Updated February 01, 2018 by Jeff Newburgh

The 10 Best Pressure Washers

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We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. Whether it's a car, driveway, house, or patio that needs attention, make easy work of any outdoor cleaning project with one of these powerful pressure washers. Designed for domestic and professional applications, we've included both gas and electric models with durable pumps, variable pressure controls, multiple nozzle attachments, and extra-long hoses for accessing all those hard-to-reach places. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best pressure washer on Amazon.

10. Karcher K5 Premium

9. PowerStroke PS14133

8. AR Blue Clean AR390SS

7. Stanley SLP2050

6. Ford FPWG3100H-J

5. Wen PW31

4. PowerBoss 20649

3. Generac OneWash

2. Simpson ALH4240

1. Pressure-Pro Eagle Series

Energy, Speed, And Water

The water inlet connects the pressure washer to your main water supply and usually has a built-in filter to keep out debris that would otherwise clog the machine.

Depending on the circumstances, cleaning can be a tough job. It takes a considerable amount of elbow grease, time, and the proper resources to clean certain types of surfaces. For example, sponges may be ideal for cleaning your kitchen counters because they quickly soak up hot water and soap, which can be used to scrub away dirt and bacteria. Certain cleaning brushes require similar amounts of elbow grease to clean your bathtub or the walls of your shower with heavy-duty bristles. But what about jobs that require a bit more than a simple scrubbing tool to wash away dirt and debris?

After a harsh storm or a warm summer, you might have leaves and debris stuck in your roof's rain gutters. Your front cement walkway might be full of slippery moss. The exterior paneling or paint along the sides of your home will get dirty and perhaps moldy with so many season changes. You'll need a single tool like a pressure washer to combat these issues and easily clear away dirt and debris with power and minimal effort from you.

Fueled by either cold or hot water, the pressure washer consists of a water pump powered by an electric motor or gas engine to remove debris, dirt, dust, and other contaminants from hard surfaces and buildings. Depending on the device chosen, the water pressure is typically measured in pounds per square inch, and it is adjustable, concentrated, and regulated by the water pump itself. The pump accelerates ordinary tap water from a faucet to a high level of pressure. That water squirts through a hose at high speeds using a trigger gun pointed at the intended surface.

Pressure washers have five main parts that include a water inlet, an electric motor or gas engine, a water pump, a high-pressure hose, and a cleaning attachment. The water inlet connects the pressure washer to your main water supply and usually has a built-in filter to keep out debris that would otherwise clog the machine. Depending on the size of your pressure washer, it may come equipped with either an electric motor or gas engine to power the water pump. Small pressure washers benefit from electric motors running off a domestic power supply, whereas large pressure washers benefit from gasoline-powered engines when electrical outlets are difficult to find. The water pump is driven at high speeds by the motor or engine. When the engine pulls the pump one way, water is sucked in from the faucet (water supply); when the engine pushes the pump another way, the water is expelled outward in the form of a high-pressure jet. The hose runs from the washer to the cleaning attachment you plan to use.

Unlike conventional hoses, a high-pressure hose is constructed with multiple layers of dense plastic and reinforced with wire mesh materials for extra strength and durability. The cleaning attachment can vary from a simple trigger mechanism operated by squeezing a handle, to a spinning wand or rotating brush. The type of attachment depends on the particular application involved. For example, a spinning brush attachment and a high-pressure water jet could help to clear additional brush and debris from one's rain gutters, as opposed to just using a simple trigger gun. However, the trigger gun may prove more practical for pressure washing dirty shingle siding.

What is the benefit to using water in this way? Water molecules have a certain amount of electrical polarity. With a high degree of kinetic energy from the pressure washer, water can easily hit tough substances like dirt and wash them away quickly.

A Brief History Of The Pressure Washer

The pressure washing industry dates back to the 1920s in the days of prohibition. Pennsylvania employee and whiskey still maker Frank W. Ofeldt II discovered (by accident) that when high-pressure steam was forced through a hose, the steam could be used to quickly clean grease from his garage floor.

The first hot water pressure washer was invented in 1950 by inventor and entrepreneur Alfred Kärcher. Kärcher died only nine years later with the future of his business being dependent upon his wife. Within twenty years, Kärcher's wife successfully marketed his design at an international level.

Since that time, pressure washers have evolved to include additional cleaning attachments, more powerful motors, adjustable water jets and pressure settings, and stronger hoses built to withstand extended use.

Finding Pressure Without Being Under It

The power and precision needed for a pressure washer really is dependent upon its intended use. The good news is that a pressure washer can be applied to many domestic cleaning jobs. If your plan is to use your washer occasionally for spring cleaning duties, then a less expensive model with an electric motor that is easy to transport to different rooms will be a good choice. If you consider yourself a power washer and fix-it person, then it's worth the extra investment for a large pressure washer with a long and durable hose for reaching almost anywhere around and outside your house.

For that reason, finding one that features fold-down handles can make all the difference when you're trying to save space.

Storage can be a big consideration during the seasons when you won't use the pressure washer. For that reason, finding one that features fold-down handles can make all the difference when you're trying to save space.

The best pressure washers deliver variable speed and pressure controls, so you can adjust the unit to suit specific cleaning jobs without wasting excess water. This is especially useful in places where water conservation is important during times of drought.

Finally, pay close attention to the type of trigger with which your intended pressure washer is equipped. As you will be holding onto it for extended periods of time, it's important for the trigger to be comfortable enough to hold without causing fatigue.

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Jeff Newburgh
Last updated on February 01, 2018 by Jeff Newburgh

Jeff is a dedicated writer and communications professional from San Francisco with a bachelor of arts in anthropology from UC Berkeley. He began his career in computer consulting and later branched out into customer service. Jeff focuses on making complex topics easy to understand. With over 10 years' experience in research, his relentless curiosity fuels a love of writing and learning how things work, and has helped to build expertise in categories such as heavy-duty power tools and computer equipment. Jeff's passion for animals affords him a strong understanding of pet products, including dog houses, beds, and grain-free foods. When he's not writing, he prefers spending time with his family and three dogs, while kicking back and relaxing with a nice glass of red wine.

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