Pressure Washer buyer's guide

A pressure washer can really cut down the amount of time it takes to clean your car, or breathe new life into a dirty patio. No more heavy scrubbing and hosing down. You'll be able to tackle all that stubborn dirt and grime with minimum fuss and stay on top of maintenance with ease. You might even enjoy it! This guide is here to help you understand all the different features and widgets of pressure washers and help you choose what pressure washer to buy depending on your need.

What are pressure washers used for?

When working with pressure washers, it's really important to have the right tool for the job. Too little pressure, and the job will take forever, but too much pressure can cause damage to the things you're trying to clean. An enthusiastic approach could mean paint stripping your car which you definitely want to avoid!

Generally, a lower pressure is suitable for things like cars, patio furniture and bikes. Pressure washers at this setting will give a medium spray that means you can keep your possessions in good condition without damaging them. Washers with higher pressures are needed for things like concrete paving and other heavy-duty cleaning. You might have moved into a property where the patio needs a deep clean or mould is needing to be removed from outside walls.

It's a very good idea to think about the most cleaning power you will need and find a pressure washer capable of this. Most pressure washers with very high pressure can be adjusted to work at low pressure for other tasks. When you're reviewing your options, check how flexible the washer is and if you can vary the pressure.

Think about your water source

Another important thing to think about when you're buying a pressure washer is your water source. Most pressure washers will work from a standard hosepipe, but some can take a water supply from almost any clean container. Using rain water collected in a water butt is a really economical way of getting your cleaning done! The whole point to using a pressure washer is that it saves time so thinking ahead about where you're accessing your water source is a good idea. You ideally want this process to be as convenient and easy as possible.

How a pressure washer works

The simplest way of explaining it is this. Soap or detergent enters the washer from one hose while cold water flows in from your water source through another hose. A water pump which is powered by the engine draws in the soap and water and mixes them together. Most washers will heat the water and then the pump accelerates the water and squirts it out through a nozzle. All of which gives you a high-pressure result.

Pressure washer facts and figures

Pressure washers normally measure their cleaning power using two numbers - the pressure and the flow rate:

  • The pressure is a measure of the force of the water coming out, which makes up for the 'cutting power' of the stream to get through tough dirt.
  • The flow rate is the amount of water that comes from the pressure washer, and gives the 'rinsing' and washing action.

Putting both together will give you the 'cleaning rate', or how much you can clean in a given time. A high pressure and a high flow rate mean you can clean large areas quickly. Once you've chosen which pressure washer to buy, you'll never look back!

How much pressure do I need?

Pressure Cleaning job
Up to 110 bar Cars/bikes*/garden furniture, lightly soiled cleaning
Up to 130 bar Cars/bikes*/garden furniture, motorbikes, fences, hot tubs, gutters, medium soiled cleaning
130-160 bar Cars/bikes*/garden furniture, motorbikes, conservatories, motorhomes, fences, hot tubs, gutters, heavy soiled cleaning

*Remember to take care when washing bikes and try to avoid pointing the stream directly at the bearing areas (hubs, bottom bracket), as this can force water into them.

Pressure washer attachments and accessories

If you really want to get a specific job done as quickly as possible with your pressure washer then getting the right attachments can make everything a breeze. Whether that's a patio scrubber, a car washing brush or just an extension pole so you can reach high up, making sure that you're properly kitted out can mean that those little chores take a little less time. You might have a tricky to reach spot in which case it's worth having an attachment that makes the job easier not harder. Manufacturers offer different nozzles, guns and lances to help with specialist situations.

Pressure washer foams and detergents

If you're looking to clean your car, or want to be able to spray cleaning fluids onto things to help clean tougher dirt, it's a good idea to get either a pressure washer that can add cleaning fluid to the water stream or an attachment to do the same thing. You can do this manually but it will make process longer and probably less enjoyable!

Best pressure washer brands

Here at Halfords, we stock pressure washers from top brands including Karcher. Each offers their own unique benefits, features and accessories.


Karcher is one of the world’s leading providers of cleaning equipment. The company’s pressure washers range from compact models for easy and portable cleaning, to high-tech models with full pressure control.

Shop Karcher pressure washers


Our own brand pressure washers are great entry-level models, which offer simple but effective cleaning on a budget.

Shop Halfords pressure washers

Want to discover more about some of our recommended pressure washer models? Check out our handy guide to find out which pressure washer is right for you.

Pressure washer checklist

So, here's your checklist before you make your final decision:

  • What and where do you want to use the pressure washer for?
  • Do you need light or heavy duty pressure?
  • Do you need a pressure washer with variable pressure options?
  • Do you need a pressure washer for regular use?
  • Do you need additional accessories or attachments?
  • Where's my water source?

Ok, you're ready to browse our range and choose your pressure washer!

Shop pressure washers

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