Best Pressure Washer Buying Guide for 2022

Best Pressure Washer Buying Guide for 2022

You have so many pressure washer choices to choose from, how do you know which pressure washer is best? With different PSI ratings, motors, and more, our best pressure washer buying guide should help you choose the right model. Our team takes on the task of testing and running the numbers to help clear up the options.

Best Pressure Washer Buying Guide – Start Here

Should You Buy a Pressure Washer, Power Washer, or Power Cleaner?

Pressure washers are similar to power washers in many respects. They even share similar PSI/GPM ratings. One major difference, though—power washers have a heating element and pressure washers don’t.

Power washers generally have an easier time cleaning off oils and grease. They’re also more expensive and require more maintenance. As a result, most homeowners (and even most Pros) typically reach for a pressure washer and add chemical detergents to get out stubborn stains.

Anything under about 400 PSI falls under the title “power cleaner”. These make great tools for washing cars and boats. You can find many battery-powered models that connect right up to a garden hose or even a 5-gallon bucket of water.

PSI vs GPM

Every pressure washer and power washer include two ratings—each represented by a number. You have one for PSI and one for GPM. PSI (pounds per square inch) equates to the actual water pressure. It gets the most attention, but both hold weight.

Higher pressure or PSI delivers additional force when cleaning, and that pressure gets determined by the tip. You’ll get the most pressure from the (typically Red) 0º tip. Pressure drops as you go to wider and wider angle tips and disperse the spray over a wider area.

GPM (gallons per minute) measures the amount of (maximum) water flow. Having a higher water flow rating effectively determines how much water strikes the surface as you clean. More water hitting the surface helps you remove dirt and grime more quickly. Some of the best pressure washers include a flow control valve on the pump. This helps you vary the GPM or water flow as needed.

Calculating a Pressure Washer’s Power

One way you can compare pressure washers is to determine the total “power” by multiplying pressure (PSI) and water flow (GPM). Here’s an example:

Model AModel BModel C
Pressure3000 PSI3100 PSI2800 PSI
Flow2.2 GPM2.1 GPM2.3 GPM
Cleaning Power6,6006,5106,440
PSI x GPM = Cleaning Power

Even though Model A didn’t have the highest PSI or GPM rating, it actually has the most overall cleaning power.

How Much Pressure Washer Power Do You Need?

There are several general classes we consider when it comes to pressure washer power. You can decide on the amount of power you need based on what you’re hoping to accomplish. Remember that a wider nozzle always lets you reduce the pressure and clean more quickly. However, you can’t really make an underpowered pressure washer do more than its maximum rated PSI or GPM.

Under 500 PSI

  • Washing vehicles
  • Patio furniture (including wicker)
  • Screens

Under 2000 PSI

  • Shutters
  • Lighter mildew/mold
  • Grills
  • Screens
  • Patio/lawn furniture
  • Limited cleaning on concrete/asphalt

2000 – 3000 PSI

  • Pavement
  • Stains
  • Decks & Fences
  • Cleaning with smaller surface cleaner attachments
  • Concrete (driveways and sidewalks)
  • Siding
  • Lighter mildew/mold

3000 – 4000 PSI

  • Decks & Fences
  • Concrete (driveways and sidewalks)
  • Cleaning with larger surface cleaner attachments
  • Pavement
  • Siding
  • Deeper stains
  • Paint stripping/graffiti removal (at the top of the range)
  • Mildew/mold
  • Paint prep

4000+ PSI

  • Paint stripping/graffiti removal
  • Concrete (driveways and sidewalks)
  • Cleaning with the largest surface cleaner attachments
  • Pavement
  • Mildew/mold
  • Siding
  • Deeper stains
  • Decks & Fences
  • Paint prep

Gas, Electric, or Battery?

There are some trade-offs when deciding between the best battery, electric, or gas-powered pressure washers.

For example, electric pressure washers are ideal for homeowners. They come with low maintenance and don’t make a lot of noise. On the downside, they also produce limited overall power and water flow—the very things you need to get the job done quickly and efficiently. Look at the specs on an electric pressure washer and you typically see a sacrifice in either the GPM or PSI rating.

