Pressure washers buying guide
Pressure washers are ideal for tough outdoor cleaning tasks, using a powerful jet of water to help lift dirt, grime and algae off a number of outdoor surfaces. Pressure washers make cleaning quick and simple with perfect results, whether you're cleaning your car, your fence or your barbeque.
How do pressure washers work?
The machine's pump forces a large volume of water through the end of the lance. This creates a high pressure jet of water 35 times more powerful than a standard garden hose. Increased pressure and water flow improves both cleaning performance and time. Pressure washers are mains powered and can be connected to a mains water tap, a water tank or a water butt via a garden hose.
What is the right pressure washer for you?
It depends on what you are going to use it for. Pressure washers are rated in two ways - by water pressure and water flow. These factors are important in determining the right washer for the job you will be doing, and both affect how much time it will take to do the work.
The greater the water flow and the higher the machine's pressure, the quicker the cleaning tasks can be achieved. Large areas or regular cleaning chores require pressure washers that deliver both high bar pressure and increased water flow - meaning less time and effort is needed to shift dirt and debris.
This guide shows what pressure you are likely to need to carry out the most common domestic cleaning tasks:
Light tasks: 100 bar
- Garden equipment such as furniture, tools and barbecues
- Kids toys
- Bins and compost bins
- Small to medium patio and decking areas
Medium tasks: 110 bar
All of the above plus
- Cars and other vehicles
- Swimming pools, hot tubs and spa pools
- Medium sized patio and decking areas
Heavy duty tasks: 110 - 130 bar
All of the above plus
- Garden decking
- Paths and driveways
- Brick, stone and concrete walls
- Medium to large patio areas
- Tough cleaning tasks such as removal of moss and tree sap on hard surfaces
Things to consider
- Check how far away from the water and electricity supply you will need to reach, you'll need a cable and hose and is long enough.
- If you use a tank or water butt, you will need to attach a filter to prevent sediment from getting into the machine.
- Make sure there is always plenty of water in the tank to avoid any risk of damaging your pressure washer.
- Before you do a job, adjust the pressure and try a small area of the surface first to gauge the maximum amount of water needed for effective and safe cleaning.
- By attaching nozzles you can increase the cleaning power by up to 50%. Other optional attachments designed for specific tasks will also help you clean more effectively.
- Storing and manoeuvring the pressure washer is important as to how simple your job will be. Wheels and a handle are useful features, and an upright model may be more suited where you have limited storage space.
- Some machines have an auto stop/start feature which helps prolong the life of the motor.
- A detergent tank stores detergent for immediate application. This can improve cleaning performance, especially when using detergents for cleaning your car or your patio.
- A built-in storage compartment will keep trailing hoses out of the way, and cables tidy.
Pressure washer accessories
Additional accessories will help you clean even more efficiently. These include wash brushes for vehicles and conservatory cleaning, high pressure extension lances for a greater cleaning radius, ground attachments for quick consistent cleaning of patios without splash back and many more.
Using your pressure washer safely
As with any piece of electrical equipment, you must use it correctly. Make sure you remember to:
- Read the accompanying manufacturers instructions before use.
- Wear the appropriate protective clothing including footwear and goggles.
- Only use the pressure washer for its intended purpose. Due to its power, do not point at children or animals.
- Keep the hose and cable tidy and in order to avoid damage and accidents.
- Keep the electrical cable away from water as much as possible.
- Plug the pressure washer into a socket with RCD protection; this will switch off the electricity automatically in the event of an earth wire fault.
- If you use an extension lead, make sure it's a 13amp type.
- Do not attach “aqua stop” hose couplings directly to the machine.
- Make sure the garden hose is unwound and more than 7.5m in length.
- Make sure correct lances are used with certain jobs.
- Make sure the machine is run dry for 10 seconds and stored away from frost after use.