Pressure washers make quick work of a variety of outdoor cleaning projects. Our guide gives you the information you need to choose the best gas or electric pressure washer for your next job.
Whether you call them outdoor cleaners, power washers or pressure cleaners, all pressure washers work the same. Water enters the machine at low pressure and a gas engine or electric motor pumps water through a hose and a spray nozzle at higher pressure. When a garden hose won't cut it, pressure washers deliver the efficient cleaning power you need.
Electric pressure washers usually cost less, start with a flip of a switch, run quieter and cleaner, and they weigh less than gas models. While less powerful and less mobile than gas-powered models, electric power washers are ideal for light-duty jobs, such as cleaning patio furniture, grills and vehicles.
Power Cord Alert: Always follow the manufacturer's instructions. Some electric pressure washers must be plugged directly into an outlet using the machine's built-in cord while others allow the use of an extension cord. Consider this when buying a pressure washer, as it will determine how much area you'll be able to clean.
Power Cord Caution: If your pressure washer works with an extension cord, use the type suggested by the manufacturer.
When using an electric pressure washer, keep the electrical connections dry and off the ground. Don't touch the plug if your hands are wet.
Gas pressure washers give you the mobility and power you need to tackle larger jobs, such as cleaning decks, patios, sidewalks and exterior siding. While some gas pressure washers have a manual pull-start, some feature a push-button electric starter. To keep your machine running at its best, always follow the manufacturer's fuel requirements.
How powerful a pressure washer is determines what kind of jobs it can handle. That power, or pressure output, is measured by pounds per square inch (PSI) and gallons per minute (GPM).
A pressure sprayer rated with a higher PSI and GPM will clean better and faster, but often cost more than lower-rated units. Use the PSI and GPM ratings to determine the cleaning power of a pressure washer.
The greater the combination of the numbers, the more area you can clean in less time.
If you want to clean faster with better results, invest in tools and accessories:
How you use a pressure washer depends on what you're cleaning, but here are some general tips to get you started and keep you safe:
Always follow the manufacturers' use, maintenance and safety instructions.
Routine maintenance varies by model, but proper care of your pressure washer ensures efficient operation and a long life for your machine. General inspections are recommended and pump care is especially important if you store a pressure washer in freezing temperatures. Typically, gas pressure washers require more maintenance than electric models, including air filter, oil and spark plug changes.
Learn about Pressure Washer Maintenance
Some outdoor power equipment systems, like the one pictured in the bottom-right, can handle a variety of projects with a single engine that can power several attachments including a pressure washer, mower, leaf blower and snow blower. This helps reduce maintenance requirements and frees up storage space.