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What to Look for When Buying a Pressure Washer

Pressure washers are useful and versatile power tools that can help with a number of tasks, from day-to-day home projects to industrial projects. For those with the right budget, ample storage and enough uses, buying a pressure washer is a great investment. 

When buying a pressure washer, there are a lot of things to consider. You should look for, consider and compare factors like: the different types of pressure washers, cleaning power, hot water pressure washers vs. cold water pressure washers, nozzle types, portability, price, warranty, and the best places to purchase pressure washers. 

To make sure you know everything you need to look for and consider before you decide to buy a pressure washer, we’ve researched and compiled all the best things to look for when buying a pressure washer. Not only will we walk you through all the main things to look for when buying a pressure washer, we’ll also let you know other things to consider about pressure washers and the best tips for safely using and storing them. 

What to Look for When Buying a Pressure Washer

Buying a pressure washer of any type is an investment. To make sure you’re getting the most out of your investment, you’ll want to consider several factors before making a purchase. Below, we’ll walk you through all the factors you should be considering before buying a pressure washer, starting from the basics. 

How Do Pressure Washers Work?

An important part of getting ready to buy a pressure washer is knowing what they are and how they actually work. Pressure washers are power tools that use pumps to amplify and change water pressure. 

Pressure washers are essentially made up of three main parts in order to work: a pump, a high pressure nozzle, and a water source. A toggle switch controls these three parts and allows the user to either release the water or keep it within the tank. 

Pressure washer pumps are perhaps the most important component of pressure washers. The pumps determine the power and effectiveness of the pressure washer. There are different types of pumps that tend to be associated with the different types of pressure washers. 

Types of Pressure Washers

One of the most important things to know when considering buying a pressure washer is which type of pressure washer suits your needs. There are technically two main types of pressure washers: electric pressure washers and gas pressure washers. Although these two types are the most common, a third type of pressure washer has come about: combination pressure washers.

Pressure Washer Terms to Know

Pressure washers are differentiated and categorized by a few different things. These terms are commonly used when discussing pressure washers, and are important to know. Before discussing the different types of pressure washers, it’s helpful to know some terms associated with them.

The two terms that are most commonly used when discussing pressure washers are pressure per square inch (PSI) and gallons per minute (GPM).

Pressure per square inch, or PSI, is a measure of the pressure or cleaning force of water as created by the pressure washer. PSI ratings determine how powerful a water stream will be from a pressure washer. The higher the psi, the more powerful and forceful the pressure washer. 

Gallons per minute, or GPM, is a term used for measuring the volume of water that’s delivered through the pressure washer. This number determines how much water is used, how fast the pressure washer can clean, and how effectively it can rinse substances away.

Electric Pressure Washers

Electric pressure washers are usually the most common type of pressure washer found around homes and residential areas. These pressure washers run on electricity, and need both a power source and a water source to operate.

Electric pressure washers operate with a pressure per square inch (PSI) of 1,300 to 1,900, and output up to 1.5 gallons per minute (GPM). This means they’re ideal for light-duty, infrequent pressure washing jobs. 

For tasks like cleaning grills, washing out garage floors, washing small decks and patios, cleaning off outdoor furniture or children’s plastic play equipment, pressure washing cars, shutter cleaning, and mold and mildew spot removal, electric pressure washers are the best option.

Electric pressure washers are more lightweight, quieter and typically less expensive than other pressure washers. One of their few drawbacks is that they tend to be less mobile and portable because they always need to be plugged in to a power source. These pressure washers are typically always for consumers rather than industrial grade. 

Gas Pressure Washers

Gas pressure washers are less commonly seen in homes and residential areas, and are more frequently used industrially or commercially. That doesn’t mean that normal consumers can’t own and use them, though; many people own gas pressure washers for personal use. Gas pressure washers run on gas and need a water source to operate.

Gas pressure washers are significantly more powerful than electric pressure washers. They operate with a PSI of 2,000 to 3,000, and deliver up to 2.8 gallons per minute. This means gas pressure washers are great for heavy duty or frequent jobs. 

This type of pressure washer is best suited for heavier duty jobs, like industrial cleaning, concrete cleaning, sidewalk cleaning, large deck and patio cleaning, fence washing, paint stripping, graffiti removal, and large mold and mildew stain removal. 

