The handheld pressure washer (often called a power cleaner) represents a relatively new class of power tool that falls between the high-pressure cleaning of a pressure washer and the capabilities of a hose nozzle. Choosing the best handheld pressure washer or power cleaner for your needs depends on several factors. Do you want the highest available pressure? Or have you set value or compatibility with existing batteries as your top priorities? Hopefully, we can help you make an informed choice.
To get the right tool for your needs, it’s important to understand what you can expect from a handheld pressure washer or power cleaner. That starts with setting expectations on water pressure and power. If you want tons of cleaning power then perhaps you should skip over to our best pressure washer recommendations and check those out first.
Table of Contents
- Handheld Pressure Washer vs Power Cleaner
- So What Exactly is a Handheld Pressure Washer (Power Cleaner)?
- What Can You Clean with a Handheld Pressure Washer?
- Best Handheld Pressure Washer Overall
- Best Handheld Pressure Washer Value
- Best Budget Handheld Pressure Washer or Power Cleaner
- Best Handheld Pressure Washers from Brands We Trust
- Did We Miss Any?
Handheld Pressure Washer vs Power Cleaner
Before we go too far, know that a handheld pressure washer is the same thing as a power cleaner. It produces far less power, pressure, and water flow than a pressure washer with an external pump. A handheld pressure washer falls somewhere between delivering the high-pressure cleaning of a full size pressure washer and what you can achieve using a high-power hose nozzle.
The best handheld pressure washers and power cleaners typically produce anywhere between 300-600 PSI (pounds per square inch) or pressure. You’ll find this number to be lower than the typical range of a pressure washer. Those often run upwards of 1500 PSI and beyond.
Additionally, these power cleaners have a limited water flow rate of around 1 gallon per minute (GPM). Compare this to non-commercial pressure washers which often vary from 1.2 to over 4 GPM depending on the model. Where a full-size pressure washer targets heavy-duty cleaning tasks, a handheld model finds itself at home cleaning surfaces that are more easily damaged. This works great for those lighter cleaning tasks like washing your car or spraying cleaner on vinyl siding.
So What Exactly is a Handheld Pressure Washer (Power Cleaner)?
A handheld pressure washer or power cleaner delivers a stream of pressurized water for cleaning and rinsing. While that might sound like a garden hose, the best best handheld pressure washers put out much higher pressure than you might achieve using a hose nozzle.
At the heart of a handheld power cleaner, you find a small battery-powered pump that fits right into the unit. Indeed, most handheld pressure washers don’t appear much larger than an oversized pressure washer lance.
The best handheld pressure washer tools have lots of built-in versatility. Aside from getting their power from a battery, they can use a garden hose for their water supply or a local source. That means you can often drop an included siphon hose into a 5-gallon bucket of water to pull and pressurize water for cleaning.
These tools also include either a single multi-position rotating nozzle or a series of replaceable nozzles to let you vary the water pressure and spray pattern. The ability to perform small cleaning tasks without needing a garden hose water supply makes these tools truly versatile!
What Can You Clean with a Handheld Pressure Washer?
Handheld pressure washers and power cleaners step in where the power of traditional pressure washers might damage surfaces or even cause injury. You can use a handheld power cleaner for any or all of the following tasks:
- Washing vehicles
- Cleaning patio furniture (particularly wicker or other fragile materials)
- Knocking mud off your mountain bike
- Cleaning camping gear
- Washing windows
- Cleaning dirty or muddy boots
Best Handheld Pressure Washer Overall
The DeWalt DCPW550 handheld pressure washer is near the top of the food chain for pressure with 550 PSI coming from the 15° nozzle. Even though there are others in the same pressure range, what sets this model apart is that it does 1.0 GPM with that 15° nozzle and can produce up to 2.2 GPM with lower pressure! That’s more than twice the water flow that others have.
DeWalt takes the unusual step of using individual nozzles instead of a multi-nozzle and includes a nice selection that stores right on the tool. You get Turbo, 15°, 25°, and 40°, plus a soap bottle. When you want to extend your battery life, just flip the 2-speed switch to low.
By using a 20V Max battery for power, DeWalt keeps you on their most extensive cordless lineup with hundreds of compatible tools that use the same battery.
If there’s a downside, it’s that this model is a bit heavier than most of the others, weighing 7.4 pounds with a 5.0Ah battery.
Thanks to its higher pressure and flow rate along with a more professional design, the DeWalt 20V Max Cordless Power Cleaner is our choice as the best power cleaner.
