Three Things to Know Before You Buy a Pressure Washer

A pressure washer is perfect for handling all kinds of outdoor cleaning chores. Here are 3 things to consider before you purchase one.

I love tools and one that I find myself reaching for frequently is my pressure washer. From ridding the patio of winter grime to blasting mud off your truck to (uh oh, I need to do this) cleaning windows, you’ll find a pressure washer useful for lots of jobs.

Electric models tend to be more lightweight and deliver moderate water pressures (20-40 pounds)—perfect for car cleaning and smaller jobs around the house, whereas gas models may produce up to 100 pounds of pressure and can handle much larger cleaning tasks. As with many tool buys, think about the tasks you want your pressure washer to perform, then let that drive your purchasing decision. Here are three quick hints that will help you narrow the field.

For Smaller Jobs

small green pressure washer
This new pressure washer runs at 1560 watts and comes with a 20-foot hose.Amazon

For small jobs around the house (cleaning cars, decks and patio furniture) a small, electric hand-carry unit is great to have. They are reasonably priced, don't take up a lot of storage space and they're amazingly efficient.

For Larger Jobs

medium sized pressure washer
This 1800 watt unit can blast hot water (up to 104 degrees) at more than 2000 psi.Amazon

For larger jobs, like blasting grunge and algae from flagstones or power washing clapboard in preparation for painting, you'll need more pressure. Look for wheeled units (easy to move around) that generate more than 2000 psi and dispense upwards of two gallons of water per minute. Some units feature removable tanks that are great for storing different cleaning agents.

For Really Big Jobs

large size pressure washer
This 80-pound washer has a 1 gallon fuel tank and will shut off automatically if your oil level gets too low.Amazon

For really large projects or commercial use, you'll want to look seriously at a gas-powered model. The 224cc single-cylinder OHV engine on units like this generate 3200 PSI while dispensing 2.4 GPM. They come with more nozzle options to handle jobs big and small, longer and stronger high-pressure hoses, beefier pumps for steady water pressures, and larger detergent tanks.