Best pressure washers: 2018 group test

We take the best pressure washers on sale in the UK and find out which is best for your cleaning needs

A pressure washer will help you quickly and effectively clean your car, and they are also incredibly useful if you have a patio to clean, which is why it is vital to know which are the best.

They shift grime quickly, and blast mud away from wheelarches. They’re good for your paint, too; blasting grit away is less risky than shifting it by wiping. Even environmentalists see the benefits, as pressure washers make the water work harder and use far less than a bucket and hose. So which is the one to make your car cleaning as easy as possible? 

• Best pressure washer shampoos

How we tested them

But with a huge choice, we tested the best, assessing cleaning power on filthy slabs, measuring hoses and power leads, and rating storage. We also looked at what you get for your money including lances, soap dispensers and brushes. Our final factor was price – key when there is a wide spread as there is here.

Verdict

Karcher’s innovative K4 Full Control Home is our Best Buy. Others come close with impressive cleaning power, but the Karcher offers buyers the best package. 

  • 1. Karcher K4 Full Control Home
  • We also looked at the best compact pressure washers, for those where space is at a premium. Of the two tested, it was again a Karcher which won.

  • 1. Kärcher K2 Premium Full Control
  • Kärcher K4 Full Control Home

    Price: around £250
    Rating: 5.0
    Accessories: Rota lance, patio cleaner, detergent pod

    It’s not cheap and has had a hefty price rise since our last test, but this Home version of the Kärcher includes a rotablaster lance and patio cleaner. 

    The Full Control’s LED display indicates what the current lance setting is suitable for. Hook hose storage isn’t ideal, although it was the easiest to use, with cleaning power just behind the Clarke. Not perfect, but good enough to keep its crown.

    It may be the Full Control system that takes the eye – with the LED display on the lance showing you the correct pressure for the job being tackled – but while it’s handy, that’s not why this pressure washer takes the win. It’s a fundamentally good cleaner which stood out in our test. The design works well, with simple storage on the back of the unit and a telescopic handle for easy storage. This home version means you also get a rotary patio cleaner alongside the usual blaster and variable lances.

    Buy now from Amazon

    Bosch AQT 42-13

    Price: around £179
    Rating: 4.0
    Accessories: Rota nozzle, corner nozzle, patio cleaner

    Small and compact, this is ideal if storage is at a premium. It’s also light, so is easy to lift on to a shelf. As with the Makita, the numbers don’t sound great, with just 130-Bar pressure and 360 litres flow, but it proved to be the fastest cleaner on test, blasting through our grimy slabs. Trouble is, that minimalist design means compromises; storage is basic and not very easy to use because the hose needs to be coiled before being squeezed between two hooks.

    Buy now from Amazon

    Clarke JET9500

    Price: around £216  
    Rating: 4.0

    There’s plenty to like about this substantial Clarke washer, not least the high-quality feel thanks to metal connectors and a useful eight-metre rubber hose, which isn’t prone to kinking. The reel works well and won’t topple the machine when the hose is pulled out. 

    You get just the one lance that goes from a powerful needle point to delivering a watery foam on low power. Irritatingly, it reverts to low-power mode too easily and when switched to its high setting it goes into a needle spray that could damage a car; you need to adjust it to achieve a safer fan. 

    But that 2,400W output ensured it had the edge on shifting grime when adjusted to a similar fan to its rivals. A good machine with a couple of niggles.

    Buy now from Machine Mart

    Makita HW111

    Price: around £137
    Rating: 4.0
    Accessories: Rota nozzle, flow-through brush

    The numbers are not impressive for this compact Makita, with just 110-Bar pressure and 370 litres max flow, but it cleaned really well and was only just behind the front runners. It is also a good machine to use with a quick and easy hose storage reel.

    And that hose is top-quality rubber rather than a plastic version; it’s highly resistant to kinking. The only drawback is that it is a little light on accessories next to some.

    Buy now from Makita

    Nilfisk e140.3-9 x-tra

    Price: around £225
    Rating: 4.0
    Accessories: Rota nozzle

    If money is no object, this is the machine to have. It can’t quite match the Bosch washer for cleaning oomph, but it’s excellent and consistent all the same. And everything else about the Nilfisk cleaner oozes quality, plus it’s rugged and well thought out. The maker seems to have taken inspiration from Dyson’s vacuum cleaners for fast and secure power lead storage, while the generously long, nine-metre, top-quality hose is mounted on a fully plumbed-in reel. An innovative bracket even stops the hose from being pulled from certain angles, so the machine doesn’t topple over. Our only gripes concern the premium price and the rather basic clip-on detergent bottle.

    Buy now from Amazon

    Silverline 2100W Pressure Washer

    Price: around £104 
    Rating: 4.0

    For many drivers on a budget, this will be the only choice here because it’s offers a significant saving on most similar standard competition. 