Gas pressure washers generate a lot more noise. They also require more maintenance and generate emissions in the form of carbon monoxide. Where 120V electric pressure washers tap out around the mid-2000 PSI range, gas goes well into the 4000 PSI ranges and above. Much more and you’ll need a 240V plug.

Then there’s battery power. Currently, only a couple of companies—like Greenworks and Ryobi—have battery-powered pressure washers with legitimate pressure. Several other companies make power cleaners in the 300–450 PSI range. The sacrifice with battery (vs plug-in electric) primarily comes down to run-time.

Commercial or Residential?

A few electric pressure washers come with the “commercial” label. However, they don’t really have either the pressure (PSI) or water flow (GPM) that professionals need. When we talk about commercial versus residential, you really have to stay within the camp of gas pressure washers. The definition of a commercial pressure washer has a lot to do with two major components: the engine and the pump.

Commercial pressure washers use commercial-grade engines, such as the Honda GX series. Residential models use lighter-duty engines. The Honda GC series is a good example.

The other piece of the puzzle is the pump. The best pressure washer pump is a triplex pump on pressure washers for professional use and an axial cam pump on residential models. Many residential electric models use an integrated pump, but we prefer a separate axial cam design.

Best Gas Pressure Washer Overall

Simpson SuperPro Roll Cage Pressure Washers

Simpson Megashot Pressure Washer Review

In our book, the best gas pressure washer isn’t just one model—it’s the Simpson SuperPro Roll-Cage series. We love the 4-wheel design, the heavy-duty roll cage frame design, and that they’re made in the USA with global materials. Whether you’re rolling it in and out of your shop or loading and unloading from a trailer, it’s easier to move than traditional 2-wheel designs.

We prefer the Honda-powered models, and there are also Kohler and CRX engine options. Pressure ratings range from 3000 to 7000 PSI with flow ratings from 2.5 to 8.0 GPM. If you use pressure washers professionally, you’re sure to find a PSI/GPM combination that works for you.

Price: $899.99 – $5999.99

Best Electric Pressure Washer Overall

Greenworks 3000 PSI 2.0 GPM Electric Pressure Washer GPW3000

Best Pressure Washers for 2022

With a monster 3000 PSI and 2.0 GPM (1.1 GPM @ 3000 PSI certified by PWMA ), the Greenworks 5110502VT is the most powerful electric pressure washer. Adding to its list of accolades, it earns our pick as the best electric pressure washer of the year. It takes advantage of a brushless motor and what Greenworks calls “JettFlow” technology to achieve higher performance on the PSI side than their competitors. Most electric models top out around 2400 PSI, or they market PSI max to make it look like you’re getting better performance than you really are. Greenworks isn’t playing that game and uses PWMA-certified ratings.

Class-leading performance doesn’t come cheap, though. At nearly $400, it’s expensive for an electric pressure washer. However, if you want the strongest cleaning without a gas engine for the powerplant, this is it.

Price: $399.00

Best Battery-Powered Pressure Washer

Ryobi HP Brushless Whisper Series 1500 PSI 1.1 GPM Pressure Washer

Ryobi 40V HP Brushless Pressure Washer

We have finally reached a place where lithium-ion is powering a pressure washer. The Ryobi 40V HP Brushless model is the best battery-powered pressure washer in what currently remains a very narrow field of competition.

Packing 1500 PSI and 1.2 GPM of cleaning power in Boost Mode, it runs on a single Ryobi 40V battery and has a second active battery port. For the best performance, use two batteries with at least 4.0Ah capacity.

One nice feature is that you don’t need a pressurized water source. Drop the siphon hose in the pool or lake and clean to your heart’s content. Since it’s part of Ryobi’s Whisper Series, it runs quiet enough to avoid disturbing your neighbors.

Price: $499.00 with two 6.0Ah batteries and charger

Best Heavy-Duty Commercial Pressure Washer

Simpson PowerShot 4400 PSI 4.0 GPM Gas Pressure Washer PS60843

Best Pressure Washer

It’s tough to beat the power and price of Simpson’s PowerShot PS60843 as the best commercial pressure washer. With 4400 PSI and 4.0 GPM, it has all the power most professionals need before moving up to pull-behind pressure washers. At this price, you get a 420cc Simpson OEM engine (rather than a Honda) coupled to a tried-and-true AAA triplex plunger pump.

