The 9 Best Surface Cleaners

Updated April 27, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

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We spent 47 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. It could cost you thousands to have your driveway, patio, deck or walkway cleaned by a professional cleaning company. Or you could get one of these surface cleaners and do it yourself for a fraction of the price. Despite their low cost, they are excellent for concrete, brick, wood and even aggregate driveways, and are great at removing mold. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best surface cleaner on Amazon.

9. Sun Joe SPX-PCA10

As long as you don't plan on cleaning any large or heavily soiled spaces, the Sun Joe SPX-PCA10 can be a decent choice. Not only is it ridiculously affordable, but it weighs less than two pounds, so it shouldn't cause you much fatigue.
  • high-quality fittings
  • can be controlled with a single hand
  • not suitable for very bumpy surfaces
Brand Snow Joe
Model SPX-PCA10
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. GreenWorks Tools

Even though the GreenWorks Tools is limited to a maximum of 2,000 PSI, you can still get reasonable results without digging too far into your wallet. It takes little effort to use and keeps water from splashing onto siding and walls, so you can avoid water stains.
  • blasts off surface mold
  • doesn't provide a deep clean
  • small 11-inch cleaning path
Brand Greenworks
Model 30012
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Karcher T300

The Karcher T300 is made for those trickier surfaces, like rocky or uneven driveways, because it takes out grime without pulling out your precious walkway. It has an adjustable pressure dial for optimal control, though it can leave moss and flaked paint behind.
  • two integrated carrying handles
  • stores away compactly
  • water flow is a bit slow
Brand Karcher
Model 2.643-211.0
Weight 4.5 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. EZ Clean AEZ31023

The EZ Clean AEZ31023 is a great mid-range option for use with an electric or gas pressure washer operating between 2,300 and 3,300 PSI. It works like a charm without wasting your whole day and the results will make you proud of a job well done.
  • ideal for old decks
  • doesn't cause any swirl effects
  • nozzles are simple to change out
Brand EZ Clean AEZ31023
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Briggs & Stratton 6328

The Briggs & Stratton 6328 features a quick-connect attachment that lets you get up and running in seconds. Its domed design does an exceptional job of containing overspray, so neither you nor the wall wind up soaking wet and splattered with dirt.
  • works well on garage floors
  • very lightweight at just 3 pounds
  • pivot arm bolt isn't very strong
Brand Briggs & Stratton 6328
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Yamaha ACC-31056-00-13

The Yamaha ACC-31056-00-13 has a 15-inch diameter that makes it efficient for cleaning large spaces, but not so big that it can't get into tight areas. It connects to virtually any pressure washer and can clean an aggregate driveway without causing any loss of stones.
  • takes minimal effort to move
  • does an excellent job on brick
  • spray is nicely contained
Brand Yamaha ACC-31056-00-13
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

3. Be Whirl-A-Way

The Be Whirl-A-Way has an easy-to-pull trigger and boasts up to 4,000 PSI of pressure, making otherwise frustrating jobs, like cleaning a driveway, a breeze. It comes with a durable polypropylene cover that will help protect it for years to come.
  • feels super light
  • dual handles for good control
  • glides over irregular surfaces
Brand BE Pressure
Model pending
Weight 27.3 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Karcher 15-Inch

The Karcher 15-Inch connects quickly to most pressure washers that run at 3,200 PSI or less. It spins two nozzles at a fixed height above the surface being cleaned to ensure it doesn't cause streaking. You can use it on everything from patios to sidewalks to wooden decks.
  • works on vertical surfaces too
  • doesn't splash the user
  • simple to learn to operate
Brand Karcher
Model 8.641-035.0
Weight 5.5 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Erie Outdoor Stainless Steel

The Erie Outdoor Stainless Steel can diffuse eight gallons of water per minute, and has a long handle, so you don't need to bend over to use it. The entire frame is designed to minimize user fatigue, and the rugged nylon brush skirt won't snag or tear on sharp objects.
  • rubber wheels for easy movement
  • two rotating spray nozzles
  • can be assembled in under 5 minutes
Brand Erie Outdoor Power Equi
Model EPW-SSC21
Weight 30.8 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

The History Of Pressure Washing

Pressure washing has been around in some capacity since the 1920s. Frank Ofeldt is credited with inventing the first high-powered steam cleaner, called the Hypressure Jenny. The structure of the pressure washer as it is known today has not changed much since the 1960s. The typical pressure washer uses a motor to drive an internal high-pressure water pump. This pump sucks water from an attached faucet or reservoir and pushes it into a small diameter hose. As the water exits from the larger area and enters into the smaller diameter of the hose, its pressure increases. This causes it to exit the nozzle with a large amount of force. Most pressure washers are operated by a switch, usually in the form of a trigger.

