Best pressure washer 2018: clean everything from trailers to driveways

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When it comes to choosing the best pressure washer, it’s actually a pretty easy decision. Unlike some technology out there, the more you spend on a washer generally leads to a better experience, with more power, extra accessories and even longer hoses giving you more freedom and control over your cleaning needs.

In our testing, we found the best pressure washer to be the Karcher K7, thanks to its range of power and performance, but it all comes down to how much you’re willing to spend.

We’ve also got the nattily-named Karcher K2, the Nilfisk D-PG 140.4 X-tra and the Bosch AQT 45-14 X on test, offering a wide range of prices and power levels, and we’ve selected by scouring online reviews and descriptions to find what we think are some really useful choices.

How to choose the best pressure washer for you

When it comes to choosing a new pressure washer, you need to decide what you want it to do. If it’s just clean a small pathway once a year, then you’ll likely be OK with a simple, low-cost model for around £100.

However, if you want a wide variety of pressures, enabling you to clean everything from trainers to a multi-car driveway, you’ll need to invest a few hundred pounds to make sure you’re getting the right accessories and power options on offer.

It can be tricky to work out what the specs actually mean, but in our testing we found only two different things really matter: the power of the motor (and therefore pressure), which is measured in watts, and the length of the hose. 

The fact is that all pressure washers will do the job of cleaning up brickwork, which is the traditional use for these units - it’s just the more expensive models will cover more ground in less time, so it’s your back that you’re saving.

In terms of the most impressive on test, the Karcher K7 ticked the most boxes as it was the most powerful and able to cover the most ground quickly - it felt easily like the most premium option. It was also impressive that it came with different lances and the patio cleaner, which allows greater range of cleaning when connected and a more upright position for the user, which saves back pain.

It also offered the ‘smoothest ride’ by far, with the vibration of the water streaming through minimised hugely - we found ourselves able to use it for much longer without needing to rest our hands.

The Nilfisk D-PG 140.4 X-tra and Bosch AQT 45-14 X both performed well in terms of outright power, but neither come with the patio cleaner as standard. We tested both with the accessory, but both lacked the hefty feel that the Karcher K7 came with.

We found the main issue with the K7 was that it would sometimes not be able to draw enough power from the wall tap, which would mean the pressure would drop when using. You can’t tailor the pressure levels directly from the lance, where the Nilfisk model has a clever wireless function that allows you to change the power for when you don’t need the full whack if you suddenly decide to clean the window that you’ve splattered with mud.

The Karcher K2 feels decidedly budget and doesn’t come with the range of accessories you’d hope for, but like its bigger brother it offers detergent in the box which can make cleaning brickwork a cinch when laid down.

However, with multiple pets around we decided against trying this, despite the materials saying that when it’s dried it’s safe - you might want to check if there are any neighbourhood pets around if you’re thinking of doing the same thing.

In terms of price, you’ll be looking at around £400 for the Karcher K7 - which is a lot when you don’t get all the accessories available at once. For just under £50 you can choose the K2, but you’ll need to possibly add in the same amount again in lances, brushes and cleaners if you want the full range of power.

The Nilfisk and Bosch models both cost around £280, but need investment to get the large patio brushes too. 

Here are the best pressure washers

The Karcher K7 is the best pressure washer we've tested, but let's get a bit more in-depth on why the other options could be a great option for you!

1. Karcher K7

The best pressure washer on test - if you’re willing to pay

Weight: 18KG
Max pressure: 160 bar
Dimensions: 55.6 x 39.5 x 99.5 cm
Hose length: 10m
Max flow rate: 600 l/hr
Reasons to buy
+Smooth water flow+Good range of accessories
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Large to store

If you want the best pressure washer out there, you’ll struggle to do better than the Karcher K7. It’s powerful, capable of cleaning a large range of items with multiple pressure layers, and the fastest we tested. It’s got an attractive design and was easy to put together out of the box, and the LED display on the handle makes it easy to keep an eye on how hard the pressure is.You’ll need to be OK paying the extra money for the unit, but if you want a pressure washer that will last for years, this was the most impressive model.

2. Bosch AQT 45-14 X

A strong performer with too much vibration

Weight: 22KG
Max pressure: 140 bar
Dimensions: 80.8 x 40.8 x 37.4 cm
Hose length: 8m
Max flow rate: 450 l/hr
Reasons to buy
+Powerful performance+Robust design
Reasons to avoid
-High vibration in water stream-Patio cleaner lightweight

The Bosch was an impressive model, although it was one of the harder pressure washers to put together on test, with a number of different elements needed to be connected when in use. The hose is long enough, but often got caught up on the mechanism when winding it in, or twisted and harder to use.The cost is a little lower on this one, but does still have a high power output and a good range of available accessories for those looking to be able to clean their car or decking with ease.A solid performer, but one that lacked many standout features compared to the others on test.

3. Karcher K2

The best budget option on test

Weight: 4KG
Max pressure: 110 bar
Dimensions: 32.2 x 21.2 x 40 cm
Hose length: 4m
Max flow rate: 360 l/hr
Reasons to buy
+Cheap+Good range of accessories
Reasons to avoid
-Shorter hose than others-Smaller gun that others

If you’re looking for a budget pressure washer, the lower-cost Karcher is very easy to recommend. The obvious flaws that come with a budget model don’t irk at the price point, and even the lower-power performance still offers decent results… it just takes a little longer.It’s well-made unit, and the lightweight design makes this a perfect model for lugging around the garden or the car when cleaning - the portability helps make up for the rather short hose.

4. Nilfisk D-PG 140.4-9 Xtra 140

A powerful unit with an innovative handle

Weight: 13.8KG
Max pressure: 140 bar
Dimensions: 87.5 x 39.5 x 34.5 cm
Hose length: 9m
Max flow rate: 450 l/hr
Reasons to buy
+Wireless control+Powerful motor
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn’t come with patio cleaner-Plastic holders can be fiddly to use

The Nilfisk is a solid performer, and one that comes with an innovative control solution through a wireless controller on the lance. This makes it easy to switch to low power mode for a more vulnerable part of the garden before blasting up to the most powerful mode to get your brickwork sparkling. Using the wireless control was a breeze, although the display isn’t great in direct sunlight and needed to be squinted at in summer.For the price it’s a shame that all the accessories are optional, but with a high level of power at least you’re working with a decent base and can accessorise as you see fit.