Gas pressure washers are much bulkier than electric pressure washers, and they’re also known to be noisier. They also emit fumes as they run on gas and are more expensive than electric pressure washers. A big plus about gas pressure washers is that they’re extremely mobile; their only tether is a water source. They can be moved around much more easily and in many more areas since they don’t need to be plugged in to a power source. 

Comparing Pressure Washers

To drive home all the different points about electric pressure washers and gas pressure washers, take a look at the table below comparing the basic main points of the two.

Electric Pressure WashersGas Pressure Washers
1,300 to 1,900 PSI2,000 to 3,000 PSI
Up to 1.5 gallons per minuteUp to 2.8 gallons per minute
Less expensiveMore expensive
Lightweight, quietHeavier, loud
Need an electric power source to runNeed gas to run
Not very portable/mobileVery portable/mobile
Best for small jobs like washing outdoor furniture, cars, grills, and shuttersBest for heavy duty jobs like washing concrete, industrial spaces, fences, large decks and patios, and removing paint

Hot Water vs. Cold Water Pressure Washers

Not only are there electric pressure washers and gas pressure washers, but there are also hot water and cold water pressure washers. Which one is going to be best for you?

Cold Water Pressure Washers

These kinds of pressure washers are the most common pressure washers, and are typically what people envision when they think of pressure washers. Cold water pressure washers simply use cold water in order to clean surfaces.

These pressure washers are often more simple than hot water pressure washers; they’re also easier to use and less expensive. They rely on more pressure to pump the water instead of temperature differences.

Cold water pressure washers are used for most common washing jobs, like pressure washing cars, grills, fences, decks, concrete, and siding. Electric pressure washers and gas pressure washers can be cold water pressure washers. 

Hot Water Pressure Washers

Hot water pressure washers are less commonly used for residential projects and are more commonly used for industrial or construction projects. The water from these pressure washers can reach up to 311 degrees fahrenheit – they really are hot water pressure washers.

Hot water pressure washers have several benefits; since they reach such hot temperatures, they easily cut through grease and grime and other tough, stuck on substances. Not only that, but they kill germs and bacteria as they spray. 

Additionally, the water from hot water pressure washers is so hot that it evaporates more quickly, leading to faster drying times than cold water pressure washers. There are both electric and gas hot water pressure washers. 

Cleaning Power

Cleaning power is something you’ll want to consider and look for when buying a pressure washer. You can essentially see the cleaning power of a pressure washer by looking at its psi and gpm ratings, but there’s also another way to determine the cleaning power of a pressure washer. 

Cleaning power of pressure washers is measured in what is called Cleaning Units, or CU. To find a pressure washer’s CU, simply multiply the psi by the gpm. For example, if you’re looking at a pressure washer with a psi of 1,300 and a gpm of 1.2, multiply 1,300 by 1.2. That means the CU of that particular pressure washer is 1,560. 

Nozzle Types

Every kind of pressure washer either comes with or is able to adapt to a variety of different nozzle types. Both the angle and intensity of the water coming from pressure washers depends on the nozzle being used. Nozzles allow you to change the pressure and angle of the water coming from the pressure washer. 

When buying a pressure washer, you’ll want to look for the type of nozzles included with the pressure washer, or look at the types of nozzles the pressure washer can accommodate. Nozzles have all types of different uses, and you may need several different types of nozzles for the same project.

Typically, pressure washers are sold with a variety of color coded, individual, interchangeable nozzles, or they’re sold with an all-in-one adjustable nozzle. Nozzles are categorized in degrees, and the lower the degree means the higher the concentration of water and the least amount of ground covered. 

For a breakdown on nozzle types and uses, check out the table below.

0 Degree Nozzle (Red)A straight, very powerful stream of water. Only for use on the toughest of cleaning jobs.
15 Degree Nozzle (Yellow)A powerful stream of water in a slim fan shape. For use in heavy duty cleaning and stripping.
25 Degree Nozzle (Green)A medium sized fan of water in a somewhat powerful stream. For general cleaning tasks like pre-rinsing cars or washing fences before staining.
40 Degree Nozzle (White)A large sized fan of water in a not too powerful stream. For surfaces that are easily damaged, like fiberglass, cars, and shutters.
Low Pressure Nozzle (Black)A large size fan of water in a not too powerful stream. For use with cleaning agents and detergents.
All-in-One Nozzle All the settings of the different nozzles, but in one adjustable nozzle with labels.


