Garden Power & Hand Tools

Pressure Washer Buying Guide

Why waste time and effort washing away hardened dirt and grime by hand when you can use a pressure washer to get the job done quickly and easily? These brilliant tools shoot a powerful jet of water that makes them ideal for cleaning everything from filthy cars to dirty patios.

Pressure washers are also incredibly efficient when compared to a regular garden hose. Using as little as 400 litres of water an hour, washers give you 100 bar pressure, while a standard hosepipe would use around 3500 litres but only manage 4 bar. If you’re thinking about buying a pressure washer, our guide will help you find the right one to suit your needs.

Different types of pressure washer

Electric pressure washers

Electric pressure washers are perfect if you just want something that will easily deal with average jobs around the home and garden. Running off mains electricity, they are quiet, easy to use and affordable to buy.

Petrol pressure washers

Petrol powered pressure washers are a lot more powerful than electric ones and more expensive to buy, making them better suited to heavy-duty uses. However, as they’re powered by fuel rather than connected to mains electricity, they don’t have any trailing cables meaning you’re free to take them anywhere.

What to consider when buying a pressure washer

Firstly, you will need to have an idea of what specification of machine you need. This will depend on how often you intend to use your machine, how large your cleaning tasks are and how quickly you want to get the job done.

Essentially, the more pressure and water flow the pressure washer can provide, the faster you will be able to clean outdoor spaces. This is due to the fact that the working cleaning width is wider when using machines with higher specifications. Higher spec machines are also considered to be more durable, and as such come with longer guarantees.

The biggest machine with the greatest cleaning performance might not suit your requirements, especially if, for example, you only have a small outdoor area or only need the pressure washer for one specific task. Here are a few things to consider when choosing your pressure washer:

  • A washer with adjustable pressure settings will give you much more flexibility over the sort of jobs you can use it for.
  • If space is an issue, look for models that take up less room, and come with built-in storage to keep cables and hoses safely tucked away.
  • More powerful pressure washers are heavier, so look for models with wheels and a handle to help you move it around.
  • Some models come with additional features like on-board hose reels, longer hose lengths and on-board detergent tanks which can make your task a lot easier.
  • Don’t forget to check the length of the cable and the location of the plug. You may find you’ll need to opt for a cordless version or one with a longer cable in order to get the most out of your washer.

This quick guide will give you an idea of the sort of pressure you’ll need for some of the most common tasks:

Pressure Washer Comparison
Pressure / bar (level of pressure) Use Typical wattage
Less than 100 bar
Woodwork such as soft decking, garden furniture, fencing. 1,200W to 1,600W
100 to 130 bar
Vehicles, exterior paintwork, swimming pools, plastic garden furniture and guttering, small patios and decking. 1,600W to 2,000W
130 to 150 bar
Patios, paths, driveways, brick/stonework, metal, large areas. 1,800W to 2,500W

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How to use a pressure washer

Pressure washers are connected to either a mains water supply or a static water source like a water butt or bucket. If you’re connecting your washer to a static water source, you’ll want to use a filter to prevent any sediment getting into the machine, and avoid letting the water completely run out as this could damage the motor.

To attach your pressure washer to the mains water supply, you will need a garden tap adaptor, an aqua stop connector to attach the hose to the tap, a garden hose (minimum 7.5m in length and ½ inch in width) and a free flow connector to attach the hose to the machine. To connect your pressure washer to a static source, you may need to purchase a separate suction hose.

Machines with higher pressure will often provide the fastest and deepest clean. It’s important to ensure you have variable pressure adjustment to clean the most sensitive surfaces.

What pressure washer accessories are there?

There’s a range of accessories available to help you get the most out of your pressure washer. It’s worth considering whether you can get accessories in a bundle when you buy a pressure washer as this can work out to be more cost effective. Before purchasing, it’s important to understand what accessories would be the most helpful with the various tasks you want to use your pressure washer for.


Most washers come with a basic lance that’s suitable for most jobs, but others are available for more specific tasks, such as dealing with different surfaces.


Use a detergent to help you shift even the toughest muck and grime. Various detergents can be bought which have a specific formula to suit the surface you are cleaning. These not only help penetrate the dirt but can also protect and maintain your outdoor areas.

Patio cleaners

Patio cleaners are incredibly helpful when cleaning flat surfaces like patios or decking. The rotating nozzles cover a larger surface than a lance alone, providing a faster clean than just using a lance. As the cleaner hovers over the surface, you also benefit from a more even clean than using a standard lance.

Foam nozzles

Foam nozzles are a great way to apply detergent. The detergent is applied to the surface as a thick foam that will cling to surfaces allowing more time for the formula to work. This is particularly useful when cleaning vertical surfaces like cars.


Brushes that attach to the pressure washer guns are essential items when tackling stubborn dirt on sensitive surfaces like vehicles and woodwork.

Extending hose

If you’re working away from the water supply tap you might need a heavy duty professional hose that adds length to your water supply hose. These come with all the connectors you need to quickly and easily hook them up to your tap and pressure washer.

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What are the different types of pressure washer detergents?

Pressure Washer Detergent Comparison
Type Use Where
Universal detergent General purpose. Various.
Stone detergent Removes oil, grease, algae and emission stains from stone. Stone surfaces only: patios, paving etc.
Wood detergent Blasting away stains from wood. Perfect for decking or wooden garden furniture.
Foam detergent Cleaning cars, bicycles and other vehicles. Mainly vehicles, but effective at cleaning garden furniture and outdoor toys.
Patio and deck detergent Specialised for use on patio and decks. Patios, decking, driveways.



Writer and expert