Which pressure washer will get your patio looking better than your neighbour’s?

  • Alice Smellie attempted to clean her patio using a selection of pressure washers
  • She says Moss Buster Deck Patio Scrubbing Brush hardly made any difference 
  • She recommends Spinaclean Slip Stream Pro 20 for anyone with a large patio 
  • Alice was amazed by Nilfisk Compact’s ability to clean perfectly within seconds

The buds are blossoming, the nights are getting longer and we’ve even had a few days of sunshine. The result? Panic at the dilapidated state of gardens, balconies and patios across the country, as we realise the season for outdoor entertaining and dining al fresco will soon be upon us.

So before it arrives there’s a vital task to do — scrubbing down the patio or decking after the long winter. But it doesn’t have to be a chore. 

Sales of pressure washers are booming, and there are a host of models to get the job done quickly and easily. But which will give you a perfectly polished patio — and which will just leave your decking looking dull? I put them to the test on my own patio . . .


Vax PowerMax 1700w Pressure Washer, £149.99, freemans.com

Alice Smellie tested a selection of the latest pressure washers on her patio. She revealed her patio still looked murky after using Vax PowerMax 1700w Pressure Washer (pictured) 

WHAT: A small orange pressure washer, ideal for a wide range of surfaces. The important element of a patio cleaner is the litres per minute of water passing through the machine. 

This is important because the more water, the stronger the pressure, and so the more effectively dirt is blasted away. Here, it’s listed as 370 litres per hour, just over six per minute, at the lower end of the models I’m testing. 

But I am charmed by the fact that I can lift it with ease — some of the other monsters look like they need a team of removal men to lug them about.

EFFORT: The patio cleaning head is 11 inches in diameter and controlled with a trigger on the handle. Surrounded by a rim of bristles, it has a flimsy plastic rotating arm beneath. 

It’s very hard to push along: when I turn on the water by squeezing the trigger, the machine judders unevenly, spurting water out of the sides, and stopping at every crack. As we have paving stones, this makes for an onerous process.

RESULT: A thin and certainly paler strip on the dirty stone, but the white lichen hasn’t lifted and it still looks murky. I’d find it too much effort to do our terrace, but for a smaller area might be ideal.



Nilfisk Compact, £99.99, argos.co.uk

Alice highly rated Nilfisk Compact (pictured) for its ability to clean paving within seconds and recommends it for small patios 

WHAT: A dainty blue machine which doesn’t look capable of hosing down a dolls’ house, never mind a terrace. But Nilfisk are pressure washer specialists, and although the head is small, it’s whizzing out up to 7.3 litres of water a minute (438 an hour).

EFFORT: Minimal. Floats above the stone paving like an alien space craft and is extraordinarily easy to move along.

RESULT: Creates a nine-inch-wide stripe of near-perfectly clean paving within seconds. The only problem is that it’s very slim — swift as it is, it would take a very long time to do a large area. But amazing for a small patio.



Karcher K7 Premium Full Control Home 2,800 Watt Pressure Washer with T450 Patio Cleaner, £469, halfords.com

Alice shared concerns over the bulk and price of Karcher K7 Premium Full Control Home 2,800 Watt Pressure Washer with T450 Patio Cleaner (pictured) 

WHAT: A large yellow and black machine. The dogs whimper and cower behind the kitchen door as I drag it out. As well as cleaning patios by blasting them with ten litres of water a minute, this also purports to clean such diverse items as stone walls and motorbikes. 

Frankly, it looks as though it could take on the Forth Bridge. A filter prevents dirt from entering the pump and a mesh across the base of the cleaning head protects the rotation arm from damage on stones. 

It has a fabulously sturdy-feeling telescopic handle and can be wheeled along, though it’s extremely heavy — I try to lift it up a step and nearly hospitalise myself.

EFFORT: Looks like a bee and glides like a speed boat along the patio, as sensitive as a surgeon’s instruments to the lightest touch. As I gently motion it forward a thick band of clean stone emerges beneath. There is a little water spray, but not as much as I had expected.

RESULT: All the lichen has gone and a wide strip of clean stone remains. There are only two problems. First, it’s very expensive, although for a large area, it could be economical over time. Second, its bulk may mean it’s less suitable for the frail.



Bosch AQT 45-14X pressure washer, £189.99, used with the Bosch AquaSurf 280 cleaner attachment, £56.13, amazon.co.uk

Alice claims Bosch AQT 45-14X pressure washer (pictured) was easy to use

WHAT: Looks like a black and green insect. The attachment is a closed dome with two nozzles, and the washer performs at an impressive 7.5 litres a minute.

EFFORT: Easy to use, though the size of the head — 10 inches — isn’t as large as the Karcher. I like the long, sturdy handle.

RESULT: A beautiful clean sweep of a stripe on the stone with the lichen lifted completely.



Spinaclean Slip Stream Pro 20, from £1,700, spinaclean.com

Alice was pleased with the results of Spinaclean Slip Stream Pro 20 (pictured) and claims it would be a good investment for people with large patios 

WHAT: The size of a sit-on garden mower, this beast runs on petrol too. While it may be three times the size of the other offerings, it’s surprisingly light to move around on wheels. 

The water pressure with any of these cleaners depends to some extent on the pressure of the water in your tap, and some may not be up to enabling 15 litres a minute, which this model is capable of. So here, you fill up a large bin with water and drop the suction hose into the bin, before firing up the machine.

Beneath the enormous head, which is 20 inches in diameter, the rotating arm spins 2,000 times a minute and the nozzles are angled so the water slices through dirt on top of paving.

EFFORT: I tug on the rope to start the motor, then press the trigger to start firing water. It is suggested I wear wellies, which I ignore, and water sprays lightly over my shoes.

RESULT: A 20 inch wide stripe of bright clean and lichen-free stone emerges. For anyone with a large area to clean this might be a good investment. Yes, it’s eye-wateringly expensive, but it’s powered by a Honda engine and would certainly free up more time for relaxing on your sparkling patio.



Moss Buster Deck Patio Scrubbing Brush, £9.99, therange.co.uk

Alice was unimpressed by Moss Buster Deck Patio Scrubbing Brush (pictured) as it didn’t make her patio noticeably cleaner

WHAT: A long brush with durable and spiky bristles as well as a metal scraper at the front, to help dislodge debris and moss. The different lengths of bristle mean the brush can get into grooves in wood and between paving stones. This is the low-tech method — it doesn’t dispense water — so you have to throw water over your patio yourself.

EFFORT: Exercise-wise, this is the patio cleaning equivalent of high-intensity training. The only thing driving this is brute force. Or, to be more precise, me. I’m a dab hand at sweeping a kitchen floor, but this is really hard work. 

Cinderella-like, I scrub at the stone, noting that although the water rapidly turns a filthy dark brown, it doesn’t look much cleaner. This is the only one with which I used detergent. Cheating, yes. Helped, not that much.

RESULT: Slightly less dirty, but still dotted with lichen and the various stains created by our family, including a rusty smear that looks like (and may well be) blood. From a distance, it’s virtually impossible to see a difference, which is disappointing given all the effort.


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