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Regular car cleaning protects the car paint against elements like dirt and dust that have accumulated over time. Also, it’s a great way to preserve the car paint finish by removing any tree sap and bird droppings that have found their way onto the car’s body.
To accomplish this, you can either take your vehicle to a car wash every day, wash the car by hand at home with a soft wash mitt and a buckler of mild soapy water or buy the best pressure washer for car cleaning and detailing!
Of all these options, pressure washing is considered the best and easiest approach by professionals and car cleaning enthusiasts alike since it requires less effort than hand washing.
Also, this piece of equipment will save you a lot of money in the long run since you don’t have to drive through a brick-and-mortar car wash anymore, which can be quite costly.
Unfortunately, with so many pressure washers available, from industrial strength to portable models and electric to gas units, finding the right equipment for your needs can be a daunting task.
That’s why, in this guide, we’ve done extensive research to bring you some of the best pressure washers that you can use to clean and detail your vehicle without damaging the car paint!
5 Best Pressure Washers for Car Cleaning & Detailing
1. Sun Joe SPX3000 Electric Pressure Washer
If you’re looking for a pressure washer that is affordable, reliable, and powerful, then Sun Joe SPX3000 electric pressure washer is an excellent option for you!
Moreover, it’s considered the most efficient pressure washer for cleaning cars and performing other tasks around the house, thanks to its water usage and efficient power.
For starters, this pressure washer is equipped with an 1800W, 14.5A motor that generates up to 2030 PSI with a flow rate of 1.76GPM to provide exceptional cleaning power.
Specifically, this mid-range power is ideal for cleaning cars, patios, small driveways, bikes, decks, or even outdoor furniture.
On top of that, this versatile pressure washer comes with two 0.9L onboard soap dispensers instead of one tank layout like in other products. Although 0.9L is not much, having 2 detergent tanks will allow you to use 2 different detergents at the same time.
Even better, this device has a Total Stop System that automatically shuts off the pump when the trigger isn’t engaged to save energy and extend its lifespan.
In addition, this unit comes with a 35 ft power cord, a replaceable garden hose adapter, and a 20 ft hose. Plus, you’ll get 5 different nozzles/ spray tips with quick-connect technology, including a 0, 15, 25, and 40-degree option.
This makes it easy to choose the water pressure that works well for the cleaning task at hand. The 0-degree spray tip is the most powerful, while the 40-degree nozzle is very gentle, making it ideal for cleaning windows and other delicate surfaces.
Interestingly, despite having all these incredible features, the Sun Joe SPX300 pressure washer is relatively affordable. Plus, you’ll get a 2 -year warranty and a needle clean-out tool that you can use to keep your pressure washer in good condition.
- 2030 PSI Rating
- 1.76 GPM water flow rate
- 2-year warranty
- Powerful 1800W motor
- Automatic Total Stop System
- Dual on-board removable detergent tanks
- 5 quick-connect spray tips/ nozzles
- Easy to assemble & use
- The automatic TSS feature offers improved energy savings
- Powerful water pressure for tough cleaning jobs
- Extra long 35 ft power cord for greater reach
- Reasonable price for its effectiveness & features
- Lacks a hose reel
- Some users claim the 20 ft hose is short
2. Stanley SHP2150 Pressure Washer
Stanley is a reputable brand that is well-known for manufacturing incredible products with exceptional qualities. Well, this Stanley SHP2150 electric pressure washer is no different!
Despite its lightweight and compact design, the SHP2150 has a powerful 13A motor that delivers a flow rate of up to 1.4 gallons per minute (GPM) with a maximum pressure of 2150 PSI.
As a result, it can handle light- and heavy-duty tasks including washing your car’s exterior from any angle. In addition, you can use it to power wash your outdoor furniture, RVs as well as ATVs.
Another stand-out feature of this pressure washer is that it’s equipped with a telescoping handle and various accessories. These accessories include a 25 ft high-pressure hose, foam cannon, and a pressure washer wand & gun.
Moreover, the set includes 4 removable quick-connect nozzles, giving you more choices for washing your ride. Best of all, the tool comes with a professional-grade brass hose connector to secure the connections and prevent leaks.
On the downside, this power washer comes with a relatively higher price tag compared to the Sun Joe SPX3000 model. In addition, it does not have an inbuilt detergent tank since its foamer only comes in the form of a foam cannon.
For that, it may not be the best option if you prefer a pressure washer that has a dedicated storage tank for the detergent solution. Other than that, if you want a compact, lightweight, versatile & effective pressure for washing your car, then this Stanley SHP2150 is an incredible choice!
