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How we test pressure cleaners

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

person washing a car using a pressure cleaner

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 testers

Our expert testers 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 situation 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 found in both mainstream and specialist hardware stores.

How we test pressure cleaners

Cleaning performance

Our 2021 test was 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.

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 at the following to assess how easy the pressure clean is to use.

  • 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. If the unit doesn't have wheels, we assess how easy it is to carry 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, results from each year cannot be directly compared. This is why we include the year tested in our comparison table.

Manufacturer specifications

When we publish the claimed figures for water consumption per hour, operating pressure (in psi) and operating pressure (in 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 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 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.