Whether you’re new to pressure washers or you’re replacing an old one, this guide has everything you need to know about buying a pressure washer. We’ll show you which brands to trust, which features to look for and which models we recommend as the best pressure washers in 2021.
We picked the RY142300 as the best electric pressure washer because it’s one of only a few models to use a premium motor and pump, making it more powerful, more reliable and a better investment.
We picked the MSH3125-S as the best gas pressure washer because it’s the fairest deal on the nicest components (there’s less markup since Simpson’s parent company owns the whole supply chain).
Sun Joe SPX3000
We picked the SPX3000 as the best pressure washer for the money because it’s a good balance of power, quality and cost, giving you everything you need to get the job done without breaking the bank.
The best electric pressure washers
Electric pressure washers are best for people who want convenience. They don’t have as much power, but they are smaller, quieter and cheaper. Even though they’re less powerful, they’re still the most popular choice because they get the job done without the need for fuel, oil or maintenance.
The RY142300 costs more than other electric pressure washers, but it’s one of the few that comes with premium components. It has a better frame, quality accessories and best of all, an induction motor and axial pump. With these, it’s not only more powerful, it’s more reliable and easier to use.
Sun Joe SPX3000
Believe it or not, the SPX3000 is the most popular pressure washer on the market (in terms of sales). It’s not the best product out there, but it’s the best balance of quality and cleaning power you can get under $200. In fact, it actually has better features than many products that cost more.
The GPW2700 is currently the most powerful electric pressure washer in the residential category with a verified 2,700 PSI (some products claim more, but aren’t verified). It’s expensive, but it has an induction motor, professional accessories and the longest warranty in the industry.
The best gas pressure washers
Gas pressure washers are best for people who want performance. They take some extra time to set up, but they are more powerful, reliable and portable. Even though they’re more expensive, they’re usually the better investment because they have higher quality components that last longer.
The MSH3125-S comes with the best parts and accessories you can get on a residential pressure washer, yet it’s one of the cheapest. How? Simpson’s parent company owns every company in the supply chain (except Honda, of course), so they get the highest quality at the lowest price.
The RY802925 is one of the only gas pressure washers under $300. It may not have a Honda engine, but it’s up to par in terms of quality, power and features, and there’s no competing product that does the same. Besides, Ryobi engines still have decent merit according to reviews.
The RY803111 offers gas performance with electric convenience by adding an electric-start system using Ryobi’s ONE+ battery platform. The feature comes at a cost (unless you already own ONE+), but it’s a great pressure washer and pushing a button to start is certainly easier.
The best commercial pressure washers
Commercial pressure washers are best for people who want maximum performance. They can be quite expensive, but they have the highest quality components, the most cleaning power and more features to choose from (like adjustable pressure, hot water and belt-drive).
The DXPW60605 is the gold standard of pressure washers. It has the best components from the most trusted brands (Honda, CAT, etc.) and includes every must-have feature we look for when buying. It’s not cheap, but it’s the highest-rated, which says a lot about how valuable it is.
The DXPW3000E has many of the same features as the DXPW60605, but it’s electric. In the commercial category, electric pressure washers are just as good as gas, they’re just a lot more expensive. If you can afford it, though, it’s an amazing investment that can handle any job.
The PS3228-S is cheap. In fact, it’s the cheapest commercial pressure washer available. However, unlike residential models, cheap doesn’t mean bad. It still has heavy-duty parts, including a Honda engine and triplex pump, it’s just a little less powerful (but not by much).
The best pressure washers by project
If you’re looking for a pressure washer for a certain project, like cleaning a car or driveway, keep in mind that power isn’t everything. It’s important (you can’t clean a driveway with 1,500 PSI), but there’s more that determines the best pressure washer for the job.
To pressure wash a car, you don’t need much pressure, but you’ll want something easy to move since the average hose won’t reach all the way around. We like the Ryobi RY141612 because it’s small and light, perfect for quick washes.
To pressure wash a driveway, you need high pressure and a good selection of nozzles to deal with any stains that have set into the surface. We like the Simpson MSH3125-S because it has plenty of power and comes with five standard nozzles.
Sun Joe SPX3000
To pressure wash a deck, you need a decent amount of pressure and a detergent system that’s easy to use since you have to apply two solutions. We like the Sun Joe SPX3000 because it has two separate detergent tanks, one for each solution.
How to choose a pressure washer
Choosing the best pressure washer comes down to three things: cleaning power (PSI and GPM), power source (gas or electric) and features (engine, pump, accessories, etc.). Read the sections below to learn what to look for in each of these areas.
PSI and GPM
Pressure washers have two measurements of power: pressure (how hard water hits the surface) and volume (how much water hits the surface). Pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), while volume is measured in gallons per minute (GPM). Both contribute to overall cleaning power; you need pressure to break things up, and you need volume to wash things away.
