We’ve all experienced it, often during a barbecue or during a back-breaking gardening session: that moment when we glimpse the build-up of mildew and mould which has transformed our once beloved patio or fence from a pristine expanse into something much bleaker. The solution? It’s time to call in the pressure washer.
When it comes to deep cleaning, nothing beats a pressure washer. A powerful cleaning tool, they’re designed to blast away grime with jets of water. And they’re not just designed for patios and fences, either – today’s pressure washers can be used on everything from cars and garden furniture to garden sheds and outdoor playsets.
Take it from us though, what you do before switching on your pressure washer is crucial, and a little prep work will go a long way when it comes to getting the most from your cleaning session. “If you’re using it on patios, start by sweeping away any fallen leaves and debris with a soft-headed broom when the patio is dry,” says Isabel Fernandez, director at Mystonefloor.com. “Leaves can cause mild surface stains as they decompose.”
Accessorising your pressure washer can also save you time and money. “Some pressure washers are compatible with brushes designed specifically for use on cars,” says Thomas Goodman, tech expert at MyjobQuote.co.uk. “And if your pressure washer lacks a detergent tank, you may want to consider purchasing a dispenser attachment.”
Finally, use caution when treating delicate areas. Goodman adds that “most pressure washers include a rotary pencil jet nozzle, which provides more power. This will ensure that even the most stubborn dirt is removed, but because of their increased power, these should only be used on hard surfaces like stone or brickwork.”
How we tested
We tested these pressure washers on a wide range of surfaces and considered multiple aspects, ranging from water flow to directional control and battery power. And honestly, our driveway, car and patio have never looked cleaner.
The trees which surround our test garden, which frequently shed their leaves onto our patio and car, ensured we had the perfect test ground and is also the reason we consider ourselves pretty well positioned to undertake this particular task. Here are our favourite models that met the mark.
The best pressure washers for 2022 are:
- Best overall – Karcher pressure washer K5 premium smart control home: £399.99, Kaercher.com
- Best battery powered pressure washer – Flymo easiclean li cordless pressure washer: £199.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for small patios – Nilfisk core 150-10 150bar power control pressure washer: £243.98, Machinemart.co.uk
- Best for heavy duty cleaning – Draper Tools pressure washer, 2500W: £349.99, RobertDyas.co.uk
- Best for simplicity – Titan 140bar electric high pressure washer: £79.99, Screwfix.com
- Best for ease of use – Ryobi 18V ONE+ cordless 22bar power washer kit: £139.99, Ryobitools.eu
- Best for versatility – Nilfisk premium 200 pressure washer, 2900W: £484.49, Robertdyas.co.uk
- Best for heavy stains – Kärcher K 7 premium smart control home pressure washer: £479, Viking-direct.co.uk
- Best for value – Powerbase 2000W pressure washer: £159, Homebase.co.uk
Karcher washer K 5 premium smart control home
- Maximum pressure: 145 BAR
- Maximum flow rate: 500l per hour
- Motor power: 2,100W
This pressure washer can be used on everything from cars and bicycles to patios, fences and balcony furniture. It does need a certain amount of assembly, but it’s quick and easy to put together, and truly worth the effort.
Everything about this pressure washer screams premium. There’s the plug ‘n’ clean system, which meant we could add detergent to the pressure washer mid-cleaning session, and an integrated water filter. And it even has Bluetooth capability, which allowed us to set up the machine remotely, depending on which surface we were cleaning.
The three-in-one multi-jet lance made it simple to switch between spray settings, and we loved the ergonomic design of the controls, which were easy to tweak even with wet soapy hands. We appreciated the extra-long 10-metre hose, too.
Flymo easiclean li cordless pressure washer
Best: Battery powered pressure washer
- Maximum pressure: 25 BAR
- Maximum flow rate: 200l per hour
- Motor power: Battery powered
This fabulous pressure washer proves that mains power isn’t everything. It’s been brilliantly designed and is an ideal option if space is at a premium – we were particularly impressed with the way the three nozzle heads clipped onto the main unit, putting them within easy reach, but out of the way.
The safety catch will undoubtedly provide peace of mind for anyone with children and we loved the ease with which we could syphon water from a bucket or water butt using the included syphoning hose. Power-wise, you’ll get a generous 24 minutes of run time off a single battery charge.
Nilfisk core 150-10 150bar power control pressure washer
Best: For small patios
- Maximum pressure: 150 BAR
- Maximum flow rate: 468l per hour
- Motor power: 2,000W
If you’re in need of a high pressure machine which will obliterate stubborn stains, quickly sprucing up all manner of surfaces, then look no further.
