Pressure cleaners, also known as pressure washers or water blasters, work by drawing water in and ejecting it under pressure through a lance. They have three connections: a power lead for the motor to pressurise the water; a hose connection to a tap or other water source such as a rainwater tank; and the lance where the pressurised water comes out. The cleaners 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.
They aren't quiet to operate; the cleaners on test range between 72-81dB. For comparison, a typical vacuum cleaner measures about 72dB, while traffic on a busy road measures about 80dB.
These machines use a fair amount of water, around 320 to 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 be wasteful in times of water shortage, so check your local water restrictions to see whether it’s legal for your area. Fines can apply for using water outside of certain reasons. In Sydney, for example, you can use a hose or a pressure cleaner for certain tasks, but not for simple clean-ups where a broom or a bucket and cloth would 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.
If you only need a pressure cleaner for a one-off job, it’d make sense to rent the equipment and pay as little as $60 a day. But remember that cleaning ground-in dirt is not a quick job; our testers find it takes a few minutes to clean one square metre of heavily soiled concrete. So if you're hiring one, make sure you will only need it for a day. If you end up needing it for a few days, you might be better off buying one.
In this test:
- AR Blue Clean 360Plus
- Evoworks Ultimate 2100
- eXceed EX22HPW
- Gerni Classic 115.3
- Gerni Classic 120.2PC
- Hitachi AW150
- Homelite HPW100
- Jetpower JET320
- Karcher K2.360
- Karcher K3.800 eco!ogic
- Kincrome Mighty Boy Pressure Washer 1300W
- Scorpion SPW130
- Worx Force 120 WG602E
In previous tests:
- 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 (A)
- Karcher K2.080
- Karcher K2.180
- Karcher K4.650
- 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 (A)
- Ryobi Pressure Washer RPW2400 (A)
- Stihl RE 108
- Taurus High Pressure Cleaner 7330 (A)
Note that we have changed our test method and scores for the latest test are not directly comparable with previous results.
Performance CHOICE tester, James Thomson, 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. He scores the cleaners based on how fast they are 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.