A good pressure washer is an essential tool if you want to properly detail your car. Not only does it help you shift the embedded dirt that regular washing cannot cut through, but it also speeds up the car cleaning process and unlocks the awesome power of snow foaming.
Problem is, it can be a real faff getting a traditional pressure washer set up. Most full-sized pressure washers are quite ungainly and you'll more than likely need to set up the extension cable to reach your car. And then when you're cleaning your car you can find yourself forever needing to readjust the cables. This is where these power washers come in.
These three power washers have traded the power for portability, ditching the power cable for rechargeable batteries. They should be a lot easier to use, but can they replace your standard pressure washer and which one is best?
The power washers
We've got previous with the Worx WG630E.1 Hydroshot Pressure Cleaner. Part of Worx's PowerShare battery range we've previously tested this cleaner and found it to be excellent for small to medium jobs. How it'll fare against the competition however is another matter.
Next up we've got the Ryobi RY18PW22A-0 Power Washer, the cheapest option of the trio but with some impressive specs on tap. It's part of Ryobi's massive 18V ONE+ range and was supplied with some good value extras too.
The final cordless washer is this Bosch Fontus. Looking more like a traditional pressure washer this option distinguishes itself by offering a built-in 15-litre water tank. However, it is the most expensive and offers the least power. It's also part of Bosch's Power For All battery share lineup.
First impressions and specs
First impressions showed how portable and small these options are, with the Ryobi and Worx, in particular, looking no bigger than a handheld vacuum cleaner with no attachments added. Even the bulkier Bosch isn't exactly massive, especially remembering that it has a 15-litre water tank built into it.
All of these cordless washers sacrifice power for portability so it's no surprise to learn that all of these cannot compare to a corded pressure washer. While a corded pressure washer can often reach 110 bar, the most powerful option here, the Worx, offers just 24 bar.
This may sound unacceptable but you need to remember that you don't need extremely high pressure for cleaning your car. Only patios and driveways really need that high pressure to clean them, you may even damage your car's paint if you use too much pressure on your paint.
The lack of a cord also means that battery life is a top concern. The Bosch excels here with a near 60 minutes runtime. We couldn't find any information for the other two but we do know that both should be able to wash three medium-sized cars before needing to be recharged.
How good are they for cleaning a car?
The immediate benefit we found with the Bosch was that it was the easiest to move about. The built-in water tank meant there were no external water sources to move about, while the wheels and handle meant it was the most portable option here.
However, there's no getting away from the fact that it was out of its depth cleaning the Toyota Hilux, even in the most powerful setting. It was simply outclassed by the other pressure cleaners and that meant that, for car cleaning at least, it wasn't very good. For cleaning a muddy pair of wellies, a bike or even a dog it's good, but cleaning any mucky car will quickly expose the Bosch's lack of power.
It'd be a fair assumption to say that the Ryobi would be a weaker option on account of its cheap price but you'd be wrong. We found the Ryobi to be more than impressive on the Hilux. Set to Turbo it was capable of stripping away dirt easily and the other nozzle settings were useful for other small to medium tasks.
The low weight and ergonomic design make it really easy to hold for long periods of time, and the six-metre hose gives good portability, if not as good as the Bosch. The additional tools we teted (including a wheel brush, foam lance and foam detergent) were well made, reasonably priced and genuinely useful for cleaning the Hilux.
The only real downside with the Ryobi here was that it was hard to keep the washer upright when not in use but assembled. Not the end of the world but it will more than likely get wet if you put it down.
The most powerful option really excelled when cleaning the Toyota Hilux. The pressure was excellent for removing mud thanks to the advanced brushless motor. The different settings make it a suitable choice for small and medium jobs too, just like the other two washers.
Like the Ryobi, it features a six-metre hose, located in an arguably better location to make handling easier. The design is a touch bulkier than the Ryobi but it's still easy to wield and aim. We've previously tested the foam lance attachment and found it to be a good attachment for car cleaning.
The only real quibble can be directed at the clunky battery placement, making placing the washer down during use a bit more difficult. It does at least mean replacing the battery is a simple job. Also, it eats through water the quickest of the trio, a sign of the power available, but annoying if you only own a small bucket.
Chris Williams - 'Performance award goes to the Worx Hydroshot; value award goes to the Ryobi, and unsuitability award goes to the Bosch. It’s not that the Bosch is bad, it’s just that it’s better at watering gardens than power washing a dirty Toyota Hilux.'
Having used each of these pressure cleaners on a reasonably mucky Toyota Hilux it's fair to conclude that they do offer a solid alternative to a traditional pressure washer. I'll concede that if you want to clean a dirty patio or do some other serious cleaning each of these will quickly show a lack of power.
If however you want to do small to medium jobs (including cleaning a reasonably mucky car), the portability and ease of use offered by these pressure cleaners make them a solid choice.
In terms of ranking, I'd place the Ryobi in the number one position because its very nearly as powerful as the Worx but a good chunk cheaper. The Worx is second for it's power and the Bosch comes home third outmatched by the others, at least when it comes to cleaning cars.
1st place (4.5/5)
Ryobi RY18PW22A-125 18V ONE+ Cordless 22bar Power Washer
Parkers recommends the best cordless pressurised water washing tool
|• Good value||• Assembly is required|
|• Powerful enough for a grubby car||• Doesn’t like staying upright on its own|
|• Plenty of tool to swap the battery into|
2nd place (4/5)
|• The most powerful option here||• Assembly is required|
|• Impressive battery life||• Quite expensive|
3rd place (3/5)
If you're wanting something a little more powerful but still compact then the Nilfisk Core 140 Pressure Washer may be the best corded alternative. We were bowled over with how impressive it was for such a small design. Offering 140 bar pressure and a boat-load off attachments, if you're wanting a stylish yet portable pressure washer, it gets our pick.
How we tested them:
Equipped with the three pressure cleaners and one rather mucky Toyota Hilux we set to work testing each example on separate parts of the car to see how good they were in isolation. Each washer was also tested on a separate wheel and any appropriate attachment tested too. We looked for power, ease of use, portability and how good the battery was for each one.