How to Choose the Best Pressure Washer

Power Boss 020309 3,000 PSI 2.5 GPM 187cc Honda GC190 Gas-Powered Pressure Washer

Whether to wash your car or to clean and strip your patio or other outdoor items, pressure washers can be a great investment.  10 to 50 times more powerful than your garden hose, they also use much less water.  The right machine will save you time, effort, and money. Here is some information about pressure washers and tips on how to select the right tool for your projects.

When making a decision about which pressure washer to buy, there are four things to consider:

Pounds per Square Inch (PSI)

Water pressure is measured in PSI. The PSI is necessary to break the bond between the surface and the stain. The stronger the bond the more pressure you’ll need to remove it.

Gallons Per Minute (GPM)

Water flow is measured in GPM. The larger the GPM, the more surface area a pressure washer can clean.

Cleaning Units (CU)

The true test of a pressure washer is measured in Cleaning Units.  Calculate the CU by simply multiplying the PSI times the GPM. (PSI x GPM = CU)

Price: The price of a pressure washer varies widely, from $100 for smaller electrical units to $1000 or more for large gas-powered washers.

When choosing a pressure washer, consider how you will want to use it.  Someone who plans to use it mainly to wash the car should purchase a machine with relatively low pressure—1,000 to 1,500 PSI.  However, if you plan to use your pressure washer to clean siding, strip paint, or clean a deck you should choose a machine with higher pressure—2,000 PSI or more.  There are pressure washers that will allow you to change the pressure depending upon the task and if you have a variety of uses for your machine, this might be a good option.

Remember that a pressure washer is an aggressive machine!  Choose a washer with the least amount of pressure that will get the job done.

Electric or Gas

Again, consider how you want to use the machine.  Electric washers perform well, but they aren’t as powerful as gas powered washers.  They also might be less convenient to use since you have to run an extension cord to it.

Attachments and detergent

Most pressure washers come with an assortment of tips that will provide different spray patterns. Experts recommend testing a small area of the surface to be cleaned first so that you can choose the tip that most effectively cleans without damaging the surface.

Brushes, which are great for cleaning cars or furniture, are available inexpensively and surface cleaners are helpful in cleaning large areas.

The type of detergent used makes quite a difference in how your machine performs.  Choose a chemical cleaner appropriate for the job you have in mind.

Before you buy a pressure washer, make sure to go online and check ratings and pressure washer reviews from customers who purchased the model you are considering.  Look specifically for reviews that mention the project for which you want to use your washer.