If you’ve ever watched one of those viral videos of someone steam cleaning a tile floor, you know just how satisfying it is to watch something go from filthy to flawless in mere seconds. And there’s nothing quite like a pressure washer to give you that same sense of satisfaction in your own space.
“A pressure washer is one of the most valuable power tools for homeowners,” says Dan DiClerico, home expert for Home Advisor. Why? The machine safely strips unsightly dirt and debris from a number of surfaces — mildewed decks, fences, outdoor furniture and siding, oil-stained driveways and even muddy cars and boats — in just a few minutes, leaving behind an impressive like-new finish.
To ensure you get your hands on the best pressure washer for your project, the experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute test pressure washers of all kinds on a wide range of surfaces, from patio tiles to windows and cars to assess ease of use, safety and efficacy. We considered top-tested brands, expert guidance and thousands of online reviews to make the following picks.
What to look for in a pressure washer
You can’t just pluck any pressure washer off the shelf: These machines (particularly gas pressure washers) are incredibly strong. It’s what makes them so effective, but it also means there’s a higher risk of injury and surface damage if you don’t know what you’re doing. “You really need to respect the power of these machines,” says DiClerico. Here are a few things to note:
All pressure washers work the same way — a motor powers water through a concentrated nozzle, DiClerico explains. Where things differ is how that motor is powered:
- An electric pressure washer is generally suitable for the vast majority of homeowners and can tackle projects like car washing, cleaning lawn furniture and spot treating surfaces, says DiClerico. They are more affordable (think $300 and below), lighter, quieter and easier to store and maintain.
- “Gas pressure washers on the other hand, are most commonly used by professionals, because they are a lot more powerful,” he continues. They’ll blast nearly any dirt and debris — use them for things like decks and sidewalks — but they’re much more expensive (think $300 and above), plus they’re bigger, heavier, noisier and harder to maintain.
Beyond motor power, consider the following features when shopping for the best pressure washer for you:
- PSI: PSI, or pounds per square inch, indicates the water pressure delivered by the machine, says Adrienne Hunt, associate merchant for Home Depot. Pressure washers with a high PSI will clean deep stains more effectively than machines with a lower PSI. Electric pressure washers typically range from 1,600 PSI to 2,300 PSI, while gas pressure washers range from 2,700 PSI to 4,400 PSI.
- GPM: Though PSI is important, you can’t rely on it alone. “PSI and GPM, or gallons per minute, in tandem are super important,” says Rachel Rothman, chief technologist and director of engineering at the Good Housekeeping Institute. “One without the other won’t result in the right combo.” GPM measures the volume of water delivered by the pressure washer — an indicator of how quickly your machine will clean. Higher GPM pressure washers will clean faster than those with lower GPM, says Hunt.
- Safety: When using pressure washers, particularly more powerful gas models, you can readily cause bodily harm and surface damage like splintering if you’re not careful, says Rothman. Wear closed-toe shoes and safety goggles at all times when operating your pressure washer. And if your machine comes with interchangeable nozzles, use the least powerful one first — you can always progress to a stronger nozzle if you need to — and position yourself about four feet from whatever you’re cleaning. When in doubt, spot test an inconspicuous area first. Ahead, check out the best pressure washers in 2021:
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Best Electric Pressure Washer
2,300 PSI Electric Pressure Washer
Our top pick wins praise from nearly anyone who gets their hands on it. The Home Depot best-seller has a truly impressive PSI (2,300!) for an electric machine, making it a great choice for residential users who want to be able to tackle a wide range of projects. The 49-pound machine pumps out a respectable, if not chart-topping 1.2 gallons per minute. It also comes with a bonus turbo nozzle that claims to deliver up to 5% more cleaning power for tougher jobs, like oil-stained driveways or severely mildewed fencing.
- Impressive versatility
- Turbo nozzle for tough tasks
- Fairly heavy for an electric
Best Gas Pressure Washer
Though the most expensive on the list, the price is justified by the power. The model, which has five quick-connect spray tips, a PSI of 3,200 and a GPM of 2.5, is more closely aligned with a professional-grade piece of equipment. It’s more than what the average homeowner will need, but it’s a great pick for any DIYer who favors performance and strength above all. Just note that at 65 pounds, it’s not as easy to lug around as other models.
