A look at the best pressure washers available on the UK market today.
You only realise how useful a pressure washer can be once you own one. If you choose the right machine you’ll find all sorts of uses for it around the home.
Some people choose to hire a pressure washer for a weekend to tackle a few difficult cleaning jobs. On a busy Saturday you could have the patio, driveway and decking looking like new. Personally, I prefer to own my own pressure washer as the constant hire charges soon add up to more than the cost of buying one. Once you appreciate how much time it saves you and how much better the results are than scrubbing with a mop or broom, it’s a no-brainer to have one available when you need it.
Before you rush to your local DIY store or order a pressure washer online, it’s important to understand a little about them. This helps to ensure you choose the best pressure washer for your needs, and it doesn’t end up at the back of the garage gathering dust. The key to getting the most from your machine is the amount of water pressure it delivers. Too little, and you may as well just use a garden hose. Ease of use, safety features and ease of storage are also factors to consider.
For this pressure washer review I’ve chosen five of the most popular models and rated and compared them.
Reviews of the best pressure washers
The pressure washers in this review range in price between around £100 and £250. You can pick up cheaper models, but you must be prepared to pay a little more if you want reliability and performance. Unless you have a very large garden and perhaps a boat or machinery you need to blast clean, there’s no need to invest in a professional pressure washer. These are very powerful and effective, but they tend to be larger and heavier. So without further ado, here are my reviews of the best pressure washers for the home market.
A pressure washer review exercise wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of a Karcher model. Many people are lifelong Karcher pressure washer owners, upgrading to the latest models as their old ones need replacing. That said, these are built to last and should be a tool you can rely on for a good few years. This model was released in 2016, but it’s stood the test of time and certainly looks as sleek and modern as others. It also compares well on technical features.
Key features and specifications
I loved the Karcher K4 the moment I opened the box. The distinctive yellow and black design is really appealing, and it looks like a professional cleaning tool you might see in a commercial garage. The build quality is excellent and I like the solid feel of the switches in particular. I get a real sense this machine will serve the test of time and some pretty rigorous use.
Set up is very easy, with the connectors snapping together with a satisfying click and no signs of leaks. I’m a bit of a gadget nerd and I have to say I love the LED display on the Karcher K4’s trigger gun! In terms of accessories, I like the fact that there are different options available when you buy this pressure washer. You can choose the basic foam jet nozzle version or pay extra for attachments such as the rotating brush.
The first job I tested the Karcher pressure washer on was my patio. It’s not a large area, but it can get pretty dirty as there are overhanging trees, and the leaves build up quickly. The motor is surprisingly quiet for the amount of power it delivers, and this can be an important feature if you don’t want to disturb your neighbours too much. The variable pressure feature works really well, so I was able to blast away accumulated dirt around plant pots and some nasty stains on the patio steps.
I pay a monthly fee to a bin cleaning company and this is one of the jobs I hoped to be able to take on with my pressure washer. I certainly wasn’t disappointed with the performance of the Karcher K4 here, and the bins were very quickly looking like new. This means I can cancel the bin cleaners and cover the cost of the pressure washer on that saving alone.
Everything packs away very neatly after use with the trigger gun and spray lance clipping underneath the pressure washer body. The hose can also be stored at the back of the unit. It would fit on racking in a utility room or garage or could be hung from the wall easily.
- A high spec pressure washer at an affordable price.
- Clean design, easy to carry, hold during use and store afterwards.
- Impressive power blasts away dirt easily with surprisingly quiet operation.
- Options on accessories so you only pay for what you need
- Hose may not be long enough if you have a large patio or driveway.
- Tools from previous Karcher pressure washers not all compatible with this model. Consider this if you upgrading to the K4 as a newer replacement.
I must admit I hadn’t heard of Wilks before starting this pressure washer review, but they are apparently one of the fastest growing brands in the world for these machines. I instantly liked the look of the RX550i pressure washer, and it’s similar in styling to the Karcher K4.
The advertising of this tool leans heavily on the claim that it’s the highest pressure electric washer on the market, so my expectations were high. Unfortunately, I was disappointed when it arrived and I started unpacking the box. It’s a positive that there’s a wide range of tools included, but they feel like cheap plastic and I think there are too many. The instructions aren’t very clear, and I struggled to follow as the pictures are very small.