Portability is a big factor to consider when buying a pressure washer. Do you need a pressure washer that won’t be restricted by cords and can move to places not close to your home easily? Could you be fine with a pressure washer that isn’t as portable and needs to stay close to a power source?

These are both questions that need to be considered when deciding which pressure washer to buy. Like we previously discussed, electric pressure washers are much less portable than gas pressure washers. 

Electric pressure washers need to be plugged in to a power source, and therefore are restricted by their power cords. Gas pressure washers tend to only be restricted by the water source (or commonly, the length of your hose). 

If you plan on only pressure washing items that are close to a power source, like a small patio, outdoor furniture, a car, or a garage floor, then an electric pressure washer should be great for you. On the other hand, if you plan on pressure washing large items that are far away from a power source, like sidewalks, fences, and driveways, a gas pressure washer will be a better bet.

Portability isn’t only being able to be moved to areas far away, though; it’s also how easy a pressure washer is to actually move around. Is a certain pressure washer easy to move and relocate? Can it easily wheel over hoses, or cracks or bumps in the sidewalk? Can you easily move it to be stored?

Make sure to ask yourself these questions, and ultimately go try out the portability and mobility of different pressure washers at the store (if you can!). 


A large factor for those who are looking to buy a pressure washer is price. Pressure washers can be expensive, and they’re ultimately an investment. How much are you looking to spend on a pressure washer? Do prices vary at different locations and retailers? 

As we previously mentioned, electric pressure washers are usually less expensive than gas pressure washers. Both types of pressure washers have a lot of different price points in large ranges. 

Pressure Washer Price Comparisons

To give you an idea of the prices of different pressure washers, we’ve compared pressure washer prices at three major retailers.

Electric Pressure WashersGas Pressure Washers
Home Depot$70.54 to $2,471.99$169.00 to $4,199.00
Lowe’s$67.67 to $910.25$233.56 to $5,799.00
Ace Hardware$119.00 to $229.99$269.99 to $599.95

Warranty Options

Warranties are a great thing that many brands offer with their products. When buying a pressure washer, it can be in your best interest to look at the warranty options of a particular pressure washer. 

If a pressure washer has a warranty on it, ask yourself or a sales associate these questions:

  • How long is the warranty valid?
  • Is the warranty valid for at least a year?
  • What does the warranty cover?
  • Does the warranty cover only the frame, or does it cover the frame, engine and pump?
  • Are the accessories with the pressure washer under warranty? If so, for how long?

Both electric pressure washers and gas pressure washers should offer at least a one year warranty. A warranty that covers at least the engine and the pump of a pressure washer is ideal. Warranties for the accessories that come with pressure washers – like hoses and nozzle tips – typically have a much shorter span. 

Look into both the warranty of the pressure washer itself and the accessories that come with the pressure washer to find the best options for you.

Copyright protected content owner: and was initially posted on August 16, 2019.


In addition to the different types of nozzles, pressure washers also have a variety of different attachments that they’re compatible with. Attachments are often sold separately, but some may come with an initial purchase of a pressure washer. 

There are many different types of pressure washer attachments that are suited for different jobs and uses. When buying a pressure washer, look to see if pressure washers include any attachments or accessories. 

If not, you’ll need to ask yourself if you’ll need any attachments or accessories for jobs you plan on tackling. 

Some of the attachments and accessories for pressure washers include:

  • Extension wands
  • Telescoping wands
  • Hose reels
  • Surface cleaners
  • Soap nozzles
  • Brushes
  • Undercarriage cleaners
  • Water brooms
  • Gutter cleaners
  • Spray rollers
  • Pressure regulators
  • Gauges

If you plan on using your pressure washer to clean your gutters, you may want to look into and purchase gutter cleaners and extension wands for your pressure cleaner. If you plan on pressure washing your car frequently, it might be useful to look into an undercarriage cleaner, a soap nozzle and brushes for your pressure washer. 

Different Features

It’s useful to look for different features on pressure washers as you’re looking into buying one! Pressure washers come in all different shapes and sizes, and comparing them can get tough. Let’s take a look at some of the main features of pressure washers for you to compare and look into. 

Wheeled or Standing Units

Pressure washers can have wheels, or they may only be standing units. This is important to look for when buying a pressure washer. Most pressure washers feature wheels for easy mobility and portability. Wheeled pressure washers are easier to turn, pull and move around. 