- Water Flow: 1.4 GPM
- Pressure Rating: 2150 PSI
- Telescoping handle
- 2-year limited warranty
- 25 ft high-pressure hose
- 35 ft power cord
- Includes a 28 Oz foam cannon
- Leak-Proof Professional grade brass connections
- Lightweight and compact design for easy transportation and storage
- Versatile washer and foamer system
- Quiet operation
- 80% savings on water usage
- Comes with 4 quick-connect nozzles
- Lacks an inbuilt detergent tank
3. Karcher K1700 Pressure Washer for car cleaning and detailing
As the name suggests, this Karcher K1700 Pressure washer is designed to produce up to 1700 PSI, making it a great option for washing cars. On top of that, it’s easy to move around, thanks to the big wheels and lightweight design, seeing that it only weighs 20.7 lbs. Other notable features include a removable 0.5-gallon soap tank and a removable bucket that also acts as hose storage.
Surprisingly, even with its lightweight & compact design, this pressure washer generates the same pressure washing power as you would get with a large machine. To be precise, it generates up to 1700 PSI at a flow rate of about 1.2 Gallons Per Minute (GPM).
In addition, it’s equipped with standard M22 pressure washer connectors and 3 universal quick-connect spray nozzles. This gives you the freedom of choice when looking for the best accessory for car detailing.
The 15-degree nozzle is ideal for all-purpose applications, while the turbo and detergent nozzles are intended for focused cleaning power and soap application respectively.
Unlike regular pressure washers, this machine has a foot pedal switch that you can use to turn it on and off without bending down to prevent back strain. In addition, the machine has a power cord storage at the top of the handle, which also eliminates the need to bend down to stow it neatly.
The only issue with this pressure washer is that its hose is only 20 ft long, which some users claim may not provide enough reach. However, you can easily swap it out for a longer one that will give you more room to finish rinsing off your vehicle.
- Weight: 20.7 lbs
- Maximum Pressure: 1700 PSI
- 20 ft long hose
- Flow rate: 1.2 GPM
- 13A motor
- 3-year limited warranty
- Comes with 3 spray nozzles (turbo, all-purpose & detergent nozzle)
- Easy on-off foot pedal switch
- 0.5-gallon detergent tank
- Removable storage bin for accessories
- Portable design
- Shorter 20 ft hose
4. Greenworks GP2002 Pressure Washer
Although this GreensWork pressure washer is only powered by a 13A motor, it can perform any type of cleaning that you would want for your car. Thanks to its powerful 2000 PSI pump that blasts through grime and dirt at 1.2 Gallon Per Minute (GPM) to restore your car’s surface.
Plus, it’s one of the few pressure washers that has been rated and tested according to the PWMA (Pressure Washer Manufacturers’ Association) guidelines!
Moving on, this pressure washer is equipped with a push-to-start button and disengages automatically when it’s not in use because of the start/ stop technology.
In addition, it’s relatively easy to use as it comes with a 35 ft power cord and a 20 ft hose. Not to forget the soap siphon hose that allows you to switch between pressure washing and using cleaning detergents with ease.
Another interesting feature of this pressure washer is that it’s designed to be mobile. For instance, it has large wheels for portability, while the power cord and high-pressure hose are long enough to get around your vehicle.
In addition, this machine comes with ¼” quick-connect fittings that allow you to attach your foam cannon or the GreenWorks foam gun. At the same time, this pressure washer comes with 2 quick-connect nozzles and an attachable detergent bottle.
As for ease of use, this unit has an ergonomic and lightweight design, making it user-friendly to everyone since the chances of getting fatigued are low. Best of all, it can either be used horizontally or vertically for added stability, while its sturdy construction ensures that it will last for years!
- Water Flow Rate: 1.2GPM
- Pressure Rating: 2000 PSI
- Powerful 13A induction motor
- 25 ft high-pressure hose & 35 ft power cord
- Inbuilt soap tank & onboard hose reel
- 3-year warranty
- Compact & lightweight design
- Easy to assemble and use
- Comes with 4 quick-connecting nozzles (25 deg, 40 deg, turbo & soap spray tip)
- Convenient transportation and storage
- Can be used horizontally and vertically
- A bit pricey for its features
5. Ryobi Electric Pressure Washer for car cleaning and detailing
Last on our list is this Ryobi 2000 PS1 pressure washer which is designed to handle even the toughest jobs. Thanks to its powerful 13A electric motor and pressure technology, allowing it delivers up to 200 pounds per sq inch (PSI) of force at a flow rate of 1.2 GPM.
This pressure output is ideal for quick cleaning of cars, driveways, windows, decks, and other parts around your home.
Another notable feature displayed by this unit is that it comes with a durable roll cage frame design, making it easy to move around. Plus, it’s equipped with a removable detergent tank for hassle-free clean-up and easy soap application.
On the same note, the machine has onboard accessory storage and a hose reel for added convenience.
