Clean the car and blast away grime from your deck or driveway with our roundup of the best pressure washers for every budget.
Whether you want to blast the dirt off your car, clear stubborn grease from a BBQ or rid your patio of built-up muck, a pressure washer will make your life a whole lot easier. You can banish those unpleasant memories of hours spent scrubbing on your hands and knees – a few trigger-happy minutes is all it will take to remove troublesome stains and dirt.
Here you’ll find our quick guide to buying the best pressure washer, followed by our pick of the finest models that you can currently buy.
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 1450 PSI of pressure. These models are good for cleaning small items such as bicycles and garden furniture.
- Pressure washers with a maximum of 1750 PSI 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 1750 PSI. 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 “PSI-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.
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 6.5L per minute (L/min) is an average figure. Clearly, the more water that’s delivered, the quicker you’ll get your cleaning done.
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.
The best pressure washers to buy in 2021
Karcher K4 Full Control: Best all-round pressure washer
Price: $482 | Buy now from Tools Warehouse
Whether you’re looking to clean a car, a patio, some garden furniture or the inside of a wheelie bin, the Karcher K4’s 1900 PSI of pressure, Full Control trigger gun and display have you covered. It will give you direct feedback on whether the pressure setting you’ve chosen is right for what you’re cleaning and it can be regulated by twisting the Vario Power lance to the required position.
The hose is 9m long and Karcher’s adjustable handle means that maneuvrability is a non-issue. The K4 is also available for $659 in a bundle with a surface cleaner.
Key Specs – Size: 39.7 x 37 x 59cm (LWH); Weight: 11.95kg; Max pressure: 1900 PSI; Water flow rate: 7L/min; Hose length: 9m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: 30m² per hour; Motor power: 1900W
Stihl RE109: Best budget pressure washer
Price: $299 | Buy now from Tools Warehouse
Stihl’s entry-level washer doesn’t have the power of more expensive models, but don’t underestimate it. Despite the low-ish 1600 PSI working pressure, it can fire a jet capable of stripping grime, algae and dried-on paint from paving and wash everything bar the most stubborn mud from your car. In fact, you can switch between the rotary and a wider, fan-shaped nozzles (stored under the front flap), which turns out to be perfect for a quick clean of your car, bike or windows.
The aluminium telescopic handle makes it easy to lug around the patio or driveway, and the build quality is better than you might expect.
Key specs – Weight: 17.7kg; Max pressure: 1600 PSI; Water flow rate: 6.3L/min; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 1700W
Karcher K2 Compact: Compact, cheap, and cheerful
Price: $149 | Buy now from Bunnings
Karcher’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 has wheels, you can also 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 Karcher’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 18 cm (HWL); Weight: 6kg; Max pressure: 1750 PSI; Water flow rate: Not disclosed; Hose length: 6m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 1400W
Makita HW1200: Great value
Price: $299 | Buy now from Tools Warehouse
This is a competitive piece of kit from Makita that punches above its weight. With a maximum of 1750 PSI of pressure and a 7L per minute flow rate, it competes with the likes of Bosch and Karcher models in this list.
It has a 5.5m hose and doesn’t come with quite the same amount of accessories as the more premium pressure washers, but for a no-frills pressure washer that’s well-designed and easy to use, this is a solid option.
Key Specs – Size: 43 x 30.5 x 64.5cm (LWH); Weight: 11kg; Max pressure: 1750 PSI; Water flow rate: 7L/min; Hose length: 5.5m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 1800W
Nilfisk C135: Best for build quality
Price: $999 | Buy now from My Generator
If you’re happy to spend $1000 on a pressure washer, then the Nilfisk MC 2C could be the ideal model for you. The 1740 PSI max and 8.7L/min flow rate will see you clean everything from cars to fences quicker and more efficiently than you’d ever imagined.
It’s rather well put together, but it comes at a price.
Key Specs – Size: 99.5 x 39.1 x 39.4 cm (LWH); Weight: 27.1kg; Max pressure: 1740 PSI; Water flow rate: 8.7L/min; Hose length: 10m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 2300W
Bosch Universal Aquatak 130: For big cleaning jobs and at great value
Price: $249 | Buy now from Catch.com.au
Like the Karcher K4, this is a high-power washer with a 1900 PSI max pressure, and this one will take on anything you fancy. Its 3-in-1 nozzle means you can switch between a wide fan jet, a beefy rotary jet, which moves around for extra coverage, and an even more fearsome pencil jet, capable of blasting through the toughest dried-on crud. It comes with a detergent accessory for coating cars and patios with foam, and the 6m long hose gives you a great working range.
At nearly 8kg, it’s reasonably heavy, but the telescopic handle and chunky wheels make it easy to move around the garden or the driveway. If you’ve got a renovation project on your hands or you’ve left your patio and paving to fester, don’t think twice: this beast of a pressure washer can handle it.
Key Specs – Size: 36.5 x 44 x 36 cm; Weight: 7.8kg; Max pressure: 1900 PSI; Water flow rate: 6.3L/min; Hose length: 6m; Cable length: 5m; Cleaning area: N/A; Motor power: 1700W