    Reel storage is good, but the five-metre hose is prone to tangling. The unit can slip into low-power mode as well, although not as keenly as the Clarke. Cleaning was effective and it delivered a thick foam from its on-board reservoir.

    Buy now from Amazon

    Wolf Blaster Max2

    Price: around £140
    Rating: 3.0
    Accessories: Shampoo nozzle, corner nozzle, rota nozzle, patio cleaner, clip-on detergent sprayer, extra hose, flow-through brush

    The Wolf comes with a generous smattering of extras, however the design is not without flaws. The machine has an integral detergent reservoir, so we don’t know why the maker has bothered with a clip-on detergent bottle as well. And although the extra coil of hose is welcome, why not just fit a longer one to the machine initially? Power wise, this unit is sedate compared with most here, and it’s a mixed bag to use, too. The plumbed-in hose reel is good, but we found it irritating that the lance was a little too portly to fit in its holster.

    Buy now from Amazon

    Draper 83414

    Price: around £134
    Rating: 3.0
    Accessories: Corner nozzle, shampoo nozzle, rota nozzle, patio cleaner, flow-through brush

    Imagine this in yellow and you can see it’s related to the Wolf. But while the Wolf offers an array of extras, combined with lacklustre cleaning performance, Draper has slightly trimmed back the extras list and delivers far more cleaning bite – nearly up to Karcher and Nilfisk levels. The 83414 is more pleasant to use, too. Annoying Wolf quirks, such as that overly tight lance storage holster, don’t seem to affect this machine.

    Buy now from eBay

    Clarke JET9000

    Price: around £192
    Rating: 3.0
    Accessories: None

    A heavyweight pressure washer that feels more designed for the trade than something you’d need for home use. But while cleaning power is strong and consistent, it’s no better than the Karcher or Nilfisk deliver, and it definitely trails the Bosch. So this is a pricey package considering the lack of accessories. Quality is good, and there’s an eight-metre hose on a plumbed-in reel, but you don’t even get a rotary blaster nozzle; a traditional adjustable spot to fan lance is all Clarke includes.

    Buy now from Machine Mart

    Best compact pressure washer

    Bigger is usually better with pressure washers; more power, more features, quicker cleaning. But what if your washer has to live in a cupboard rather than a garage, or you don’t have several hundred pounds to spend? That’s where Sealey’s new range comes in, with a compact package and a budget price.

    We tried it against a similarly sized washer from test winner Kärcher, checking what you get for you money, hose and lead lengths, storage and ease of use. On the car we tackled dead bugs, bird muck and brake dust, plus rated prices from online sources. The pricier K2 is the better overall package, but the more compact Sealey had the edge on stubborn marks.

    Kärcher K2 Premium Full Control

    Price: Around £100
    Rating: 4.0

    For a few quid extra, Kärcher’s Premium includes a patio cleaner, car and stone detergents, flow-through brush and two lances: a dirt blaster and adjustable Full Control version with power guidance. Its 1,400W motor delivers 110 Bar. 

    It stands taller than the Sealey below at 60cm, and is a similar weight, although the six-metre hose means less shifting round. Storage is also similar with rear mounts for two lances and a hook for the lead. Coiling the hose is tricky and messy, but there is a choice of lance, on-board reservoir and external pick-up soap dispensers. 

    The car setting couldn’t shift our bugs and even at max power on the adjustable lance it trailed here. But if you have room, this more usable washer is worth the cash.

    Buy now from Halfords

    Sealey PW1500 HV

    Price: Around £87
    Rating: 3.5

    Its picture doesn’t show how compact this HV (hi-vis) unit is. It’s just 40cm tall and weighs only 4.6kg – a good job, as the three-metre hose means you need to move it lots of times to get around the car. The power lead is a similar length. 

    A lance-mounted soap dispenser is included, as is an adjustable lance. This goes down to a fine point, so it makes the most of the 1,400W, 105-Bar delivery. The lance and attachment are stored on the rear, but coiling the hose is fiddly. 

    On the car, the washer blasted dead insects and brake dust, if not as quickly as some we’ve tested; the spray needs to be narrow. This means slower progress on bigger panels. It had the edge on shifting bugs but, in spite of the online price advantage, the K2 is a better package.

    Buy now from Tool and Fix

    Best pressure washers 2018

  • 1. Kärcher K4 Full Control Home
  • 2. Bosch AQT 42-13
  • 3. Clarke JET9500
  • 4. Makita HW111
  • 5. Nilfisk e140.3-9 x-tra
  • 6. Silverline 2100W
  • 7. Wolf Blaster Max2
  • 8. Draper 83414
  • 9. Clarke JET9000
  • Best compact pressure washers 2018

  • 1. Kärcher K2 Premium Full Control
  • 2. Sealey PW1500 HV
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