Use the high-pressure cleaner to clean surfaces in the garden or at the house. It helps to clean even stubborn dirt on the floor, facade or in gutters. Carefully used, you can even use the pressure washer to clean your car, boat and bike. Stiftung Warentest hat 13 Popular models tested and the Kärcher K5 Premium Full Control Home voted a top recommendation. The test winner costs around 350 Euro. Recommended high-pressure cleaners are available from 200 Euro. Details on the models and all other information can be found here.
The test was carried out by Stiftung Warentest and in issue 3 / 2020 released.
Colloquially, working with the high-pressure cleaner in this country is called “kärchern” – this shows the importance of the manufacturer Kärcher. It is not surprising that the market leader is heavily represented in the Stiftung Warentest ranking. But the competition can also convince with their own models. The experts not only looked at cleaning performance and handling, but also at environmental factors such as operating noise or water consumption. All high pressure cleaners have been tested with surface cleaners. If this was not included in the accessories, the attachment was purchased.
The result: No pressure washer in the test achieved the overall rating “very good”, for however, there are four models with the rating “good”. The middle field is made up of five “satisfactory” devices, some with good cleaning performance but poor marks in other areas. Two models still achieve the rating “sufficient”. The two last places fall through completely – including a Kärcher: Their durability is poor, so the overall assessment cannot be any better.
Read this in our article: The recommendations from the We present the test first in an overview and then in detail. Then we give a price estimate and explain the test procedure of Stiftung Warentest. In our purchase advice we give you a lot of information about pressure washers, answer questions and give you alternatives.
high pressure cleaner test winner
The best pressure washers according to Stiftung Warentest
1. Recommendation: Kärcher K 5 Premium Full Control Plus Home (test winner)
- Good cleaning performance
- Comfortable handling
- Excellent durability
- Risk of pinching the handle
- Loud operating noise
- Detergent is overdosed
The Kärcher K 5 Premium Full Control Plus Home achieved the best overall rating in the test: 2.0 (good). As with all Kärcher models, the K 5 is available in several versions. “Full Control” improves control, the “Home” version comes with the surface cleaner as an accessory. The cleaning the experts did not quite rate the top value in the test, but still great. To switch from flat jet to rotor mode, the nozzle is turned. The surface cleaner is installed, but the pressure level can be precisely regulated via the full control system.
The testers evaluate the handling as well . You only criticize the pull handle, it can snap back into the holder – there is a risk of pinching. The eight meter long pressure hose offers a good working radius, there is a suspension for the power cable. In the endurance test, the Kärcher shows an excellent durability . In the area environment and health on the other hand, it is only average. Water and electricity consumption are good and the experts did not find any pollutants, but the device makes too much noise and the dosage of the cleaning agent is wasteful. The declaration of the technical characteristics essentially fits.
The high pressure cleaner Kärcher K 5 Premium Full Control Plus Home you get for around 350 Euro. There are cheaper versions without hose reel (no “premium”), without LCD display (no “plus”) or without surface cleaner (no “home”). The complete package is worth the price.
2. Recommendation: Kärcher K 4 Compact Home (price tip)
- Good cleaning performance
- Quietest device in the test
- Excellent durability
- No holder for the power cable
- surface cleaner could be better
- detergent is overdosed
Kärcher has a particularly compact device for occasional use on offer. In the rating, the suitably baptized Kärcher K 4 Compact Home space 3 (grade 2.3), but at the same time has the best price-performance ratio. The pressure washer only weighs 12 kilogram and measures half of some large models in size. Nevertheless, the portable device is not lacking in performance cleaning rate the testers as good. There are hardly any weaknesses when using the rotor nozzle and the flat jet, only the surface cleaner could be a little more effective. The pump pressure can be regulated, but the extensive full control system is not on board.