For an extra boost, this device comes with 3 nozzles/ spray tips including a soap and turbo nozzle that provides up to 50% more cleaning power for tough applications. More notably, the machine comes with a holder for the different tips that it uses.
Unfortunately, this power washer doesn’t come with a foam cannon. However, you’ll get quick-connection metal fittings and a non-marring M22 x 14mm hose, allowing you to attach a foam cannon.
- 3-year warranty
- Power source: corded electric
- Max Pressure: 2000 PSI
- Weight: 32 lbs
- 25 ft hose length
- Removable detergent tank for convenient soap application
- Power shuts off automatically when the trigger is released
- Onboard storage for accessories
- Comes with 3 quick-connect nozzles/ spray tips
- Delivers maximum cleaning power
- Does not come with a foam cannon
Things to consider when buying the best pressure washer for car cleaning and detailing
A pressure washer will not be very useful if you cannot control the stream of soap or water coming out of the nozzle. For that reason, it’s important to look for a machine that is equipped with an adjustable nozzle.
That way, you can easily change the angle of the spray or the intensity of the water that is coming out.
Typically, pressure washers are either equipped with an all-in-one adjustable nozzle or a set of colored interchangeable nozzles. The adjustable model is more streamlined and easier to deal with since it allows you to adjust the water pressure with ease.
However, if you prefer a machine that comes with a set of interchangeable nozzles, make sure you know the intended use of each type of spray tip/ nozzle. For instance, the 0-degree option is the most powerful and concentrated nozzle setting, while the 15 deg nozzle is intended for heavy-duty cleaning.
On the other hand, the 25 deg nozzle setting is designed for general cleaning, while the 40 deg setting can be used on cars, boats, outdoor furniture, and other easily damaged surfaces.
Cleaning Power Unit
Cleaning Power Units (CPU) of a pressure washer helps you evaluate how well a particular machine can clean your car. You can easily calculate the CPU of various pressure washers by multiplying their GPM by the PSI (pressure rating).
GPM measures the flow or how much water is being used by the machine in a minute, while the PSI determines its ability to lift stains and dirt from the surface you are cleaning.
While a pressure washer with a high flow or about 2 GPM will get the job done quickly, you may end up damaging the car paint. For that reason, the best pressure washers for car cleaning should have a flow rate of around 1.2 – 1.3 GPM.
Similarly, you should avoid a machine with an extremely high-pressure rating as it can be too strong for the car’s exterior. Instead, choose a pressure washer with a maximum pressure rating of about 2000 PSI to ensure a balanced and solid Cleaning Power Unit (CPU).
Although all the water usually comes out of the pressure washer through the wand, it’s important to consider the length of the hose as it will determine your reach. For instance, buying a pressure washer with a short hose will limit your movement while cleaning the car.
So, if you are looking for versatility, make sure you choose a machine with a lengthy hose of about 20 to 50-foot range.
Electric Vs Gas-Powered Pressure washers: Which is better for car cleaning?
Pressure washers can be classified into 2 main categories depending on their power source; gas and electric! Each type of pressure washer has its pros and cons. More importantly, the type of power source determines how much force the machine can generate, making it important to know their differences to help you make a more informed decision.
Gas Powered Pressure washers
In general, gas-powered pressure washers are more powerful than their electric counterparts, with their pressure rating ranging from 2000 – 4000 PSI. In addition, gas pressure washers are usually more expensive, loud, and heavy and require special storage and maintenance since they use gasoline.
On the bright side, gas-powered devices are more mobile since they don’t have a power cord. Plus, they generate a lot of power, making them ideal for handling large jobs and intense tasks like removing car paint.
However, they’re not recommended for car cleaning and detailing since their pressure rating is considered too strong for the car’s exterior. Moreover, they’re usually used for professional and industrial applications due to their high initial costs.
Electric Pressure Washers
Unlike gas-powered pressure washers, electric models are usually designed for household use, instead of industrial applications and feature a push-to-start button. More notability, they run more cleanly and quietly than their gas counterparts, making them ideal for indoor and outdoor use.
On the downside, electric pressure washers don’t offer the upper power ranges that some gas models deliver. Instead, most electric pressure washers produce about 1000 – 3000 PSI pressure rating, maxing out at a flow rate of about 2.0GPM.
Interestingly, this is enough power to handle most light to heavy-duty jobs like cleaning SUVs, trucks, and full-size sedans. In addition, they’re more affordable, portable, and lighter in weight, which allows you to move them around with ease.
Using the best pressure washer for car cleaning and detailing is more effective than going to a conventional car wash or using a sponge. This is because the machine uses high water pressure to blast away grime, bugs, and dirt from your car instead of moving them around.
Hopefully, after going through this guide, you’ve found the right pressure washer that suits your needs. Our list only includes electric models since they’re more affordable and better suited for cleaning your car than gas-pressure washers!