Price: $899.00

Best Pressure Washer for Home Use

Ryobi 2300 PSI 1.2 GPM High-Performance Electric Pressure Washer with Surface Cleaner RY142300-SC

Best Electric Pressure Washer

The two most common uses we see for a residential pressure washer involve cleaning concrete and exterior walls. There are a lot of other tasks such as cleaning RVs, boats, decks, fences, screens, and much more. In general, the more power, the better. However, most homeowners won’t typically need much more than 2000 PSI and 1.2 GPM to effectively get the job done while avoiding professional-level prices.

For occasional use, we recommend an electric pressure washer with a brushless motor. You don’t have to worry about the maintenance of a gas engine and the brushless motor has a longer life than brushed. Our top pick is the Ryobi RY142300 for a couple of reasons. First, its PWMI-certified 2300 PSI and 1.2 GPM are right in the wheelhouse for what homeowners need. Secondly, there’s an optional surface cleaner kit for just $14 more that can literally save you hours the next time you pressure wash your driveway.

Price: $313.00 ($299.99 without the surface cleaner)

Best Pressure Washer for Cars

Simpson PS3228 3300 PSI 2.5 GPM Gas Pressure Washer

Best Pressure Washer for Cars

Our recommendation for the best pressure washer for cars comes with a major asterisk: *don’t pressure wash your car! Most pressure washers have enough power to damage the finish and even dig into the paint. Use your pressure washer with a soap nozzle ONLY to apply soap and to rinse the vehicle. Stick to elbow grease and a soft cloth for the actual cleaning.

We prefer to pair a pressure washer with a foam cannon and we’re partial to the Chemical Guys’ Big Mouth Max Release Foam Cannon. While most foam cannons work with a wide range, we seem to get the best results with at least 3000 PSI and 2.0 GPM. 3500 PSI is about the top of the pressure range, putting a lot of the big commercial models out of the picture.

And just to reiterate a second time—don’t pressure wash your car!

If you use a pressure washer professionally for car detailing, you need a model that can stand up to daily use. That’s why we chose the Simpson PS3228 as our best pressure washer for cars. Its AAA triplex pump and Honda GX200 engine are in it for the long haul.

For performance, the 3300 PSI and 2.5 GPM numbers hit what we need to get the thickest foam from our cannons. It’s also much less expensive than other professional options in the same performance range.

Price: $599.00

What About Electric Pressure Washers for Cars?

If all you want to do is apply soap without creating that thick layer of foam, electric pressure washers work fine. However, even the most powerful fall short of the 2.0 GPM minimum we like to see for a foam cannon.

If you simply want to get the car soapy and wet and take off some dirt from the tires, cordless power cleaners provide a nice option and involve much less setup. This tool, along with some elbow grease, works for homeowners looking to wash their cars regularly.

Best Portable Pressure Washer

Ryobi RY141820VNM 1800 PSI 1.2 GPM Electric Pressure Washer

Ryobi Mini PW-min

“Portable” can be relative when you’re looking for the best portable pressure washer. We consider these to be models with less than 2000 PSI with size and weight small enough to carry by hand.

They’re ideal for spot cleaning jobs. You can also easily toss them into the back of your vehicle when you need to give your family or friends a hand on some spring cleaning.

Ryobi’s RY141820VNM electric pressure washer defines “compact” with a small footprint that’s super-easy to manage. Despite its small size, it still packs 1800 PSI and 1.2 GPM, making it deceptively powerful.

Price: $129.00

Best Pressure Washer for Driveways and Concrete

Simpson SuperPro Roll Cage 3600 PSI 2.5 GPM Gas Pressure Washer

Simpson SuperPro Roll Cage Pressure Washer

The best pressure washer for concrete and driveways is partly about combining mid-to high-level PSI with excellent flow rates. As a professional, if you can score one that’s easy to roll on and off the trailer multiple times a day, you’re in business!

Simpson accomplishes that with the SuperPro Roll Cage series. Our top choice is powered by a solid Honda GX200 engine and uses a AAA triplex pump to deliver 3600 PSI and 2.5 GPM. Paired with a surface cleaner, you can move through multiple concrete jobs in a day. It’s also easier on your business’ budget than some of the highest-performing models in the line.

