Best Pressure Washer of 2020
Best Gas-Powered Pressure Washer
Simpson MSH3125 MegaShot
If you're looking for a pressure washer for heavy-duty jobs, you can't go wrong with the Simpson MegaShot. This model showed some of the strongest spraying power that we've seen. If the smaller, weaker models are commuter cars, the MegaShot is a monster truck. It's loud, it's strong, and it's large. While the Simpson isn't the lightest model in our review, it is still easy to roll around because of its beefy wheels and inflatable tires. The best thing about the MegaShot is its incredible spraying power. This machine is capable of washing 2-story buildings, cleaning the thickest of mud off of toys, and even removing certain types of paint. If you're looking for a washer that can tackle the toughest jobs, this is the one.
The Simpson does have a few things that are less than favorable about it. While the oversized tires are useful for moving the unit around a garage, yard, or driveway, they don't help when it comes to transporting this model from site to site. Instead, this model feels bulky and awkward to lift into a truck bed without the help of a friend or a ramp. Also, the extra power of a gasoline engine comes with inherent drawbacks — toxic fuels, noise, smoke, and potential for oil leaks. If switching to electric tools is a goal, the Megashot isn't the right model for you. However, our team found the performance of this model difficult to compare to.
Read Full Review: Simpson MSH3125 MegaShot
Best Electric Pressure Washer
Sun Joe SPX3500
If you're looking for a powerful pressure washer and you're eager to ditch the gasoline and fumes we recommend the SunJoe SPX3500. This model offers all the perks of an electric motor — no extra gas cans, no pull cords, no choke levers, and no priming bubbles. Not only does it provide awesome cleaning abilities for this type of machine, but it also has handy onboard storage slots for the array of included nozzles and a set of nice hooks for coiling the high-pressure hose and power cord. The hard plastic wheels installed on the SPX3500 are large enough to easily roll over bumps, grass, or other unfavorable types of terrain. One of our favorite aspects of the SunJoe SPX3500 is the astonishingly low noise levels — if you're looking for a powerful pressure washer that won't annoy your family or neighbors, this is the one.
There are a few aspects of the SPX3500 that we are less than thrilled about. First of all, if your jobs and projects require raw power, electric models simply can't compete with the pressure produced by gas-powered washers. This model is also fairly bulky compared to other electric models. If you're looking for a washer that you can stash on a shelf or in a closet it'd be wise to go with something more compact. Still, we think the SunJoe SPX3500 is a great option for those that want the most from an electric pressure washer.
Read Full Review: Sun Joe SPX3500
Best Bang for the Buck
The SunJoe SPX3000 is one of the least expensive models in our review. Even though it won't break the bank, it still offers a high degree of performance compared to what many of the competitors offer. It registered higher cleaning units than several models that cost much more, and we found that it performs well. The SunJoe offers some conveniences that others haven't thought of, such as placing the garden and high-pressure hose nozzles higher on the machine so they're easily accessible and you don't end up on your hands and knees on a wet driveway when it comes time to pack things up. The SPX3000 is also one of the easiest on the ears. It's silent until the trigger is pulled, and then the spraying it's much quieter than the majority of models on the market.
There are a few ways that the SunJoe is lacking. First, it is one of the only models in our review that requires tools for assembly. And when it comes to power, the SPX3000 falls a bit short. If you're looking for a machine for heavy-duty or professional use, this is not the best option. Although this model is slightly on the loud side for an electric pressure washer, it's still much quieter than a gasoline engine.
Read Full Review: SunJoe SPX3000
Best for Light Duty
The Greenworks GPW1501 isn't the most powerful pressure washer in our review, but many people don't need much pressure for the projects and tasks that they want one of these tools for. In many cases, the bigger, burlier models would be overkill for household chores and they're often capable of damaging vehicle paint or softer building materials around the property. If you're used to cleaning your property and belongings with a garden hose, this nifty little tool is a huge step up. The Greenworks is hardly going to ding your wallet compared to its larger cousins, and it doesn't take up much space.