Standing unit pressure washers typically have a handle so they’re easier to carry and tote around. Standing pressure washers tend to be more portable and lightweight, and easy to transport if needed. Additionally, the compactness of standing pressure washers makes them easy to store. 

Automatic Shutoff

Automatic shutoff is a great feature of pressure washers, but not all pressure washers have an automatic shutoff feature. Pressure washers with an automatic shutoff feature will shut off when the trigger or handle isn’t in use, which helps prevent the pump from wearing out and conserves energy.

Automatic shutoff features also aid in preventing accidents from happening with pressure washers while they’re not in use or being watched. They also prolong the life of your pressure washer, and with an investment like that – you’ll want to prolong its life!

Copyright article owner is for this article. This post was first published on August 16, 2019.

On-Board Storage

On-board storage is another desirable feature that not all pressure washers have. You’ll find that this feature gives you a place to store the hoses and cords of your pressure washer – right on the pressure washer. 

Certain pressure washers will allow you to store the wand, the power cord, the nozzles, the hose and the detergent bottle right in and on the washer itself. This is a huge plus when it comes to storage, portability and accessibility! 

Other Things to Consider

There are a few more key things you will want to consider and ask yourself when buying a new pressure washer. Let’s take a look at them.

How Much Do You Plan on Using Your Pressure Washer?

How much and how often you plan on using your pressure washer is a huge factor in determining which one to buy. Make sure to look for a pressure washer with the right power, durability and portability to meet your needs. 

How Much Maintenance Can You Handle? 

Pressure washers require some maintenance, just like with a lot of other things. Ask yourself how much maintenance you can handle. In general, electric pressure washers require much less maintenance than gas pressure washers. 

Gas pressure washers are larger, which means they need more storage area. You will also need to be winterize these washers. Electric pressure washers on the other hand, do not have these issues. How much maintenance you can handle will help determine what type of pressure washer to buy.

Tips for Safely Using and Storing Pressure Washers

If you’ve finally decided what type of pressure washer you’d like to buy – congrats! Now it’s important for you to know how to safely use and store your pressure washer. Let’s take a look at some of the best tips for safely using and storing pressure washers. 

Tips for Safely Operating Pressure Washers

Pressure washers are powerful, and they need to be used safely and responsibly. According to, in 2014 approximately 6,057 people ended up in emergency rooms with pressure washer related injuries. You don’t want to be one of them! 

Follow these safety tips for handling and operating pressure washers:

  • Read the user’s manual.
  • Wear protective clothing like long pants, closed toed shoes, and long sleeved shirts. You may also want to wear safety glasses and a mask.
  • Avoid using the 0 degree (red) nozzle in as many situations as possible. This nozzle concentrates the water into a pinpoint blast, and can easily injure and harm people, pets and other surfaces.
  • Never get closer than 6 inches to any surface being pressure washed.
  • Stand at least 3-4 feet away from any surface being pressure washed. 
  • Never point the nozzle of a pressure washer towards yourself, someone else, pets, or anything not intended to be pressure washed. 
  • Never operate a pressure washer while on a ladder or other tall or unsturdy surface. Recoil could knock you over and easily cause injury.
  • Test the pressure of your pressure washer before using it on an area that won’t easily be damaged, like a driveway or concrete. 

Tips for Storing Pressure Washers

Naturally, pressure washers need to be stored when they’re not in use. This prolongs their lifespan and ultimately, your investment. These tips for storing pressure washers especially need to be followed if your pressure washer won’t be used for more than 30 days. 

ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on August 16, 2019.

Follow these tips for storing pressure washers when they won’t be in use:

  • Turn off the pressure washer, remove its cords from the power source (if it has one) and remove any hoses to the water source.
  • Detach the detergent tank or bottle from the pressure washer and clean it out.
  • Detach the high pressure hose that’s connected to the pressure washer.
  • Disconnect any other components from the pressure washer.
  • Empty the pressure washer of any detergent, soap or water.
  • Wind up and hang any cords and hoses.
  • Store your pressure washer in a cool, dry place.
  • Try to avoid storing your pressure washer somewhere that it could be exposed to freezing temperatures if possible. 
  • If your pressure washer needs to be winterized, follow the specific instructions for winterizing your pressure washer before storing it.