There are three power settings to choose from and it’s got an incredibly compact design, which made the 10-metre hose – which tucked neatly into an enclosed reel casing – a pleasant surprise. The lightweight design of the main unit (we were also particularly smitten with the folding handle and the ultra-rugged wheels) meant it was easy to move into position, and made it easy to tackle multiple areas during one cleaning session.
Short on space? The spare nozzles, spray gun and lance can all be fixed to the machine for easy storage.
Draper Tools pressure washer 2500W
Best: For heavy duty cleaning
- Maximum pressure: 195 BAR
- Maximum flow rate: 480l per hour
- Motor power: 2500W
A monster of a pressure washer, this model pairs a surprisingly slick design with some serious power. It’s powered by a brushless induction motor and to be honest, we were concerned that street lights would start to flicker when we fired it up.
As soon as we blasted our first section of patio, we could feel its power – we’ve never fired a machinegun but we suspect it’s a similar sensation – and the results didn’t disappoint. We used it on a seriously heavily stained section of paving and it lifted years of grime in matter of seconds, and it gave equally impressive results on a mildew-strained wooden garden bench, too.
Accessories include six nozzles and an inlet filter, although our favourite added extra was the patio cleaning attachment – it’s got a pivoting joint, which meant we could deep clean horizontal surfaces just as easily as vertical ones.
Titan 140bar electric high pressure washer
Best: For simplicity
- Maximum pressure: 140 BAR
- Maximum flow rate: 440l per hour
- Motor power: 1800W
This is another one which needs some assembly, but it’s incredibly easy to put together – and once it’s complete, it’s staying that way. The various pieces attach incredibly securely, providing the peace of mind which always come in handy when an accidental soaking is a risk.
There were plenty of accessories too, including an adjustable spray nozzle, rotary spray nozzle, water inlet filter, low pressure foam sprayer, nozzle cleaning pin and mini patio cleaner mini. The flow rate of 440l per hour is also one of the best you’ll find on a pressure washer with a sub-£100 price tag.
Ryobi 18V ONE+ cordless 22bar power washer kit
Best: For ease of use
- Maximum pressure: 22 BAR
- Maximum flow rate: 182l per hour
- Motor power: Battery powered
One of our favourite added extras on this pressure washer was the syphoning kit, which made it ridiculously easy to draw water from our water butt (it can also be used with buckets).
There isn’t the abundance of accessories some pressure washers have but as testers prone to misplacing things, we loved the way the three nozzles were built into the pressure washer’s head – simply twist it to switch between them. The extra-wide fan spray (one of the widest we’ve come across) proved especially useful when rinsing off soap suds. We also thought it was best suited to spot cleaning and smaller areas.
In summary? Another pressure washer which proves that battery powered models can be more than up to the job.
Nilfisk premium 200 pressure washer
Best: For versatility
- Maximum pressure: 200 BAR
- Maximum flow rate: 610l per hour
- Motor power: 2,900W
Yes, this is a lot of money to spend on this type of device, but there’s little this pressure washer can’t handle and we loved the versatility. There’s a nozzle specifically designed for delicate surfaces such as cars and garden furniture, yet it still provides plenty of cleaning power without the kind of force which will blast your sun lounger into the neighbouring county.
It’s a seriously sturdy pressure washer (thanks to components such as an aluminium pump and steel armoured hose) but it also scores highly in the manoeuvrability stakes. And its wheels are some of the biggest we’ve seen on a pressure washer.
Karcher K 7 premium smart control home pressure washer
Best: For heavy stains
- Maximum pressure: 180 BAR
- Maximum flow rate: 550L
- Motor power: 2,800W
One of the brand’s most powerful pressure washers, this hi-tech cleaner, which launched in early 2021, does it all – its extra oomph, courtesy of 180 BAR water pressure, will vaporise stubborn stains from high traffic areas. Its wide range of settings also means it can be used on surfaces where a little more care is required, whether it’s bicycles or car doors splattered with aerial bombardments by the local birdlife.
Kärcher has always been one of our favourite brands for car-friendly power washers, but the K7 takes it up a notch, and we loved how we could scroll through settings using either the trigger controls or the app. Like the also popular K5 (£399.99, Kaercher.com), the K7 has a handy digital display next to the trigger, allowing for total control.
Powerbase 2000W pressure washer
Best: For value
- Maximum pressure: 145 BAR
- Maximum flow rate: 450 litres per hour
- Motor power: 2000W
It was the little things we loved about this pressure washer, including the way the wand screwed onto the hose rather than clipping on – a simple feature which gave a much tighter connection. Its meaty 145 BAR also helped it throw out one of the longest jets of water we’ve come across, and one which spruced up our seriously neglected patio tiles in seconds.
This is a great pressure washers in terms of versatility – a wide range of brushes comes as standard, including a triangular brush which meant applying extra cleaning power to tight corners and narrow spaces was a breeze. It’s also incredibly compact, something aided by a folding handle on the hose reel, side holsters for the various attachments and built-in detergent tank for those extra-tough stains.
