How To Choose The Right Pressure Washer


In this article, you will learn:

  • How to choose a pressure washer that’s best for you

  • When to consider a gasoline-powered pressure washer versus an electric one

  • The best pressure washer setup for washing your car

A high-quality pressure washer can be a homeowner’s best friend. You can use it to clean almost every part of your home’s exterior. At least once a year, a good pressure washing will power away all the dust and pollen that gathers on the windows and bricks or siding of your house. You’ll be amazed how much better it looks. Use it to clean your deck, patio, sidewalks, driveway and outdoor furniture. And, it’s a great addition for a DIY car wash! Once you get started, you’ll find almost no end to the cleaning potential of a pressure washer.

Beyond cleaning, you can also use a power washer to help restore many surfaces around your home. If the paint or polyurethane has begun peeling from your garage door or fence, a pressure washer can be the easiest way to strip off those coatings before you apply a fresh layer. Or, if you want to refresh an old, graying fence, high pressure water can quickly strip off that thin, gray layer to show the original beauty of the wood. You can even use the washer to blast away the green mold that grows on bricks and concrete during the rainy season.

With so many uses around your home, choosing a durable pressure washer with the right power and accessories is very important. After all, nobody wants to replace a tool every year. And, as tools go, the pressure washer is supposed to be a jack of all trades. Make sure yours comes with all the right features and accessories to do the jobs you have in mind.

Gas or electric?

When shopping for a pressure washer, the first decision to make is whether you should go with a gas-powered or electric model. Gas models typically deliver higher pressure and spray water farther, but keep in mind “higher” and “farther” aren’t always better. For example, to wash your car, you don’t need more than 1,500 pounds per square inch (psi,) and you’ll be working in close proximity to what you’re spraying. Electric pressure washers are great for that application. On the other hand, larger jobs, like cleaning your entire home exterior or washing all of your sidewalks and driveways can go a lot faster with more consistent results if you have more power and a farther, wider spray. In those cases, a gas-powered model with high gallons per minute may be better for you.

Pro Tip: When looking at electric and gas models, consider that your home’s water pressure will impact the performance. If your home has low water pressure, paying for the extra performance of a gas-powered washer may be a waste of money. You’ll spend more for the washer and likely never realize any performance benefit. If that’s the case, save your money and go with a good, electric model.

Get a washer that works for you, not against you

Pressure washers do some pretty hard work. Because they move water at high pressures and because they tend to get used a lot, pressure washers can sometimes wear out faster than we’d like. That said, the more durable models have one specific feature that you should definitely look for.

One of the biggest problems with aging washers is leaks. A leak in the system will waste water and reduce the effectiveness of your cleaning. When picking your pressure washer, make sure to buy one with a brass hose fitting and a replaceable rubber washer. This will ensure a tighter, more leak-resistant connection between your washer and your garden hose. Steer clear of any washer with a plastic hose fitting. Those can leak, crack or break much faster than brass ones will.

We recommend choosing a washer with a very flexible sprayer hose. As you clean, you want the hose to flex and move with you. You don’t want to wrestle with a hose that’s too stiff or one that will tip the washer over because it won’t let you move freely.

Pressure washers come with at least two sprayer tips. These tips control the spray pattern and, consequently, the pressure of the water. The narrower the stream, the higher the psi. Look for washers that come with a range of different tips. These will allow you to fine-tune the spray pattern to suit the cleaning power for each job. Try to make sure the sprayer uses universal, not proprietary spray tips, so you can buy replacement tips if you lose or break any. And lastly, we like to have a set of separate tips with dedicated spray patterns over one tip with adjustable spray patterns. Having a set of tips for different spray pressures leaves less margin for error on more delicate jobs.

washing car

For washing your car

Using a pressure washer in place of a garden hose can make washing your car at home even simpler. With a high-pressure pre-rinse, you’ll knock off much more caked on mud and dirt before you start scrubbing. This will make your cleaning easier, and you’ll be less likely to scratch the finish. Likewise, using a high-pressure rinse will help get all the suds out of the nooks and crannies of your car, areas like door and window seals where soap residues tend to hide.

The right setup for washing your car is pretty simple. You don’t need more than 1,000-1,500 psi to do the job, so a good-quality electric pressure washer will work just fine. Use a 10-degree sprayer tip for tires and wheels and a 40-degree tip for paint, glass and trim. Because you’ll constantly move around the car as you clean, you’ll want a washer you can easily maneuver as you go. We like the ones with tall handles and large wheels that can roll over small obstacles. To replicate a professional wash, you can attach an optional foam cannon to maximize suds and lubricating foam action. Finally, foam cannon or not, you’ll still need a bucket, car wash soap, water and a microfiber wash mitt for safe scrubbing power.

With this advice, we hope we’ve removed all the pressure from picking the right pressure washer. When you find the right one for you, we’re confident you’re going to love how easy and satisfying it is to clean your home, garage, driveway, sidewalks, fence and, yes, your car!

pressure washer


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