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Best Pressure Washers 2023

May 01, 2023May 01, 2023

There are few things more satisfying than pressure washing your driveway (just ask the internet). But deciding which is the best pressure washer to buy to clean your deck, car, pavers and beyond can be a bit tricky. I tested seven pressure washers and the simple but effective Sun Joe SPX 3000 XT1 won as best pressure washer overall. It's an electric model, and it's all you need if you live in a residential area with a small-ish yard. If you need to clean more space or bigger messes, go for the Generac 3100 E-Start, the best gas pressure washer. (For more on the winners, read my in-depth Sun Joe SPX 3000 XT1 review and Generac 3100 E-Start review).

These are the best pressure washers I found after testing 6 gas and elecric options out on my car, ... [+] driveway, pavers and more.

The following is a list of all the winners from my testing process:

You can choose from electric or gas-powered pressure washers, or you could even opt for a power washer, which uses pressurized steam instead. Your choice depends on what kind of project you need to tackle. An electric pressure washer has lower PSI, which means less overall power, but it's more than enough for most homeowners’ projects, like cleaning brick, masonry or concrete. A gas-powered pressure washer, on the other hand, is more useful for big messes or large areas.


Power Source: Electric | PSI: 2,200 | GPM: 1.65 | Total cleaning Units: 3,630 | Power-to-weight: 128 cleaning units/pound

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For the average homeowner who wants to wash their car, clear dirt off the siding of their house and dig out all the gunk in between 30-year-old pavers, the Sun Joe SPX 3000 XT1 is the best pressure washer for the job. It's the most versatile of any pressure washer I tested, costs nearly half the price of others and has a good power-to-weight ratio, making it light but effective.

At 2,200 PSI, the Sun Joe offers less PSI than most of the other washers I tested; but according to the experts I spoke with, it's more than enough power for the average homeowner. Weighing about half what its wheelbarrow-style and gas-powered competitors do, it's also incredibly light—just 28 pounds with a suitcase orientation—which means you can pull it along behind you more easily than most of the other washers in the line-up. Many experts measure pressure washer power by calculating its power-to-weight ratio. By this measure, the Sun Joe's light weight, paired with decent power, makes it more effective at cleaning overall, even compared to competitors with higher PSI.

The Sun Joe won as the best pressure washer in my testing thanks to its light weight, power and ... [+] versatility.

The Sun Joe was the easiest to build of any pressure washer I tested, with the fewest amount of parts to add to the main body of the washer. The instructions were clear and simple, and it took around 10 minutes to build (the Kärcher, my other favorite electric pressure washer, took more like 30 minutes to build). Out of the box, the Sun Joe continued to impress: All five nozzle options are stored on the front of the machine, clearly indicated with both color and wording, which is fairly standard. But while most systems require two hands to change nozzles, with the chance that you’ll pinch your fingers in the mechanism if you don't use both hands, the Sun Joe only requires one hand. This allows your dominant hand to continue holding the trigger handle in its normal use position, saving some time (and the skin on your fingertips).

The Sun Joe's detergent system also beat the competition. Almost all pressure washers allow you to use soap with the water, which is helpful when you’re trying to remove big messes, like grease or oil stains on concrete. The Sun Joe has a great detergent system: Rather than emitting detergent from an onboard tank with extra tubing (the standard set-up), the Sun Joe's detergent mechanism just snaps onto the end of the steel lance (the wand you use to wash) without requiring you to switch to a different mode. The Sun Joe also includes two brushes, which are a nice touch. They’re easy to attach, and you can use them to loosen dirt before blasting it off with water. I found that they helped get some of the gunk out from under the wheel wells of my car.

The Sun Joe is an electric pressure washer, and the motor completely turns off when you’re not actively washing, like a hybrid car. This saves your eardrums, wallet and power consumption, which is a big reason to buy an electric washer over a gas-powered one.

The Sun Joe does have a few downsides: It comes with a 35-foot power cord, and its 20-foot hose is the shortest in the bunch, which limits your freedom of movement (the electric Ryobi or Greenworks, by comparison, have 25-foot hoses). However, the Sun Joe's light weight makes it easier to pick up and move around while using it, like walking around with a vacuum cleaner. The shorter power cord is also a bit of a pain. After some research, I found that manufacturers don't recommend using an extra power cord, but out in the field, many users opt for extension cords with the right safety considerations and knowledge of what to buy.

Sun Joe offers a two-year, limited warranty that covers the product from the original purchase date, as long as the machine is used for household and not commercial or industrial use. You also can't use it as a rental unit, or you void the warranty. Using the wrong extension cord or hose will also void the warranty.