Some companies also use a third measurement called cleaning units (CU). However, this isn’t an official unit of measurement; it was created by the pressure washing industry as an estimate of overall cleaning power. It’s calculated by multiplying PSI and GPM together (PSI x GPM = CU).
More cleaning power means you can get more done, but you can still get plenty done with less. Use the table below to compare light-duty, medium-duty and heavy-duty cleaning power.
|Pressure||Less than 2,000 PSI||2,000-2,999 PSI||More than 3,000 PSI|
|Volume||Less than 2.0 GPM||2.0-2.9 GPM||More than 3.0 GPM|
|Cleaning units||Less than 4,000 CU||4,000-8,999 CU||More than 9,000 CU|
|Projects||Good for smaller jobs like bicycles, vehicles, tables, chairs and grills.||Good for all smaller jobs, plus decks, fences, patios, siding, roofs and gutters.||Good for all small and medium jobs, plus driveways, garages, paint prep and more.|
Gas vs. electric
Pressure washers can be powered by gas (using an engine) or electricity (using a motor). There’s a lot of debate over which power source is better, but the truth is, both have pros and cons. Use the table below to compare gas and electric power.
|Cleaning power||Higher PSI and GPM, so they can clean anything.||Lower PSI and GPM, so they can only clean certain things.|
|Reliability||Usually better quality parts, so they last longer.||Usually standard quality parts, so they don’t last as long.|
|Mobility||Bigger and heavier, but they have unlimited reach.||Smaller and lighter, but they can only reach as far as the power cord allows.|
|Environment||Loud and has exhaust, which can cause restrictions.||Quiet and no exhaust, which means no restrictions.|
|Maintenance||Routine maintenance required.||No maintenance required.|
|Cost||More expensive, starting around $300.||Less expensive, starting under $100.|
Features to look for
Pressure washers have many available features. Some are good for everyone (like big wheels), some are only good for certain people (like hot water) and some should be avoided because they can cause issues (like a hose reel). Read the list below for recommended features.
- Reliable engine or motor. There are three categories of engines: brandless (those with no known manufacturer), rebranded (those with the name of the pressure washer brand) and name brand (those from a known manufacturer); and there are two types of motors: universal and induction (also known as brushless). Name brand engines and induction motors are the most reliable.
- Reliable pump. There are three types of pressure washer pumps: wobble, axial and triplex. Axial and triplex pumps are the most reliable (triplex are actually best, but they’re usually only found on commercial models due to cost).
- Durable hose. High pressure hoses can be made of different materials. They’re all pretty durable, but braided hoses (those with extra layers) are the most durable.
- Steel wand. Wands can be made of plastic or steel. Steel wands are not only more durable, they can also be used with more accessories and attachments.
- Good frame. Frames come in all shapes and sizes. While there’s no style that’s best, good frames are those that are durable and portable (aluminum or steel, big wheels, accessory storage, etc.).
- Good fittings. Fittings (the pieces that connect parts and accessories together) come in different styles. Metal (brass or steel) are the most secure, and quick-connects are the easiest to use.
- Detergent injection. Not all pressure washers offer detergent injection, but those that do either use a siphon or an onboard tank. Any method is better than none, but siphons are easier to use.
- Hot water. Some pressure washers have heating components. If you have the budget, hot water cleans significantly better than cold water.
Frequently asked questions about pressure washers
The most common questions about buying a pressure washer are answered below. For other questions, you can reach out to us at any time. If you have a question about a specific product, you may need to contact the manufacturer.
How much does a pressure washer cost?
Pressure washers start around $100, but they can easily cost thousands depending on what features you’re looking for. If you’re looking for one for home use, expect to pay $100-500. If you’re looking for commercial use, expect to pay $500 and above.
What is a good PSI for a pressure washer?
In our opinion, the best PSI for a pressure washer is around 3,000 PSI. Referring back to the PSI and GPM table we shared earlier, it’s the perfect amount of power to handle the widest variety of jobs. It’s strong enough for cleaning harder surfaces, but not so strong that it would damage softer surfaces.
Who makes the best pressure washer?
Pressure washers are made by dozens of companies. If you’re new to the industry, read about them in our guide to pressure washer brands. Otherwise, here are the brands we recommend based on things like product quality, customer service and more.
- Sun Joe.
- Briggs & Stratton.
Is it better to buy or rent a pressure washer?
Buying a pressure washer is usually smarter than renting one, unless you only need to use it once. The average cost to buy is between $200-400, while the average cost to rent is between $75-150 (per day), so buying costs more upfront, but the investment pays itself off after just a few uses.