Although the GPW's small size is convenient in several ways, it also detracts from its overall performance. The diminutive body means a smaller motor and pump, which equates to less power. The Greenworks is perfect for small jobs, but it's inadequate for tough ones. It also has zero onboard storage features, other than a few nozzle holders. It comes with a velcro strap to hold the hose, cord, and wand to the handle, but even when they're wound up it's a bit of a jumbled mess.
Read Full Review: Greenworks GPW1501
Why You Should Trust Us?
To prevent bias toward any brand or model, we purchase all of the products we test at full price from the same websites as our readers. Our review editor Ross Patton has considerable expertise when it comes to pressure washers. He's disassembled and repaired large scale high-pressure pumps used for cleaning watercraft that are contaminated with invasive species before they enter pristine waters. The other half of our review team, research analyst Austin Palmer, has extensive experience using these tools on oil rigs in West and South Texas. Together, they developed and implemented a no-holds-barred series of tests to analyze these products with true side-by-side comparisons
We spent hundreds of hours jetting, soaping, and washing an array of different objects and surfaces until we figured out which of these tools displayed the highest degree of performance and functionality. To come up with some hard numbers we physically gathered all types of data ranging from the weight, dimensions, and PSI. To take things a step further, we devised our own way to evaluate washer performance with visual and numerical measurements with an apparatus we named "the testing trough."
Related: How We Tested Pressure Washers
Analysis and Test Results
We judged these machines according to their cleaning power, portability, noise, and ease of use. It is crucial to contemplate the types of tasks you're going to be using one of these tools for and how tough they might be. One feature or function of a pressure washer might be critical to you, but useless to others.
Related: Buying Advice for Pressure Washers
When it comes to getting the most value out of a pressure washer for your own individual applications, there are a few different things to consider. If you require the highest level of performance and you know you're hard on your tools, we suggest the Simpson MSH3125 MegaShot. It's a bit more expensive than many of the models in our review, but the cleaning power is closer to a professional tool than an average consumer model. As far as the electric model with the most power, the SunJoe SPX3500 is worth every dime considering its high level of effectiveness. If you don't need a professional level of performance, but you'd still like a washer that offers decent performance at a reasonable price — check out the SunJoe SPX3000. For any folks looking for a machine that offers better pressure than a garden hose, but not unbridled power, there is the compact Greenworks GPW 1501.
The primary purpose of a pressure washer is to clean, so we decided to let this metric account for a large proportion of the overall score. To test it we began by getting a feel for how effective each unit was at a variety of different tasks — cleaning gutters, driveways, fence boards, and dirty trucks. These jobs are very subjective and hard to recreate, so we then devised a series of repeatable tests. We timed how long it took each model to remove a certain amount of dirt from a given area to give us some rough numbers to compare the machines to one another. Next, we calculated each model's cleaning units, which is defined as pounds per square inch of pressure multiplied by the gallons per minute of flow.
To get a more tangible sense of spraying power we built a wooden trough that we adjusted to an angle of 24 degrees to see how high each washer could spray a standard bocce ball. We used a combination of all of these variables, observations, and judgments to settle on a score for each model's true cleaning ability.
Earning a perfect 10 out 10 for this metric is the Simpson MSH3125 MegaShot. This gas-powered model is what our professional tool testing team described as "beastly" when it came to its performance in every one of our cleaning assessments. The MegaShot was exceptionally impressive when it came to real-world household chores — it easily cleaned gutters, fences, and sidewalks.
We measured the cleaning units for this model at 4680, which is much higher than most of the field. When it came to the testing trough, the Simpson nearly doubled the sustained height that it was able to maintain a bocce ball at compared to other models. We were able to get it to settle in at a distance of 7 feet up the inclined trough at an angle of 24 degrees.
