Help & advice: Buying guide to pressure washers
Buying guide to pressure washers
Blast away tough dirt with a pressure washer. Its powerful water jet action eliminates hard-to-shift filth in an instant!
Ingrained grime hasn't got a chance with the Homebase range of pressure washers.
Don't waste time battling hardened grime with a handcloth. Give it a blast with a super-strong pressure washer! This brilliant tool shoots a powerful jet of water at dirty surfaces, whizzing away the filth in one quick and simple swoosh. Extremely versatile, pressure washers are ideal for cleaning a wide range of objects and surfaces. Read our complete pressure washer guide to help you choose the model for you.
Pressure washers are a quick and easy way to clean all sorts of stuff you use outdoors. Garden furniture, patios and paths. Stonework, rusty railings, mucky drains. Even cars and boats. As we get busier and time becomes more precious, pressure washers make life easy. And they come with special attachments to make certain jobs even more simple.
You operate a pressure washer from either the mains water supply or from a water tank or butt. Simply connect the pressure washer to your water supply with a garden hose and attachment and then plug it into an electrical socket. A powerful electric motor drives water through your high pressure washer into a hose, which shoots out that hard-hitting cleaning jet. Choose from a variety of nozzles. With its rotating pencil jet, the dirtblaster gives you up to 50% more cleaning power. The vario lance can be regulated for gentle to high pressure for all sorts of surfaces.
Depending on the job, change the water pressure (measured in bars) on your power washer. For light tasks like cleaning garden furniture, adjust to a minimum pressure of 100 bar. Washing your car probably needs between 100 bar and 110 bar. For a really heavy-duty job - cleaning old brickwork or a drive, for example - you'd want between 110 bar and 120 bar pressure to do it quickly and effectively. It's easy to adjust your power washer to the correct pressure. But it's worth testing a small area first to make sure you've set the right level. Too high a pressure can damage surfaces.
To maximise efficiency and get the most out of your pressure washer, choose from a number of detachable accessories. They're specially designed for specific cleaning jobs such as car washing or drain cleaning. See the Accessories section below.
Buy the best one you can afford. If you underestimate how you could use your pressure washer, you'll soon be wishing you'd bought a more powerful model. So think about all the jobs you might need it for (and try to think of others that are less obvious!).
This simple checklist will help:
- Different jobs demand different water pressure. So for optimum results, choose a power washer that lets you adjust the pressure.
- Water flow is as important as water pressure. Choose a machine with generous water flow - the average flow is 400 litres per hour.
- Will you be working far from a mains power or water supply? If so, check the length of a power washer's hose and choose a machine with long leads.
- Pressure washers, especially the high-powered ones, are heavy to move so choose a model with wheels and a push/pull handle.
- Upright models are handy when you're tight for storage space.
- Buy a machine with built-in storage so you can keep those cables and hoses safe, clean and tidy.
- An auto stop/start reduces wear on the motor and extends a washer's life.
- Some machines come with a vario lance. This gives you variable high to low pressure at a constant water flow - and low pressure when you're using detergent.
- Make sure your pressure washer is compatible with a range of accessories so you get maximum use for a variety of cleaning jobs.
Pressure washers are connected to a mains water supply or use water from a water butt or tank. Because the water flow through a pressure washer is so efficient, supplying your machine from a butt and tank is quite feasible. But do make sure your water won't run out during a job as this could damage the motor irreparably.
Work out what you'll need based on approximately 400 litres an hour of approximately 100 bar pressure. (But err on the side of caution.) If you're using butt or tank water, attach a filter to prevent any damaging sediment getting into the machine.
Mains water pressure
Power washers are really efficient, so you shouldn't have to worry about mains water pressure, even in areas where it's low.
Water pressure and water flow
The pressure washer's powerful water jet gives you the cleaning action. The water flow - the volume of water through the machine - is your rinsing action. Pressure washers come with a good balance of pressure versus flow to clean almost anything effectively.
Here's your guide to using the right pressure for the right job.
Light pressure - 100 bar
- Garden furniture and barbecues
- Garden tools such as spades and forks
- Garden compost bin
- Children's outdoor toys
Medium pressure - 110 bar
- Wooden fencing
- Spa pools and swimming pools
- Cars and trucks (take care not to damage paintwork)
- Guttering and outdoor paintwork
High pressure - 120 bar and above
- Wooden decking
- Patios and paths
- Brick and stonework
- Agricultural machinery
You can buy plenty of proprietary cleaning products to use with your pressure washer. Choose a machine with a detergent bottle or tank (some are removable) - the right amount of detergent is released as the water flow begins.
For environmental reasons, it's good to use added cleaning agents as little as possible, but sometimes the situation might need it. For example, if an area has to be disinfected, or algae and moss are a recurring problem and you want to stop them growing back.
Quick and effective, a pressure washer uses a minimum amount of water compared to a garden hosepipe. That's particularly good news if you're on a water meter. A pressure washer uses as little as 400 litres of water an hour and still gives you 100 bar pressure. A standard hosepipe can use up as much as 3,500 litres of water an hour but only manages an ineffective four bar. So you can see there's no comparison when it comes to efficiency and water wastage.
Most pressure washers come with a basic lance. But you can get extra attachments to tackle specific jobs.
Always use a proprietary detergent recommended by the manufacturer. Homebase sells a universal agent that's great for removing traffic dirt from cars and stubborn muck from windows and patios.
If you're working away from the water supply tap, a heavy-duty professional hose adds length to your water supply hose. And it comes with all the connectors to the tap and pressure washer unit.
- Wear goggles to stop debris or detergent splashing back into your eyes.
- Wear protective footwear - the high-pressure jet will hurt if it hits your feet.
- Keep the hose out the way so people won't trip over it.
- Keep the pressure washer cables, connections and plug free from damage.
- Make sure your cable is properly placed so it's not stepped on or cut.
- Keep the cable as dry as possible.
- Check that the socket outlet has RCD protection.
- Read the manufacturer's instructions before using your pressure washer.
- Don't play around with a pressure washer or point the jet at a person or animal.