Best pressure washer 2022: Give your car, patio or driveway the spring clean it deserves

Washing the car, cleaning your patio or blasting mud from your bike? These pressure washers are up to the job

Do you sometimes feel that outside cleaning jobs are too much like hard work? Do you shy away from giving the car a decent scrub-down, or wish there was an easier way to clear the muck off your barbeque or bike? Well, a pressure washer could be the answer to your prayers. Instead of using brushes, soapy water and a whole lot of elbow grease, you simply point the lance at your target, pull the trigger and blast away any grime. You can tackle jobs in minutes that would normally take you hours.

There’s only one problem: there are a lot of pressure washers out there, and they’re not all great at the exact same things. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to choosing the best pressure washer for your needs, as well as our selection of the best pressure washers for different budgets and requirements.

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How to choose the best pressure washer for you

What type of pressure washer do I need?

There are two types of pressure washer on the market: electric and petrol-powered. The latter are generally for more heavy-duty cleaning tasks, have much higher maximum pressure readings and cost vastly more money. As such, we’re going to focus solely on electric pressure washers as they cover pretty much all the domestic cleaning tasks you could imagine.

What do you want to use your pressure washer for?

Pressure washers can generally be put into three categories, depending on their maximum pressure rating:

  • Entry-level cleaners are those with a maximum of 100 bars of pressure. These models are good for cleaning small items such as bicycles and garden furniture.
  • Pressure washers with a maximum of 120 bars are those at the mid-level and are best used for cleaning things such as fencing, patios and dirty cars.
  • If you want to embark on some really heavy-duty cleaning, go for a pressure washer with over 120 bars. If you’re tackling severely stained paving or mud-coated 4x4s, this is your best bet.

Maximum pressure is not the only way to assess whether a particular model is right for you. If the manufacturer includes it, look for the washer’s “bar-rated pressure” as well. This is the average pressure that each washer can maintain over a long period.

What accessories do you need for different cleaning tasks?

Before you hit the Buy Now button, it pays to stop and check which tools are included: most pressure washers come in a variety of different bundles, all with different tools in the box, and the confusingly similar product names make it easy to buy the wrong one by mistake.

If the hose is too short, perhaps you’ll need an extension wand. Maybe you need an angled wand to clean guttering. If you want to tackle specific cleaning tasks, such as cleaning patios or cars, then you’ll get the best results with brushes and nozzles that are purpose-built for the task at hand.

A few models may even come with special multi-purpose nozzles, designed to deliver different spray patterns for different jobs, which save you from having to carry the whole kit around. While you can usually buy a specific accessory later, getting the right bundle at the start will usually save you a few bob.

What other features do you need to consider?

Water flow rate is another specification that you’ll see cropping up. This indicates how much water is passed through the washer per hour. Around 400 litres per hour (l/hr) is an average figure. Clearly, the more water that’s delivered, the quicker you’ll get your cleaning done, but the more your pressure washer is going to cost to run. Not only will the pressure washer generally use more energy, but water doesn’t come free (at least from the tap) and most of us don’t want to waste it.

Other things to consider include the length of the mains cable and hose. A shorter hose can make it harder to get the jet where it’s most needed or reach around the back of the car to get it clean. Of course, the longer the hose, the more likely it is to get in the way or tangle up, so it’s worth having a spool or reel to keep it under control when it’s not fully extended.

On the cable front, you can get around a short one by using an extension lead, but it’s essential that you use one that offers a suitable amperage (13 amps minimum) and is designed for outdoor use. Water and electricity aren’t the best of bedfellows.

How dangerous are pressure washers?

Pressure washers can be extremely dangerous, so always wear protective goggles, proper footwear – a jet of water against bare toes is going to result in a hospital visit – and never ever spray them at yourself or someone nearby. The high-pressure water jets are capable of causing severe injuries to skin and soft tissue; these are anything but big boys’ toys.

READ NEXT: The best patio cleaners to buy

Best pressure washer: At a glance

The best pressure washers to buy in 2022

1. Karcher K4 Power Control: The best all-round pressure washer

Price: £210 | Buy now from Amazon

Replacing the K4 Full Control in Karcher’s line-up, the K4 Power Control is a superb pressure washer, with everything you need to clear the grime from all around your home. Its secret weapon is its Power Control Gun and matching Power Control Vario lance. You can switch between three different pressure settings and adjust the spray pattern with a twist of the nozzle, which means you can switch from a high-powered jet to a softer, flatter spray. Whether you’re washing mud off the car or trying to blast mould and algae from your patio, you get what you need without having to lug around a bunch of different tools.

