find one common criticism with this machine: some of the unit's plastic fittings are prone to leakage. However, this is relatively easy (and not very costly) to fix by swapping out the existing parts for brass versions.
It's best to use the widest angled nozzle that will adequately achieve the task in hand. Use too narrow a spray and you might cut into the surface you're trying to clean.
If you have a gas pressure washer, don't forget the engine will need occasional servicing.
Never use a pressure washer while on a ladder. The recoil can cause you to lose balance and fall.
When cleaning a vertical surface, such as a wall, get best results by cleaning from the bottom upward, then rinsing from the top downward.
Pre-soaking the surface you want to clean with your pressure washer (with detergent, chemical pre-soak, or degreaser) reduces the amount of time you will otherwise need for the washing.
You can find pressure washers to suit a range of budgets, and the average home user needn't spend a fortune to get a decent model.
Electric pressure washers start around $75 and can cost up to $250. You can find a model powerful enough for the average home user for around $150.
Gas pressure washers start at $200 for basic home models, and can cost more than $2,000 for commercial models. Even for heavy-duty home use, you shouldn't need to pay more than $500, but you'll find some great options closer to the $300 mark.
Q. Are pressure washers safe to use?
A. Pressure washers are safe to use as long as you exercise common sense and caution, but the extreme pressure of the water could cause an injury, so never point they spray toward someone. It's also wise to wear safety glasses and long pants while using your pressure washer.
Q. Can you use a pressure washer to wash a car?
A. You can, but you need to be cautious not to use too high a psi. Our expert, Luke, says, "Are you thinking about using your pressure washer to clean your car? An electric pressure washer’s psi could be more suitable for the task. Use caution when applying pressure washer water to your car’s delicate paint."
Q. Do more powerful pressure washers give better results?
A. The most powerful pressure washers – with the highest psi and CU ratings ⸺ don't necessarily give better results, but they do give faster results. An 8,000 psi pressure washer can usually achieve the same results as a 16,000 psi pressure washer, but it will take roughly twice as long to do so.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.