Power Source: Gas | PSI: 3,100 | GPM: 2.5 | Cleaning Units: 7,750 | Power-to-Weight: 133 cleaning units/pound

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If power is one of your chief concerns when buying a pressure washer, the gas-powered Generac 3100 E-Start is the best gas pressure washer you can get. The E-Start strikes the best balance between professional-level cleaning with accessibility to homeowners, too (several of the landscaping professionals I spoke with use Generac washers). It offers the power of a gas washer with an electric, button-press starter, similar to many modern cars. The rechargeable battery in the push-start comes with a charging station and is good for 50 starts on one charge, allowing you to cover large areas at a time. And gas-powered washers offer much more freedom of movement compared to electric pressure washers, because you don't have to plug them in. It's worth noting, though, that gas-powered pressure washers require more maintenance than electric pressure washers.

As with the top pick, I looked at more than PSI and GPM in terms of power. At 7,750 total cleaning units, the Generac is less powerful than its gas-powered competitors, the Westinghouse and the Simpson, but it's also lighter than both of those, too. At 58 pounds (vs. 65 and 66 pounds, respectively), the 3000 E-Start has a power-to-weight rating of 133 cleaning units per pound. By this metric, Generac beats out all of its gas competitors for power. And you’ll really notice the lighter weight of the Generac when you’re lifting the washer from the bed of a truck or moving the system around the area where you’re working.

The Generac 3000 E-Start was the easiest to build of the gas contenders I tested. The instructions were easy to follow and had the least number of steps compared to the other gas contenders, taking only around 15 minutes to fully assemble. My only complaint was that the setup for the detergent system was completely omitted from the directions, so I had to figure it out on my own.

The Generac was far more powerful than the Sun Joe in testing; I was able to clean large sections of pavement more quickly, with a wider and more powerful stream of water. However, the battery start didn't work the first time around, and I had to resort to the recoil (pull) starter to get the machine running the first time. (This is likely due to it being the first run of the system since it was tested by the manufacturer.) But after this hiccup, the battery-powered start function worked like a charm. The recoil start is a bit arduous to use (picture someone trying to pull-start a lawnmower, throwing an arm into the air over and over again), so I far preferred the button-start feature.

The Generac was a clear winner, compared to the Sun Joe, when it came to freedom of movement. Electric pressure washers require a power cord; gas washers can be taken nearly anywhere. You still have to maintain a tether to your water supply, but long hoses are easy to come by.

The Generac is much louder than all of the electric-powered options I tested, and it was in the middle of the pack, noise-wise, when it came to the gas-powered washers. The Generac's nozzles were also slightly disorganized; every other washer contained an easy-to-read demarcation system showing each nozzle's width or use (0 degrees, 15, 25 and 40 degrees, soap, etc), which the Generac lacked. With four nozzles to the competitors’ five, the Generac had a bit less versatility in the styles of water stream. More nozzles mean you can tackle a wider range of projects.

The added cleaning power of the Generac (7,750 cleaning units to the Sun Joe's 3,630) comes with a price, of course: More power equals more noise, more cost and more maintenance. (Check out my notes below on maintaining the engine of a gas-powered machine.) The Generac is also the most expensive washer that I tested, more than double the cost of the Sun Joe. But you do get what you pay for. Those extra dollars are going toward the dual-start system in a machine that's a 10 to 15 percent lighter with the corresponding higher power-to-weight rating.

Generac's warranty differs from Sun Joe in covered time and use cases. The three-year warranty is only for non-commercial use, but the system also includes a 90-day warranty with the same protections for commercial and professional use. (This is a testament to the fact that most gas pressure washers are designed for those in the landscaping and commercial cleaning businesses.) "Normal wear and tear" is not covered, as is standard, but defects due to workmanship and material are included. Generac will replace or repair your unit at no charge, as long as the system is within this three-year (non-commercial) or 90-day (professional) window.

I tested four other products that didn't make the cut.

Kärcher K5 Premium K5 Electric Pressure Washer: While it's not as good as the Sun Joe, the Kärcher K5 is worth an honorable mention. It offers a premium electric system that excels at detail work. It's lightweight and versatile, and you can operate it one-handed. It was also one of the simplest pressure washers to use. But the connection between my garden hose and the K5 was leaky, which wasn't an issue for any of the other washers I tried. This was still an issue even after multiple checks and a different hose configuration.

Ryobi Tools 3000 PSI 1.1 GPM: I liked this system for its innovative single-nozzle system, which rotates for different power levels, and its longer 35-foot hose. But it's loud for an electric washer, and it had a lower power-to-weight ratio than the winner.

Greenworks 3000 Brushless: Identical to the Ryobi in terms of power, the Greenworks had similar issues with noise and weight, while costing the same as more powerful gas washers at $450.

