Power Washer vs Pressure Washer

Crafted Garage is supported by its readers. This post contains affiliate links, we may earn a commission at no additional costs to you. We hope you love the products we recommend

Cleaning outdoor surfaces such as house exteriors, patios, driveways, RV’s and boats requires a lot more power than what your average garden hose can provide.

Power washers and pressure washers are heavy-duty, high-pressure machines which use water to remove grime and gunk.

Power washers and pressure washers may look the same, and have very similar end results, but there are a few key differences between them.

If you’re looking for a heavy-duty washer to handle your tough outdoor cleaning jobs, read on to find out which is best for you: power or pressure?

What is a power washer?

Power washers blast out a stream of heated water at a high pressure from a hand-held wand.

The water has been heated to a high temperature, and is often mixed with detergent.

The most obvious difference between pressure washers and power washers is the heat factor this doesn’t matter if it’s an electric power washer or a gas pressure washer.

You still get the high-pressure factor with a power washer, but it’s not the only factor to remove the grime and dirt.

When hot water is applied to soiled surfaces at a high-pressure, the stains are melted and corroded by the heat as they are dislodged by the pressure at the same time.

You can choose which temperature you would like the water to be heated to, depending on what you are cleaning.

The thermostat will tell you what the temperature is, and you can begin your cleaning when it reaches the desired temperature.

The cleaning power of heat, water and pressure can be fortified by adding detergent. Just like washing the dishes, detergent can get outdoor surfaces shiny and clean and help remove caked-on grime.

Power washers have a tank especially for the purpose of adding detergent to the cleaning system, so you can add whichever detergent fits your needs.


  • Can remove greasy, oil-based stains and stuck-on messes from hard surfaces
  • Can clean large areas and industrial/commercial areas thoroughly and quickly, saving time and offering quality maintenance of work spaces


  • Power washers can be a lot less sleek and discreet in terms of their construction, as they need to house more technology.
    If you want a lightweight, compact washer which is easy to store in tight spaces, then consider a pressure washer if your cleaning jobs are appropriate for it
  • Power washers tend to be more expensive than pressure washers, so make sure it’s completely necessary for you to have one before you make the investment

What is a pressure washer?

A pressure washer is a washer designed for exterior cleaning which uses water being blasted at a high pressure through a hose and wand.

The cleaning power comes from the pressure at which the water is being blasted, as it forcefully dislodges and moves debris.

The difference between a pressure washer and a power washer is that pressure washers do not heat the water.

Pressure washers come with a variety of nozzles which you can interchange.

These nozzles change the width and shape of the water stream so you can customize your cleaning style for each job.

More narrow nozzles create a stronger, more powerful stream, and fanned nozzles disperse the pressure for a gentler pressure.


  • Pressure washers are more likely to be compact and lightweight which makes them easy to transport, store, and maneuver from job to job
  • Pressure washers don’t require as much care and maintenance as power washers as their technology and construction is less complex
  • Pressure washers can reach an extremely high level of force, which means you can make non-greasy stains disappear and reveal a new-looking surface underneath
  • Pressure washers are generally far more affordable than power washers


  • Your cleaning options are limited with pressure washers, as they won’t make much of a different on oily stains and baked-on mess.
  • Even if you add detergent to your washer, it’s not going to be enough to corrode greasy substances
  • Like power washers, pressure washers can be a bit dangerous in the wrong hands, as the pressure is high enough to cause injury to people, and serious damage to delicate surfaces and objects

Which one is best for you?

Before you hand your money over for a power washer or pressure washer, think about what kinds of jobs you need it for.

There’s no point in buying something which isn’t going to serve you as well as it could. Here are some pointers to help you choose:

Jobs for a power washer

  • Cleaning grease and oil from concrete surfaces
  • Clearing stuck-on weeds, mold, mildew, moss from in between paving stones and bricks
  • Thick and dried-on mud deposits on concrete driveways, sidewalks or patios
  • Cleaning large areas with lots of caked-on matter
  • Cleaning industrial or commercial spaces where time and efficiency is important, as power cleaning gets the job done much faster than pressure washing


  • Power washers tend to need a bit more maintenance and upkeep as they have heating apparatus
  • Do your cleaning needs justify the cost and maintenance of a power washer, or would a pressure washer be sufficient?

Jobs for a pressure washer

  • Non-greasy stains and debris on driveways and patios
  • Dirt and dust on RV’s and boats
  • Clearing large deposits of leaves, weeds and dried grass
  • Clearing dry grime (dust and mud) from house exteriors


  • Greasy and oily messes won’t be cleaned as effectively with a pressure washer as they would with a power washer
  • Pressure washing tends to take a bit longer than power washing, due to the lack of heat being applied to the surface, so it’s best for smaller jobs


When comparing power washers and pressure washers, it all comes down to the temperature of the water.

Power washers use heated water to melt away gunk and greasy messes, while pressure washers use pure force to dislodge and shift dryer materials.

Both are just as good as the other, because it all depends on the job at hand.

Assess your cleaning needs and match them up to the washer that best fits the job.

Power Washer vs Pressure Washer