Pressure washers are great for cleaning cars, patios, driveways and even greenhouses
, but if you’re baffled by bars and flummoxed by flow rates, fear not! Have a read of our guide to pressure washers
to find out what you need to know.
We explain all the key features, accessories and technical specifications so that you can work out which pressure washer to buy. From top-of-the-range Karcher pressure washers to entry-level models, we’ll point you in the right direction.
The four main things to look for in a pressure washer are the power output, water pressure, water flow rate and hose length. Picking the right one to suit you will depend on the size of what you’re washing, how dirty it gets and how frequently you’ll wash it.
Power (measured in watts)
Simply put, the greater the wattage, the greater the power of the pressure washer. More powerful models will be more expensive but work at higher pressures for longer, which is great if you’ve got really stubborn grime to blast away over larger areas. Wattages typically range from 1200W all the way up to 2500W.
Pressure (measured in bars)
Again, the higher the number, the higher the pressure and the more suited the pressure washer will be to tough tasks. High bar pressure (anything over 130 bars) is good for harder paving or concrete, while lower pressures should be used on delicate surfaces with paintwork or an easily stripped finish. Check high-pressure models for variable control settings as this makes them extremely versatile.
Flow rate (measured in litres per hour)
This tells you how much water your pressure washer uses each hour, and is indicative of its performance when rinsing and how effectively it cleans. Models with a higher flow rate (in excess of 400L/h) are particularly useful if you need to get jobs like cleaning the car done quickly.
Hose length (measured in metres)
Cheaper pressure washers tend to have hoses from 3-5m, which are fine for small cars and more modest patios. If you’ve got a larger car or bigger paved area to tackle then we advise looking at models with at least a 6m hose.
Other features and accessories
It’s also worth checking which cleaning attachments and handy extras your pressure washer comes with. Here’s a quick overview of what to look out for:
Lance: A standard feature which is basically a long tube ending in a nozzle. Most modern lances come with variable pressure – meaning you can twist the nozzle to switch between a narrow, powerful jet and a gentle fan spray. Rotary Jet Lances are a bit fancier and spin the water as it leaves the nozzle, making them great for grimy patios.
Attachments: The most commonly featured are brushes, patio cleaners and specialist nozzles, which can be superb for providing more thorough cleaning or dealing with specific tasks (brushes are ideal for greenhouses and conservatories). Make sure you know your own requirements before buying though – you don’t always need everything!
Auto-stop function: Great for lowering energy consumption and prolonging the life of your pressure washer, this useful feature automatically activates and deactivates the motor when you press the trigger. A real time and money saver.
Integrated storage: Having on-board storage for all those handy attachments is great if you’re short on storage space and it also means you can keep your cleaning tools close to hand while working.
Detergent tank: Offers excellent efficiency as it allows you to prefill your pressure washer with detergent, and some models have variable detergent controls too. Especially useful for cleaning cars.
Suction hose: Reduces your home water consumption by drawing water from a water butt or tank on the pressure washer. Very convenient if you’re cleaning large patios where the tap is too far for your garden hose to reach.
Handles and wheels: Massively improve manoeuvrability, which is particularly useful on larger, heavier pressure washers with more power.