Pressure cleaners work by drawing water in and ejecting it under pressure through a lance. They come with three operating leads: a power lead for the motor to pressurise the water; a connection for your water source, which can be your local water provider or a rainwater tank; and the lance where the pressurised water comes out. The cleaners all have safety switches built into the triggers that prevent the cleaner from working until the safety catch is released; the trigger must also be kept under pressure to make the water flow. These measures prevent water wastage and lower the risk of potential accidents.
These cleaners draw their power from a standard home power plug, so power cord length is quite important. The types of nozzles they’re supplied with will also determine how well you can clean certain areas – see What to Look For. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully when using pressure cleaners on paintwork, whether on a house or vehicle, as they’re all capable of removing the paint rather than cleaning it. If you’re using a cleaner specifically for this purpose, be aware they’re only likely to remove flaking paint.
Noise is an issue, all are above 74dB, akin to the level experienced by residents in suburbs on the flight path of a major airport. So running any of the products we’ve tested will interfere with conversation or with listening to the radio or the television.
These machines use a decent amount water, around 330-520 L/hr, so avoid using a high pressure cleaner where a bucket and cloth, or broom would do the job. Using water for cleaning may seem wasteful in times of water shortage, so check your local water restrictions to see whether it’s legal for your area. Fines range up to $220 per breach and apply for using water outside of certain reasons. In Sydney, for example, it’s not legal to use a hose where a broom will do.
Only reasons of safety, health, construction or surface discolouration make it legal to use a hose connected to your pressure cleaner. Outside these exceptions, a high pressure cleaning device can also be used to clean boat bilges, boat trailer brakes and wheels .
If you’re using your own water supply from a bore or rainwater tank that isn’t topped up by your water provider, these requirements will not apply to you.
For this sort of money if you only need a pressure hose infrequently, it’d make plenty of sense to rent the equipment and pay less than $90 for four hours. Cleaning ground-in dirt is not a quick job; it took our tester five to 10 minutes per square metre. The business end of the lance needs to be very close to the ground to remove dirt, so a long lance will help prevent a sore back. Take care when using these cleaners on painted surfaces, as you may end up removing the paint rather than cleaning it.
Gerni Classic 100.2 (replaced by Classic 100.3. RRP of $120. Specs the same)
Gerni Classic 110.2 (replaced by Classic 110.4 RRP $139 same specs)
Gerni Super 130.2
Gerni Super 140.2
Jetpower Pressure Washer Jet380X
Lavor Extra 25
Lavor High Pressure Cleaner Aussie 20
Lavor Power 19 (A)
Mercury L1400 Extra
Pope Power Wash 101HPW1500 (A)
Ryobi Pressure Washer RPW140S
Ryobi Pressure Washer RPW2400
Stihl RE 108
Taurus High Pressure Cleaner 7330 (A)
Performance CHOICE tester, Peter Horvath, uses each cleaner on concrete. The concrete surfaces are mossy, encrusted with hard dirt and stained such that they reasonably require pressure cleaning rather than simple sweeping with a broom. Assessments are made visually to score the amount of soiling/staining on the test surface before and after cleaning. Peter also takes into account how fast the model is at cleaning.
Ease of use consists of whether the lance supplied with the cleaner is easy to connect to your garden hose. Manoeuvrability is based on how long the hose is to connect the lance to the cleaner, whether it has wheels and if they’re any good, and how heavy the cleaner is with everything connected. The ease of cleaning score is based on how easy it is to use the lance, the handle and trigger comfort and the severity of vibrations.