- Max Pressure: 550 PSI
- Max Water Flow: 2.2 GPM
- Nozzle Settings: 4 (individual nozzles)
- Total Length: 40.5 inches
- Weight with Battery: 7.4 pounds with 5.0Ah battery
- Price: $149 bare, $219 kit with 5.0Ah battery
Best Handheld Pressure Washer Value
Ryobi 18V One+ HP Brushless EZClean RY121850
Ryobi made significant progress to their original EZClean power cleaner when they gave it the HP Brushless upgrade. Most impressively, it moved from 320 PSI to 600 PSI—the strongest we’ve seen using a single 18V/20V Max battery for power.
While the nozzle only includes 3 settings, they’re the most useful ones to have: Turbo, 15°, and Rinse.
There’s a lot to love about the setup, but it gets even better with Ryobi’s EZClean accessories.
- Chemical nozzle kit
- Wash brush
- Foam blaster
- Bottle adapter (for 2-liter bottles)
- Flexible wand (must-have!)
- Siphon extension
- Pivoting adapter (another must-have!)
And if you need more convincing, it’s part of Ryobi’s extensive 18V One+ system. At $119 for the bare tool and $179 for a kit with a 4.0Ah battery and charger, it’s our pick as the best value power cleaner.
- Max Pressure: 600 PSI
- Max Water Flow: 0.7 GPM
- Nozzle Settings: 3
- Weight with Battery:
- Price: $119 bare, $179 kit with 4.0Ah battery
Best Budget Handheld Pressure Washer or Power Cleaner
Hart bills their power cleaner specifically as a cordless vehicle cleaner, but it’s still a relevant tool for other light-duty cleaning. Even so, Hart made this attractive for cleaning your vehicles with the addition of a wheel brush and soap foamer. Simply pick your favorite foaming car wash to soap up the car with and attach the brush to the end of the wand to scrub the wheels without bending all the way down. This one works with any Hart 20V battery.
- Max Pressure: 320 PSI
- Max Water Flow: 0.8 GPM
- Nozzle Settings: 3
- Weight with Battery:
- Price: $98 bare tool
Best Handheld Pressure Washers from Brands We Trust
Craftsman’s 0.5* GPM rating is a little misleading when you compare it to the other models in the group. It’s taken alongside the max PSI rating using the 15° nozzle, so if you use any of the wider nozzle settings, the flow will actually be higher.
The kit comes with 2 wand lengths. The shorter one is specifically for watering and the longer one has a quick connect for the 5-in-1 nozzle. You also get a bonus soap bottle and a handy storage bag to keep it all in. The kit comes with a 2.0Ah battery and charger, plus it’s compatible with the entire Craftsman V20 system.
- Max Pressure: 350 PSI
- Max Water Flow: 0.5 GPM*
- Nozzle Settings: 5
- Weight with Battery: 5.4 pounds with 2.0Ah battery
- Price: $149
With 600 PSI available, Kobalt’s handheld pressure washer is one of the strongest options and a nice supplement to their 40V lawn care tools.
Between including the 5-in-1 nozzle and soap applicator along with the standard accessories, it’s pretty compelling for less than $150. The downside is that it’s not a battery system that’s compatible with Kobalt’s 24V cordless power tools, but you may find there are several lawn care products you’d like to add to go with it.
- Max Pressure: 600 PSI
- Max Water Flow: 0.8
- Nozzle Settings: 5
- Weight with Battery: 5.3 pounds
- Price: $99 bare, $149 kit with 2.0Ah battery
When we reviewed Worx’s original cordless Hydroshot , we knew they were onto something big if folks just understood what it was designed to do (and not do). Several years later, one tool turned into an entire line in what has to be the most successful brand when it comes to the best handheld pressure washers and power cleaners.
Among the available options, the WG644 balances price and performance nicely with 450 PSI and 0.9 GPM. It’s another 2-speed model, this time running on two 20V batteries to combine for 40V of power. Those 20V batteries are compatible with all 20V Worx tools and lawn care products.
The 4-in-1 nozzle offers 0°, 15°, 25°, and 45° nozzles, forgoing a turbo nozzle in favor of the 0°.
- Max Pressure: 450 PSI
- Max Water Flow: 0.9 GPM
- Nozzle Settings: 4
- Weight with Battery: 6.63 pounds with two 2.0Ah batteries
- Price: $173 kit with two 2.0Ah batteries
Did We Miss Any?
So which handheld pressure washer do you like the best? Did we miss any in our list? Overall, we value performance and value. Some models give you both, but you can certainly prioritize one over the other. In any case, feel free to leave a comment below if you agree or disagree with any of our choices. Thanks for reading!