The 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 has 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 has the capability to wash 2-story buildings, clean the thickest of mud off of toys, and even remove certain types of paint. If you're looking for a pressure 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 do aid the user in moving the unit around a garage, yard, or driveway, they don't help when it comes to transporting this model from site to site. It's bulky and awkward to lift into a truck bed without the help of a friend or a ramp. Also, along with the added power that gasoline engines offer comes the inherent drawbacks — toxic fuels, noise, smoke, and potential for oil leaks. If switching to electric tools is the goal the Megashot isn't the right model for you, but our team finds the performance offered by 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 but you're ready to ditch the gasoline and fumes we recommend the SunJoe SPX3500. This model offers the perks of running an electric motor — no extra gas cans, no pull cords, no choke levers, and no priming bubbles. Not only does this model have awesome cleaning abilities for this type of machine, but it also has handy placement of its onboard storage slots for the array of included nozzles and a set of nice hooks for 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 level of noise it emits — if you are looking for a powerful pressure washer that won't annoy your family or neighbors, this is the one.
There are a few elements of the SPX3500 that we were less than thrilled about. First of all, if your jobs and projects require raw power, electric models simply cannot quite keep up with the pressure produced by gas-powered washers. This model is also fairly bulky when compared to other electric models. If you're looking for a pressure washer that you can stash on a shelf or in a closet it'd be wise to go with a more compact model. Still, we think the SunJoe SPX3500 is a great option for those that want the most out of 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. Although it doesn't break the bank, it still offers a high degree of performance when compared to what many of the competitors offer. It registers higher cleaning units than several models that cost much more, and we find that it performs well. The SunJoe offers some conveniences that others haven't thought of such as keeping the garden and high-pressure hose nozzles higher on the machine to be sure that 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 up shop. The SPX3000 is one of the easiest on the ears — it's silent until the trigger is pulled, even when it's spraying it's much quieter than the majority of models on the market.
There are few ways in which the SunJoe is lacking. For one, it is one of the only models in our review that requires tools for assembly. 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. This model is a bit on the loud side for an electric pressure washer, but 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 one of these tools will be used for. In many cases, the bigger, burlier models are overkill for household chores and are often capable of damaging vehicle paint jobs as well as 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 finances when compared to its larger cousins, and it doesn't take up much space.
Although the GPW's size is convenient in several ways, it also detracts from its overall perforamce. A diminutive body means a smaller motor and pump, which equates to less power. The Greenworks is perfect for small jobs, but is inadequate for tough ones. It also has zero storage 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 wound up it's a bit of a jumbled mess.
Read Full Review: Greenworks GPW1501
Why You Should Trust Us?
To ensure that we show zero bias to any brand or model, we purchase all of our products 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 pressure washer team, research analyst Austin Palmer, has extensive experience using these tools on oil rigs in West and South Texas. Together, they have developed and implemented a no-holds-barred series of tests to give these products a true side-by-side comparison.
We spent hundreds of hours jetting, soaping, and washing an array of different objects and surfaces until we had concluded 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 it a step further we devised our own way to get both a visual and a numeric measurement with an apparatus we have 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 the tool for and how tough they might be. One feature or functionality of a pressure washer's performance may 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 ways to go about it. If you require the highest level of performance and you know you're hard on your tools, we suggest you purchase 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 tier than that of the average consumer model. As far as the electric model with the most power, the SunJoe SPX3500 is worth every dime considering its high degree 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. Some folks are looking for a machine that offers better pressure than a garden hose but don't want a large expensive model. For those people, we recommend the Greenworks GPW 1501.
The primary purpose of a pressure washer is to clean, so we chose to let this metric account for 45% of the total points for each model. We began by getting a feel for how effective each unit is for a variety of different tasks — cleaning gutters, driveways, fence boards, and dirty trucks. Because those jobs are very subjective and hard to recreate, we then came up with a series of tests. We timed how long it took each model to remove a certain amount of dirt from a given area which began to give us some rough numbers to judge each machine by. Next, we measured each model's cleaning units, which is pounds per square inch of pressure multiplied by the gallons per minute of flow.