Not far behind the Simpson with a score of 8 out of 10 for the cleaning metric is another gas-powered machine — the Generac 7132. This model achieved an impressive 3710 cleaning units, putting it near the top of the list in that test. It did well in our timed dirty area assessment, cleaning everything up faster than most other models. For our incline test, the Generac was able to spray the bocce ball up the ramp 4.75 feet with its included 25-degree nozzle, but when we attached a 15-degree nozzle it increased the distance to 6 feet. The 7132 is beyond fit for most light to medium-duty jobs like washing cars and patios, but it's also strong enough for some large projects such as peeling old paint.
Scoring behind the gas-powered models, the SunJoe SPX3500 earned a 6 out of 10. Boasting a respectable measurement of 1782 cleaning units, it edged out the majority of the pressure washers in our review for this assessment. It holds its own with its gas-powered relatives when it comes to household tasks, and it was able to hold the bocce ball at a sustained distance of 3 feet up the testing trough.
One of the primary conveniences that attract people to consumer pressure washers is their mobility. We determined that there are two different ways to look at pressure washer portability — how easy they are to drive from work site to work site, and how easy they are to push around once they're on-site. Models that can fit in a smaller vehicle or can be loaded and unloaded by one person are technically more portable, so we scored them slightly higher for this metric than the heavy models. That said, among the bigger models we gave some of the heaviest models the best scores because they featured the biggest wheels, tires, and the nicest handles for rolling around on the ground. The models that scored the lowest in our evaluation were the ones that fell in the middle — versions with a medium weight and undersized wheels. This type is a pain to get in and out of a vehicle on your own and also difficult to roll around rough surfaces like dirt, gravel, or grass. Finally, we looked at their dimensions and considered how easily they are to store.
On account of their compact size and low weight, the Greenworks GPW1501 and the Ryobi RY141612 received a 9 out of 10 for portability. Both of these models lack wheels altogether, which is fine because they have handles and are painless to pick up. The RY141612's stout profile makes it a cinch to store on a shelf or in the back of a vehicle, especially if you detach the hose and wand.
The Greenworks GPW1501 has a vertically oriented body rather than the horizontal style of the RY141612. This design gives it great balance while you're carrying it, and as a bonus, you don't have to bend over as far to pick it up.
In the world of pressure washers, there is a dilemma when it comes to deciding between a model that's light with no wheels and a heavy machine with big wheels. The SunJoe SPX3000 offers the best of both worlds — it's reasonably light yet still has good sized wheels.
Both SunJoe models tackle terrain better than most of the models that have wheels because the handle location and the balance of these machines makes them easy to push and pull around. Their height makes them a bit more difficult to store than some of their more compact competitors, but they are neither long nor wide so they can be tucked into the corner of a garage quite nicely.
Scoring a 6 out of 10, the Ryobi RY142300 and the Simpson MSH3215 MegaShot don't quite top the leaderboard for this metric. Although they're big and bulky, we gave them points for their burly handles and large wheels that allow them to be pushed and pulled over rugged terrain. As far as storage goes, the RY142300 has a strap for the high-pressure hose, a hook for the power cord, and a convenient holster for the wand.
The Simpson has decent hose and wand storage as well, and with a gasoline engine, there is no need to stow a power cord. This model is slightly heavier than the RY142300, but it makes up for the extra bit of girth with inflatable rubber wheels that grip to dirt, rocks, or concrete better than their hard plastic alternatives.
To assess noise, we broke out a sound meter to take some decibel readings right next to each machine while running at full power and full throttle. Then, we backed up 25 feet away from the machines and took readings again. Also, because a sound meter can't determine pitch, we used our best judgment to determine whether there were any particularly bothersome or annoying sounds coming out of any of the machines.
The only model to earn a 9 out of 10 for this metric was the SunJoe SPX3500. This device emits a mere 70 decibels to the user and drops to only 65.2 decibels at a distance of 25 feet.
