The ACTIVE Guide to Selecting the Right Pressure Washer
Jude Sahabandu

The ACTIVE Guide to Selecting the Right Pressure Washer

What is a pressure washer?

A pressure washer, also known as a power washer, is a motor driven device that propels water at high pressure to remove dirt, dust, grime, and stains from vehicles, siding, concrete and stone, wood fences and decks, windows, and much more around the house.

Why would you need a pressure washer?

Tough cleaning jobs that would take hours to perform manually with a garden hose, bucket and scrub brush, can be completed in a fraction of the time with the help of a pressure washer. Not only do pressure washers make quick work of these cleaning projects, they also reduce overall water consumption by as much as 80%.

What are the basic components of a pressure washer?

The composition of a pressure washer is not complex, which makes setting up and operating straightforward. Irrespective of which pressure washer brand or unit you purchase, the basic product components will be as follows;

Electric Motor or Gas Engine — The power source for the high pressure pump. On electric models the motor is concealed inside the body of the pressure washer, while on a gas models the engine is readily visible.

Water Inlet — (electric or gas/diesel) Attaches to a garden hose and draws water into the pump from the faucet.

High Pressure Pump — Water is drawn into the high pressure pump where it is pressurized before being expelled through the water outlet.

High Pressure Hose — Specially designed and reinforced to safely transport the pressurized water to the spray gun.

Spray Gun/Wand — Designed with a trigger system, the spray gun enables the user and engage and disengage the high pressure water spray by squeezing or releasing the trigger in the gun handle.

Wheels — Allows for the pressure washer to be easily rolled from location to location – no lifting.


In addition to these key components, you will find that some units come with on-board detergent tanks or detergent applicators, spray tips that allow you to alter the spray pattern of the water, and other accessory attachments designed for specific cleaning projects such as automobiles, floor scrubbing, or window washing.

What are some Pressure Washer terms to keep in mind?

When shopping for a pressure washer you may come across some unfamiliar terms. The following is a glossary of the most common terms and their definitions.

PSI: Pounds Per Square Inch, is a measure of the water pressure generated by the pump. The higher the PSI, the more pressure that is being generated.

GPM: Gallons Per Minute, refers to the volume of water that the pressure washer uses when the spray gun is engaged. Higher GPM typically means more effective cleaning.

CU: Cleaning Units, is calculated by multiplying PSI x GPM. The combined number is a good overall indicator of relative cleaning effectiveness, with higher being better.

CC: Cubic Centimeters, is a common measurement of gas engine size. The higher the CC, the larger the engine and the more power it will generate.

How can you select the right pressure washer for your needs?