Of course, as a Karcher pressure washer, you can have extra tools if you want them, and we also tested the K4 with the Power Control car and home kit, which comes with the standard Power Control Vario and Dirt Blaster lances, plus a rotating car brush and a foam jet nozzle. What’s more, it throws in the T5 Surface cleaner for sweeping all the grime from your decking, patio or driveway. It’s worth the £90 extra if you need some extra cleaning power for your car or outdoor spaces, though the basic kit will easily handle all but the toughest washing jobs.

Key Specs – Size: 40.2 x 30.6 x 58.8cm (LWH); Weight: 11.5kg; Max pressure: 130 bar; Water flow rate: max 420l/hr; Hose length: 8m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: 30m² per hour; Motor power: 1,800W

2. Bosch EasyAquatak 110: The best low-cost pressure washer

Price: £65 | Buy now from Amazon

While it’s one of the cheapest models in Bosch’s Aquatak range, there’s nothing nasty about the EasyAquatak 110. It’s a compact unit that looks a little like a small suitcase, with the high-pressure pipe emerging from the back and the hosepipe connector at the front. It’s incredibly simple to set-up and operate, with just a single rotary on/off switch at the front and a trigger and a lock on the handle, and it’s pretty much point and shoot from there on in. It comes with three nozzles – an adjustable fan/jet nozzle, a high-power rotary nozzle and a detergent nozzle for cleaning foams and detergents.

Despite its diminutive size and max pressure, it’s a surprisingly powerful washer, and had no problems removing caked-on grime from the bodywork and hubcaps of our car, or clearing stains, moss and lichen from concrete slabs. In fact, the blast from the rotary nozzle gets impressively fierce. Cheap, relatively quiet and easy to stow away, this may be all the pressure washer you need.

Key specs – Size: 40 x 37.5 x 20cm (HWL); Weight: 3.8kg; Max pressure: 110 bar; Water flow rate: 330l/hr; Hose length: 3m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 1,300W

3. Karcher K2 Compact: The mighty mini pressure washer

Price: £85 | Buy now from Amazon

Kärcher’s smallest, cheapest pressure washer definitely earns its compact title. Less than 40cm high and 22cm wide, it weighs only just over 4kg unfilled with accessories attached. While it hasn’t got wheels, you can hold the body in one hand and move it as you work. As you might expect, it hasn’t got the power to blast heavy-duty stains from concrete, but it will happily scourge your patio or decking of ground-in grime and algae, and it’s great for cleaning up garden furniture, muddy bikes or even cars. What’s more, it’s still compatible with Kärcher’s range of pressure washer accessories.

There’s no detergent foam sprayer included, but it does have a little tube that sits inside a bottle of detergent and sucks the stuff up, which is great as long as you can avoid knocking over the bottle while you’re cleaning. It’s also worth mentioning that, for its size, it makes an awful lot of noise. Have modest needs and a matching budget? This is a great pressure washer to buy.

Key specs – Size: 39 x 22 x 18cm (HWL); Weight: 3.7kg; Max pressure: 110 bar; Water flow rate: 360l/hr; Hose length: 4m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power:1,400W

4. Nilfisk Core 130 Bike & Auto: The best deep clean kit for bikes and cars

Price: £170 | Buy now from Halfords

If you’re looking for a pressure washer to purge the mud and grime from your bike or car, you won’t do better than the Core 130 Bike & Auto kit. For one thing, the Core 130 is another well-built, high-performance pressure washer from the Danish firm, with a choice of three power settings and two nozzles. As with the P180 and Core 140, one gives you more of a tough spray, while the other gives you the full-on rotary jet, perfect for blasting the black stuff off your alloy wheels or removing algae or dried paint from your driveway.

For another, this kit comes with everything you need for a proper clean, including a wide-angled nozzle for the bonnet, windscreen and paintwork, a soft car brush attachment, an under-chassis nozzle and a foam sprayer, all of which would normally set you back another £40 to £50. There are a few niggles, like the slightly awkward housing for the high-pressure hose at the front, or the fact that there’s quite a lot of assembly involved before you get it going, but when your car gets cleaned this quickly and this well, it’s hard to grumble.

Key specs – Size: 72 x 29 x 30cm (HWL); Weight: 6.6kg; Max pressure: 130 bar; Water flow rate: 462l/hr; Hose length: 6m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: 35m2/hour; Motor power: 1,500W

5. Worx Hydroshot WG630E: The best cordless, take-anywhere pressure washer

Price: £217 | Buy now from Amazon

Sure, it might seem weedy from the specs, but the Worx Hydroshot WG630E can go places where you’d never take another pressure washer. That’s because it’s cordless, running from one of Worx’s 20v 4A lithium ion batteries, and because it doesn’t need a conventional mains water supply – just drop the end of the bundled hose into a watering can or bucket and it will run until it drains it dry. It has a normal power mode and a battery-saving eco mode, and a choice of five jet patterns courtesy of the rotating nozzle.

