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Pressure Washer Reviews

By: Carl Laron on March 21, 2017

Editor's Note:
You can spend lots for a pressure washer, but for household tasks, these modestly priced models from Simpson, Ryobi and Sun Joe deliver impressive results. If you need something more powerful, we profile a professional pressure washer that's worth considering, too.

Simpson MSH3125-S MegaShot Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Water pressure -- 3,100 PSI Flow rate -- 2.5 GPM Hose length -- 25'

Best gas pressure washer

For those with tough household cleaning jobs, the Simpson MSH3125-S MegaShot is a standout choice. Driven by a high-quality Honda engine, this pressure washer is more than powerful enough to tackle any residential task, including stripping paint. Its layout makes it one of the easier machines to set up and use, reviews say. It's easy starting, too, and it includes five spray tips to deliver the right power and cleaning action for any household task. Big, 10-inch pneumatic tires aid stability and maneuverability. See our full review »

Buy for $399.99
Ryobi RY14122 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Water pressure -- 1,700 PSI Flow rate -- 1.5 GPM Hose length -- 25'

Best electric pressure washer

Reviewers say the Ryobi RY14122 is a great electric pressure washer for washing cars, decks, masonry and siding. It's got more than enough power for most household tasks, though not as much as you'd get with a gas model. Three nozzles give owners the ability to select the right spray for the task at hand, and there's on-board storage for accessories for added convenience. An on-board detergent tank is another plus. The three year warranty is one of the best we've seen for any pressure washer. See our full review »

Sun Joe SPX1000 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Water pressure -- 1,450 PSI Flow rate -- 1.45 GPM Hose length -- 20'

Best cheap pressure washer

Capable pressure washers don't come much less expensive than the Sun Joe SPX1000. It's not very feature rich but it provides reliable operation and enough power for light to medium cleaning tasks such as cleaning decks, patio furniture, cars, barbeques and more. The adjustable wand can deliver anything from a gentle 45 degree spray to a pinpoint zero degree blast. Assembly and use are simple, too. The compact size, 6-inch wheels and light weight make the Sun Joe easy to maneuver and store. See our full review »

Buy for $77.94

The best pressure washers blast through outdoor grime quickly and reliably.

A pressure washer (also called a power washer) can be the perfect tool for blasting through your outdoor cleaning chores and saving you the time and hard labor of scrubbing. It's far more effective than a garden hose on cars, boats, lawn furniture, play equipment, decks, masonry and siding. Some can even remove algae, mold, mildew and mulch stains. Pressure washers work by means of a pump powered by an electric motor or a gas engine -- so your work is mostly confined to pulling the trigger on the spray gun.

Types of Pressure Washers

Gas Pressure Washers

These are the most powerful type. If you have some big jobs to do, a gas power washer may be a good investment. They are more expensive than electric pressure washers and you'll incur additional expenses because they need oil and gas. They're also noisier and not as easy to use. However, if you regularly rent pressure washers for things like power washing your entire house, a big deck, cement driveways or pool decks, or do a lot of paint prep, the unit will pay for itself very quickly. And you can work at your own pace, without the stress of a rental return hanging over your head.

Electric Pressure Washers

Electric pressure washers are great to have around for everyday cleaning. They may not be able to blast stains off the driveway (although some can), but electric pressure washers are affordable, easy to use and are great for a wide variety of tasks. Many owners say they use them to clean the inside of their barbeque grills, remove rust and dirt from bikes, and even refresh dingy outdoor toys.

How much power do you need?

A pressure washer's power is specified in pounds per square inch (PSI), which is the force of the water, and gallons per minute (GPM), which is the amount of water the unit uses. The pressure washer's cleaning power is calculated by multiplying PSI by GPM. Keep in mind, however, that a higher PSI pressure washer isn't always the best choice, as some surfaces and products can be damaged by high pressure. You can vary the impact of the water by using fan spray patterns, changing the angle at which the water hits the surface and other techniques, but experts recommend that you match the size of your unit to your outdoor cleaning tasks for the best results.

The best pressure washers use different spray tips or an adjustable wand.

This lets you get the right amount of water pressure for each job. The included nozzles should allow the pressure washer to deliver anything from a fan-like spray that is easy on painted surfaces to a high-pressure, high-water-volume blast for scouring mold and grime.

Pressure washers have become more affordable

Years ago, it was common for many homeowners to borrow a pressure washer or rent one for the day when it was time for spring cleaning. Manufacturers now offer many highly affordable consumer-grade models, making pressure washers a more popular product to own. Prices start as low as about $80 for an electric pressure washer and about $225 for gas models. More expensive models often use high-grade components for a longer life span, but reviewers say reliability and quality aren't always included with a high price tag. For heavier jobs, or more regular use, commercial pressure washers can top $1,000, $2,000 or even more. These commercial models feature the best build quality and higher water pressure than consumer-grade pressure washers, up to as much as 5,000 PSI.

Pressure washer safety

No matter what pressure washer you choose, keep in mind that, because of their ability to shoot out water in an intense and powerful stream, pressure washers can inflict injury. We read several reports of significant lacerations by owners who let their fingers get in the path of the stream. According to ConsumerReports.org, the danger is greatest if the wand tip or nozzle is set at its zero degree setting, which focuses all the pressure washer's power into a "pinpoint blast." Ed Perratore says that the danger of using a zero degree nozzle or setting "outweighs the utility because the spray can cause severe damage in a short amount of time," adding "And higher-degree nozzles can get the job done." Because of that, ConsumerReports.org does not recommend any pressure washer that will produce a spray of less than 15 degrees, regardless of how well they otherwise perform. While we don't adhere to that guideline, it goes without saying that extra care should be taken when using the highest power nozzle or wand setting. And regardless of the nozzle setting, owners should wear protective clothing and goggles and be sure to keep an especially close eye out for children and pets, too, whenever using a pressure washer.

And while we're on the subject of outdoor cleaning, now may be a good time to spruce up the look of your home in other ways as well. If painting is on your list of chores, be sure to check out our reports on exterior paint and interior paint. A pressure washer is a great tool for pre-paint prep!

Finding The Best Pressure Washers
Our Sources
"Pressure Washers"
"The Best Pressure Washers: Reviews & Tips for Buying"
"The Best Pressure Washer"

To find the best electric and gas pressure washers, our editors scoured hundreds of reviews to find what owners and experts have to say about each unit's performance, features and ease of use. Along the way, we consulted with the professionals at ConsumerReports.org, FamilyHandyman.com, YourBestDigs.com and others. User feedback was collected from HomeDepot.com, Lowes.com, Amazon.com, PressureWashersDirect.com, and other sites. The results of our research are our picks for the best electric and gas pressure washers.

Elsewhere In This Report
Recently Updated
Pressure Washers buying guide

What every best Pressure Washers has:

  • A power level that suits your needs.
  • Maintenance requirements you can handle.
  • An adjustable water spray.

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