- Extremely powerful
- Durable construction
- Heavy to transport
Best Value Pressure Washer
1900 PSI 1.2 GPM Electric Pressure Washer
The 1,900 PSI electric pressure washer offers the best combination of value and performance. With its modest 1.2 GPM, it’s best for smaller jobs, like clearing dirt and mildew from your deck. The telescoping handle and lightweight, 22.7-pound construction make for easy handling. Our testers also like the compact design and vertical storage, good if space in the shed or garage for outdoor power equipment is limited.
- Excellent price
- Easy handling
- Not up for heavy-duty tasks
Best No-Frills Pressure Washer
WORX Pressure Washer with Rolling Cart
Don’t let the streamlined designed fool you: The well-priced Worx electric pressure washer pumps out an impressive 1.93 GPM and a max PSI of 2,240. Those stats are up there with some pricey gas-powered pressure washers. Our testers praised the turbo nozzle for blasting away stuck-on grease and grime. Another nice convenience feature of the 36.3 pound machine is the onboard hose wheel, which makes it easy to manage the 25 feet of hose.
- Superb power for an electric machine
- Competitive price
- Cleaning area limited to hose length
Most Popular Pressure Washer on Amazon
SPX3000 2030 Max
$149.98 (25% off)
If you’re looking for an affordable unit that can get the job done, the Sun Joe electric pressure washer is an excellent budget-friendly pick. It’s one of the lightest models we tested, weighing in at 27.6 pounds. The highly rated (34,000 Amazon reviews and counting!), delivers 2,030 PSI, with a max GPM of 1.76. Our testers like the dual detergent tanks to house separate cleaning solvents. Five quick-connect spray tips allow for versatility to complete an array of cleaning tasks, from decking and siding to cars and boats.
- Lightweight and portable
- 20-foot hose is on the shorter side
Best Lightweight Pressure Washer
1,600 PSI 1.2 GPM Electric Pressure Washer
Consider this machine a smaller, more accessible version of our top pick. The compact, lightweight weighs just over 16 pounds, yet its 1,600 PSI and 1.2 GPM offers enough power for many household tasks. Plus, it comes with three nozzles, including a turbo option for 50% faster cleaning. It’s a great option for anyone who thinks portability may be a consideration, since it’s easy enough to tote to a boat dock or a campsite.
- Extremely lightweight
- Not suited to heavy-duty cleaning
Most Compact Pressure Washer
WPX2700 Gas Powered Pressure Washer
In general, gas-powered pressure washers are far from lightweight and compact, but this unit will appeal to anyone who wants the power of a gas machine (it boasts an impressive 2,700 PSI and 2.3 GPM) and covets the portability of an electric machine. Though it does still weigh a whopping 63 pounds, it has a sleeker, more vertical design that other models that make maneuvering and storage a bit easier.
- Exceptional power
- Impressive handling for its size
- Relatively expensive
- On the noisier side
Best Pressure Washer for Home Use
K4 Electric Pressure Washer
Though testers found this model to be a little bulky, it has stellar cleaning power. The 1,900 psi, 1.5 GPM machine comes with two spray lances: one with variable pressure for customization and a patio head brush that makes quick work of cleaning large patio and deck areas. Despite the size (its weight tops out at 38.3 pounds), the machine has a host of convenient features that make storage easier, including a retractable handle.
- Versatile sprays
- Retractable handle
- Bulky design
Best Heavy-Duty Pressure Washer
Generac 2900 PSI 2.4 GPM Pressure Washer
If you’re looking for serious cleaning power, like blasting oil stains off the driveway or stubborn tree sap off the patio, this pro-grade gas pressure washer from Generac is one to consider. Between its 2,900 PSI and 2.4 GPM, it’s among the most powerful machines we tested. Weighing 50 pounds, it takes some muscle to move around. Though the machine is balanced out with some nice ergonomics, including the cushioned grip and easy-to-pull trigger, which should cut down on hand cramps.
- Serious cleaning power
- Solid ergonomic design
- Fairly hefty
- High price
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