Simpson MegaShot MSH3125: Although it's more powerful and $40 cheaper than my gas pick, that power gain comes with annoyances such as the lack of an onboard detergent tank (which means using an unattached bottle for soap). The assembly was also a mess.

Westinghouse WPX3200: This showed up with a cracked nozzle. Although it was easy to build, it ended up being the loudest of the washers by far. When I wasn't actively washing, the Westinghouse rattled so violently that the whole machine danced across my driveway. It is incredibly powerful, but I still couldn't recommend this washer, given the perks of the Generac.

A pressure washer is a water pump powered by an electric or gas motor. These machines take ordinary tap water from your hose and accelerate it to a high enough speed that it can remove paint, mold, dirt, mud, dust and other materials from all kinds of surfaces. Typically, you use a trigger gun or lance to direct the water at your cleaning target.

To find the best pressure washer, I tested 6 options on dirt-covered patches of my driveway as well ... [+] as on pavers and my car.

To test pressure washers, I spent nearly a dozen hours studying up on pressure washers. I spoke with experts including Darren Littledeer, the owner of Green Pressure Wash in Bend, Oregon; Tsai Lu Liu, the department head of graphic design and industrial design at NC State University; and Gus Alexander, the owner of the FNA group, which manufactures pressure washers.

I learned about PSI (pounds per square inch, a measurement of power), GPM (gallons per minute, which measures how much water a washer uses) and how those combine to determine "total cleaning units," a measure of how effective a pressure washer is (usually calculated by multiplying PSI by GPM). I also read dozens of reviews of pressure washers, spoke with several experts to figure out what a residential homeowner or renter might need and worked through the many upsides and downsides of opting for gas or electric systems.

Then I ordered seven different pressure washers—four electric, three gas—assembled them, and put them to work. I tested the lineup in my yard, cleaning sets of pavers and dirt-covered segments of the driveway. I also pressure-washed the sides of my house, and used several electric options to clean my cars.

Eventually, I narrowed the list down to a few of the best options, which I then put to use around town, offering to pressure-wash friends’ driveways. It was a muddy, damp, fun few weeks.

When you’re picking a pressure washer, here are the features you’ll need to consider:

PSI measures "pounds per square inch" of water. Most experts say the ideal PSI for residential users is between 1,800 and 2,000, with 3,000 being the max you’d want for a smaller space. (A garden hose, for reference, is about 40 PSI.) Be aware that a washer with a higher PSI, especially one with a smaller, thinner nozzle, will emit a fine-point stream of water that can actually remove paint or cut up your pavement.

"Pressure cuts the dirt and grime, and proper water flow continues to push the dirt and grime away from the surface," says Gus Alexander, the owner of the FNA group, which manufactures pressure washers. "Therefore the combination of the two is paramount to the proper cleaning effect on the surface."

When shopping for the best pressure washer for you, consider whether you want a gas or electric ... [+] model.

If you live in a place where water consumption is a consideration, you may want to look at how much water your pressure washer uses per minute, measured in GPM (gallons per minute). PSI pushes the dirt from the surface, and GPM gets rid of it by moving it to the side.

Multiply PSI and GPM, and you’ll get "cleaning units" (CU), which gives you the total power of a pressure washer. That number tells you much more about effectiveness than PSI or GPM alone!

Gas-powered washers offer stronger pressure than electric, and they’re more portable. Most of the professional landscapers and pressure washers I spoke with said that they would only use a gas washer; they’re better at handling big messes and large areas. They also let you do big jobs in half the time, but they’re louder, heavier and trickier to set up. You can bring them anywhere (they don't need to be plugged in), but they require trips to the gas station, and the motor has to be maintained and repaired more often.

Based on my research, electric-powered pressure washers are becoming much more popular. In fact, several of the brands that used to make popular gas options, like Ryobi, are now entirely focused on producing electric pressure washers. These are typically quieter and smaller, producing less pressure but still offering more than adequate cleaning power for most residential users. They’re also easier to set up, because you only need to plug them in. And the fact that they use electricity, not fossil fuels, can lower your carbon footprint. But electric pressure washers are also limited by their power cords, so you can't take them as many places and big jobs will take longer.

Darren Littledeer, the owner of Green Pressure Wash in Bend, Oregon, describes the differences this way: "Gas-powered is gonna have a higher GPM rate and higher PSI rate. Electric tends to be primarily for just good rinsing-off projects!"

Most people living in places with smaller yards will find an electric pressure washer to be more than enough. But if you think you’ll be pressure washing constantly, if you live on an acre of land (like I do) and have a long driveway, or you know you need to clean up a huge mess, opt for a gas pressure washer (or rent one).

