Why scrub a patio when you can blast it clean with a jet of highly pressurised water? If there is an answer to that question I don’t even want to know, because cleaning with a pressure washer is quick, effective and – whisper it – maybe even a little bit fun. But finding the right model to buy isn’t such a pleasure, so read on to take the hard work out of finding the perfect jet washer for you.
When you’re looking for a pressure washer there are a few things to consider before you buy, starting with what you’re going to be using it for. If it’s going to be a jack of all trades cleaner for using on everything from the patio to the car to washing down of the mountain bikes after an adventurous weekend, then you’ll want a model with the full range of accessories and a decent level of power behind it. On the other hand, if it’s just going to be for the occasional wash of the garden furniture you can easily get along with a lower powered model, otherwise you might be sending that plastic chair over the fence.
The level of pressure generated by each cleaner is measured in bars and in general models can vary anywhere from between 100 and 180 bars. For home use, we suggest you would never need anything over 140 bar, with around 110 being more than adequate enough for most tasks.
If you’re going to be using it for light tasks such as cleaning garden furniture and tools, bicycles, rubbish bins and the like, 100 bar is plenty. For bigger jobs such as cleaning cars and fences we’d suggest between 110 and 130 bar. For heavy jobs such as driveways and patios with embedded dirt and moss, anything producing 130 bar or more would be ideal.
Kärcher K2 Compact Pressure Washer – Best value pressure washer
Kärcher is the big name in pressure washers producing a wide range of models for different uses. Our pick for its best value model is the K2 Compact model, providing a good level of power and available with a range of accessories for performing all kinds of jobs; with the main unit available for considerably less than £100.
Offering water pressure of 110 bar it is more than a match for everyday tasks, with the stand-alone model coming with a “dirtbuster” lance for delivering an intense jet of water. This is great for spot cleaning, especially in deep cracks, and the rotating head gives a slight wavering in the jet so it can work dirt away rather than blasting it into one spot.
It’s small size and weight (4kg) means it’s easy to store and it’s not hard to drag around the garden or down the driveway, while a 4m hose gives you a decent cleaning range.
If you are looking to use it clean a car or bikes it is worth investing in the specific tools as these brushes will make it a lot easier to get dirt out of crevices rather than having to blast each part individually, as well as making sure more delicate sections are treated a bit more carefully.
On the other hand, when it comes to cleaning pathways, rather than investing in accessories we would point you towards one of the more powerful models on our list.
Nilfisk C105 6-5 Pressure Washer – Good mid-range option
It’s a little heavier than the Kärcher K2 at 6kg, but it also comes with a 5m hose so has a slightly larger cleaning range and you may not have to move it around as much. Like other cleaners you will need to connect it to a water source with a garden hose as well as an electrical socket to power it.
It’s well suited for medium jobs such as car and fence cleaning but it still lacks the punch to give a patio a real blast. Available for around £75 it’s a good machine for the average user and it won’t break the bank.
Kärcher K5 Compact Home High Pressure Washer – Best performing pressure washer
If you want the ultimate cleaning machine this is the one, although be prepared to pay a premium for it. Delivering up to 145 bar pressure it’s powerful enough to scour stone and wood floors and comes with a patio cleaner for making quick work of large areas.
It’s a bit heftier than some of the more compact models weighing a considerable 18kg, but a telescopic handle and wheels mean it’s as easy to move around as a wheeled suitcase, but you can still pack it up into a smaller size for storage. A generous 8m hose gives you a very decent cleaning range without having to move the cleaner.
The big downside of the K5 is the price, with it costing a fair bit over £200 and more than twice the price of some of the good mid-range models. If you want to use it to clean the car as well, you may want to invest further in a brush head, which may only cost another £15 or so, but is a further cost to consider.
Makita HW101 240 V Compact Pressure Washer – Best budget option
While this washer model from Makita may only offer 100 bar pressure and basic accessories, but it is also cheaper than a lot of its rivals costing less than £70 and still offering great performance for smaller jobs.
We don’t think it’s powerful enough to provide a proper clean for a patio, but if you’re using it for smaller jobs it’s a fantastic option.
At 6kg it’s not too heavy to move around, although it’s worth bearing in mind it only has a 3m hose so it has a limited cleaning range compared with other models.
Spear & Jackson Pump Action Pressure Sprayer – Best manual pressure washer
Whether you’re looking to save money, don’t want the hassle of having to attach it to the water mains or plug it in, a manual pressure washer may be for you. Costing less than £15 this washer is a bargain and performs surprisingly well for small tasks.
However, the kind of pressure you are capable of getting really isn’t anywhere near powerful enough for tougher tasks such as cleaning patios.
It’s a good choice if you want something you can carry to the car to give it a quick hose down, but if you’re after a true pressure washer you’ll need to opt for one of the powered options.