Key features and specifications
After the initial frustrations of trying to follow the instructions and set the Wilks-USA RX550i up, my opinion of the machine improved. It’s certainly robust and built to last. The tools may not last as long as the pressure washer itself, but I’m sure they could be replaced.
The RX550i performed well on the patio cleaning test. I took the machine round to a friend’s house and in less than an hour had a large patio and decking area free from dirt and moss. It’s certainly a powerful machine, but I’m not sure there was a noticeable difference from the Karcher K4. The ‘click and go’ connection nozzles made setting up very easy once you’ve worked out how they attach.
The patio in this test was long and narrow, so the 26 meter hose supplied with the RX550i really helped. As a further test I filled the on-board detergent tank and used the machine to clean some white patio furniture that was stained with mould. This worked well and generated a lot of foam, leaving the chairs and table looking like new. At a couple of points the motor cut out unexpectedly during the test, and I’m not sure if this was a safety feature or perhaps the pressure washer overheating.
Packing away was quick and easy, and the on-board storage of the tools and cable worked well. Heavy-duty wheels make moving the machine easy, and you don’t need to be strong to work with it.
- Robust and powerful pressure washer for patio cleaning and other household chores.
- Comprehensive set of tools included as standard.
- Long hose, ideal if you have a larger home.
- Expensive compared to other pressure washers on the market, and it’s hard to see what you’re paying for other than extra tools.
- Poor instructions. When I pay for tools like this I expect better!
- Water pressure delivery is good, but I’d question how much more powerful this is than the Karcher 4.
- Tools feel fragile and may not stand regular use over time.
Bosch is a brand name I associate with high-quality tools, so I was pleased to see they are in the pressure washer market. I have a Bosch hammer drill that’s served me for over five years now. As they are a German engineering and electronics company I was confident their pressure washers would rival others, and the price of the Bosch Aquatak 135 is certainly competitive.
The green and black finish of the Aquatak 135 instantly gives it the look of a garden tool. My first impressions were that this machine looked a little dated compared to others, and I prefer the more modern design of the others in this pressure washer review. Something I did instantly like was the more manageable weight of the Aquatak 135. It’s a good four kilograms lighter than the Karcher K4, and this makes quite a difference after an hour of lifting and moving one of these machines.
Key features and specifications
Rather than another patio cleaning pressure washer test, I chose to clean my car with the Bosch machine. The Aquatak 135 is the most powerful in the range, and it’s 1,900 watt motor can deliver 135 bars of pressure. In my experience this isn’t enough power to remove accumulated dirt from patios and guttering, so I would think twice depending on the sorts of cleaning jobs you need your pressure washer for.
Performance on the car cleaning was great. The Aquatak 135’s large wheels and dual carrying handles made it easy to move around the car, and the seven meter hose was just long enough. The machine has a ‘3 in 1’ nozzle for variable pressure, but I kept it on the widest setting in case the finer jet damaged my car’s paintwork. Bosch have kept it simple in terms of accessories for this pressure washer, and I do feel that’s a mistake. The standard lance and high-pressure gun are fine for simple jobs, but additional tools would make it more flexible as a cleaning tool. A scrubbing brush attachment for cleaning the patio would be really useful.
- Compact, light machine with variable pressure options.
- Capable pressure washer for car and patio cleaning.
- Not as good value for money as other pressures in this price bracket.
- Lack of tools means its uses are limited.
No product review would be complete without budget models, and this pressure washer from Nilfisk fits into this category. The price is significantly lower than those offered by the big brands, and I must admit I was sceptical about what it would be like. After a couple of days of testing I was pleasantly surprised with the performance and results, so don’t be put off this pressure washer by the cost.
I instantly liked the fresh blue design of the Nilfisk C 120 bar machine, and in spite of the low price it doesn’t feel any less robust than others in my pressure washer comparison. There are other models in the range from Nilfisk, and they share this same unique appearance. The Nilfisk C 120 bar comes with a standard and an interestingly named ‘Tornado’ nozzle. A full range of tools and accessories is available at extra costs. If you simply want a budget pressure washer for general outdoor cleaning, everything you need is in the box.
