Pressure washers can work magic on stained concrete or decking, and the best can erase decades’ worth of stains with a brief blast. But as Consumer Reports discovered in its tests, a pressure washer is much more than a high-powered garden hose and can dispense water with such force that it can pierce skin and even cut through protective gear, including boots.

That's why we don’t recommend any pressure washers that include a zero degree tip or nozzle, which harnesses the most water power into the finest stream. That's dangerous, and largely unnecessary, as our testing routinely finds that you can get the same results with a little patience and a 15-degree tip. If you do buy a model with a zero-degree nozzle, toss it out. Here are four of the best pressure washers from our tests, and the jobs they’re best suited for.  

Best Gas Pressure Washer

The Cub Cadet CC3224, $500, does everything a pressure washer should. It’s the machine you want if you’ve neglected a deck or patio for a long time—with a high flow rate of 2.4 gallons per minute and a variety of nozzles. It’s one of the few models that can capably erase years’ worth of staining on decking from decayed leaves or other debris.

Best Gas Model on a Budget

If you don’t want to shell out $500, the Troy-Bilt 020568, $300, almost matches our top-scoring Cub Cadet on power, and actually cleans just as well. Like most gas models, it’s loud, so you’ll want to wear hearing protection. It’s particularly easy to use, but the wand and pump lack the quick-connect attachments that we favor.

Best Light-Duty Electric Model

The GreenWorks GPW1951, $190, is everything you want from a lightweight electric pressure washer. It’s trim and versatile, and packs enough power for some medium-duty jobs, if you’re willing to spend some extra time working problem spots. At 36 pounds, it’s pretty light too—you could easily hang it on a hook in your garage. It’s our go-to for smaller jobs, such as cleaning grill grates or moss-covered siding. It’s also sold without a zero-degree nozzle, making it a safer choice.

Best Heavy-Duty Electric Model

For the performance of gas without all the noise, the NorthStar 1573021, $850, is a good choice. It draws power from a 240-volt receptacle, so you’ll need to make sure you have one in your garage or somewhere outdoors. It provides exceptional power and flow, which can blast away years of grime quickly, even on stubborn surfaces like irregular stone. The 35-foot power cord and 25-foot hose let you roam 60 feet from an outlet, but you’ll need to go with a gas unit if you travel farther than that.