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Buyer's Guide Guide

How to buy the perfect pressure washer

A pressure washer is a truly useful appliance to have around the house, because it can make some of the toughest cleaning jobs, like scrubbing off months of dirt and mud off of your patio, a piece of cake. That being said; however, a pressure washer is still a pretty hefty investment, which is why you’d want to buy the perfect pressure washer the first time around.

But is there even such a thing as a perfect washer? Well, while we can’t realistically name any one product as something perfect for everyone, we can guide you on selecting the pressure washer that’s perfect for you. Here’s everything you need to know:

The main things you need to look out for

Gas-powered vs Electric

Answering this question right out of the gate, as far as homeowners are concerned, investing in a gas-powered pressure washer is not a good idea. They’re loud, heavy, messy, and, worst of all, produce toxic fumes that would make using them indoors very dangerous. In contrast, electric pressure washers are lightweight, produce absolutely no toxic fumes, are clean and simple to use, and are significantly quieter than gas-powered ones.

The only real advantage gas-powered pressure washers have had over their electric counterparts over the years is their higher durability and cleaning power. However, with the introduction of newer models over the recent years, electric pressure washers have come to match gas-powered ones in both reliability and cleaning power, especially when talking about those built for use around the house.

Cleaning Power

When measuring and comparing between two pressure washers to see which would be able to clean better and faster, there are two things you need to look out for: water pressure (measured in PSI) and flow rate (measured in gallons per minute). The next thing you need to do is to find the product of these values, which is a new value that we’ll name cleaning power. 

Calculating the cleaning power like this easily lets you compare two products with highly dissimilar flow rates and pressure values; the higher the cleaning power, the better the pressure washer is at its job.

Size and Weight vs. Portability and Storage

Even if you choose the electric option (which you definitely should), any pressure washer you’re going to buy is going to be significantly heavy, and comparable to a vacuum cleaner in size (but almost always larger). The heavy size and large weight are an unavoidable side-effect of building a powerful pressure washer; motors that can pump water to ridiculously high pressures are neither small nor lightweight.

This increase in size and weight would have been fine had it not been for the concessions made in the transport and portability department. Obviously, a larger and heavier pressure washer is more difficult to move around, both in the house (portability) and transporting it in a car from one location to another. Which seriously dampens the product’s potential for use in multiple scenarios.

As far as portability around the house is concerned, almost all pressure washers come with a set of attached wheels and a handle at the top for easy maneuverability. Transport is still an issue, but its impact is reduced by clever design that lets the pressure washer be collapsible and capable of resting on its side. 

Another problem with larger pressure washers is that they are more difficult to store since they’d undoubtedly take up more space wherever you keep them when not in use. Collapsing your pressure washer, and laying it on its side works here too since the pressure takes up less space now. However, for those that do not offer such luxuries, storage remains a regular problem.

All in all, if you’re looking for a pressure washer that’s easy to move around and is pretty lightweight, be prepared to cut back on a significant amount of cleaning power. But if cleaning power is more important to you, then you may have to sacrifice portability and easy storage.

Nozzles and tips

Nozzles and tips are what make a pressure washer more versatile in its job, letting you vary the shape of the water stream that pours out of your pressure washer. This is extremely useful since it lets you clean large areas at the same time with a wider stream, or target a single point with greater pressure with a smaller, more focused stream of water.

Most pressure washers on the market today come with quick-connect tips and easy to use nozzles, making it easy to switch from one type of spray to the other. However, a more intuitive approach is that some washers let you adjust the spray with a simple twist of a valve, without having to fiddle around with multiple tips and nozzles.

Whatever you choose, though, you need to make sure the pressure washer you end up buying gives you the freedom to adjust the spray as you like it.

Detergent

Although it is not a necessity, it is always better to get a pressure washer that can use detergent along with water instead of one that cannot. Adding a little soap can make any cleaning job infinitely easier, and for the toughest of cleaning jobs, you’d need all the help you can get.

Brand

While many would argue that a product from a well-reputed brand is better than one from a relatively unfamiliar one, we would disagree. In our eyes, a product is only as good as the features it promises and then delivers. Granted, brand recognition is technically built over years of excellent products and service, but more often than not, you’ll find a lesser-known competitor providing a much better product.

Being associated with a reliable brand is great and all, but we’d advise you to opt for a pressure washer from a seemingly obscure company if it has many good reviews on sites like Amazon, rather than go for a branded product that only has a lukewarm customer response.

And with that, you’re good to pick out the perfect pressure washer for yourself. Good luck!

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