The Handling is only mediocre. Working with the high-pressure cleaner works well overall, but is not as comfortable as with the large devices. A holder for the rolled-up power cable is missing and the pull handle can snap back into the holder, which puts the fingers in danger of getting caught. The durability in the endurance test is excellent. In the area environment and health the Kärcher even performs best. This is mainly due to the fact that it is the quietest device in the test. Water and electricity consumption are good, pollutants cannot be determined. Also the declaration of the technical characteristics is ok.
The Kärcher K 4 Compact Home , i.e. the device including surface cleaner, costs around 220 Euro. The K-4 model is also available in the “non-compact” version with the usual configurations.
3. Recommendation: Nilfisk E 160.1-10 PADH X-Tra (Best Cleaning)
- Best cleaning performance in the test
- Comfortable handling
- Long pressure hose
- Wear and tear on the housing
- Heavy and bulky
- Quite expensive
The Nilfisk E 160.1-10 PADH X-Tra takes second place in the overall ranking (grade 2.2) and is only just behind the test winner. The combination offer including surface cleaner is still available from dealers, but is no longer officially offered. Alternatively, you can use model E 160.1-10 H X-Tra and the matching Power Patio surface cleaner must be bought separately. The latter shows great results in the test. The device's rotor and flat jet nozzle are also impressive. This gives the Nilfisk in the category cleaning the top grade in the test. It allows quick and thorough work.
Also the Handling the examiners are among the best among the test devices, so the control in particular is very user-friendly. The 10 Meter-long pressure hose offers a good working radius and can be easily rolled up on the drum. The downer is the durability : In the endurance test, the experts found damage to the housing and nozzles. This ensures sensitive devaluations. In the area environment and health essentially everything fits, even the detergent is dosed sparingly. The declaration the technical properties are in good agreement with reality, the impression in this area is also great.
The price for the high-pressure cleaner Nilfisk E 160.1-10 PADH X-Tra is a bit high, it costs around 410 Euro. The Nilfisk E 160.1-10 H X-Tra without surface cleaner you get round 40 Euro cheaper.
4. Recommendation: Globus Baumarkt Primaster high-pressure cleaner 2500 Watts (cheap & solid)
- Solid cleaning performance
- User-friendly control
- Excellent durability
- Pretty hard
- Loud operating noise
- detergent is heavily overdosed
Good pressure washers can also be found under the own brands of the hardware stores. This is how the Primaster pressure washer 2500 Watt from the Globus hardware store in fourth place overall. It is the last “good” device in the test (grade 2.4). When cleaning the Primaster performs almost well. The rotor nozzle and surface cleaner show good results, but according to the testers, the flat jet could be better. Nevertheless, it is a solid performance.
Working with the adjustable spray lance is comfortable, the 8 meter long hose offers plenty of scope and can be stowed on the hose reel. Despite minor weaknesses in the instructions and in cleaning and maintenance, there is an impression of handling Good. With the durability the DIY store own brand is in no way inferior to the branded products. Only in the area Environment and Health there are worse ratings. The operating noise is clearly too loud for the testers and the detergent is overdosed. The general water consumption is also somewhat high. The declaration does not match the real values - there are devaluations here.
Den Primaster pressure washer 2500 Watt is available at Globus hardware store for around 250) Euro, that represents a good price-performance ratio. Slightly weaker versions are also offered.
How much do I have to spend on a good pressure washer?
High pressure cleaners are available in different sizes and performance classes. You can also find it in the area for 100 Euro already solidly processed device e, but these are only suitable for light soiling and occasional use. This can be enough for cleaning vehicles. But if you want to deal with the dirt on the terrace or on the house wall, you have to spend more. You get solid mid-range devices from 200 Euro, here the effectiveness of the nozzle, the water pressure and the general durability are correct. The price range also extends in the home user area to 500 Euro. The most expensive devices rarely clean better, but usually offer additional functions or are particularly easy to use. The test by Stiftung Warentest resulted in a top recommendation for around 350 Euro, a cleaning champion for around 400 euros and a price tip for around 220 Euro – that shows quite realistic, how much you have to spend for a powerful pressure washer.
High-pressure cleaner in the test: How were the devices rated?
