Pressure Washers Buying Guide

Pressure washers simply use the force of water to ‘blast’ stubborn dirt or other matter quickly and easily from any surface, taking the hard work out of any cleaning job. Water is drawn through a hose pipe and the water is pumped out at various levels of pressure according to the specification of the machine. A pressure washer uses a great deal less water than if you were operating a normal garden hose, and it's always great to be economical with water. The main question to ask yourself is for what purpose you want to use your pressure washer: light, standard, frequent or heavy-duty use, cleaning or paint preparation. This will enable you to get the best out of your machine and ultimately the cost. Let our handy buying guide take you through how best to choose the pressure washer that is right for you.

A pressure washer will remove dirt and paintwork quickly and easily

Picking the right type of pressure washer

Consider the following when choosing your pressure washer:

Light Use--Good for cleaning items such as garden furniture and tools

Medium Use--Good for cleaning guttering and vehicles

Heavy-Duty Use--Good for cleaning areas such as driveways and patios and also removing paintwork

Accessories--A wide choice of accessories will make the machine more versatile

Other Questions to Consider

What should the pressure and the size of the motor be?
Looking at the pressure is a good place to start because you don't want to be disappointed with your machine if you feel it doesn't perform on the tougher jobs. The pressure of the water is measured in bars. Light use will use 100 bars of pressure, light to medium will use 100-110 bars of pressure and medium to heavy-duty will use 110-130 bars of pressure. When working out the pressure that you need, look at the bar-rated pressure rather than the maximum pressure as this will give you the average rate, which is a more accurate measurement (the maximum rate cannot be consistently maintained). The size of the motor is measured in watts and will control the power of the machine, so the higher the wattage, the more powerful the machine. A brush type motor is light and allows easy manoeuvrability while maintaining a high bar pressure. An induction motor uses a piston that is quieter, offers a high pressure rating and is more economical with water usage.

What is the water delivery/flow rate?
This is the measurement of water that is delivered over the period of an hour. The water-usage rate averages about 400 litres an hour at approximately 100 bars of pressure. Pressure washers use a lot less water than a conventional hose pipe, which can use a whopping 3,500 litres of water an hour with only 4 bars of pressure. Saving water is always a good thing, so a pressure washer is an ideal tool for your outside cleaning jobs.

How portable is it?
Most models will have built-in handles but the higher the specification, the heavier the model, so make sure that the heavier ones have wheels so you can move them around easily.

What safety issues are there?
Most people probably don't think about safety when using a pressure washer, but they are very powerful, so there are some points to consider. You should use protective goggles to protect your eyes against debris that may fly up and also protective shoes to protect your feet against the pressure of the water. Take extra heed with your electricity supply as you are dealing with an electrical item with water. Ensure that your socket has RCD (residual-current device) protection, which is designed to prevent electric shocks by immediately disconnecting the power supply in the event of a problem.

What detergent should I use?
The manufacturer will always recommend the appropriate detergent for your machine, so it's best to follow these guidelines as these cleaning agents will be specially formulated for different types of jobs.

Light Use

This will use 100 bars of water pressure and is suitable for use on items such as garden furniture, lawn mowers, barbecues, outdoor toys, garden tools, motorbikes, bicycles, small patios, decks and conservatories.

Medium Use

This will use 100-110 bars of water pressure and is suitable for use on items such as guttering, cars, lorries, small boats, wooden fences, spas and hot tubs.

Heavy-Duty Use

This will use 110-130 bars of water pressure and is suitable on items such as brickwork, decking, patios, concrete driveways, farm equipment, exterior walls, large vehicles, kennels, machinery, large boats, rust, paint and graffiti removal.

Pressure Washer Accessories

You'll want to get the most out of your pressure washer, so the wider the range of accessories that it is compatible with, the better. Different types of accessories are designed for various tasks--for example, washing the car and cleaning drains--making your machine much more versatile.