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How we test pressure cleaners

CHOICE reviews pressure cleaners in real-life situations to see which ones perform best.

man using pressure cleaner on tyre

Pressure cleaners (aka pressure washers or water gurneys) use the power of water pressure from your garden hose or bucket to make tough cleaning jobs easier around the house and garden. But is any one model better than the others?

Our expert tester

Our expert testers know to look beyond the marketing hype when reviewing pressure cleaners. When testing performance and ease of use, we use the pressure cleaners in a real-life situation to see how they compare when it comes to cleaning dirt and stains that have built up over time.

How we choose what to test

Pressure cleaners come in electric and petrol varieties. For our review, we concentrate on electric models which are more commonly found in the home. Our product researchers survey manufacturers to find out what the latest models are, as well as specifications such as pressure levels and flow rates. We try to include a range of brands and models found in both mainstream and specialist hardware stores.

Once a list featuring a range of brands and price points is chosen, our buyers then go through the arduous process of ordering the pressure cleaners just as a consumer would, to ensure the manufacturer has not tampered with the unit in any way.

How we test pressure cleaners

Cleaning performance

The test was conducted on a stained sandstone path. This is a tough test allowing our experts to rate how well the pressure cleaners clean the path. He uses each cleaning nozzle supplied and times how long it takes to clean with each. He uses the fastest time as the basis of the cleaning performance score. He also measures the noise produced by each nozzle and we publish the highest noise level.

Ease of use

Our experts look at:

  • Ease of manoeuvring the pressure cleaner, taking into account the length of the hose, the weight of the cleaner and how easy it is to wheel the unit around.
  • Ease of using the pressure cleaner, checking the length of the handle/lance, vibrations and trigger comfort.

Test scores

We test a batch of pressure cleaners from year to year in real-life scenarios. Because there may be differences in the test conditions, the 2019 results can't be directly compared to results from our 2018 test.

Test criteria explained

The overall score is made up of:

  • Cleaning performance (60%)
  • Ease of use (40%)

Ease of use comprises equally of ease of manoeuvring the unit and ease of using the cleaner. We also take note of any stability or usage issues which may affect ease of use.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE