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Our pressure washer buying guide is the place to start if you're considering one of these tools. CR members can also jump right to our ratings to compare models. Below, we've highlighted the very best models from our tests.
But first, an important word on safety: A pressure washer is much more than a high-powered garden hose. It can direct a stream of water with such force that it can pierce skin and even cut through protective gear, including boots.
That’s why CR doesn’t recommend pressure washers that include a zero-degree tip or nozzle, which harnesses water power into the finest, most powerful stream.
“It's not just that zero-degree nozzles are dangerous; they’re not really necessary,” says Dave Trezza, who oversees pressure-washer testing for Consumer Reports. “Our testing routinely finds that you can get the same results with a little patience and a 15-degree tip.”
If you buy a model with a zero-degree nozzle, toss that nozzle into the trash.
To test pressure washers, we measure how much pressure each model can produce, in pounds per square inch, giving a higher score to those with a higher psi. Then we fire up each pressure washer and use it to strip paint from painted plastic panels, timing how long it takes. Models with a higher pressure output tend to perform better on this test.
We also measure noise. You should know that almost all pressure washers are loud enough to require hearing protection.
Last, we size up ease of use by evaluating basics such as the process of adding fuel and noting features that improve the experience. For example, a model whose engine automatically shuts off when oil is running low will earn a higher score.
Again, CR recommends against zero-degree nozzles, which we think pose an unnecessary safety risk to users and bystanders. Regardless of how they perform, we don't recommend models that include a zero-degree nozzle.
The models featured here are the best pressure washers based on CR's latest testing.
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