Stiftung Warentest tests the cleaning performance of the high-pressure cleaners in several practical tests. For example, the devices have to remove black emulsion paint from plastic panels in a controlled manner, but also clean everyday pavement panels. Both the rotating nozzle and the flat jet nozzle and the surface cleaner are used. The point cleaning does 40 percent of the total grade. With 30 Percentage share of the final result handling is also very important. Here, several users assess the instructions for use and the commissioning of the high-pressure cleaner. Ease of use, transport and storage are included in the rating. Finally, it is also checked how well the devices can be cleaned and serviced.
In a continuous test with 300 cycles in which all nozzles and Pressure levels are used, the durability of the high-pressure cleaner is assessed. Damage that has occurred is also taken into account in this evaluation. On the one hand, the environment and health area deals with properties such as water and electricity consumption as well as possible pollutants in the handles. Attention is also paid to an economical dosage of the cleaning agent. On the other hand, this includes the volume during operation. The measured values in terms of volume and power are finally compared with the manufacturer's specifications, which means that deviations in the declaration are determined. The electrical safety is also checked, but there were no abnormalities in the current test run. Bad sub-ratings in individual areas can lead to devaluations.
This is how a pressure washer works
Anyone who cleans surfaces with a garden hose is limited to the performance pressure that comes from the tap. When in doubt, this is around 5 bar and this is often not enough for stubborn dirt. In these cases, pressure washers are extremely popular. With the built-in pump, increase the operating pressure to 100 bar or more and generate a sharp, bundled water jet in the nozzle. This has a high cleaning effect on suitable surfaces. The water pump for high-pressure cleaners for home use is usually driven by an electric motor, and professional engines also have internal combustion engines.
Different nozzles can be mounted on the steel pipe of the high-pressure cleaner. The fan-shaped flat jet is suitable for light dirt and covers a larger area. The so-called “dirt cutter” creates a rotating, targeted water jet that can be used to loosen heavily encrusted dirt. There are also surface cleaners whose nozzles hover above the floor, as well as various types of brushes. Hot water high-pressure cleaners also heat the water, which ensures a better dirt-removing effect. However, these devices are more expensive.
You should pay attention to this when buying a pressure washer
- size of the application area
The prices for the different models of high pressure cleaners for home use range from below 100 up to over 600 Euro, so entry-level to mid-range devices. Which price range contains the right device depends on how much space you want to clean. If you only want to clean garden furniture on the terrace with the high-pressure cleaner, you can also cope with a cheaper device with less power. However, if you have planned to clean garden paths, vehicles or entire facades, you need more power. Some manufacturers state a square meter per hour value for this.
- Water pressure & delivery rate
The water pressure is the main guideline for the cleaning performance of the high-pressure cleaner. Cheap entry-level devices spray here occasionally with 100 bar pressure, which is sufficient for light dirt. More common are devices with 100 to 200 bar pressure. Added to this is the delivery rate, i.e. how much water is pumped through the high-pressure cleaner. The manufacturers usually give this value in liters per hour: Use smaller devices 350 l / h, i.e. around six liters of water per minute, particularly powerful high-pressure cleaners up to 600 l / h. The values are maximum values and can usually be regulated, so you can also use a lower power.
- Power Consumption & Cable
High pressure cleaners for home use are usually equipped with an electric motor and are plugged into the house power. Power consumption here also depends on usage, but larger devices of course offer a higher overall performance. Entry-level devices have a maximum power consumption of around 1. 400 Watts, for large devices there are up to 3. 000 Watt. Owners of sweeping gardens, where there are no external sockets everywhere, should consider whether they want to use extension cables. The alternative is a high-pressure cleaner with a petrol engine or a device with a battery. The latter inevitably have a little less power.
- Use of cleaning agents
One of the advantages of pressure washers is that you normally no longer need any cleaning agents because the strong water jet is sufficient. In some cases, particularly stubborn dirt is no different. For this purpose, many high-pressure cleaners have a container for cleaning agents or a connection to which suitable containers can be attached.