Pressure washers FAQs
What is a pressure washer?
A pressure washer (often referred to as a power washer) uses a high-pressure jet of water to clean a wide range of items, including patios, garden furniture and cars.
What can you use a pressure washer for?
Pressure washers can clean everything from decking, garden furniture and fencing, right through to vehicles, exterior paintwork, swimming pools, gutting and patios - while heavy duty machines can even clean large paths, driveways and stonework. A good machine should remove stubborn dirt and grime, mould, loose paint and even chewing gum.
How does a pressure washer work?
Pressure washers are mains-powered, and they also connect to a garden hose. In a nutshell? They’re water pumps powered by an electric motor. The water comes out of a part which is commonly described as either a nozzle or a wand. Pressure washers will usually come with different adaptors. These will typically be different, smaller nozzles which fit onto the end of the wand, or entire wands which can be easily attached and removed. These wands are often referred to as lances.
What type of pressure washer should I get (petrol or electric)?
Most pressure washers are electric, corded machines that run off mains electricity. They are quiet, affordable and easy to use. Petrol powered pressure washers are more powerful and expensive, making them more suitable for heavy-duty jobs and working away from home. They lack annoying cables but will need constantly topping up with fuel.
Are pressure washers bad for your car?
Most pressure washers can be used to clean cars – even prized motors with pristine paint jobs. This is because the average pressure washer will come with several attachments, and will have controls which allow users to alter the power of the water jet.
“Most pressure washers can be used on vehicles, but you should always carefully follow the manufacturer’s guidance and advice,” says Paul Hicks, product and marketing manager at Stihl, one of the top pressure washer brands. “Always keep the water jet a reasonable distance from the car to avoid damage and consider using a dedicated cleaning solution to help remove the dirt from the car too.”
The best pressure washer features to look for
If you’re going to be using your pressure washer on a wide range of surfaces, you’ll want one with settings which allow you to quickly tweak the water pressure, while multiple fixtures – such as pressure washer brushes designed specifically for patios – will come in handy, too.
“Two of the main things to consider when choosing a pressure washer is the water pressure and flow rate,” says Stihl’s Paul Hicks. “Look out for a pressure washer that provides both good pressure and a high water flow rate. It’s easy to get high pressure, but the holy grail is a combination of a high pressure and a high flow rate.”
Light duty machines are up to 100 bar, which is good for decking, fences and garden furniture. Mid-range machines are 110 to 130 bar – these can also tackle vehicles, exterior paintwork, guttering and small patios and driveways. Heavy duty machines are 130+ bar – these are more suited to large areas, plus stonework and really grubby 4x4s or caravans.
Length of hose
It’s also worth taking a second to consider how the pressure washer will attach to your water source. “Make sure the washer can be connected to a standard hose or includes a syphoning kit suitable for any fresh water source,” says a spokesperson at Ryobi, another leading pressure washer manufacturer. “And make sure the washer is portable. This will allow you to clean on the go anytime, anywhere.”
All machines come with a standard spray head, but some come with added extras, including:
- Specialist brushes (for cars and bikes, for example)
- Specialist lance (most come with a basic one, but you can get others for different surfaces)
- Patio cleaners (concentrates the power into a small area)
- Foam nozzle (a handy way of applying detergent – great for vertical surfaces like cars)
- On-board detergent tank that you can pre-fill with a cleaner of your choice
- Professional hose (adds length to your water supply hose)
Pressure washers with this feature use the trigger on the spray gun, as opposed to a switch on the main machine, to start and stop the flow or water. This can save quite a bit of water, especially for more fiddly jobs that don’t require a constant flow of water.
If space is at a premium, look for more compact machines with integrated storage, especially for cables and hose reel.
How to care for your pressure washer
In the same way you drain a hose before storing it, make sure you drain any excess water from the hose after using the pressure washer. Storage is important, too. “Always make sure you hang your pressure washer gun and hose so that the water will drain out of them,” says a Ryobi spokesperson. “It’s also important to avoid storing it in an area where temperatures will get below freezing level.
The verdict: Pressure washers
We love the Karcher pressure washer K5 premium smart control home, not just because it’s incredibly powerful and a joy to use, but because of the brilliant tech which can slash cleaning times – and getting to grips with it doesn’t require hours spent studying an encyclopedic-like manual, either.
The Flymo easiclean li cordless pressure washer offers undeniable proof that battery powered pressure washers can provide just as impressive results as mains powered ones. While the Nilfisk core 150-10 150bar power control pressure washer is a fantastic option for anyone looking for a compact, lightweight pressure washer with some serious cleaning power.
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