There’s not enough power here to blast off ground-in, dried-on dirt, but it’s fantastic for cleaning off a muddy bike, rinsing off your car or removing surface grime and bird droppings – grungy seagull poop a speciality. The battery takes around 45 minutes to charge and runs for around 30 to 40 minutes, and the only hassle is having to refill your can or bucket, with the WG630E getting through 10 litres in around 3 minutes of solid squirting. Even then, a quick car clean only took two cans to finish. This isn’t the last word in cleaning power, but it’s unbeatable for sheer convenience.

Key specs – Size: 93 x 24 x 13cm (HWL); Weight: 2.4kg; Max pressure: 24 bar; Water flow rate: 200l/hr; Hose length: 6m; Cable length: N/A; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 20V brushless motor

6. Nilfisk Core 140: The best mid-range pressure washer

Price: £149 (solo), £195 (click and clean car kit) | Buy now from Amazon

As the step-up model from the Core 130, the Core 140 can tackle pretty much anything you throw at it, from a muddy quad-bike to larger cars and campervans, and algae and moss-stained decking. In fact, you need to be a little more careful about its power settings when you’re using the rough, rotary jet attachment, as it can chew through soft timbers or old tarmac. Whether you buy it solo or pay a little extra for the click and clean car kit, you’re getting a great pressure washer, with the latter option adding foam sprayer, wide-angle car nozzle, car brush and under-chassis nozzle attachments.

Like the Core 130, the Core 140 takes a fair bit of time and effort to assemble, but it has a couple of extras that make it easier to use and store, including a longer high-pressure hose pipe and a reel at the front to keep it tidy, along with an even more robust frame, sprayer lance and handle. With a bit more welly than the budget models but a lower price tag than the premium washers, this might be the perfect mid-range option.

Key specs - Size: 88 x 37 x 31cm (HWL); Weight: 9.2kg; Max pressure: 140 bar; Water flow rate: 474l/hr; Hose length: 8m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: 40m2/hour; Motor power: 1,800W

Buy now from Amazon

7. Karcher K5 Premium Smart Control Home: The ultimate smart pressure washer

Price: £480 | Buy now from Amazon

The K5 Premium Smart Control is a little bigger and more powerful than the K4, and comes with the bonus of a built-in, wind-up hose reel to keep its longer 10m high-pressure pipe under control. Yet the real advantage is its Smart Control system, comprising a new trigger gun with a built-in LCD display and Bluetooth connectivity that hooks into a smartphone app. On its own, the trigger gun allows you to turn the pressure up and down, with six levels and a boost setting to deal with the most persistent grime. Meanwhile, Karcher’s 3-in-1 multi jet lance can switch spray patterns, so that you can switch from a wider spray to a focused, rotating jet within seconds without reaching for another nozzle.

Connect the app, however, and you can tell the K5 what you’re trying to clean, and it will set the required pressure and tell you how to adjust the lance for every stage, so that, as you clean the car or power-wash the driveway, you’re using the right spray pattern and setting for every step. Buy the Home version and Karcher also bundles in the T5 Surface cleaner for a thorough clean of any hard surfaces in your garden. You pay a lot for the smart features, and we’re not sure that using the app to control the lance is really all that convenient. Still, if you want the ultimate in high-tech pressure washers, nothing else even comes close.

Key Specs – Size: 41.4 x 30.6 x 58.8cm (LWH); Weight: 13.9kg; Max pressure: 145 bar; Water flow rate: max 500l/hr; Hose length: 10m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 2,100W

8. Nilfisk P180: The best heavy-duty pressure washer

Price: £470 | Buy now from Amazon

For most home applications, the Nilfisk Premium 180 is going to be overkill, but if you need to clean something big – like a swimming pool, terrace, boat, or caravan – this is the washer for the job. It’s a massive unit, standing nearly 1m tall, and weighing 26.8kg, which makes you glad of the built-in trolley. Much of that comes down to the robust build and all-aluminium pump. The 10m high-pressure pipe that connects the lance winds onto an internal reel at the top, and there are even points for winding up the 5m mains cable. The Premium 180 is built for serious use.

That’s also reflected in the performance. Even with the Gentle nozzle, which adjusts from a wide fan to a fearsome jet, it can blast through the toughest dirt and grime in seconds. On some surfaces, it might even be too tough, so it’s good that you can ramp back the pressure with a quick turn of the dial. Switch to the Rough nozzle with its rotary jet and there’s very little this won’t get through, and it effortlessly cleaned paint marks and stains from concrete that lesser pressure washers couldn’t shift. This is a practical, pro-level tool that’s built to work hard.

Key specs – Size: 95.5 x 38 x 39cm (HWL); Weight: 29.5kg; Max pressure: 180 bar; Water flow rate: 610l/hr; Hose length: 10m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 2.9kW

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