To get a more tangible reading of spraying power we built a wood trough that we adjusted to an angle of 24 degrees to see how high each washer could hold a standard bocce ball. We used a combination of all of these readings, judgments, and variables to come up with a score for each model's true cleaning ability.
Earning a score of 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 variables and assessments. The MegaShot was exceptionally impressive when it came to our nonobjective household use — it easily cleaned gutters, fences, and sidewalks.
We measured the cleaning units on this unit to be 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 on the incline when compared to other models. We were able to get it to settle in at a distance of 7 feet up the embankment 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 version — the Generac 7132. This model has an impressive measurement of 3710 cleaning units, putting it near the top of the list for that test. It did well for our timed dirty area assessment, cleaning up faster than most other models. For our incline test, the Generac was able to push 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 its reading to 6 feet. The 7132 is beyond fit for most light to medium-duty jobs like washing cars and patios, but it's strong enough for some large projects such as peeling old paint as well.
Scoring behind the gas-powered models, the SunJoe SPX3500 earned a 6 out of 10. Boasting an impressive 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 transport from place to place, and how easy they are to move around once they are on site. Because versions that will fit in a smaller vehicle and are able to be loaded and unloaded by one person are technically more portable, we scored them slightly higher for the metric than the heavy models. That said, among the bigger models we gave some of the heaviest models the best scores because they had the biggest wheels, tires, and they had the nicest handles for rolling around on the ground. The models that scored the lowest for our evaluation were the ones that fell in the middle — versions with a medium weight and small wheels. This type is a pain to get in and out of a vehicle on your own but also difficult to roll around on certain surfaces like dirt, gravel, or grass. Finally, we looked at their dimensions and considered how easily they can be stored.
On account of their compact size and low weight, we scored both the Greenworks GPW1501 and the Ryobi RY141612 a 9 out of 10 for portability. Both of these models are lacking 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 as opposed to the horizontal style of the RY141612. This design gives it a great balance while you're carrying it, and as an added 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 comparably light yet still has good sized wheels.
Both of the SunJoe models handle terrain better than most of the models that have wheels, and the handle location as well as the balance of these machines makes them easy to push and pull around. Their height makes it a bit more difficult to store than some of their more compact companions, 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 aren't quite topping the leaderboard for this metric. Although they're big and bulky, we gave them points for their burly handles and large wheels that allow for 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-powered 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, and concrete better than their hard plastic alternatives.
Accounting for the next 15% of our total is noise. To test noise we broke out the sound meter to take some decibel readings right next to each machine while running at full power and full throttle. Then, we backed up to 25 feet away and took readings again. Also, because a sound meter can't determine pitch, we used our best judgment to determine whether or not there were any extra 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 divide emits a mere 70 decibels for the user and drops to only 65.2 decibels at a distance of 25 feet.
As a company that has long since been dedicated to electric and battery-powered products, it comes as no surprise that both of the machines in our review produced by Greenworks scored an 8 out of 10 for the noise metric. 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.
Even more surprising was to find that the bigger model, the GPW2005, only read 62.9 decibels from this same distance and 73.6 for the operator. We didn't find either of these pressure washers to have any especially irritating sounds or pitch.
The only other machine 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. The user of this machine will be experiencing 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 for us to warrant this metric. To score ease of use we compared the hose connections, hose storage, cord storage, and the stability of the unit while in use. We noted whether or not 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 has many 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 get stowed behind the handle of 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, gets 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 connect from the hose to the wand, which makes it a cinch to get ready to use and to roll up when the job is complete. The garden hose connection is in a great location with lots of room and is 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 that is similar to the Greenworks GPW1501. Unfortunately, the International lost some points because it requires you to swap out wand parts to attach it.
Some models lack a dispenser altogether and use a siphon hose that can be put directly into a container of soap — one of these models is the RY141612. This is great for people that don't want to constantly stop to fill up a tank that is onboard the machine or fill up 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 to tip over while in use. This machine also has an onboard soap container with a wide cap which 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 — 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 you should 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 tough 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