Price: $1099

Best Pressure Washer for Stripping Paint

Simpson PowerShot 4400 PSI 4.0 GPM Gas Pressure Washer PS60843

Best Pressure Washer

When you turn to the best pressure washer for stripping paint, you’re usually in the graffiti removal business. Pressure washers aren’t smart: they can’t tell the difference between the paint you want to remove and what you want to leave behind. For that reason, these machines are best for removing paint from bare concrete or metal where the finish behind isn’t as critical. Of course, you can always come back and paint over it.

When it comes to removing paint, we want at least 4,000 PSI working for us. Since this job usually falls on professionals, we also prefer a commercial solution.

With 4400 PSI and 4.0 GPM coming from its Simpson 420cc engine and AAA triplex pump, the Simpson PowerShot PS60843 is our pick as the best pressure washer for stripping paint. It has a commercial level build quality but at a surprisingly reachable price. At $899, it’s also several hundred dollars less than a lot of its competition at the same performance level.

Price: $899.00 at Home Depot

Best Pressure Washer for the Money

Simpson Pressure Washers

Simpson 3400 psi pressure washer

In our opinion, no other brand offers the kind of value we see across the board from Simpson. They consistently deliver pressure washers with higher quality parts for the price we’re looking at. It’s not uncommon to get a Honda engine at the same price or lower than other brands charge for an OEM engine. They also seem to have a solution for every application (one of the reasons why they appear so many times in our list).

Best Pressure Washer Surface Cleaner

Simpson 20-Inch Industrial Surface Cleaner

Simpson 20-inch Industrial Surface CLEANER

Want to make your neighbor jealous? Wait until they’re pressure washing their driveway with a 25º nozzle. Give them a 30-minute head start and then hit yours with a surface cleaner. You’ll be cracking open a beer with your feet on the coffee table way before they’re done.

A surface cleaner takes the work from your pressure washer and directs it into a spinning nozzle that cleans a wide area. Each one has a PSI rating that you need to pay attention to and not overpower. For the easiest cleaning on larger models, look for one that has casters.

We like Simpson’s larger 20-inch diameter and solid build to make quick work of large jobs. It works best with higher PSI pressure washers with the build quality to match. The downside? It’s quite a bit more expensive than homeowner models, such as Simpson’s $79.99 15-inch surface cleaner .

Price: $379.99

Best Pressure Washer Soap and Detergents

Even though most pressure washers inject soap and detergent after the pump, nearly all of them come with the same warning: never use bleach.

Instead, look for products that are specifically made for pressure washers. You’ll extend the life of your accessories and connectors, and get your cleaning done faster than with water alone.

Best Vinyl Siding Cleaner for Pressure Washers

Simple Green Oxy Solve Vinyl Siding Cleaner

Simple Green Oxy Solve House and Siding Cleaner

When vinyl siding isn’t looking as good as it should, the best cleaner for pressure washers is Simple Green’s Oxy Solve House and Siding Cleaner.

It’s pre-concentrated for pressure washers and is non-toxic and biodegradable. Using peroxide in the mix brings back colors without using bleach.

We like the environmentally-friendly mix here, and it seems to work as well as other options that aren’t.

Price: $19.99/gallon

We Also Recommend:

  • Rust-Oleum Krud Kutter House and Siding Pressure Washer Concentrate: $14.99 /gallon on Amazon
  • Zep House and Siding Pressure Washer Concentrate: $35.99 /4 gallons on Amazon
ZEP driveway concrete cleaner

Best Concrete Cleaner for Pressure Washers

ZEP Driveway, Concrete, and Masonry Cleaner Concentrate

ZEP’s Driveway, Concrete, and Masonry Cleaner is great for hitting your concrete surfaces, even if they’re stained with oil, grease, and tire marks.

It’s not as environmentally friendly as Simple Green, but it gives us an easier time getting tough concrete cleaning back up to par.

