If you have any type of outdoor cleaning to do, chances are a pressure washer can help. These handy machines rocket a stream of water out a nozzle to the surface of whatever needs cleaning. The tiny droplets hammer away at dirt and grime to loosen it, while the constant stream washes it away. It is a fast, effective and nearly effortless way to accomplish various outdoor deep-cleaning tasks.
If this is your first time considering a pressure washer, there are a few things you’ll want to know before buying, so you can get the one that is right for you.
What can I clean with a pressure washer?
A pressure washer is for cleaning. You can perform just about any outdoor cleaning task you desire with the right model. Some of the most common applications are:
- Washing down your patio, walkways and deck
- Cleaning fencing, patio furniture and siding
- Getting rid of grime on grills and lawn equipment
How much cleaning power do I need?
To understand the cleaning ability of a power washer, you need to look at two specs: the maximum water pressure and the water flow. These capabilities are expressed as pounds per square inch and gallons per minute. The higher the PSI and GPM are, the more cleaning power your pressure washer will have.
As a rule of thumb, for household applications, a model with a minimum of 2800 PSI at 2 GPM would be considered a heavy-duty power washer. You need a heavy-duty model for cleaning tasks like driveways and stripping paint. For medium-duty, you will want between 1900 PSI and 2800 PSI at 1-3 GPM. A medium-duty pressure washer is a good, all-around unit that can clean siding, fences, decks, etc. Anything that offers less than 1900 PSI is a light-duty model. This is suitable for cleaning patio furniture and vehicles.
Electric vs. gas pressure washers
The two types of pressure washers are electric and gas.
Electric pressure washer
An electric pressure washer is quieter, better for the environment, lighter, easier to start and more often reserved for lighter duty tasks. On the downside, unless you purchase a battery-powered model, the range of an electric pressure washer is limited by the length of the power cord.
Gas pressure washer
A gas pressure washer delivers greater cleaning power than an electric model. It is also louder, heavier and not as kind to the environment. To get the easiest starting, look for a push-button ignition. With this pressure washer, you will also have the ongoing expense of buying fuel.
Does the pressure washer nozzle matter?
Arguably, the most important feature of a pressure washer is the nozzle. This determines the amount of water flow and pressure. The five standard nozzles are red, yellow, green, white and black. The red produces the thinnest, highest pressure stream while the white is for light-duty tasks, such as rinsing. The black nozzle is the only one you can use with detergent.
Besides the nozzles, which may or may not be included with the purchase of your power washer, there are a few accessories to consider.
- Turbo nozzle: This nozzle has an extra force and cleaning power. It can give a light-duty machine a little upgrade to handle tougher cleaning tasks.
- Telescoping wand: With a telescoping wand, you can reach those hard-to-get-at places such as the second-floor siding.
- Rotating surface cleaner: A rotating surface cleaner looks like a robot vacuum and attaches to your cleaning wand. It makes cleaning surfaces such as decks and walkways easier. Glide it across the area you want clean, and the spinning jets do all the work.
How much do pressure washers cost?
You can spend anywhere from $100 for a light-duty, low-end power washer to $800 for a heavy-duty model.
Best pressure washers
This is a heavy-duty gas-powered pressure washer capable of cleaning everything from the siding of your home to farm equipment. It comes with five quick-connect nozzles and an onboard 1-gallon detergent tank.
Sold by Home Depot
If you want a heavy-duty washer but would also like to save a little money, this 2900 PSI model is your answer. It is still powerful enough to handle the toughest cleaning tasks but has fewer nozzles, a smaller detergent tank and slightly less maximum power than the top option. Choosing these reduced features can save you over $100.
Sold by Amazon
For medium-duty cleaning, this Ryobi model is a solid choice. At 2300 PSI, it can handle all your basic cleaning needs, from siding to patio furniture. The bonus Turbo Nozzle gives you an extra blast of power for tougher jobs.
Sold by Home Depot
Sun Joe is known for offering respectable performance at a bargain price. This medium-duty model is priced lower than light-duty models but still has enough power to tackle everything from decks to RVs. The dual-detergent tank system lets you perform different cleaning tasks without stopping to swap out detergent.
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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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