Best Pressure Washers of 2022

These top-performing gas and electric models from CR's tests can blast away years of dirt and stains

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A person wearing rubber boots and pressure washing a deck. Photo: iStock

A pressure washer (or power washer) is like a magic wand for erasing stains on decking, walkways, patios, and steps. With a brief blast, the best models can erase months or even years of stubborn stains from spilled food, mud, or even long-decomposed leaves.

But these powerful machines also require a hefty dose of caution: Pressure washers can direct a stream of water with such force that they can pierce skin and cut through protective gear, including boots.

That’s why CR doesn’t recommend pressure washers that include a zero-degree tip or nozzle, which harnesses water power into the finest, most powerful stream.

“It’s not just that zero-degree nozzles are dangerous” says Dave Trezza, who oversees pressure-washer testing for Consumer Reports. “They’re not really necessary."

More on pressure washers

If you buy a model with a zero-degree nozzle, toss that nozzle into the trash and use the others included in the set instead. “Our testing routinely finds that you can get the same results with a little patience and a 15-degree tip,” Trezza says.

Our pressure washer buying guide is the best place to start if you’re considering one of these tools. It will help you decide whether you need a gas-powered, electric, or battery-operated model—or none at all. (Because these powerful tools can strip paint, not all surfaces are safe to clean with a pressure washer.) Our guide will also tell you whether you’re better off renting a machine rather than buying one. CR members can then compare models in our pressure washer ratings.

How Consumer Reports Tests Pressure Washers

We measure how much pressure each model can produce in pounds per square inch (PSI), giving a higher score to those with a higher PSI. Then we fire up each pressure washer and use it to strip paint from painted plastic panels, timing how long it takes. Models with a higher pressure output tend to perform better on this test. We also measure noise. Almost all pressure washers are loud enough to require hearing protection, like earplugs or an earmuff-style headset.

Last, we size up ease of use. For instance, we add fuel to the machine and note features that make the experience more seamless than usual. And we assign a higher score to, say, a model with an engine that automatically shuts off when the oil is low, compared to one with just an indicator light. That’s because the automatic shut-off will protect the engine from burning out if the machine ends up running without oil.

In this guide, we’ve zeroed in on the best pressure washers in the gas and electric category, according to CR’s current ratings. (The battery-operated pressure washers CR has tested didn’t score high enough for us to recommend.) We’ve also included a budget-friendly standout.

Best Gas Pressure Washers

As a group, gas pressure washers are more powerful than electric and battery-operated machines. That makes them best suited for heavier jobs, like cleaning a long-neglected deck or patio.

Best Light-Duty Electric Pressure Washers

These tools start instantly and easily. You don’t need gas or oil and there’s no engine maintenance. But because they tend to be less powerful than gas models, they’re best for lighter jobs, such as simple upkeep. They’re also often much quieter than gas options. Note that high-power electric options do exist, but none are currently in our ratings.

How to Clean Your Deck

Is your deck looking tired and dingy? On the “Consumer 101” TV show, Consumer Reports test engineer Dave Trezza shows how to revive your outdoor space.

Paul Hope

As a classically trained chef and an enthusiastic DIYer, I've always valued having the best tool for a job—whether the task at hand is dicing onions for mirepoix or hanging drywall. When I'm not writing about home products, I can be found putting them to the test, often with help from my two young children, in the 1860s townhouse I'm restoring in my free time.