Price: $13.98/gallon

We Also Recommend:

  • Rust-Oleum Krud Kutter Concrete and Driveway Pressure Washer Concentrate Advanced Formula: $41.99/2 gallons at Amazon
  • Simple Green Concrete and Driveway Cleaner – Pressure Washer Concentrate: $19.99/gallon at Amazon

Best Car Soap for Pressure Washers

Chemical Guys Maxi Suds shampoo

Chemical Guys Maxi Suds 2 High Foam Maintenance Shampoo and Gloss Booster

When it comes to car cleaning, we trust the Chemical Guys and recommend their Maxi Suds II High Foam formula as the best car soap for pressure washers. It foams up better than most to cut through the dirt and grease you collect. As it lifts them off of the surface, you can easily wipe them away without leaving scratches and swirls on your finish.

Price: $21.99/gallon

We Also Recommend:

  • Karcher Car Wash & Wax Soap for Pressure Washers: $13.99 /gallon on Amazon

Other Considerations

Pressure Washer Nozzles

Every pressure washer needs a set of nozzles, a hose, and a wand. Most use a standard quick connector, making a replacement pretty easy to acquire if you need it.

A lot of pressure washers come with 0º, 15º, 25º, 40º, and soap nozzles, though some may come with one or two less. That grouping covers the vast majority of applications you’ll come across. They’re color-coded and most models have a key on the frame you can reference. Even if it doesn’t, the angle is marked on the nozzle itself.

Nozzles are pretty inexpensive if you need to replace them. However, they have a PSI rating. Make sure you don’t buy one rated for less than what your pressure washer delivers. Most are a 1/4-inch QC (quick connect) and are compatible with the majority of pressure washer wand connections.

Pressure Washer Hoses

The hose that comes with your pressure washer is going to be paired intentionally by the manufacturer. Like the nozzles, they’re rated for a particular PSI. When looking for a replacement, use that rating as a guide and get as close as you can to what your model has.

You don’t want to put more pressure through a hose than it’s rated for. On the other hand, getting a hose that’s rated for a lot more pressure than your pressure washer produces can reduce your performance, especially if you move up in diameter.

When in doubt, check your manual to see what hose diameter and length are appropriate for your exact model.

Pressure Washer Wands

Pressure washer wands are probably the most vulnerable part of the entire system. Because they are tubes by nature and need to be light enough to effectively use, they’re also prone to bending, pinching, or flat-out breaking off if they get stepped on.

The best way to avoid damage is to hang the wand off the ground when you’re not using it and try to avoid leaning it against the wall or trailer.

Sooner or later, you’re going to need a replacement, though. Like the other accessories we’ve been discussing, they have a PSI rating to them. Stick with the same diameter tube and quick connect nozzles (most are a 1/4-inch tube with 1/4-inch QC), and you should be good to go.

The last thing to look for is the connection to your spray gun—the threads need to match. Most are M22 connections and you can always double-check your manual to be sure.

On a Well for Your Water Supply?

Most pressure washers need a pressurized water supply, even though the pump and the engine take it to another level. Water coming from well pumps often doesn’t have enough pressure and might not work with some pressure washers. Double-check the manual to be sure, and email the manufacturer if it’s not clear.

Hey, you made it to the end of the article! Thanks for sticking with us—we know it’s a long one. There are a lot of relevant topics and scenarios, including some we had to leave out for the sake of time and space. If you have any questions, comments, or want to give us a shout out about your favorite pressure washer, feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Why You Can Trust OPE Reviews

Ever check out a “review” site and you can’t tell if they actually tested the tools or if they’re just “recommending” the Amazon top sellers? That’s not us. We won’t recommend anything unless we’d actually use it ourselves and we don’t really care who the primary retailer is. It’s all about giving you a legitimate recommendation and our honest opinion of each product.

We’ve been in business since 2016 covering outdoor power equipment, writing reviews, and reporting on industry news in the landscaping, heavy equipment, and lawn care industries. Our Pro reviewers have lots of experience in these fields as well as the skills and experience to know whether these products can perform well on the job.

Each year, our team reviews and gets their hands on hundreds of additional landscaping tools and equipment at our shop and at media events and trade shows.

We work with dozens of professionals around the United States who review products for us on real job sites and consult with us on testing methods, categories, and weighting.

We’ll provide hundreds of pieces of new content this year absolutely free for our readers—including objective evaluations of lawn care tools, products, and accessories.

The end result is information you can trust because of the editorial, scientific, and real-world professional experience we collectively utilize each and every time we pick up and test a product.

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