Of all the features of a pressure washer, the spray wand makes the most difference in your cleaning experience. There are metal or plastic wands, and while metal is more durable, most of the washers I tried had plastic wands (as a case in point, the Westinghouse wand cracked during shipping). Each wand comes with several nozzles or removable tips with widths that vary from 0 to 40 degrees, and your choice of nozzle tip determines the flow of water.

Depending on where you live, you’ll find that the size and weight of the washer make a huge difference. All of them have wheels and can be lifted either wheelbarrow-style (like the Greenworks) or suitcase-style (more upright). Gas-powered washers are heavier than electric washers because they contain motors. Consider the weight, size and maneuverability of a pressure washer before buying it; it should match your fitness level and lifestyle.

"Make sure you understand how ergonomic [the pressure washer is]," says Tsai Lu Liu, the department head of graphic design and industrial design at NC State University. Liu has helped to design pressure washers (and many other products) for major manufacturers. Liu recommends that consumers pay attention to design features like hand-grips and handles to make sure that the power washer is comfortable and easy for them to use.

The best pressure washer should be usable in a number of different situations: patios, roofs, cars and more. If you’re buying (rather than renting) a pressure washer, you should be able to use it on wood, ceramic, brick, cement, asphalt, stone, paint or metal and aluminum.

A good pressure washer will have a solid warranty built into its price of purchase. Pressure washers are big pieces of equipment, and gas-powered washers in particular need more maintenance, according to the manufacturers of the pressure washers I tested. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on regular maintenance.

I’m a freelance journalist who's been writing product reviews and gear guides for more than a decade. I’ve spent most of this time focused on outdoor gear, parenting and kid products, and I have written for Wirecutter, the Wall Street Journal, Slate, and Forbes Vetted, among others.

For this guide, I coupled my experience testing outdoor gear with new homeownership. Last year, my husband, Sean, and I moved onto an acre of land in Bend, Oregon, with our two children. I quickly got to work taming brush, cleaning surfaces and planting a garden on land that hasn't been maintained well for at least five years. In short, I had a lot that needed to be pressure washed.

Renting a pressure washer (at Home Depot, for example) costs from $35 to 70/day or $140 to 300/week. So if you think you'll use a pressure washer more than a few times over the course of a few years, it's worth it to buy one.

Not really! You could use an air compressor, which shoots out air at high velocities, but that doesn't have enough PSI to move most debris in the same way that a pressure washer can. They do market air compressors toward homeowners with larger projects, and although the lack of water means less mess, the lack of pressure makes air compressors generally less effective for outdoor projects.

The gas tanks are small (less than a gallon) in most pressure washers, and you can get a gas can from the gas station when the tank runs empty. That said, gas pressure washers also need maintenance because they contain a small engine that needs to be oiled. Unless you’re out using your pressure washer at least a couple of times a month, the machine will likely be stored in your shed, truck or garage.

As long as they’re protected from extreme temperatures and the elements, electric washers will start right up at a moment's notice, even months after their last use. This is not necessarily the case for gas-powered systems. Unlike your car, which you probably drive more than once a month, you need to add fuel stabilizer to your gas pressure washer to store it for long periods of time between uses.

A fuel stabilizer is a combination of petroleum products that, when added to gasoline, bonds with the fuel and prevents its evaporation. Left to its own devices, this vapor will eventually form a sticky, tar-like resin throughout the engine, ruining the carburetor (the device that controls how air and fuel mix) and destroying the whole system. Using a fuel stabilizer allows you to store an engine without needing to drain the fuel each time.

Don't worry, though: Using a fuel stabilizer is as easy as using gasoline. A little of this liquid, which is very cheap and can be found at your local auto parts store, goes a long way. Just one ounce can treat 2.5 gallons of unleaded gasoline. Simply measure out how much you need based on the size of your gas tank, add the stabilizer to your gas can, and mix well. Most manufacturers recommend running the engine for a couple of minutes to allow maximum effect.

Earplugs and eyewear! Pressure washers are loud, and debris can fly up into your eyes.

Best Overall Pressure Washer: Sun Joe SPX 3000 XT1 Best Gas Pressure Washer: Generac 3100 E-Start Power Source: | PSI: | GPM: | Total cleaning Units: | Power-to-weight: Best for: Skip if: Power Source: | PSI: | GPM: | Cleaning Units: | Power-to-Weight: Best for: Skip if: Generac 3100 E-Start Kärcher K5 Premium K5 Electric Pressure Washer: Ryobi Tools 3000 PSI 1.1 GPM: Greenworks 3000 Brushless: Simpson MegaShot MSH3125: Westinghouse WPX3200 How I Tested The Best Pressure Washers My Expertise