Key features and specifications
My patio has taken a battering from some winter weather, making it an ideal test for this pressure washer. It’s similar in size and weight to the Aquatak 135, and just as easy to move around as you work. This is one of the easiest pressure washers in my test to set up, and I was ready to go in a few minutes. The nozzles snap into the lance with a satisfying click, and it’s very easy to switch between them.
The Nilfisk C 120 bar delivered noticeably less pressure than some of the other pressure washers in my test, but you must remember the difference in price. If you keep up to date with cleaning chores and pressure wash your patio on a regular basis this machine is ideal. The ergonomic design and aluminium construction make it light and easy to carry, and the anti-twist swivel function of the hose works really well.
As a further test I decided to give the car a blast, and the Nilfisk machine didn’t disappoint. I was slightly worried when it stopped after five minutes, but soon realised this is the auto start-stop feature designed to protect the motor and pump. It would be interesting to know how long this machine would last compared to other more expensive machines, and I’d advise checking the warranty terms when you buy.
- Budget pressure washer, ideal for light cleaning jobs. Excellent value for money.
- Easy to set up, clear instructions.
- Aluminium construction means this is a lighter pressure washer and it’s easy to carry and move around.
- Less powerful machine, struggles to remove stubborn dirt and stains.
- The mechanism for winding the cable after use can stick.
Being a completely portable pressure washer, this is very different from the others in my review. I included the WORX WG629E as I appreciate that cleaning large patio areas isn’t the only reason people buy a pressure washer. If you want a quick and efficient way of cleaning your car, bike or patio furniture this may be an option to consider.
The design of this machine is very different from pressure washers that connect to a water supply, and it doesn’t feel quite as strong. The WORX WG629E is powered by a battery rather than the mains, and this has both advantages and disadvantages. Charging the battery took over three hours. Not being tied to the mains means you could use this pressure washer away from home, perhaps to clean a caravan or boat. The manufacturers claim this portable pressure washer can run for thirty minutes on a single charge, and that seems reasonable for most light cleaning jobs.
Key features and specifications
The product specification claims that the WORX WG629E delivers ten times the power of a garden hose, but this wasn’t the case in my test. I would guess it’s probably three times as powerful. This was a major disappointment for me, and the machine wouldn’t suit my needs. It scores very well for convenience and ease of operation but simply doesn’t have the power I expect from a pressure washer.
I took the WORX WG69E to a neighbour’s house to clean their patio and plant pots, and it was hard work. It’s fine for a quick wash down, but you need scrubbing brushes and other tools to remove grime and worn-in dirt. None of the variable pressure settings came close to the power of the other machines in my test.
- Convenience of portability.
- Simply doesn’t deliver enough pressure for cleaning.
- Having to charge the battery for three hours means it’s not available when you need it.
- Thirty minutes running time is restrictive, and this is frustrating when you have jobs to complete.
Choosing the best pressure washer depends to a large extent on what you intend using it for. For general cleaning jobs and keeping your outdoor space up together you need a powerful machine that runs from the mains. If you just want to pressure wash your bins or spray the dirt and grime off your car once a week, a portable model may be worth considering. It goes without saying that build quality and reliability are very important, and I advise against choosing a pressure washer on price alone.
The important features to consider are as follows.
You can get really technical here and look at pounds per square inch (PSI), gallons per minute (GPM) and other ratings. The simple fact is that a bigger jet of water delivered at a faster speed is going to give better results.
Ease of use
This can include setting up and attaching to a hose and actually using the machine to clean a patio. Weight and design are important considerations.
Detergent spray operation. Having a built-in tank is essential if you want to tackle tough cleaning jobs with your pressure washer.
As well as nozzles, adaptors and brushes, accessories such as an extended gun or patio cleaning brush can be very useful. Exactly what you need will be determined by the jobs you intend to use your pressure washer for, but a few good accessories may give you other ideas about household cleaning jobs.
Conclusion and final verdict
The Karcher K4 really stole the show for me in this pressure washer comparison. It scores well on everything from design and ease of use to value for money. The water pressure is more than enough for my needs, and it made light work of cleaning my patio when it was long overdue.
If you’re looking for a budget pressure washer, the Nilfisk C 120 bar is my recommendation. It lacks a little power for heavier jobs, but is great for cleaning the car or freshening up outdoor spaces. The aluminium construction makes it very easy to move around, so it’s a good option for an elderly person.