Outdoor stuff gets dirty ( vehicles, driveways, garden furniture, stonework… you name it ) – there’s no way to avoid it. You can, however, keep things clean – most people use brushes, mops, brooms, sponges or rags floating in buckets of increasingly scummy water…. Gross! But there’s a better, more efficient way to clean – by using a pressure washer, and in this quick guide you’ll discover why.
How Do Pressure Washers Work?
These extraordinarily useful machines belong in every garden – they save time, prevent back-breaking labour and do a far superior job to hand-scrubbing. Keep reading this quick guide – you’ll learn exactly what to look for and be ready to choose the right pressure washer to match your needs.
Pressure washers either connect to your home’s water supply, a rainwater butt or their own water supply. When a pressure washer is turned on, water is forced into a hose by a strong electric motor. The water is “compressed” – pressurized – and emitted as a powerful stream that which blasts away tough dirt and grime.
Most models come with a variety of attachment nozzles, allowing anything from a narrow, highly concentrated jet of water to a broader stream which can “sweep” larger areas of dirt away.
Did you know that using a power pressure washer dramatically cuts down water wastage?
That’s right, a garden hose can use over 3,000 Ltr of water every hour, compared to a 100 bar pressure washer only using around 400 – 500Ltr an hour. The powerful, and highly rated Home Karcher K4 Pressure Washer has a bar pressure of 130, and a water flow rate of around 420 Ltr per hour. It’s a very powerful cleaning machine with minimal water wastage.
Further more, some models don’t even require water from a main supply. They have the option of using a suction hose, so you’re able to pump water directly from a bucket of water, pond of water butt. This allows for extra portability and you’re able to use natural rain water.
What Can They Clean?
A pressure washer can clean just about anything which resides outside– muddy patio stones and walkways, mud-caked garden tools, outdoor furniture, decrepit railings and filthy door handles, clogged drains – and of course, boats, caravans, cars and bicycles. Really, you can let your imagination run wild, or walk around just looking for things bring some life back into with a jet wash clean.
Things to Look For
Not every job requires the same amount of cleaning power – lighter-duty tasks such as removing a bit of dirt from outdoor furniture might need only 100 bars of pressure, whereas a vehicle might need 110. If you anticipate removing loads of grime – for example, from a driveway, between patio stones or from agricultural equipment – look for a washer which can put out 120 bars or more of water pressure. The ideal pressure washer uses a “vario lance” which allows the pressure to be adjusted as you work.
A few extras can greatly increase the functionality of your pressure washer. Different nozzle types create a variety of spray patterns; using manufacturer-approved cleaning agents ensures compatibility with the pressure washer and maximizes performance; and extender hoses allow you to work further away from the water supply, if the washer doesn’t have its own tank. (Note: It’s not always necessary to use a cleaning agent. For environmental reasons, use plain water whenever possible.)
Other accessories that can be included with your pressure washer, or bought separately include; brushes, telescopic spray lance, patio cleaner, gutter cleaner, multi power jet nozzle, extension hose, trigger gun, drain cleaner, foam bottle.
With that said, most model come with a detergent attachment, ideal for cleaning cars. Some of the more expensive models can actually heat that water, allowing you to use the power of hot soupy pressurized water for ultimate cleaning power.
Power cables and hoses can easily become tangled – look for a pressure washer which keeps them neat, protected and right where you need them at all times. If you haven’t much room to store the machine itself, consider a vertical unit which stands upright.
Pressure washers, particularly heavy duty models, can weigh a lot. Wheels and handles which can be used to both push and pull the washer to and fro are helpful to have.
Good Water Flow and Auto-start/stop.
Though water pressure is very important – if it’s insufficient, you won’t blast away dirt no matter how long you try – also look for a pressure washer with a good flow rate of at least 400 litres per hour. This may seem like a lot of water, but it’s much less than a garden hose would use for the equivalent task, because the stream of water is concentrated and optimized for cleaning. A feature which automatically starts and shuts off the washer will prolong motor life by reducing engine wear and stress.
How Much Pressure Do I really Need?
Following are guidelines which will help you choose and most effectively use your pressure washer for different cleaning tasks. Generally a 100 bar pressure washer will be sufficient for all cleaning tasks. But the more pressure the machine can produce then the more cleaning power you have for tough dirt removal.
- 100 bar: Outdoor furniture; garden tools; barbecues; bicycles; outdoor toys; compost and rubbish bins.
- 110 bar: Motor vehicles (slowly increase pressure to avoid damaging paint); pools and hot tubs; boats; gutters; wood fences; walls and objects coated in outdoor-rated paint (again, use caution and increase pressure slowly.)
- 120 bar and higher: Driveways; bricks; stone patios; agricultural equipment.
As spring approaches, the filth left behind by winter – courtesy of melting snow and ice, salt and sand – will make its annual appearance; and as summer turns to fall, the inevitable dirt left on your tools and patio furniture after months of enjoyment will sully their functionality and appearance – so don’t put off getting a pressure washer any longer.
Once you try one, you’ll wonder how you ever managed to keep things clean without it!
What’s The Best Pressure Washer?
There are many to choose from, but we really like the Karcher K4 pressure washer. You can find out everything about this cleaning marvol in our in-depth review by clicking the green button below.