Modern pressure washers are still designed in a similar fashion but with one major caveat. Today’s pressure washers are much more powerful than ever before. This increase in power is due to a more streamlined mechanical process, as well as innovations in nozzle technology. Modern nozzles create higher pressure than earlier models. They can also force water into specific patterns, such as a triangle or cone, each having its own benefits. Chemical injector nozzles can also add detergent and other cleaning products directly to the high pressure stream.

There are also more power supply option than in early times. Most are powered by electricity or gas combustion, though pneumatic and hydraulic-powered models are available, as well. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks. For example, electric pressure washers can deliver around 2,000 psi from the power provided by a standard wall outlet, but anyone using an electric model needs to understand how to avoid electrical hazards. Combustion washers can deliver pressures twice that of electric models, but are not necessary in many applications. The exhaust fumes from combustion engines are also dangerous or fatal to use in closed areas.

Pros And Cons Of Using Surface Cleaners

One of the most noticeable benefits of surface cleaners is their versatility. The self-contained nature of most surface cleaners makes them ideal for efficiently cleaning large areas, like basketball courts, tennis courts, or playgrounds. At the same time, surface cleaners can also be used to spot clean a single heavy grease stain on a factory floor.

Surface cleaners also have the capacity to be gentler than many other pressure cleaning options, yet should the user desire to strip away old layers of paint or varnish from a deck, they can still easily accomplish this. Surface cleaners are also cleaner than standard pressure washers. The nozzles of surface cleaners are enclosed within the arm bar’s housing. This reduces the amount of water and dirt thrown into the air surrounding the work space.

There are still some things to be aware of when using a surface cleaner. Pressure washers, no matter the attachment, are very noisy. Sound levels can exceed 90dBA. This is enough to cause damage to the eardrum, and may even result in noise-induced hearing loss over time. Anyone working with machinery like pressure washers and surface cleaners should consider using safety earmuffs while the machine is in operation.

High pressure washing can also damage surfaces if done incorrectly. It can force water deep into masonry or wood flooring and prevent drying. Surface cleaners also use a lot of water, even at lower pressures. An area with poor drainage can easily flood, and regular surface cleaner use may result in an unusually high water bill.

Who Will Get The Most From A Surface Cleaner?

Surface cleaners are most commonly used to clean large-surface-area spaces made of hard materials. This includes sidewalks, driveways, arena floors, and patios to name a few. A traditional pressure washer nozzle can also be used to clean these areas, though this can cause problems. There are so many variables to giving the surface an even finish. For instance, the actual pressure of the water impacting the surface changes if the washer is moved too quickly. This can cause some areas clean more thoroughly than others, requiring you to perform additional passes.

Inconsistent distance between the pressure washer nozzle and the surface can result in streaky patterns. Many people complain that their pressure washer will create bold streaks in a surface unless the wand is held at the exact same height the entire time. A surface cleaner easily solves these problems. Uneven streaks are eliminated, as the pressure is consistent with every pass of the wand. It can also be set to a higher pressure to clean deeper stains on more resilient surfaces. Using surface cleaners to remove stains can reduce the need for extra cleaning products, which are cause for health concerns in people who use the products regularly.

Surface cleaners are also great for anyone looking to easily clean outdoor ceilings. A pressure washer alone is going to leave the user soaked, as there is no way to control the waste water. On the other hand, a surface cleaner gives the water a contained work area that is easier to control. The user is still likely to get wet, but much less than with a standard pressure washer. Surface cleaners may also be the best option for people who have outdoor walls that need regular cleaning. One example is cleaning a delicate rock wall. This is going to require much less pressure than cleaning a concrete wall or driveway to avoid damage to the mortar joints. A high pressure wash will likely break off pieces of mortar or pull stones out of the wall. A surface cleaner allows the user to deliver uniform low pressure to the wall, while still cleaning deeply enough to reach the wall’s cracks and uneven surfaces.

Those that regularly need to remove paint from walls and sidewalks will find a surface cleaner an invaluable tool. There are some unorthodox uses for surface cleaners, as well. In a completely opposite application that someone who is trying to remove graffiti, reverse graffiti artists may intentionally move one quickly over a wall or floor to create swirls and make complex patterns in their artwork.

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Last updated on April 27, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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