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How we test pressure cleaners

Our experts assess pressure cleaners in real-life situations to see which ones perform best.


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 yard. But is any one model better than the others?

Our expert testers

Our experts know to look beyond the marketing hype when reviewing pressure cleaners. When assessing performance and ease of use, they use the pressure cleaners in a real-life setting to see how the models 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, battery, and petrol varieties. For our review, we concentrate on electric and battery 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 that you'd find in both mainstream and specialist hardware stores like Bunnings, Mitre 10 and Supercheap Auto.

How we test pressure cleaners

Cleaning performance

Tests from 2021 onwards have been conducted on a stained concrete path. This is a tough test allowing our experts to rate how well the pressure cleaners clean the path. They use each cleaning nozzle supplied and time how long it takes to clean with each one.

They use the fastest time as the basis of the cleaning performance score. They also measure the noise produced by each nozzle and we publish the highest noise level so you can know what to expect.

We only test using water to provide directly comparable results. This means we don't test the performance of water mixed with detergent in models that include a detergent bottle.

Previous tests conducted prior to 2021 were conducted on a stained sandstone path.

Ease of use

Our experts look at the following to assess how easy the pressure cleaner is to use.

  • Ease of manoeuvring the pressure cleaner: We consider the length of the hose, the weight of the cleaner and how easy it is to wheel the unit around. If the unit doesn't have wheels, we assess how easy it is to carry the unit around.
  • Ease of using the pressure cleaner: We check 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, results from each year cannot be directly compared. This is why we include the year tested in our product comparison table.

Manufacturer specifications

When we publish the claimed figures for water consumption per hour and operating pressure (in psi and bar), we state the 'working' figures not the 'maximum' figures. These figures can also be referred to as 'rated' or 'nominal'.

Test criteria explained

The CHOICE Expert Rating (or overall score) is made up of:

  • cleaning performance (60%)
  • ease of use (40%).

Ease of use is comprised of ease of manoeuvring the unit and ease of using the cleaner (weighted equally). We also take note of any stability or usage issues which may affect how easy the cleaner is to 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.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.