Three Things to Consider Before Buying a Pressure Washer

A lightweight, efficient, and powerful sprayer can help you tackle some of the dirtiest chores.

Man using a power washer.
Power washers are incredibly handy for those times when the water pressure of your garden hose just isn’t enough to do a job. GreenWorks GreenWorks

You were probably a kid when you first discovered the benefits of thumbing the open end of garden hose, likely to the detriment of your little sister or brother. But it did make washing the car or cleaning the dirt off Rover a little more efficient. Today’s home power washers use that same principle to pressurize water so it’s easier to break that bond between whatever you’re washing and the mud, algae, or even grease that covers it. Here are three things to consider when choosing a power/pressure washer for your home.

Cleaning Power

This gas-powered model features a powerful 3200 psi and 2.5 gallons per minute, with an adjustable nozzle. Simpson Cleaning

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Pressure washers are rated by psi (pounds per square inch) and gpm (gallons used per minute) which, when multiplied, gives you an idea of the cleaning power of that washer. Typically, home power washers will feature a psi of from 1000 to 6000, with from one to four gpm. The better units will be adjustable, enabling you to match your psi to the cleaning power needed, and to avoid turning it into a power sander when all you wanted was to rinse soap off something.

Gas vs. Electric

This popular electric power washer reaches up to 2000 psi, using 1.76 gallons per minute. Sun Joe

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Power washers can be powered by either a gasoline engine or with electricity. In general, a gas-powered washer will offer more power and enable greater efficiency when washing large areas. Gas washers typically cost more and are larger and heavier, making mobility more of a consideration. Electric washers are smaller, less noisy, typically cost less, and require less maintenance, but are less efficient when big projects are on the agenda.

Frequency of Use

This electric model offers plenty of power for light duty pressure washing applications. GreenWorks

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How often do you plan to use your pressure washer, and for how long at a time? If you only trot it out once a year to clean your siding you don’t need the heavy-duty model that doubles as a paint remover. If you wash your car daily or have a large house, you might need a heavier duty model.