- Nozzles and other accessories
Most manufacturers include a flat jet nozzle for surface cleaning and a rotor nozzle for dirt-removing power with their high-pressure cleaners. However, there are other nozzles and accessories that can be included in the combination offer or must be purchased separately. There are surface cleaners, brushes, foam nozzles or specially angled nozzles for hard-to-reach places. In addition, some devices come with a cleaning agent or splash protection attachments. An LED display on the handle of the high-pressure cleaner is also practical for precise operation.
- Weight & compactness
pressure washers come in different sizes, whereby there are also compact versions of many models. If you have little storage space or need to transport the device, you should pay attention to the dimensions and weight. The smallest devices are often hardly larger than a hand-held vacuum cleaner and weigh only four kilograms. Everything about it usually comes in the form of a trolley. High-pressure cleaners with high performance for home use are sometimes almost one meter high and over 20 Kilograms. However, the tube can usually be disassembled and stowed away well.
- Noise development
High pressure cleaners are significantly louder than lawnmowers during operation or vacuum cleaner. The manufacturers usually do not specify a volume in decibels. It is therefore worth reading reviews from other users, as the excessive noise may be mentioned there. Some devices reach a volume of over 90 decibels, hearing damage is likely here after a long period of use. Anyone who uses the high-pressure cleaner regularly should wear hearing protection.
What are the advantages of pressure washers?
- time and energy saving
With the high-pressure cleaner, surfaces can be cleaned faster and more effectively and exhausting scrubbing with a sponge and No brush Difficult spots in particular – the underside of vehicles or cutouts in the facade – are easier to reach with a pipe and nozzle.
- Protection of the environment
Pressure washers come with comparatively little water because they use it effectively. At the same time, in most cases, the use of cleaning agents is not necessary, which not only protects the wallet, but also keeps pollutants from nature. With electrically operated high-pressure cleaners, there are also no direct exhaust gases – but of course electricity is consumed.
- Protection of health
Since pressure washers only work with water , there is no harmful residue. The cleaned objects and surfaces are normally completely harmless for children or allergy sufferers.
- Better cleaning effect
When using a high-pressure cleaner, unsightly results Avoid cleaning marks on smooth surfaces, such as those left by rags or brushes on car paints.
What are the disadvantages of pressure washers?
- Risk of injury
Pressure washers are not without their dangers. It is not only the high-pressure jet itself that can injure people, particles and objects that the hard water jet throws into the air are particularly dangerous. Safety glasses and clothing with long sleeves prevent injuries. Nevertheless, the risk of improper use remains, and especially children should not have access.
- Unsuitable materials
Not all surfaces hold the sharp water jet stand, they can therefore suffer damage. This applies in particular to vehicles in which paints, rubber seals and tires can be affected. A safety distance is essential. When working in the garden, using the high-pressure cleaner can damage plants. In addition, there are dangerous materials in old buildings, for example facades with asbestos, which under no circumstances may be treated with a water jet, because then dangerous fibers get into the environment.
- Risk of short circuits
Find on terraces or in garden sheds often outlets, distributors and other sensitive electrical installations. The high-pressure cleaner itself is also an electrical device. So if you handle a jet of water near it, be careful. Pressure washers are waterproof to prevent short circuits, but leaks are always possible.
What can and can not be cleaned with pressure washers?
The application area of high-pressure cleaners is diverse: Sidewalk tiles in the garden and the terrace can be cleaned of dirt and moss, and you can also get dirty garden tools and garden furniture without much Force clean. Vehicles from bicycles to motorbikes to cars get rid of street dirt. But the high-pressure cleaner is also effective on large areas and helps to clean house facades or roller shutters – even in hard-to-reach places.
In some cases, however, you should not use the high-pressure cleaner: Sensitive surfaces such as sandstone, wood or certain facades can be damaged by the water jet and even tear open. You can always clean the frame of vehicles, but rubber parts are sensitive. Cleaning the car on the roadside is even prohibited in many places because it can release pollutants. The trip to the car wash, on the other hand, protects the environment and the paintwork. Cleaning electronics with the high-pressure cleaner is of course completely taboo.