As a company that has long been dedicated to electric and battery-powered products, it comes as no surprise that the Greenworks machine scored an 8 out of 10 for its noise performance. The GPW1501 only registered 73.3 decibels on the sound meter while operating the machine, and a mere 63.8 decibels at 25 feet away.
The only other model that scored above a 5 for this metric was the Ryobi RY141612 with a 7 out of 10. This model produced one of the lowest sound meter readings from 25 feet away — 62.2 decibels. Meanwhile, the user of this machine can expect 77.6 decibels, just barely higher than the Greenworks models.
Ease of Use
Although most pressure washers are very similar to use, there are enough subtle differences to warrant that we factor in ease of use. To score it we compared the hose connections, hose storage, cord storage, and the stability of the unit while in use. We noted whether each machine has a soap dispenser, if it is in a convenient location on the unit, and if it is intuitive to use.
Scoring near the top of the scale, the Greenworks GPW1501 sports several elements that make it simpler than most pressure washers out there, earning it an 8 out of 10 for the metric. The designers thought to put the garden hose connection and the high-pressure hose connection on separate sides of the machine so that they are less likely to get tangled.
The cords and hoses are easy to wrap up and they stow behind the handle on the GPW1501 with a velcro strap and by hanging them over the collapsible wand that stores in a compartment in the back of the machine. The detachable soap dispenser, which easily snaps onto the wand, can be stored in the back compartment as well.
The Powerhouse International Platinum Edition, Ryobi RY141612, Ryobi RY142300,SunJoe SPX3000, and SunJoe SPX3500 all tied for ease of use, scoring a 7 out of 10 for their various favorable features.
The Powerhouse International was the only pressure washer in our review that has a quick connection from the hose to the wand, which makes it a cinch to get ready to use and to put away when the job is complete. The garden hose connection is in a great location with lots of room and it's effortless to hook up. The Powerhouse has awesome storage for its many attachments, and there is a spool to store the hose on. The soap dispenser comes as a separate attachment, similar to the Greenworks GPW1501. Unfortunately, the International lost some points because it requires that you swap out wand parts to attach it.
Some models lack a soap dispenser altogether. Instead, they use a siphon hose you put directly into a container of soap. One such model is the RY141612. This is great for people that don't want to constantly stop to fill up an onboard tank or a small bottle on the wand. The short, sturdy construction of the Ryobi model, coupled with the absence of wheels ensures that this sturdy little machine is unlikely to move or tip over. Its nozzles are stored on top of the handle and are simple to get in and out of their holders. The hoses and cords are strapped to the machine with a velcro strap which is a no-brainer to use.
The Ryobi RY141612's big brother, the 142300, uses the same velcro loop for the hose but the electrical cord on this model has its own plastic hook with a small bungee cord to hold it in place. The weight and the wide base of the 142300 make it very unlikely that it will tip over while in use. This machine also has an onboard soap container with a wide cap that is awesome if you don't feel like dealing with a siphon or detachable container.
If you know you are going to be using soap, and you know that you're going to also want to use a rinsing agent, the SunJoe SPX3000 has you covered. Not only does this model have an onboard dispenser, but it has two of them, and there's a convenient knob near the handle of the unit to select which tank you'd like to draw from. The SunJoe's garden hose hookup is front and center on the machine, making it a simple task to attach. This model has three hooks — one on either side for the cord and the wand and one on the front for the high-pressure hose.
The SunJoe SPX3500 has the same basic features as its little cousin mentioned above, but it was a massive soap tank to ensure that you won't have to refill while washing those extra-large vehicles and toys.
By now we hope you have the knowledge and the confidence to purchase the pressure washer that best suits your needs. Whether you're looking for a light-duty washer for easy jobs, a burly machine for tougher projects, or a versatile model that falls somewhere in between, we are here to get you headed in the right direction.
— Austin Palmer and Ross Patton