Pressure Washer Accessories: Which One Are There?
- Flat jet nozzle
Most high-pressure cleaners come with a flat jet nozzle as standard. This emits a fan-shaped water jet with which surfaces can be cleaned. The wide jet is gentler for many materials, but does not develop the full effect of water pressure.
- Dirt blaster
The dirt blaster creates a rotating point beam that removes heavy dirt even in hard-to-reach places thanks to the movement and the effective water jet. Many high-pressure cleaners already have a dirt blaster as an accessory, but it can also be bought later.
- Surface cleaner
The nozzles of the surface cleaner are located under a cover and between brushes. The attachment moves loosely over surfaces and, for example, cleans patios or pavement slabs faster and more effectively than a single jet of water. The cover also acts as a splash guard.
- To brush
Brush attachments for the pipe of the high-pressure cleaner are available in different versions. Bristles that protect the surface prevent damage to sensitive surfaces, other brushes scrub and loosen stubborn dirt. Some of the brushes also complement other nozzles.
Alternatives to the pressure washer
- steam jet
Steam jets form a special category: These devices heat water – under high pressure – to temperatures well above 100 ° C. This is possible because the boiling point of the water shifts upwards as the pressure increases. Professional devices work with up to 180 bar pressure
- steam cleaner
Steam cleaners are a simpler alternative, but they only work with normal water pressure and only develop their cleaning effect through the heat. You can also vacuum instead of spraying. Manufacturers offer various wet and dry vacuum cleaners here, also for outdoor use.
Pressure washers from discounters
Since high-pressure cleaners are so popular, discounters Aldi and Lidl also mix special offers on the market. Kärcher models are sometimes offered at reasonable prices, but at times there are also high-pressure cleaners from the company's own brands, such as Workzone at Aldi and Parkside at Lidl. The devices are mostly entry-level devices for under 100 Euro, so intended for easier cleaning work. The high-pressure cleaners usually show good cleaning performance in tests, but they also have weaknesses in device quality and durability.
More tips on pressure washers
Pressure washers are practical, but it is not always worth buying them, especially if the device is only used occasionally. Most hardware stores have a rental service where you can borrow equipment for a fee. High-pressure cleaners are often also available there. The manufacturer Kärcher also has an offer for rental equipment, but this is aimed at business customers and local authorities, who can request professional and industrial high-pressure cleaners there, for example.
The most important questions about pressure washers at a glance
Which pressure washer is the best?
The best high-pressure cleaner in the test is the Kärcher K 5 Premium Full Control Plus Home for around 350 Euro. If you only want to remove dirt occasionally, the Kärcher K 4 Compact Home is sufficient. You get the price tip for around 220 Euro and it is equally high quality.
Are there high pressure cleaners with battery or petrol engine?
As a rule, high-pressure cleaners are supplied with power via a mains cable. Since the water pump has a high power consumption, cordless tools such as the Kärcher K 2 Battery usually have a lower power. Devices with a petrol engine can usually only be found in the commercial sector.
Are there high pressure cleaners with hot water?
pressure washer, which instead of cold water from the line that Heat up the water additionally, under certain circumstances clean it more effectively. However, they are much more bulky than conventional models and are mainly offered in the commercial sector, so they often cost over 1. 000 Euro – exaggerated for home.
Which high pressure cleaners are suitable for car and bicycle?
Most pressure washers are suitable for cleaning vehicles, but excessive water pressure can cause damage. You should also avoid the rotating dirt blaster. Therefore, a less powerful device is completely sufficient for cleaning cars and bicycles with the flat jet.
Can you borrow high-pressure cleaners?
Many construction – and specialist markets offer high pressure cleaners to borrow. This is practical and cheap if you only clean the terrace occasionally and do not want to buy your own device for it. The manufacturers themselves generally only offer rental services for commercial users and municipalities.